Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/473

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

those endeavoring to raise crops in districts where there are hundreds of acres of virgin land untouched by the plow, or large tracts of "reverted" land, land which though once cropped has been allowed to revert to natural conditions, may well look with apprehension upon the accumulating hordes of what they used to regard as harmless grasshoppers in contradistinction to the much-dreaded Rocky Mountain locust. It is such localities that offer ideal conditions for the increase of this insect. Evidently, therefore, farmers living on the frontier of agricultural areas next to new or reverted land, the pioneer farmers, as it were, are the ones to suffer most heavily. Given such localities and dry weather, the absence of heavy, killing rains, when the young hopper is just out of the egg for a succession of seasons, and the agriculturist sees acres of wheat, oats, rye, barley and flax rendered so nearly worthless that they do not warrant the labor of harvesting. During 1909, 1910 and 1911 several species of grasshoppers have been increasing to such an extent in a number of states in the middle west that special remedial measures have been necessarily sought. A few of these states have created grasshopper laws, aimed at the obligatory destruction of egg clusters in fall or spring by compulsory plowing. These laws, however, are, in most instances, notoriously ineffective, and some practical method or methods of control within the reach of the average farmer had to be discovered. Manifestly, these measures of relief must be such as to enable the individual farmer to protect himself, no matter how unfavorable the conditions surrounding him. It was to solve this problem, as far as lay in his power, that the writer and his staff have applied themselves for two years, and it is believed that we have found a fairly sure means of crop protection if our farmers will follow directions emanating from the Experiment Station. While our experience has been confined necessarily to Minnesota, these remedies are equally applicable in other states, where the same or worse conditions prevail. In fact, we would not convey the impression that Minnesota is a grasshopper-stricken state; far from it, for a very large proportion of our agricultural land, most of it, in fact, is relatively free from this pest, but we seek to protect from loss those individual farmers, pioneer farmers we have called them, who live in the western quarter of the state in the neighborhood of vast tracts of unused lands, property held by speculators, unsalable tracts, acres held by individual farmers who have more land than they can handle, land occasionally rented, and between rentals lying idle, a menace to adjoining properties of industrious citizens doing their best to get a living from the soil. Manifestly fall plowing, thus burying the eggs deeply, will not be of material benefit to these men, for the hungry hordes will pour in upon their tender grain from the adjoining fields, whose owners, not easily reached by our grasshopper laws, are indifferent. True, such a farmer can and