questions can be answered satisfactorily only through the aid of
Dr. Saunders being a chemist by profession very thoroughly
understood these facts, so that it was but natural that he should
at the organization of the Experimental Farms establish a Chemical
Division. At its head was appointed Mr. Frank T. Shutt, who still
directs with efficiency this Division of the Farms' work.
Ever since 1889, a well equipped chemical laboratory has been
in operation at the Central Farm wherein the analytical work of
all the Farms has been done. In this institution a very large amount
of analytical and research work has been accomplished for farming
and farming communities in all parts of Canada. Through this work
the Chemist has been kept in close touch with the problems that con-
front the man on the land, and has thus been enabled to render
immediate and direct assistance when scientific aid was required.
A very helpful service has been performed through the medium
of correspondence. Inquiries to this Division relate to soils and their
treatment; to manures and fertilizers, their composition and use;
to the nature of feeding stuffs; to the compositoin of dairy products;
to the purity of well waters and to many other materials and subjects
related to agriculture.
From year end to year end chemical work is going on in the ex-
aminations of samples of materials sent in from all parts of the
Dominion for analysis. These include soils, naturally accruing
fertilizers, such as mucks, marl, etc., forage plants and feeding
stuffs, well waters and others things.
As far as is practicable, these samples are taken in hand in the
order received and are dealt with sufficiently fully to furnish the
inquirer with the information he requires.
The chief and most important work of the Division is, however,
in carrying out by the aid of chemistry such investigations as may
serve to solve those problems in Candian agriculture which more or
The Chemical Laboratory.
less affect the country in general. These researches embrace a very-
wide field, which for the purposes of the present review can be only
very briefly touched upon.
A very large amount of work has been done in determining
in so far as the science of chemistry can determine the productive-
ness or fertility of Canadian soils. These for the most part have been
representative every province of the Dominion having supplied
its quota. More particularly, however, are these analyses represen-
tative of the larger areas of virgin soil in the Canadian Northwest.
The data indicate that excellent soils are to be found in every province
of the Dominion.
Many experiments have been conducted to learn the best methods
of treating muck soils in order to render them useful to agriculture.
These have included : (i) drainage; this has been found an essential
of the first importance; (2) the addition of sand and clay, singly
and together. Many mucks by this treatment have been converted
into excellent loams. (3) the addition of the mineral constituents
of plant food potash, phosphoric acid and lime. These have
been applied in the form of potash salts (muriate, etc.), and alkaline
phosphates, (basic slag) separately and in admixtures. Wood ashes
also have been tried with advantage as well as simple dressings of
lime to correct acidity. Most encouraging results in the majority
of instances have been obtained from thus applying the lacking
mineral elements, and especially from the application of those mixtures
which by their alkalinity serve to neutralize the muck's acidity; (4)
an application of stable manure for good loam. Although muck is
practically organic matter and is rich in nitrogen, it has been found
that at the outset (and after the drainage and settling of the muck)
such an application has proved very beneficial. This, it is concluded,
is due rather to the introduction of desirable soil bacteria than to
the small amounts of plant food thus supplied.
ENRICHMENT OF SOILS.
Useful work has been done in conducting experiments for the
enrichment of soils through the growth of legumes. For many
years a study has been made of leguminous plants in this con-
nection. Reference to the work with clover has already been made
under the heading 'Use of Fertilizers,' carried on jointly by Dr.
Saunders, Mr. Grisdale and Mr. Shutt. Besides clover, such crops
have been dealt with as Alfalfa, Hairy Vetch, Peas, Soya Beans
and Horse Beans. In this work, in addition to analysis, the weights
per acre were taken of the foliage and of the roots (to a depth of
about nine inches) separately, so that the manurial value of the roots
could be estimated when the crop was removed. This work also
included the analysis of soils before and after the growing of clover.
The results indicate that a very large proportion of the nitrogen
holding organic matter from the turned under clover becomes part
and parcel of the soil, producing wonderful results in the increased
yields of succeeding crops.
For several years experiments were carried on with cultures
or preparations of nitrogen-fixing bacteria using the methods of
both seed and soil inoculation. In this work, experience and
observation have led to the conclusion that inoculation is not so
generally necessary as it is claimed by some authorities. Judging
from the occurrence of nodules, it is certain that the nitrogen-
fixing bacteria are by no means restricted to small or isolated areas.
In the eastern provinces and in Ontario and British Columbia, at
all events, the failures in many instances to obtain a good catch of
clover are probably due to deficiency of moisture, poverty in humus,
A source of great lo<s on many Canadian farms.
(Through rotting, leaching and drainage more than half of the plant food
originally present in manur^ never gets back to the soil.)
sourness, insufficient drainage or an unsuitable mechanical condition
of the soil rather than to the absence of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria,
seems quite probable.
