Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/554

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

is supporting a large and growing bureau in the Department of Agriculture for the classifying and mapping of the soils in the principal agricultural areas, supporting these surveys with strong laboratories for the investigation of soil phenomena, its management and economic control. More interesting to note, is the growth of this work with some of the individual states which, either in cooperation with the surveys of the national government or individually, are now annually expending many thousands of dollars in this direction, with the firm conviction that in no other way could a surer investment be secured for ultimate large returns. But the work upon soils, thus hastily sketched, has been and is being done almost entirely upon the physical side. This has been, in the past, in accordance with the peculiar nature of the case. But there is another side, no less important, as difficult, possibly more difficult, to handle, giving justification for the title to this paper.

The results which are being obtained both by the national Department of Agriculture, by the many experiment stations, and other agricultural institutions connected with the American universities, are being freely disseminated among the people, and the major part of the results obtained abroad, not only in England, Germany and France, but in Russia, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Japan and elsewhere, are available to any intelligent farmer in this country who cares to take a little trouble and pains to obtain them. This being the case, the question naturally arises as to the reason why the practical agriculturists of this country make so little use of these results. For it is not to be doubted that the 'agricultural possibilities of the soils of the United States are very great—certainly much greater than has been realized thus far. The answer to this question is partly a psychological and wholly a sociological one. With some few exceptions, the farmers at large do not approach their occupation with the point of view connoted by the term 'business principles.' Perhaps this idea is best brought out in the yet current classification of man's occupations into the learned professions, farming and business. It is generally recognized by all professional men that their best success is obtained when the principles of business men are applied to their own affairs. As a matter of fact, what are usually called business principles are sound scientific methods. But this has not been recognized as yet by the main body of farmers in this country, and they seem to be actuated in the management of their farms largely by sentiment, much as some men take their religion or their politics, because their fathers managed in this way, therefore that is the way in which they should manage. Their forebears did well, under vastly different conditions and standards than those which obtain to-day, and the obvious fact that the descendants are not doing so well is met with all manner of explanations and excuses, which, just as obviously, have little or nothing to do with