University of California
Form L 1
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below
*W ?1 1931
APR i 8 1932
2 7 1963
Form L-9-15"! 8,'2-t
A Text for the Farm
O. H. BENSON
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, SPECIALIST
IN CHARGE OF CLUB PROJECTS
GEORGE HERBERT BETTS
AUTHOR OF THE MIND AND ITS EDUCATION
BETTER RURAL SCHOOLS, ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS, CHARTS AND
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
BRAUNWORTH t CO.
BOOKBINDERS AND PRINTER
BROOKLYN, N. V.
"I know of no pursuit in which more real and
important service can be rendered to any country
than improving its agriculture."
Acknowledgment is gratefully made to the Minister of
Agriculture, Canada, for the illustration on page 209; the
United States Department of Agriculture for the illustra-
tions on pages 17, 40, 65, 68, 75, 77, 82, 85, 93, 105, 120, 125,
129, 147, 149, 151, 1 86, 189, 193, 194, 196, 198, 209, 213,
273, 278, 280, 284, 286, 298, 299, 303, 309, 317, 318, 321,
325, 328, 350, 352, 353, 355, 362, 364, 369, 397 ; the Poultry
Department of the Massachusetts College of Agriculture,
pages 357, 364, 366 ; the Kansas State College of Agriculture,
pages 42, 45 ; the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, page 173 ;
the Washington State College of Agriculture, page 339 ; the
Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, pages
15/19, 28, 55, 123, 139, 243; the College of Agriculture of
the Illinois State University, pages 233, 239, 320, 323 ; the
College of Agriculture of the University of Wisconsin,
pages 187, 190, 192, 195, 199; the College of Agriculture of
the State University of Minnesota, pages 348, 372 ; the Col-
-lege of Agriculture of the University of Ohio, page 129;
the Yakima Commercial Club of the State of Washington,
pages 155, 182, 269, 338; the Crop Improvements Commit-
tee, Board of Trade Building, Chicago, page 39 ; Wallace's
Farmer, Des Moines, Iowa, page 393 ; the Agricultural De-
partment of the International Harvester Company of Chi-
cago, pages 51, 68, 89, 135, 137, 142, 144, 157; the James
Manufacturing Company, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, pages
239, 246, 411; the DeLaval Separator Company of New
York City, page 383 ; the Lehigh Portland Cement Com-
pany, of Chicago, page 430; the Northern Pacific Railway,
page 341 ; the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, New
Castle, Indiana, page 380, and the David McKay Publish-
ers, Washington Square, Philadelphia, Pa., pages 413, 414,
The present volume attempts what has not yet been ac-
complished in elementary texts on agriculture the combin-
ing of real practical information with concrete home and
school projects to be carried out by the pupils. Agriculture,
of all subjects, can not be taught from within a text-book.
Nor, on the other hand, can it be well taught by the teacher
who is not a specialist without a good text-book by means
of which to unify the instruction and lead to an intelligent
interest in the farm and its problems. Unless the pupils
busy themselves with actual agricultural activities, the study
becomes mere theory and of doubtful value. This text is a
guide to concrete work and interest on the farm, in the
garden and about the home.
Yet the text is more than a laboratory guide. It gives a
large amount of practical, scientific information wholly
without technical terms. Further, this information is al-
ways so immediately related to definite farm projects as to
have meaning and application. Scientific facts and their use
go hand in hand. Theory and practise are never divorced.
The old maxim, "Learn to do by doing," is constantly fol-
lowed, and the doing made natural and worth while to the
child by being connected with his home interests.
Hardly a day's assignment occurs in the book, therefore,
that does not present some real project for the pupils to
carry out in connection with the farm or home life. Nor
are the problems set the child without the information or
guidance necessary to their intelligent solution. The re-
quired facts, principles and descriptions are always at hand,
and the problem or project made the means of teaching some
valuable lesson in concrete form.
The authors believe that the elementary features of agri-
culture can be successfully taught without technicalities. It
has been their aim to present a treatment so clear that chil-
dren from fourteen to sixteen years of age could read and
profit by it even without a teacher. They have also tried to
make the subject-matter so vital and helpful that all who are
interested in agriculture, even practical farmers, will care to
read it, and desire to carry out its lessons in practise.
Teachers will recognize and welcome the attempt to use
the study of agriculture in bringing about a closer relation
between the school and the home. Not only teachers, but
county superintendents and agricultural agents will appre-
ciate the many helpful suggestions concerning Demonstra-
tion Days, Play Contests and Agricultural Club Projects ;
for these are coming to occupy an important place in agri-
cultural education. The great amount of care given to make
the lessons teachable through the outlining of many definite
and practical laboratory, field and home projects will appeal
to all who use the text, and save much time for the busy
The authors gratefully render their acknowledgments for
much cordial help received from the staffs of various state
colleges of agriculture and the United States Department of
Agriculture. Especially valuable have been the suggestions
and material received from the colleges of agriculture of
Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, New York, Massa-
chusetts, Alabama, Minnesota, Kansas and Nebraska.
PART I. FARM CROPS
I CORN CULTURE 1
Corn the king of crops The "corn belt" The corn plant
Determining the stand Stand in the home field Corn
enemies Topics for investigation Saving the seed Types
of corn The selection bed Corn judging with score-card
Testing the seed Problems and experiments Preparing
seed for the planter Seed bed and planting Cultivating
the corn Harvesting and storing The silo Uses of corn
Topics for investigation Corn demonstrations Corn
play contests Corn club projects.
II WHEAT 64
Bread the staff of life Importance of wheat The wheat
states Types of wheat Topics for investigation Growing
the crop Diseases and insect enemies Treatment of fun-
gous enemies Treatment of insect enemies Problems and
III OATS . . 80
Importance of oats as a crop The oats region Types of
oats Problems and experiments Raising the crop Har-
vesting and thrashing Insect enemies and diseases Topics
for investigation Wheat and oat demonstrations Play
contests Club projects.
IV THE POTATO 98
Origin Plant and tuber Potatoes as a farm crop The
potato region Growing the crop Harvesting and storing
potatoes Seed selection The "tuber-unit" method Potato
enemies Problems and experiments Potato demonstra-
tions Play contests Potato clubs.
V FORAGE CROPS 113
The place of forage crops Important grasses and le-
gumes Region and extent of forage crops Uses to which
the forage plants are put Problems and experiments
Demonstrations Club projects.
VI THE CLOVERS 119
Wide use of the clovers Red clover Study of the plant
Value of red clover on the farm Raising red clover
Seed bed and seeding Good seed Harvesting Enemies
and their control Other kinds of clover Problems for in-
VII ALFALFA 133
Study of plant Distribution of alfalfa Alfalfa as a
forage crop As a renewer of the soil Successful raising
of alfalfa Harvesting Enemies Topics for investigation.
VIII OTHER. LEGUMES 146
The cow-pea Cow-peas as forage As a soil renewer
The vetches Varieties Uses Soy-beans Uses and culti-
vation Feeding value The peanut.
IX MEADOWS AND PASTURES 154
Importance of meadows and pastures Requirements of a
meadow Meadow grasses and legumes Mixtures for
meadows Care of meadows Problems for investigation
Pastures Requirements Seed mixtures Care.
PART II. HORTICULTURE
X THE VEGETABLE GARDEN ........ 165
Importance of garden Location and soil Plan Table
of planting and maturing Garden culture The hotbed
Insect enemies Other enemies Problems and experiments
Garden demonstrations Play contests Club and canning
XI THE FRUIT GARDEN 180
Profits and satisfaction Soil and location Plan A vari-
ety list Care of fruit garden Enemies and their treatment
Spraying Problems and experiments Demonstrations
Play contests Fruit clubs.
XII THE TOMATO . 201
Importance of the tomato Varieties Raising the crop
Pruning and staking Harvesting and marketing Problems
and experiments Demonstrations Play contests Clubs.
XIII GARDEN AND ORCHARD SPRAYS 208
Indispensable in successful gardening Bordeaux mixture
Use Lime-sulphur How made and used Arsenate of
lead Mixing and applying Paris green Kerosene emul-
sion How made and used Resin-lime mixture.
XIV HOME CANNING OF FRUITS AND VEGETABLES . . . 217
Value of home canned foods Recipes for home canning
Time table for canning Canning outfits.
PART III. THE SOIL
XV NATURE OF SOIL 225
Origin of soil Nature of soil Organic matter Texture
and its effects Structure of soils Structure and tilth
Erosion Problems and experiments.
XVI SOIL FERTILITY AND PLANT GROWTH 236
Plant food and soil fertility Loss of fertility Maintain-
ing fertility Barnyard manure as a fertilizer Preventing
loss from manure Application to soil Green manuring
Commercial fertilizers Use of lime on soils Crop rota-
tion and fertility.
XVII SOIL MOISTURE 251
Forms of soil water Capacity of soils for capillary
water Tillage and soil water Soil drainage Surface and
tile drains Soil demonstrations Problems and experiments
Soil play contests Club work.
PART IV. FARM ANIMALS
XVIII FARM ANIMALS AND AGRICULTURE 265
Work animals Animals that supply food Other animal
products Topics for investigation.
XIX CATTLE 272
Dairy cattle Profitable and unprofitable cows The dairy
type Selecting dairy cows by milk tests Dairy breeds
Feeding for milk production Producing clean milk Beef
breeds Judging cattle Tuberculosis in cattle Experi-
ments and problems Demonstrations with cattle Play
contests Club projects.
XX HORSES 296
The horse-raising states Classes of horses Breeds
Judging horses Common defects of horses Care and
training Feeding : work rations Topics for investigation
Demonstrations with horses Play contests Club projects.
XXI SWINE 315
Pork region Breeds of hogs Care hog houses Feeding :
balanced rations Diseases Prevention and treatment of
cholera Problems and experiments Demonstrations
Play contests Club projects.
XXII SHEEP 336
Importance on farm Breeds of sheep Feeding: rations
Experiments and problems Demonstrations Play con-
tests Club work.
XXIII POULTRY 346
Importance on farm Extent of industry Breeds of
chickens Producing chickens Hens and incubators Test-
ing eggs Feeding chickens Producing and marketing eggs
Housing poultry Poultry diseases Topics for investiga-
tion Poultry demonstrations Play contests Club projects.
PART V. FARM ECONOMICS
XXIV FARM AND HOME MANAGEMENT 375
Planning the farm^ Administration of farms Farm
accounts Important rules Ten commandments of agricul-
ture Topics for investigation The farm house Other
XXV THE HOME GROUNDS AND WOOD LOT .... 389
Beautifying the home grounds Trees The lawn The
farm wood lot Tree enemies Problems and experiments
Demonstrations Play contests Tree and grounds club.
XXVI THE COUNTY AGRICULTURAL AGENT .... 401
Work of the county agent Financial support The
county agent and the school How to make use of the
XXVII FARM IMPLEMENTS AND MECHANICS .... 408
Importance of implements and tools Farm mechanics
Use of cement Shop work Rope tying and splicing
Problems and experiments Play contests Club projects.
XXXVIII ROAD BUILDING AND MAINTENANCE .... 420
Importance of good roads Types of roads Location of
a road Qualities making a good road Construction of
earth roads Maintenance Topics for investigation Road
demonstrations Road clubs.
XXIX BIRDS AND OTHER INSECT DESTROYERS .... 432
Birds and their food Birds helpful to agriculture
Harmful birds Protecting birds Topics for investigation
Other insect destroyers.
XXX MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION 441
How to remove stains Location of colleges of agricul-
ture and experiment stations Distance apart for planting
fruits and vegetables Quantity of seed per acre for
PART I. FARM CROPS
CORN is king of farm crops. The value of the corn
crop is almost equal to that of cotton, wheat and oats
combined, and totals more than a billion dollars annually.
We feed our stock upon corn, eat it for our own food and
use it in many other ways. The welfare and prosperity of
millions of people are dependent on securing a good crop
Three-fourths of the corn crop of the world is grown in
the United States. Each year we produce more than
2,500,000,000 bushels. Should we load this enormous crop
into wagons, fifty bushels to the load, and allow twenty feet
for each wagon and team, the line would reach about eight
times around the earth at the equator.
Taking the whole country together, the average yield
of corn per acre is slightly less than thirty bushels. The
states best adapted to corn raising are Illinois, Iowa, Ne-
braska, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana and Ohio. These seven
states, which are called the "corn belt" of the United States,
raise nearly half of all the world's corn. In them the yield
is somewhat over forty bushels to the acre. This is a much
smaller crop than could be raised if the soil were enriched,
and greater care and skill used in growing the crop. A
large number of corn club boys in different states have pro-
duced as much as one hundred fifty bushels from an acre,
and not a few in the southern states have raised more than
two hundred bushels. One of the things we shall try to
learn in this book is how to raise a larger crop of corn from
1. The Corn Plant
Corn belongs to the grass family ; that is, it is a member
of the same group of plants as timothy, wheat, rye, or blue-
In order to study the corn plant itself, each of the class
will secure from a near-by field, or bring from home, a com-
plete stalk of corn, taking care to save as much of the
root as possible. Then use the text as a help in studying
The roots. Examining the roots, do you find them
tough and fibrous, or tender? Do the roots branch, or is
there a central tap root? At earing time the roots of a
vigorous plant may extend down several feet, and spread
out so that they meet the roots from other hills. The
ground of a corn-field may thus be completely filled with
roots. In dry seasons the roots strike deeper than in wet
seasons. Why? Would you expect the roots to run deeper
in a black porous soil, or in a hard clay subsoil?
Are there roots branching from the lower one or two
joints of the stalk, thus starting from above the top of the
ground ? Roots growing in this way are called brace roots.
They act like the guy ropes of a tent pole, and hold the stalk
erect in the winds. If these are broken off by close plow-
ing, or destroyed by worms, the corn is easily blown down.
The stem. How long is the stem ? What is its girth
just above the root? How many leaves has it? From
where do these start? How are they attached? Are the
A good stand of corn. The yield was 105 bushels to the acre.
The boy tested the seed.
edges of the blades longer than the center? What proof
The length of the stem varies with different varieties of
corn, and because of differences in the season or the soil.
The range is from two or three feet to fifteen or twenty feet.
The stem is divided by joints called nodes; the sections be-
tween these joints are called internodes.
Is the stem round, or flattened? Cut the stem across
and note the structure. Unlike most other grasses, corn is
not hollow. The spongy substance with which the hard
outside shell is filled is called pith. The threads found run-
ning lengthwise through the pith add greatly to the strength
of the stalk.
The leaves. The leaves are important in the growth
of the plant, since in them the plant food is worked over
and assimilated, and through them the respiration, or breath-
ing, of the plant is done. The leaves are large, and hence
have to stand much tugging in the wind. Are they stronger
because of their sheath-like form of attachment ? Will they
tear as easily in a strong wind if the outer edges are slight-
ly longer than the center ? Large vigorous leaves indicate a
healthy plant. In very dry weather, the leaves curl up from
the edges. This is a useful habit, since the leaf when thus
rolled up does not lose so much moisture as when fully
Tassel and silk. Strip the husk carefully from an
ear in the milk stage, without injuring the silks. How
many silks are there? Where are the silks attached to the
ear? While tassel and silk are borne on different parts of
the plant, yet it takes both together to make the complete
flower of the corn and produce the ear. The tassel repre-
sents the male part, and the silk the female part of the
The work of the tassel is to produce pollen. This sifts
CORN CULTURE 5
off in fine grains just as the corn is silking. A particle of
pollen lodges on the tip of a silk, and a growth is carried
through the center of the tiny thread to its root, where the
kernel forms. The pollen in this way fertilizes the silks,
one silk for each kernel of corn. If for any reason no
fertilization occurs, no kernels will be formed.
The pollen grains are very light, and may be carried by
the wind for many rods, thus fertilizing the silks of other
plants than their own. This is called cross-fertilization.
The reason different varieties of corn planted in near-by
fields mix is because the pollen is carried from one field
to the other.
Have you ever seen an ear with part of the kernels
white and the rest reel, or yellow? How is this to be ex-
plained ? A small patch of pop-corn planted near field corn
turned out to be badly mixed, although the seed used was
pure. How do you account for the mixture?
2. Determining the Stand
In order to raise a full yield of corn we must first of all
have a good stand. Corn is usually planted in rows about
three and a half feet apart each way. On good corn land
three stalks seem to make the best hill. It is plain that if
the hills have but one or two stalks each, or if whole hills
are frequently missing, there can not be a full crop.
Importance of a good stand. Farmers often lose
much of their labor and a large amount of money because
of a poor stand of corn. It requires as much work to pre-
pare the ground and cultivate the corn for half or two-
thirds of a stand as if every hill was present and had its
How is it with the farms in your own neighborhood?
With your father's farm? What kind of a stand do the
corn-iields show ? The best way to answer this question is
to go out into the fields and count the hills. This is the
way the scientist works ; he makes sure, and does not guess.
We will therefore determine the stand on several plots se-
lected from different parts of a field of corn and discover
whether the farmer is losing labor and money because the
stand is imperfect.
Preparing for field study. Before going out to the
field rule off four forms like the following in your note-
book, each square to represent a hill of corn :
3. Record of Stand of Corn
Counting stand in the field. Now go to a near-by field
and select what appears to be an average plot of corn, ten
hills square. Go through the plot carefully, counting the
stalks in each hill, and recording the number in the proper
CORN CULTURE 7
square on your record sheet. Hills having more than three
stalks are to be recorded as having only three, as three
stalks to the hill make the best stand on average soil, if
planted three and one-half feet each way.
Having completed the count on this plot, select three
other plots in different parts of the field, count the hills
and make the record in your note-book for each plot sepa-
rately. We are now ready to estimate the stand for the
entire field. To do this, we shall need to work out the
following problems, keeping the results in our note-books :
1. If every hill had three stalks, how many stalks
would there be on each plot? How many on all four
2. How many hills in each of the plots had three stalks ?
Two stalks? One stalk? No stalk? How many stalks
altogether in each of the plots? In all the plots combined?
3. What percentage of a perfect stand do all four plots
average? If the entire field averages as good a stand as
the plots, what percentage of a stand has it?
4. How many acres in the entire field? How many
acres did the farmer plow and tend which, because of an
imperfect stand, raised no corn ?
5. What will this field probably yield to the acre?
Suppose the ears would still average the same size, what
would it yield with a perfect stand ? At the market price of
corn, what difference in value would this make per acre?
For the whole field?
Counting stand in home fields. After having made
this study, you will naturally want to know about your
home fields of corn. Therefore prepare other record sheets
in your note-books, and count the stand on four different
plots of your father's corn, making careful records as you
did in the first study. Then work out the five problems for
the home field as you did for the field studied at school.
Show the results to your father, and talk with him about
the cause of the imperfect stand. Also compare your re-
sults with the stand found in the home fields of other mem-
hers of the class, and see if you can discover what produces
the differences in stand. Barring bad weather at planting
time, worms and other pests, at least a ninety-five per cent,
stand should always be secured.
Barren stalks and suckers. Merely having the right
number of stalks in the field does not insure a crop, however.
These stalks must bear ears. There are two classes of
stalks that are of no use, barren stalks and suckers.
Strong and vigorous-looking stalks may be barren. Bar-
renness may be caused by weak seed, injuries to the roots
by worms or insects, diseases, poor soil, drought, or too thick
planting. Suckers are but branches from the parent stalks,
and have no root of their own. They are worse than useless,
for they seldom bear ears, and are but a drain on the stalk
which supports them. Suckers are caused by thin planting,
especially in rich heavy land. There are also some strains
of corn which, through heredity, are likely to grow suckers.
Seed from sucker-bearing stalks should not be planted.
Counting barren stalks and suckers. We shall now
determine the percentage of barren stalks and suckers in a
field. Take either the plots already counted for stand or
new ones, and go over them, counting the ears. Make a
record sheet of squares as before. In these squares record
(1) the number of stalks that has two ears, (2) that has
one ear, (3) that has no ear. Do this for each of four
plots ten hills square.
SUMMING UP RESULTS
1. What percentage of the stalks bears two ears? One
2. What percentage of stalks is barren? If this per-
centage holds for the entire field, how much is the yield
CORN CULTURE 9
reduced per acre, supposing the field as it now stands will
yield forty bushels ?
3. What percentage of the stalks bears suckers? How
many of the suckers had ears?
4. What do you judge was the cause of the barren
stalks? Of the suckers?
4. Corn Enemies
Plants, like animals, are subject to certain diseases.
Corn is usually a healthy plant, and not affected by as
many diseases as some of the other crops. The most seri-
ous enemies of corn are various insects, such as the corn-
root worm, the corn-root aphis or louse, the cutworm, the
ear worm ; and such animals as gophers, squirrels and birds.