It is, however, quite true that remarkable benefit has followed
inoculation for alfalfa at Lacombe, Northern Alberta, and this fact
is in itself highly significant, for there are many districts in the Cana-
dian Northwest in which as yet this crop has not been successfully
Investigation work with barnyard maures has already been
briefly referred to. The Chemical Division played a very important
part in this undertaking. The losses that ensue from rotting
under various conditions were accurately determined. Reporting
upon it, Mr. Shutt observes that the safest storehouse for manure
is the soil, and he unhesitatingly says that the farmer who
gets his manure while still fresh into the soil returns to it for the
future use of his crops much more plant food than he would if he
allowed the manure to accumulate in piles that receive little or no
care, and which therefore must waste by excessive fermentation
or leaching or both.
An exhaustive study by the aid of chemistry has been made
of native and introduced grasses with a view to learning their
relative feeding value and also at what stage of growth they
should be cut in order to yield the best food for stock. In the
majority of cases it was brought out that there was a marked deterio-
ration during the later stages of the plant's growth, pointing to the
desirability of cutting before the seed approaches the ripened condition.
Many native grasses from the prairie were shown to possess highly
nutritive properties, and these good qualities remain in the grasses
cured naturally on the stem.
Much work extending over several seasons has been done with
Indian corn as grown for fodder. A knowledge was gained of the
changes in food value that take place at various stages in the plant's
growth. The effect of sowing broadcast and in hills and in drills
at different rates of seeding was also ascertained. This work has
shown the folly of growing varieties that do not reach the glazing
stage before frost comes in the autumn, and also in planting so thickly
as to interfere with the full development of each individual plant.
In much the same manner the life history of rape, sugar beets
and other crops has been followed up, sometimes with the view to
tracing the feeding value at various stages of growth; at others,
to ascertain the extent to which the crop exhausts the land, which
might afford information for a rational treatment of the soil with
regard to manures.
The Chemical Division has worked hand in hand with the
Cereal Division in its investigations towards the development of
new improved grains. New cross-bred wheats have been subjected
to chemical and physical analyses, with the view of tracing from
the composition of the wheat the effect of cross-breeding and of
environment, and of assisting in the decision as to which hybrids
are worthy of perpetuation.
Many other lines of investigation have been carried on with
wheats and flours in relation to baking, etc., particulars concerning
which are to be found in the reports and special bulletins of the
An exceedingly useful branch of work carried on by the
Chemical Division has been, and continues to be, the sanitary
examination of well waters sent in from all parts of the
Dominion for a determination of their purity. More than 2,000
such samples have been dealt with and reported upon as regards
their nature, quality, wholesomeness, etc. This work has enabled
the chemist to report that there is probably no better watered country
in the world than Canada, both from the standpoint of quantity
and purity. It has also impelled him to repeatedly utter a note of
warning in regard to the supply frequently furnished to house and
farm buildings from wells or springs open to pollution from barnyard
or back door surroundings. It is pointed out that shallow wells
adjacent to such conditions may remain good for a few years after
a homestead is established, but sooner or later, the soil surrounding
them must become saturated and clogged with organic filth and unable
to perform its useful work of purification. . The samples examined
from year to year reveal a high percentage of polluted waters and
these in 90 per cent of the cases, come from shallow wells situated
near polluting sources. What is recommended is the drilled or
bored well, located at a safe distance from possible sources of con-
tamination and effectively protected from the entrance of surface
wash. Such wells may be depended upon to furnish in the great
majority of cases an ample supply of good wholesome water.
MOISTURE CONTENT OF SOILS.
Work upon the moisture-content of soils managed under various
conditions of cultivation has shed much light upon the effect of
summer fallowing, packing, surface cultivation, etc. Results at
Brandon and Indian Head from work upon fields fallowed and
cropped the previous year showed that the land that had been
fallowed carried much more moisture all through the season than
that which had been cropped. The excess ran in many cases from
I 5 to 300 tons per acre.
The importance of sub-surface packing soils in semi-arid
districts has been greatly emphasized in recent years. To determine
the actual effect of this process, the Chemical Division carried out
a series of tests with soils taken from packed and unpacked areas
Root of two-year old clover plant. (Note the nodules wherein
reside the nitrogen fixing bacteria.
at Lethbridge, Alta. The reported results indicate a slight advantage
from the use of the packer.
FACTORS CONDUCIVE TO SOIL FERTILITY.
In the course of a long series of investigations with soils covering
both chemical and physical determinations, results were obtained
which made it possible to draw certain conclusions regarding what
might be termed fundamental differences existing between fertile, vir-
gin soils and unproductive, worn soils, respecting the factors that go
to make up what might be termed fertility, and their relative impor-
tance. With regard to these factors, it has been shown that, apart
from climatic conditions (temperatures, rainfall, sunshine, etc.), soil-
productiveness results from a happy assembling of the chemical
constituents of plant food in more or less assimilable forms, of
physical properties allowing soil aeration, the retention of moisture,
and the providing of freedom for root extension, and, lastly, the
presence of an abundance of these microorganisms which, living on the
organic matter of the soil, prepare the nourishment of farm crops.
