Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/556

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

acres, at a time when the market was in a remarkably satisfactory condition. Yet this crop was a complete and disastrous failure because the unreliable labor conditions existing in that locality prevented the proprietor from securing more than a quarter of his crop, the greater part of it remaining on the ground to rot or to be devoured by birds, etc. Thus it is that the management of the soil, as in every other practical policy in this world, must be largely a give-and-take matter, or a question of double-entry bookkeeping, so to speak, and manifold considerations are involved. Where one gains in one way, he loses in another, and it is sound judgment or business sense which will determine what is the best thing to be done in any given case to get the most out of the soil under the conditions surrounding it.

Opportunities to get just such training as is necessary for the intelligent management of the soil are readily accessible in this country. Agricultural colleges and other colleges not professedly so, but giving courses in agriculture, both on the theoretical and on the practical side, are numerous. The necessary expense of attending them is certainly not great, and well within the means of a very large number of the youth in the rural districts. But it is an astonishing fact that they are not availed of, astonishing because to one of a philosophical or scientific cast of mind, there are few, if any, fields more interesting, or better adapted to the practical application of scientific methods than those of agriculture, and especially of soil management. Yet in our so-called schools of agriculture and mechanic arts it is indeed unusual when the number of students, presumably farmers' sons, who graduate in the mechanical arts as engineers, surveyors, etc., do not largely outnumber the students taking their degree in the strictly agricultural courses. This is even more astonishing' when we reflect that there is a demand, and a growing demand, in this country for skilled agriculturists to manage the estates either of rich individuals or of corporations, and the development of special crops for special industries. The demand for men of this description is at the present time greater than the supply, and such as have the proper training and qualifications can conmand salaries from $1,500 to $4,000 or $5,000 per year, possibly, in exceptional cases, much more. A case could be cited, where a fine house and grounds and $10,000 per year were offered to a certain expert to take charge of a large plantation devoted mainly to the production of a particular crop. These salaries are far above the average incomes of young men in other branches of professional life. The life is in other ways an attractive one; it requires more or less aptitude in the qualifications of the student, for, as in every other branch of professional life, the successful man is one that necessarily keeps up with modern developments along his line; but it must from the nature of the