Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/560

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dividual rather than the group, and necessitates such intimacy with plant or animal form as will qualify the breeder to recognize and utilize the wealth of material always at hand. And it may also be said that it was only when, through a recognition of this principle, plant breeders began to emulate animal breeders by basing their work upon the individual rather than the group, that lasting results were forthcoming.

This conception also places within the reach of every farmer the means of developing varieties of field crops possessed of characters of especial adaptability to his own land and looks toward more numerous seed farms and the almost negligible difficulty in securing for each field the seeds of varieties of maximum value and productive of maximum yields.

Although the occurrence and use of mutations are less fully understood in animals, it affords a sensible explanation of the most of the progress of animal breeders, and clearly shows that after all, even to a greater degree than we had ever before realized, our chief dependence is upon the exercise of the "man" factor, in detecting and properly estimating the possibilities always available to those who truly desire and are qualified to use them.

Agriculture consists of dealings with plants and animals. The nature and behavior of a plant or an animal is determined and controlled by its inheritance and its environment. Heretofore, the inheritance has been but little understood and interest and effort have centered chiefly around environment. The possibilities of that factor and the possibilities of profiting by its control have therefore come to be well understood. Considering this, it is not strange that the other factor, of inheritance, being little understood, should often have been regarded as of minor importance.

There is still much to be added to our knowledge of inheritance, but the new light of the past decade shows that the man factor at work in directing inheritance may be at least equally as productive as when applied through environment.

It is unsatisfactory to attempt to indicate how the use of this newly perceived power will be evidenced.

The Use of More Definite Knowledge of Heredity

The greater attention to the securing of varieties of crops that give maximum returns of maximum value will add greatly to the productiveness of our lands, and the increase of yields can be supported by soil resources now going to waste; the effort to raise yields by this means will encourage such interest and study as must precede intelligent conservation. It does not seem likely that new creations will occur in field agriculture as have been produced in horticulture, though our knowledge of the origin and inheritance of characters is already being