The work in this matter has been particularly in tracing the
relation of organic matter and its concomitant nitrogen, to crop-
producing power. Very early it was observed that virgin soils of
great productiveness were invariably characterized by large per-
centages of organic matter and nitrogen, and that, on the other hand
worn soils resulting from continuous grain growing or other irrational
systems of farming, and soils from naturally poor areas, showed
meagre amounts of these constituents.
It was found, further, that in soils from humid districts, there
was a relationship between the organic matter and the nitrogen
that what affected or destroyed the former dissipated the latter;
while on the other hand, the methods that led to the increase of the
organic matter also raised the nitrogen content. Undoubtedly these
two constituents stand and fall together.
Another feature of importance was that accompanying a fair
organic content there was usually a goodly proportion of available
phosphoric acid, potash and lime.
Then again it was evident that the proportion of organic matter
present influenced in a marked degree the capacity of the soil for
holding moisture and in several other important particulars affected
the mechanical condition.
It is more than probable that fertility is largely dependent
upon the rate of nitrification during the growing season, which,
though largely regulated by temperature and moisture, must be
materially affected by the amount of the food supply that the micro-
organisms find in the form of partially decomposed nitrogenous
From all this work with soils, the Chemist concludes that the
percentage of organic constituents humus is directly and indi-
rectly a measure of the soil's fertility, and that this percentage is
largely influenced by the treatment the soil received.
The natural means for replenishing the soil with organic cons
tituents is farm manures, but in the districts where such are most
required, the supply is frequently inadequate. In accordance with
the deductions drawn from the work of the Chemical and other
Divisions of the Experimental Farms, the rational plan is to adopt
a rotation including the use of leguminosae the nitrogen-gatherers
These latter are nature's soil enrichers. No other family of plants
can be used on the farm possessing the unique and valuable property
of appropriating the free nitrogen of the air nitrogen that may be
subsequently made available for succeeding crops. Not that the
fertilizing value of the legumes lies simply and solely in the nitrogen
they contain, though therein is their chief merit; the large quantity
of humus-forming material they furnish, the mineral matter
potash phosphoric acid and lime are features the significance of
which may in too many cases be underestimated.
WORK ON DAIRYING.
The Chemical Division has also rendered aid to the dairying
interests of the country, as for instance, is made clear by the follow-
ing bulletins issued during the past few years: 'The factors that
control the water-content of butter' ; 'Apparatus for determination
of water in butter' and 'The Sweet cream process of butter making'.
Closely associated with the foregoing was the investigation into
the character and causes of 'soft pork' a work which was of undoubt-
ed value to the upbuilding of the export bacon industry.
To publish even the briefest reference to all the undertakings
and accomplishments of the Chemical Division would alone occupy
much space. Sufficient has been referred to and briefly described
to indicate the character, scope and usefulness of the chemical work.
The field has been found wide and varied, and though much has been
accomplished, much more remains to be done.
While poultry has been kept at each of the Farms ever since
they were established, the chief experimental work has been done
at the Central Farm under the immediate supervision of Mr. A. G.
Gilbert. At the Branch Farms a number of the most suitable farm
breeds have been kept in sufficient numbers to carry on comparative
tests of egg production and fattening. Only thoroughly good speci-
mens have been kept and these under good farm conditions.
The reports that have been annually issued have been useful
guides to farmers and poultry keepers seeking information on the
relative values of breeds and of rations and methods of feeding.
The work with poultry at the Central Farm has been of a much
more comprehensive nature. Here practically all of the good
utility breeds of chickens have been kept for purposes of experiment
in regard to the various phases of the industry, as for example, early
maturity, egg production, development of laying strains, vitality
of stock, housing, feeding, natural and artificial incubation and
brooding, and many other points.
Special emphasis has been placed upon quality and vigor of
stock and the development of winter laying strains. In connection
with these features, much experimental work has been done in regard
to housing which has brought out the value of the airy house ventilated
by cotton screens set in the wall. Even in the cold winter climate
of Ottawa, these airy poultry houses have been demonstrated to
give better results than closely built, warm pens.
By a long series of experiments with trap nests, by which poor
layers are discovered and discarded and only good layers retained
for breeding, it has been shown to be practicable to build up heavy
la} ng strains that when kept in good condition may be depended
on to yield a sure and substantial profit.
Repeated tests in hatching with incubators heated by electricity
have proved this new system to give excellent results. A 6o-egg
incubator was heated by the wires used for lighting the poultry house.
