Page images


persons fail to see any distinction between Agricultural Science, and the study of chemistry, botany, geology, and physiology; but these difficulties really arise from an imperfect knowledge of the matters spoken of. If, however, the definition already given of Agricultural Science be accepted, there will then be less danger of confusing terms which have such distinct and different meanings. The sciences of chemistry, botany, geology, and physiology, etc., rightly used, are each and all of them of immense value and importance to the farmer. They are, in fact, a series of detached assistant agencies, which require to be brought into concerted action; and the only means by which this can be accomplished for the advantage of the farmer is by the aid of Agricultural Science. This condition of things is not peculiar to agriculture; it attaches to every case in which science is made use of for improving any of our manufacturing industries. All hold one common relationship, but they vary considerably in the extent to which such co-operation extends; and there is no reason whatever why the business of farming should be separated from the series.

The study of pure science is valuable, amongst other things, in enabling a man to inform himself as to the character and composition of the materials he has to deal with. It matters little what the material may be which he has to work upon—it may be either an animal or vegetable product, or a mineralif he knows its general nature and specialties of character, then he can deal with it with greater success.


The manufacturer studies that branch, or those branches, of science, which have reference to the material he intends dealing with ; and he does so in order that he may the more successfully learn the practical details of his business. The study of pure science is as a lamp which aids him to see the why and the wherefore of the operations taking place around him, but he has still to gather the practical knowledge or experience of the business or manufacture, in order that he may work in the light so given. For the interests of farming we want this practical work to proceed under a clearer and brighter light. The several branches of science are ready to contribute their help. Chemistry has done, and will still do, much to throw light upon this work; but it comes, as it were, with its own special tint. Other branches of science are capable of doing similar good service, but when any one is used alone it throws a tinted light. It is when they all contribute to the work that we get the clear and perfect light we need. We have an illustration which happily explains these conditions. White light consists of coloured lights, which are called simple or primitive lights, and these can be separated, giving the varied colours of the rainbow; but when these are blended again we lose these distinctive tints, and reproduce a clear, bright, and colourless light. So also, if we bring a wellbalanced and tolerably complete knowledge of science to bear upon agricultural practice, we lose the tints given by different sections of science, and we get a brighter and purer light to aid us in our labours.

Happily for the progress of Agricultural Science, we have a large number of farmers in this country who have received a good training in science, and they are from day to day gathering-in fresh truths from their experience in agriculture, learning valuable lessons from their successes and from their failures, steadily accumulating evidence from Nature's own mouth, and thereby enabling some more complete and definite character to be given to Agricultural Science. Thus, whilst we suggest that a study of pure science prepares the farmer for observing results with greater accuracy, and for tracing those results to their

proper causes, we should be guilty of a great oversight if we did not recognise the fact, that the rich stores of knowledge which we find in the minds of experienced farmers, contain many a precious grain of truth, although it may not have been winnowed as clean as if they had had the opportunity of acquiring some knowledge of the sciences. It is a duty to point out the advantages of a study of science as preparing any one for understanding more fully the materials he has to deal with, but it is also incumbent upon us to remember that many have not had this preparation, and yet have struggled on against the stream, gathering in their contributions to the science of agriculture. These may want more or less winnowing, but those who look upon Agricultural Science as it has been herein defined, -as “Scientific truths taught by the Practice of Agriculture,”—will see that the experience of practical farmers is the great storehouse of Agricultural Science, and

that, instead of such science being in any way opposed to practice, it is its very essence, its life, the spirit by which it is animated.


The cultivation of the soil is now regarded by all intelligent men as a manufacturing business of the highest importance to the welfare of this country. It is generally carried out in that rough and ready manner which distinguishes the practice of those who adopt a certain course of procedure, because it will probably lead to successful results. The experience of the farmer is a very valuable guide in the attainment of such results. It should be distinctly recognised as absolutely essential for those who would succeed in the cultivation of the soil, and a possession of this knowledge should be accepted as a necessity of the case.

There must be no doubt whatever of the immense value of sound practical knowledge of farm management, for it stands in the same relation to the cultivation of the soil as the rudder does to the ship An absence of either of these, simply indicates a drifting to destruction, rather than the attainment of success. In both cases the issue depends upon a series of uncontrolled influences, and the probabilities in both instances are in favour of failure and disappointed hopes. A ship with a rudder to guide it may meet with misfortune and

danger; but the value of the rudder is admitted because it so generally prevents loss, and enables the voyage to be terminated with feelings of satisfaction ; and a knowledge of practical farming is equally important. Whatever may be our views of the great value of Agricultural Science, we ought always to remember that the only foundation on which it can rest is a sound and practical knowledge of farming operations.

Whilst we thus recognise farm experience as the rudder which controls our course, we may also regard Agricultural Science as the mariner's compass, which indicates to the experienced sailor the nearest and best line for his ship to take. However much we may value the rudder, we know how great are the advantages arising from the supplemental help of the compass. Nor must we forget that neither are of value to any but those who are accustomed to their use. Both, however, become of priceless value when skilfully used.

Thus, in approaching a consideration of Agricultural Science, we must clearly recognise the fact that, rightly and judiciously employed, it may be made a valuable supplemental help to those who have a sound and practical knowledge of farm operations. It is as foolish to reject the aid of Agricultural Science as it would be to cast the mariner's compass from the ship; and, on the other hand, any doubt as to the necessity for farm experience is as devoid of reason as an indifference respecting the need of a rudder. Each of these departments

« PreviousContinue »