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Cyclopedia of American Agriculture
IF au intelligent person were to request instruction in agriculture, his adviser would refer him to persons who are best qualified to speak on the different phases of the subject. The adviser might be so fortuuate as to be able to bring these experts together on consecutive evenings. Each person would speak for his own subject, the others setting their observations, experience and opinion against his. Perhaps this seminar would be so organized by the person-in-charge as to develop the general subject in logical and progressive sequence. The hearer, for whom the seminar was arranged, would not be clear on all the points and he might not always agree. He might even be confused by different doctrines. But he must have the different views if he is really to know the subject; and in time, if he is an able man, he will develop a body of philosophy of his own.
It is not often, however, that the enquirer could have the privilege of a seminar of experts appearing in person. But these experts might be willing to put their views to paper, consigning them to the person-in-charge to be presented in an orderly way; and this person-in-charge might go so far as to print these papers in a book for the benefit of any man who was inclined to read them.
In putting together such a collection of papers, an editor might proceed on either of two theories: (1) to make a work in which all the data are examined, all the conclusions verified, all the theories tested, and all discrepancies eliminated, by the editor himself or by a board of review; (2) to analyze the subject in a general way and to organize it, but letting every contribution stand for itself, resting on the authority of its author. The first plan would result in an impersonal digest: the book would be concrete, homogeneous, definite, and would be said to be practical. The second plan would result in a personal collection: the book would be a thesaurus or treasury, in which opinions would be expressed; and the author names would follow the titles, just as a speaker's name is always given when he addresses an audience.
The present Editor has chosen to make a book on the second plan,—to make a popular cyclopedia (covering the round of the subject, as the word signifies), setting forth the opinions and conclusions of the best men. He is not unwilling that it shall be in advance of the practice of the day, to the end that the farmer may attain to it. He has had no idea of making a book of ready reference, nor, on the other extreme, of making a collection of monographs, nor of writing a treatise. It is hoped that the book will express the spirit of all good new teaching, and that it will be interesting enough to afford evening reading for the family fireside.
From all this it follows that there is no disadvantage if the authors do not all teach alike, or if one article now and then overlaps another. It is intended that there shall be no spirit of finality in the book. If any subject is in doubt, the doubt should be expressed. There is no reason why the reader should expect exact prescription on all matters. Teachers have all along made the mistake of trying to give the farmer only positive and indisputable information, laboriously sorting such bits of information out of the great store of developing and living knowledge, until they have bred a spirit that asks only for formularies on particular problems. The good teacher will often do no more than to suggest a line of thought or a method of enquiry. The educated man is much more than a well-informed man. The only abiding teaching is that which tries to make the learner to understand, to appreciate the processes, to develop a kind of action and application for himself. The very doubts and uncertainties are themselves worth the while, for they are a part of life. mountain masses in the West, isolated points in the Appalachian System, and small areas in the extreme northeastern arctic region. The dark gray areas are elevations between 1,000 and 5,000 feet: they comprise about one-third of the continent, and afford, in temperate regions of sufficient rainfall, vast reaches of natural grazing lands, with large parts also adapted to tillage. The light gray regions are between 100 and 1,000 feet: this elevation includes immense areas in arctic and sub-arctic regions, and also the great Mississippi valley, which is probably the largest continuous agricultural area on the globe of equal fertility and productiveness. The white areas are seacoasts, reaching to an elevation of 100 feet: these are small in extent; they are of recent geological origin, being now in process of natural reclamation from the sea; so far as they are agricultural, they are adapted only to very special uses.
At this time there is special need of a comprehensive work, since the interest in agriculture is increasing rapidly and the emphasis is likely to be placed on incidental or even irrelevant features. Agriculturists themselves are conscious of a new pride of calling and are beginning to see their way out of difficulties. City men are looking as never before to the country for homes, to farm land as investment, and to farming as a business. There is every prospect that this latter interest will grow still more rapidly for a few years. Much of it is genuine and steady, and will stand for progress. There is danger that this interest may be too much influenced by books on very special subjects and by particular kinds of teaching. Of course, every special subject should have its treatises, but the reader should also know the relation of it to the general body of agricultural knowledge and philosophy. All knowledge and practice should form part of a system.
The Editor has in mind much more than the mere occupation of farming. Agriculture is primarily a business; but it also develops homes on the very land that it occupies; and both the business and the homes contribute to the character and the weal of the neighborhood and the state. The whole sphere of country life, so far as it is founded on the soil, may well be presented consecutively, even though the effort is inadequate at every point. It is conceived that the intelligent enquirer, who is willing to take the time to understand what agriculture is and what it signifies, will want to know first the general extent and character of it, and will then request advice on the way in which a farm should be projected and organized, and on what principles the homestead may be developed. He will then want advice on the technical practices, on growing crops and animals; and it is to be hoped that he will also ask for some discussion of the interrelationships of the farm and the community.
