Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/232

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THE recent death, at the closing of the year 1898, of the lamented Senator Justin S. Morrill, who, as being the author of the Land-Grant College Act, is justly styled the father of agricultural education in the United States, seems to suggest the desirability of taking a survey of agricultural education as it at present exists in other countries than our own.

Since the pursuit of agriculture is one which concerns more of the people of our globe than any other pursuit, the necessity for scientific training for agriculturists becomes more and more evident to educated people. It is true that the cultivators of the soil do not generally admit the need of special schooling. At the beginning of this century very few educators, even, thought so. It was supposed that tilling the soil had nothing to do with schools, and that science had no connection with plowing and sowing. Agricultural lectureships were established early in the eighteenth century in several European universities, but they were regarded as curiosities of the age—superfluities of culture, rather than aids to the cultivator. Farmers themselves were supposed to be the only competent teachers of agriculture, and experience the only possible guide. But it has become apparent that no farmer's experience is broad enough to be adapted to all soils and climates. The successful farmer has come to regard the land which he owns as a wonderful machine which, if rightly managed, will turn out the most costly and perfect product; but which, if neglected or ignorantly handled, will disappoint his high hopes and possibly impoverish its owner. The development of commerce which so easily introduces the wheat and potatoes and other products of our country into competition with the grain produced in a distant land has taught the producers of this generation, and especially the citizen of European countries, that the farmer who can produce the largest crop of grain from the fewest acres, at the lowest price for the best cereal or vegetable, is the only successful cultivator. The nation which succeeds best in this direction with all its soil products is the one which is sure to have the "balance of trade" always in its favor.

The United States awoke to this idea when, in 1862, Congress passed the Land-Grant College Act, allotting Government lands in every State to aid in founding agricultural colleges. The country became more profoundly moved by this idea when, in 1887, Congress passed the Hatch Act, granting annually to each State the sum of fifteen thousand dollars to organize and perpetuate agri-