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of agricultural knowledge is of immense value—they are not opponents, but joint contributors to success. The prudent man will rightly use both of them, and consistently seek to become more and more fully acquainted with each.
This acquirement of a knowledge of Agricultural Science necessarily claims our attentive thought and steady perseverance, but considerable advance may be made without any undue demands being made on either—especially when the subject is brought under consideration stripped of all needless technicalities. In these Elementary Lessons some of the foundationstones of the structure will be exposed to view, with a desire to encourage the reader to seek out others which underlie many of the successful practices of the farmer; so that he also may contribute to the fuller knowledge of the subject. It may be readily admitted that our knowledge of the principles of agriculture is very imperfect; and that there is an abundant opportunity for those who are 'acquainted with the practice of agriculture to discover some of the principles upon which such practice is based. If we accept the experience of the farmer as a rich store of facts from which, by the light of science, we may discover an explanation of the results which have been observed, then, and then only, shall we be adopting a safe and prudent course—especially during the early period of research. We must for a time seek after facts, and investigate the conditions under which these have arisen, rather than look out for such facts as will dovetail in with any preconceived ideas of Agricultural Science. Conscious of the want of more truth to guide us, we shall follow the safest course if for a time we gather out the jewels which have already been brought within our reach by successful practice, and thus labour zealously in the attainment of a more complete knowledge of the subject. We must thoroughly realise the fact that Agricultural Science is really the Science of Agricultural Practice, or, in other words, that it is those lessons of scientific truth which we may learn from the experience of the practical farmer.
But in order that we may be able to learn these lessons, we must first be content to acquaint ourselves with some of the conditions and circumstances which influence the operations of the farm. The soil naturally presents itself to our notice as being worthy of our study. We have spoken of the cultivation of the soil as a manufacturing business, and thus we have the soil as the raw material, which has to be converted into those marketable products which are most desirable for a farmer to sell. Other manufacturers use the raw materials which best meet their requirements, but it is from the soil that the farmer has to produce those varying forms of animal and vegetable food which it is to his interest to manufacture. It is therefore clearly desirable that those who are to support themselves by the cultivation of the soil, should have a very complete knowledge of the character of the soil which they have to cultivate. In fact, we may say that it is not only desirable, but actually necessary, if the cultivator
wishes to draw from that soil the largest produce of the greatest value, and at the least cost in cash and material.
The soil is very commonly regarded simply as earthy matter, which is devoid of all interest except as regards the plants which grow upon it. But this is far from being the fact, for as we become more intimately acquainted with our soils we see evidences of character which well-nigh constitute them living realities. We find points of character which indicate powers approaching very closely to tempers, wills, and dispositions, which the farmer is bound to consider, and which he neglects at his peril. Many a soil is said to have "a will of its own,” because if its peculiarities of temper be disregarded much of our labour is expended uselessly. Much of the farmer's success turns upon his familiar acquaintance with those points of character which is commonly known as the temper of the soil, and yet how few stop to inquire as to the causes of these variations. But when these variations in character are traced out, and when a person thereby becomes more familiar with them, it appears almost to invest our soil with new attributes of life. Hence we have become accustomed to speak of soils as being hungry, or sick, or grateful, and as obstinate, kindly, and tender, and so on. The plain fact is, the more we know of the soil the more interesting it becomes, until it causes a feeling of surprise that any one can look upon the soil with the indifference which arises from an entire ignorance of its character. But, besides all this, the soil boasts of a history extending over long periods of time, during which it has undergone changes of the greatest importance ; in fact, its history gives us a series of incidents of most thrilling interest, and contributes greatly to surround the soil with associations which not only give to the reflective mind subjects worthy of careful consideration, but they indicate to the farmer how he may make that soil a source of greater profit to himself.
As soon as attention is directed to a consideration of the nature and character of the soil, the inquiry naturally arises :-How were these soils formed, and whence came they? With one exception, our soils have been formed by the decay of rocks. It is a matter of common observation that the stones of old buildings do not look as smooth as those which have been more recently built. We sometimes see modern stonework losing its sharp edges by becoming crumbled into dust; but it is much more evident on looking at the stonework of old buildings. Thus we have instances of even the hardest stones undergoing decay on the surface, and becoming in this way changed from hard rock into a soft or a gritty powder. This change on the surface of this stonework is very similar in character to the decay of our rocks, whereby they are made to yield portions of their surface in that, more or less, finely broken condition which we know as the soil.
The wearing down of the stonework of our buildings fairly represents the mode in which rocks decay, and yield that earthy matter which we use for the purposes of cultivation ; but in the one case a very small quantity of soil is produced, and in the other it has been accomplished to an exceedingly large extent. Through long geological periods, which we fail to reduce to figures with any pretension to accuracy, this decay of rocky surface has been steadily and persistently taking place, until at length we have an abundance of this earthy matter distributed throughout the world, and in quantity more than sufficient for the wants of mankind.
A study of geology teaches us that at one period ---far, far remote in the world's history—the surface of the earth consisted of rocks which are now known as the primitive rocks, or, plainly speaking, the first rocks. We have large masses of these rocks still remaining, so that we can form a very accurate opinion of their nature and character. But a period arrived when portions of these rocks became decayed, as rocks decay now, and then we had earthy matter formed from these rocks, yielding the first soil upon this world's surface. From that time we have had a series of changes upon the earth's surface, which the study of geology partially unfolds to our view ; but we have one great fact which it is necessary for the student of Agricultural Science to remember. That first soil which has been already referred to has