The requisite uniform temperature of 103 degrees was easily main-
tained with the result that hatchings ranging from 75 to 85 per cent
of fertile eggs set were obtained. The electric brooder known as an
" electrohover " was found to be equally satisfactory.
Systems of feeding and comparative values of different foods
have provided an almost exhaustive study. Feeding for egg pro-
duction, for fattening, for early maturity, for vigor of breeding stock.
for flavour of eggs, have all received attention, and up to a certain
Among the most important conclusions arrived at as the result
of long and practical experience are the following:
That variety in rations is absolutely necessary to successful
winter egg production, health of the birds, and immunity from
the vices of egg-eating and feather-picking;
That germs of eggs in springtime, under ordinary conditions
of poultry keeping, do not become strong until the fowls have
run outside and recovered from their long term of artificial winter
life and treatment; ^
Cotton front colony house.
Two curtains rolled up on mild winter day.
That white diarrhoea etc., is in the great majority of instances
in early spring due to the lack of constitutional vitality on the part
of the breeding stock. One of the principal causes is given in the
That germs do not under ordinary conditions become strong
enough to hatch out a satisfactory percentage of chickens until
the 1 2th or I5th of April;
That the most favourable time for farmers to have their chickens
hatch out is usually the first week in May. Unless provided with
artificial means of hatching and rearing chickens it is not convenient
to do so at an earlier date ;
That to have the chickens make steady growth it is absolutely
necessary after the first forty-eight hours that they should be care-
fully housed, regularly fed, and kept free from lice;
That if well fed and cared for, up to the saleable age of three
and a half, four or five months, the chickens will be in such satisfac-
tory condition that very little, if any, crate-fattening will be required
to make them choice market specimens;
Chicks brooding ?n the Electrohover.
That a midsummer moult is preferable to a later one and it may
be brought about by directions as shown in Bulletin No. 54, which
are too lengthy to repeat in this brief summary;
That it is not necessary to have a male bird with the hens in
order to have successful winter laying;
That to secure the highest prices for winter eggs they should
be of good flavour, the result of clean and generous feeding of varied
rations; uniform size; clean in appearance; neatly put up and not
That neither correct nor inviting market types, early layers
nor perfect specimens as show birds can be produced if the chickens
are allowed to 'pick up their own living' in their early days. A
chicken which has become stunted from being stinted in its food
never recovers from the neglect ;
That in artificial incubation it has been found that if the chickens
after being hatched are subject to sudden change in temperature,
they are apt to become chilled and diarrhoea will follow;
Experience has emphasized year after year the necessity of
the germs of the eggs used for hatching being strong so that they
will hatch out in the shape of robust chickens which will make
The utmost care has been exercised in the recording of results
which have been made the subjects of reports, bulletins, leaflets,
lectures, newspaper articles and correspondence that have reached
a very wide circle of farmers and students of the industry in all
parts of the Dominion.
This information has been and is going out almost continuously
in the English and French languages free of cost to every one who
asks for it. That the work of the Poultry Division has had a marked
influence upon the poultry industry of the country is a fact beyond
refutation; that backward methods by Canadian poultry raisers
who can read the English or French language are inexcusable is a fact
equally well established.
WEEDS AND PLANT PESTS.
To the extraordinary progress that has been made in Canada in
combating insect and weed pests, much credit is due the work of the
Botanical and Entomological Divisions of the Experimental Farms
system. Himself an authority upon the sciences that underlie the
understanding of these enemies of crops and a keen judge of men,
Dr. Saunders was able to make a wise choice in the selection of the late
Dr. James Fletcher, to take charge of this Branch of the Farms' work.
Through his entire official career, Dr. Fletcher was constantly on
the alert for information through the press, correspondence, public
meetings and personal observation, regarding the introduction and
ravages of insect enemies and the appearance of weeds of every kind.
The pests of other countries were made the objects of study so as to
be able to identify and combat them effectively, should they appear
within the borders of the Dominion. Collections were being con-
tinuously made from material collected in the field, the forest and the
orchard and garden, as well as through the kindness of correspondents
who applied to the Division for help in their studies of insects and of
Much time was given to the rearing of insects, eggs or larvae.
In this way, an exact knowledge was gained of the preparatory stages
of insects, the number of broods and the times of year at which they
develop, so as to better devise remedies for injurious species. The
information thus gathered was systematically recorded, so that, as
time went on a vast fund of most valuable data was accumulated for
the benefit of the farmers of the country.
Equally extensive and complete was the work with plant life.
Constant additions were being made to the herbarium from specimens
sent in by correspondents for naming, or from donations, and in many
instances, fine specimens of rare plants have been acquired by growing
the plant from the seed and securing samples at different stages of
development. By this constant study and systematic accumulation,