The first volume contains three kinds of topics: (1) accounts of agricultural regions; (2) the general layout and organization of a farm; (3) the larger environments that determine the life and character of plants and animals. These three sets are not necessarily parts of a single volume or exposition; but the second set naturally follows the first, and the third should follow the second; and the three together comprise introductory matter, and they constitute such a division of the entire field of the Cyclopedia as conveniently to be bound together. The third set divides itself readily into two substantially coordinate parts,—the soil environment and the atmosphere environment,—and they are therefore treated separately.
The second volume is to be devoted to crops, the first part being an exposition of some underlying principles and considerations, and the second part being an alphabetically arranged discussion of the different kinds of crops.
The third volume is to be devoted to animals, following the method of the second volume; and many animals aside from those ordinarily associated with farm operations are to be discussed.
The fourth volume will take the broadest field of all, discussing the farm and the community as expressed in history, biography, bibliography, education, statistics, economic and social questions.
The main purpose of the Cyclopedia, in all these articles and volumes, is to maintain in the reader the habit of looking at a question or problem rationally, without prejudice, free from preconceived notions or inherited opinions,—that is, to look at it scientifically, reasoning logically from the evidence.
THE AGRICULTURAL REGIONS
The territory of this book is North America north of Mexico, although the most important of the tropical islands with which the United States holds governmental relations receive incidental treatment. This continental territory includes the United States, the Dominion of Canada, the Colony of Newfoundland.
There is no geographical or agricultural distinction between the United States and Canada except such as arises from difference in latitude. The area of Canada is 3,448,170 square miles; that of the continental United States, including Alaska, is 3,560,922 square miles.
The natural agricultural adaptabilities of a continent are determined by soil and climate. The soil features are likely to be complex and usually not regional, and are incapable of rapid treatment in generalities. They are not determined by their relative place on the earth's surface.
Climate in its agricultural relations is largely a question of latitude, elevation, rainfall and sunshine. Latitude and elevation are expressed chiefly in terms of temperature.
A relief map of North America, showing elevations and drainage systems, throws into bold display the main agricultural land masses. Plate II makes such an exhibit. The shadings mark the series of elevations. The jet-black shade indicates elevations above 10,000 feet: these elevations occur as isolated points in the Rocky mountain and Sierra region, from New Mexico and southern California to Alaska. The gray-black regions include elevations between 5,000 and 10,000 feet: they comprise
The general physical and geological features of the continent, as represented on the relief map, are explained for this occasion by Professor Ralph S. Tarr: "The topography of North America may
be grouped in five great divisions, as follows : — (1) the Coastal Plain, a lowland region on the Atlantic coast and swinging along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico; (2) the Appalachian Belt, a low mountain region extending from Alabama to Newfoundland and Labrador; (3) the Central Plains, occupying the Mississippi valley region, and stretching from the Appalachian to the Rocky mountains and far northward into Canada; (4) the Western Cordilleras, including the Rocky mountains, Basin ranges, Sierra Nevada-Cascade mountains, Coast ranges, and the intervening plateaus, extending, under other names, from southern Mexico to northern Alaska; (5) the Canadian Region, a low hilly region in northern Canada extending westward from the Labrador coast to the Great Plains.
"The geology of each of these provinces is very complex and difficult to characterize in a few words. The coastal lowland, the simplest of all the provinces, is a low, narrow coastal plain, made of nearly horizontal clays, sands and gravels often not yet consolidated. So recently has this been added to the continent by uplift that the streams have as yet only imperfectly drained it; and in its sediments are fossils of species still living in the neighboring ocean. Its damp coastal part is adapted to rice culture, and its sandy soils to the long-leaf pine.
"Back of the coastal plain is a low hilly region, called the piedmont plateau, which extends up to the base of the Appalachians. Its rocks are on the whole of ancient date, belonging to the paleozoic and pre-paleozoic age. They have been profoundly folded and greatly worn, so that they are now
Fig. 3. Harvest scene in Pennsylvania.
reduced to an almost plain surface of gentle undulation. This is in reality a worn-down mountain region, and its fairly even surface, deep soil and favorable climate suit it to the culture of cotton and tobacco.
"The Appalachian Belt, next west of the piedmont, varies in geological structure, but is almost everywhere of paleozoic or pre-paleozoic age. On the whole, the rocks are profoundly folded and faulted, and they are everywhere deeply eroded, giving rise to a very rugged topography. On the western margin the rocks have not been folded, but erosion has so sculptured this region that it is often called moun