Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 76.djvu/466

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By Professor HOMER C. PRICE


FROM the beginning, American agriculture has been characterized by its extensiveness rather than its intensiveness. Land has been more abundant than labor and, in the aggregate, more has been derived from a small yield on a large acreage than could have been realized from a large yield on a small acreage. The yields of American farm crops have been proverbially small, but the total production has been exceptionally large and, as a rule, the countries producing the largest amounts of farm crops have the smallest yields per acre. This fact is illustrated in the following table:

Table showing the Average Yield of Wheat per Acre by Ten-year Periods for the last twenty years and the total production for 1908

Avr. Yield per
Acre, 1888-97
Avr. Yield per
Acre, 1898-1907
Total Production
United Kingdom 30.1 bu. 32.6 bu. 55,585,000 bu.
Germany 22.7 28.4 138,442,000
France 17.6 20.8 310,526,000
United States 12.8 13.9 664,602,000

The above table also reveals the fact that the production per acre when compared by ten-year periods has been increasing in all the countries. Much has been said and is being written about the decline in agricultural production, but statistics do not show that there has been any decline, but rather a marked increase when the productions of the leading countries are compared and using the production of wheat, which is the most universally grown farm crop, as the basis for comparison.

The intensity of culture always bears a direct relation to the density of population and while it is difficult to get a comparable basis of comparison between countries on account of the varying proportions of waste land in different countries and different methods of classifying statistics, the following table represents the most reliable figures available and, when compared with the preceding table, shows that the yield of wheat per acre varies directly as the density of population.


Number of Acres per Capita

United Kingdom 1.70 acres.
Germany 2.37 acres.
France 3.40 acres
United States (exclusive of Alaska and Philippines) 24.02 acres.