Wisconsin Dairymen's Association / Fortieth annual report of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association : held at Beloit, Wis., November, 1911. Report of the proceedings, annual address of the president, and interesting essays and discussions relating to the dairy interests
McDowell, J. C.
Soil management, pp. 45-59 PDF (3.5 MB)
Wisconsin Dairymen's Association. SOIL MANAGEMENT. J. C. MCDOWELL, WAUKESHA. Representing United States Dept. of Agriculture, Washington, D. C. The soil is not a dead, cold mass of matter that can profitably be studied only in the chemical laboratory, or by consulting the dry pages of the numerous textbooks that have been written on the subject. No, our fertile soils are full of life and energy and they demand the constant, thoughtful care of the intelligent farmer as much as does the spirited horse, or the best cow in the barn. To be careless in our treatment of the soil is as fatal to profitable agriculture as to be indifferent in the treatment of our live stock. No one would expect much work from the shivering horse that is too thin to cast a re- spectable shadow, then why should anybody expect to harvest thirty bushels of wheat per acre, or expect his soil to yield eighty bushels of corn, when the land has been poorly plowed, carelessly cultivated, and when it is literally starving for lack of plant food and for want of humus? The roots of corn wheat, oats, and barley may penetrate the soil to a depth of three or four feet, and clover and alfalfa roots may extend much deeper, yet the fact remains that nearly all the food of plants is gathered in by the great network of roots that forage in the sur- face six inches, or at most in the surface foot of soil. Remove from this old earth its outer twelve inch layer, or destroy this foot of sur- face soil in any way, and all the riches of the world would be for- gotten in the cry for bread. Knowing that the natural process of soil building is very slow, and that it has required many thousands of years to make this thin soil blanket for the earth, knowing also that our soils are already badly worn in places, and that they are the final source of all our food and clothing, is it not worth while to pause a little in our rush for wealth and consider how best the fertility of these soils may be preserved? Should our gold mines ever become exhausted, some other metal would doubtless take the place of gold; long before the coal mines yield up their last ton of coal our scientists and inventors will have harnessed the river, the tides, and the heat rays of the sun, and from these sources we will receive power, heat, and light; but when the law of diminishing returns causes our soils to respond feebly to the labor of the farmer, and the cost of living becomes unendurable, we must learn how to manage our farms so as to increase production l - 45
Based on date of publication, this material is presumed to be in the public domain.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright