United States. Congress. House. Appropriations.

Agricultural appropriation bill: 1923, hearing ... 67th Congress, 2d session online

. (page 95 of 114)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. AppropriationsAgricultural appropriation bill: 1923, hearing ... 67th Congress, 2d session → online text (page 95 of 114)
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lender those circumstances the probabilities are, that a dirt road
would accumulate more moisture, but during the ordinary time of the
year if the concrete road and the dirt road are each dry on top there

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will prol)ably be a greater percentage of moisture 6 or 7 inches down
under the concrete.

Mr. Anderson. But nobody cares how much the moisture is under
the road when the road is dry on top. The question is, how much
moisture is on the top of the road when the dirt is wet on top?

Mr. MagDonaij). I am talking about the concrete slabs. •

Mr. Anderson. I am talking about about dirt roads and draining
them. ^

Mr. MacDonald. AVe are insisting on all the different kinds of
draining there are, but we have come to this conclusion, that until
we do something more than tile draining or constructing ditches on
either side of the road we can not drain the heavy soils sufficiently
to make them good supports for a surface of another kind or for an
earth road, as such. The soils include the clay, the adobe, and the
black wax soils, all of which are hard to deal with in road mainte-
nance and road building. I am not talking about the light sandy
.*-oils or soils which do not have a high colloidal content.

Xow this, Mr. Chairman, answers your question from the stand-
point of research matters in soils work. From the standpoint of road
designs and the removal of the water in a primary way, we have
insisted on adequate side ditches first of all, and adequate openings
under the road. We examine every mile of road that is built. We
examine every plan for every mile of road in detail, and we have
insisted on including a sufficient number of openings to remove the
water as fast as possible from the roads. I had in mind that your
(juestion referred more particularly to research work from which we
are trying to learn about the different kinds of soils over which we
build roads. This is the biggest question wdth highway engineers
to-day, pailicularlv as to their supporting power.

Mr. Anderson. I suppose eyeiTbody who has been in that part
of the country (the Mississippi Valley States) knows that there are
places where you can take this clay and mold a round ball of it and
it will bake on the outside and hold the moisture for a long time.
Unquestionably that is true, and I suppose the problem of draining
roads of that kind is very much greater than in other kinds of
roads. But what was disturbing me was that my interpretation of
what you said was that there was no use any more of even trying to
drain roads.

Mr. MacDonald. No, sir. I intended to say that with many soils
there would still be sufficient moisture held in them after ordinary
drainage to render them unreliable supports for the road. This is
particularly true of the adobe, black wax, and heavy clay soils.

Mr, Anderson. I know there are some roads in Minnesota where,
in the spring of the year, you can drive over the road with a per-
fectly dry surface on top, but it will be just like waves underneath,
as if it was made of rubber.

Mr. MacDonald. Even though there were adequate side ditches on
the sides?

Mr. Anderson. Yes.

Mr. MacDonald. Mr. Chairman, I do not wish to allow to creep
into the record anything that would suggest a neglect during con-
struction of ample side ditches, road crowns, and openings under the
highways. I believe in tile draining, although a good many engineers
are opposed to putting tile drains under the roads. ^ ,

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Mr. Anderson. I am inclined to think that a tile draia will not
drain a road with a soil content that will not carry off the moisture.

Mr. MacDonald. Yes; that is it. My testimony would be much
easier to understand if the committee could find it possible to look
over some of the experimental work at Arlington. Under this
item, in addition to the other research work, we have the routine
testing of materials, testing of new supplies or materials for the
Federal-aid work. The entire appropriation comes from the adminis-
trative funds of the Federal aid road act.


Mr. Buchanan. What percentage of that fund is devoted to ail-
ministrative purposes?

Mr. MacDonald. Formerly it was 3 per cent, but now it is 2^ per
cent. It should be returned to 3 per cent.

Mr. Buchanan. Now, if 2| per cent is sufficient, suppose that act
authorizes you to conduct some character of investigation that is
covered in this item in the appropriation bill. What use have you
for this item at all in the appropriation bill ?

Mr. MacDonald. That was the same question that the chairman
asked a few moments ago.

Mr. Buchanan. And your reply was that by reducing your per-
centage for administration, 2 J per cent would not be sufficient?

Mr. Ball. Unless it was made retroactive.

Mr. Buchanan. But this does not make it retroactive. This is
payable out of Federal aid funds, as amended.

Mr. Anderson. It would apply to the original funds.

Mr. Ball. But this refers to the amendment.

Mr. Buchanan. It says, " payable out of the administrative fund

Srovided by the Federal aid road act of July 11, 1916, as amended.''
hat is provided by the act.

Mr. Ball. But tnis was written before this amendment that he is
talking about was passed, and unless it gets part of the appropriation
out of the old appropriation under the original act, then this appro-
priation will contravene or modify the last amended act we passed
on goods roads, because it will make a larger allotment out of that
fund than coula be derived from the 2^ per cent.

Mr, Buchanan. Yes; but you are going to run up against the
Comptroller General in the wording of your appropriation — ^ pav-
able out of the administrative fund provided by the Federal aid
road act of July 11, 1916, as amended."

Mr. Ball. It probably means as amended by a certain other date.

Mr. Buchanan. It ought to be " payable out of the act of July 11*
1916," and stop right there.

Mr. Ball. That would only give us the balance out of the first

Mr. Buchanan. That would give you $175,000 out of the first
appropriation and whatever was provided by the amended act.

Mr. Ball. But if you left off the words " as amended," it would not.

Mr. MacDonald. We may be able to leave this item out entirely.
That act was not passed when this was written.

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Mr. Anderson. I think you had better put that question up to the
Mr. MacDonald. All right.

(Note. — ^The solicitor holds that this item should be retained.)


Mr. Anderson. The next item is, on page 200, for maintenance
and repairs of experimental highways, including the purchase of
materials and equipment, for the employment of assistants and labor.
There is an apparent decrease of $5,000.

Mr. MacDonald. The use of that item is for the maintenance of
certain experimental highways that were built — or portions of those
highways — that were built with the appropriation. It was constant
at about $60,000 from 1915 to 1920. We are still maintaining some
sections of those highways and making studies of them, but we have
decreased the i-equest this year to $20,000. It was $25,000 last year —
1921 and 1922.


Mr. Wason. Where are some of these experimental highways?

Mr. MacDonald. One section extends in Maryland from the cir-
cle out to CheVy Chase Lake. We have a series of short sections
there of different types of roads that we are maintaining. There
is one section of bituminous road that runs through Bradley Lane.
The rest are on the road between here and Mount Vernon. That is
the Mount Vernon Road.

Mr. PuGSLEY. Are you duplicating those tests in other sections on
different types of soil?

Mr. MacIJonald. No; we are not duplicating these same tests in
other sections, but we are using the same types of roads in our major
operations now. That is, the information that we get from the
short sections has been used in the development of specifications
for major road construction, so in that sense we are not duplicat-
ing the experiments, because we hope that the information that we
have received from these experiments is really beyond the experi-
mental stage now, and that we have developed specifications that we
are reasonably sure of.

Mr. PuGSLEY. The question in my mind which prompted the in-
quiry was this: The soils in different sections of the country are
entirely different, and I was wondering whether that would not
have something to do with the result of the tests — the result that
you secure from the experiments.

Mr. MacDonald. Yes; it would have a very material effect; it
would make a very material difference.

Mr. PuosLEY. So that perhaps a type of road which really stood
up well on the top soil here would not stand up well on the top soil
in the Mississippi Valley or in some other section of the country?

Mr. MacDonald. It might need auxiliary construction of some
kind, but as a general statement it is true that types of roads which
would stand up on types of soil here would not stand up on some
of the soils in the Mississippi Valley.

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Mr. Anderbon. That would be due to weather conditions, to the
frost and other factors.

Mr. MacDonald. There are a good many other factors besides the
soils ; yes, sir.

Mr. Anderson. Are you contributing anything to the maintenance
of these roads?

Mr. MacDonald. Thbse particular roads we are maintaining in
their entirety. We have been gradually giving them over to the
maintenance of the State or counties. That is, we are only main-
taining short sections now where we formerly maintained roads in
their entirety. For example, the road to Rockville was built as an
experimental road some jears ago and that has been taken over by
the State and is now being maintained entirely b}' the State.

Mr. Lee. Where is that experimental road where you have experi-
mental sections about 100 yards long?

Mr. MacDonau). That is the one from Chevy Chase Circle out.

Mr. Lee. And then on beyond Chevy Chase ?

Mr. MacDonald. Yes, to the lake, also through Bradley I^ne.
Those highways, while they do not appear so without close examina-
tion, are composed of short sections of different types of construction.

Mr. Anderson. I will call your attention, Mr. MacDonald, to this
detail of allotments on page 145 of your statement here. Your esti-
mates for the current year show $10,500 for maintenance and-$6,0<)t>
for miscellaneous, while the estimates for the next fiscal year do not
include anything for maintenance but include $16,500 for mis<*el-
laneous items.

Mr. MacDonaid. The appropriation is for just the same work.

Mr. Anderson. Do you mean that the maintenance and miscellane-
ous items have been lumped together in the item for $16,500?
• Mr. MacDonald. Yes, sir. We are not contemplating any new
work, any additional work, or any different work, under that itenu
with the exception of the repair of sections of roads which we
actually break up under tests. We are going to make some tests of
short sections of road on the main traveled highways.

Mr. Anderson. In the vicinity of Washington ?

Mr. MacDonald. Yes. However, that would be a small item.

Mr. Anderson. I was hoping we would get rid of this item pretty

Mr. MacDonald. Mr. Chairman, I think we ought to maintain
the road going into Mount Vernon. Otherwise I do not know how
that road will be maintained. If necessary, we will give up all the
rest, but I do not see how that road will be maintained if we do
not do it.

Mr. Anderson. I think probably you are right about that.

Mr. PuGSLET. Is not there an experimental value to continue the
maintenance of these roads ? You are keeping a record of the cost
of maintenance?

Mr. MacDonald. Yes. There is an experimental value to it, but
we have got to the point now where perhaps in another year or so
we will either have to rebuild; that is, we will have to ask for
enough money to resurface and rebuild these sections or else give up
the maintenance entirely. This work has been conducted for a
long time and we have about finished with the experimental or in-

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formational data that we can get. We either ought to ask for
enough money to rebuild them or else give them up entirely.

Mr. Anderson. That is exactly the impression that I had about it.
They have been down a long time and it is now a matter very
largely of whether they are to be maintained in the future by the
Federal Government or by anybody else ; and while I think there is
some reason for maintaining the road out to Mount Vernon, there-
does not seem to be so very nuich reason, from a maintenance point
of view, for maintaining these other roads. For instance, that
Bradley Koad was resurfaced last year, was it not ?

Mr. MacDonald. The maintenance treatment is hardly what we*
would call resurfacing. It was an oil treatment — rather cheap treat-
ment. I served notice on those people some time agp that if they
would not make provision for getting the road widened so that it was
a safe road, we would not maintain it any longer. I think it is an
unsafe road, and I am afraid there will be an accident there for
which we will be more or less responsible. It is only 15 feet wide.

Mr. Anderson. I know il is very narrow.

Mr. MacDonald. But I am not insistent on the caiTying on of
that work very much longer. We have better data on those roads
than we have for any other roads. I consider it a national respon-
sibility to maintain the road into Mount Vernon.

Mr. Anderson. How much of that road is there ?

Mr. MacDonaij). It is not over a couple of miles. I have forgotten
how long it is

Mr. Anderson. What does it cost to maintain that road?

Mr. MacDonald. 1 can not tell you. I will put that in the record.

Note. — For new constrtiction and repnirs al)out $3,000.

for investigating and reporting on water ITILIZATTON IN FARM


Mr. Anderson. The next item is on page 201 for investigating and
reporting certain questions of irrigation, $72,000.

Mr. MacDonaij). Mr. Chairman, I touched on the outlines of this.
work yesterday, the large fields that are occupied. I would like to
bring before the committee, the thought that we want to get all this
work on a basis that will meet the favor of the committee so that we
will be allowed to expand it. I believe that agricultural engineering
is one of the big forces, one of the utility services, that will do a great
(leal toward the betterment of the agricultural population. We are
very desirous of getting our work largely on a research basis and a
cooperative basis that will produce results that are sufficiently im-
portant so that the committee will see its way clear to enlarge this,
work. In the appropriation this year we are asking a very modest
enlargement of one of the items, and in other two we have asked
no increased appropriation.

I would like to have Mr. McCrory make a statement. He is Chief
of the Agricultural Division, and I would like to have him make
something of a detailed statement as to these three items.

Mr. Anderson. I will be very glad to have him make a statement.
Before he commences I would like to sa}' that I had hoped that the fis-
cal situation would be such as to permit of an expansion of the work

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under a number of these departments, as well as the civil services
m other departments of the Government. Apparently the present
status is about this, that since 1916, with the reductions that have
been made and are contemplated this year, the appropriations for
the civil services of the Government will be somewhere between 10
and 15 per cent above the 1916 level. Now, that is very much less
than the normal rate of increase in the years preceding 1916. I
felt that we ought pretty soon to get to a point where there will be
some expansion of the civil services of the Government, which have
such a very close relation to the economic life of the people. I am
afraid we have not reached that point quite yet, although I wish
we had.

Mr. MacDonald. We recognize that situation; and as I stated,
Mr. Chairman, what we are trving to do, however, is to put our
work on such a basis of service tnat when the time does come we will
be able to expand, with the assistance of this committee, along the
lines that permit of returns to the people consistent with the expendi-

The agricultural engineering field has widened materially with
the development of the use of farm machinery on such a large basis
and the equipment of farms and homes.' I would like to have Mr.
McCrory make a statement.

Mr. McCrory. Mr. Chairman, there is no change in the wording
of the item on page 202 for the present year. The language of tliis
clause which provides for the irrigation work has not been changed
for a number of years. In recent years there has been a considerable
reduction in the amount of work, clue to decreased appropriations and
increased cost of operation.

The work that the irrigation division is doing can be divided into
three parts, as follows :

1. That dealing with the problems of the farmer on his own farm.

2. That dealing with the engineering phases of the building of
works and the conveyance and measurement of water.

3. That dealing with public, community, and institutional phases
of irrigation.

The allotment of the funds to these lines of work I have tabulated
here as follows [reading] :


General supervision

Farm irrigation problems

Engineering investigations

Public and organization problems.

Total appropriation






72,000 I 100

We have had very good cooperation in this work from the Western
States. Under the agreement with California we are receivinj^ from
the State $7,000. From the State of Texas we are receiving $2,580:
from Colorado, $4,720; from Nevada, $3,000; from New Mexico,
$2,900 ; and from Utah, $4,000.

There is a popular impression that irrigation consists principallv
in the building of works to bring water to the land to be watered.

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and statistics of irrigation show the cost of irrigation works as if
this were the main item. Recently we made an investigation of one
of the large Government projects, the Newlands project. That in-
vestigation showed that there had been expended by the Government
in construction about $7,000,000, and that with only one-fourth of
the land of the project actually watered the farmers had made an
investment of about $9,000,000 in improvements, in preparing their
land for irrigation, etc.

Mr. Anderson. What do you mean by preparing land for irriga-
tion ?

Mr. McCrort. Leveling it and clearing off the undergrowth, the
sage brush, and that sort of thing; diggmg farm laterals and farm
irrigation ditches.

From this it is apparent that, measured by cost, the things remain-
ing to be done by the farmer after the water has been brought to the
land are of far greater importance than the works supplying the
water. The safety of the whole investment in supplying water and
in establishing and equipping farms depends to a large extent on the
proper use of the water after it has reached the farms, and that is
one of the fields for the work that the division is doing.

Mr. Buchanan. Do you have any idea how much that investment
amounts to? Have you any idea how much, as to supplying water
and establishing and equipping farms, is included in that?

Mr. McCrory. I can not give you that figure offhand. I can insert
it in the record if you would like me to.

Mr. Buchanan. All right.

The last census shows $697,657,328 invested in irrigation enterprises in the
United States. The report from which this figure is taken does not show the
cost of preparing land. The report of the census of 1910 sliows the average cost
per acre for supplying water to have been just about the same amount as the
average cost of clearing, leveling, and ditching farm land to get it ready to be
irrigated. It is probable that the same condition existed in 1920. Prices were
higher in 1920, but probably they affected both items in the same degree. This
cost does not include buildings, fences, equipment, and live stock. It covers
merely the work made necessary because the land is to bo irrigated.

Mr. McCR0RY..The determination of the quantity of water to be
applied to various crops, the development of the best methods of ap-
plying water to the various crops and soils, and the securing of the
adoption of these methods by tne farmers^ is an important part of
our work. The use of too much water will ruin the best of land;
and attempts to irrigate poorly prepared fields will result in poor
crops, as well as injury to the land. In either case, the result will be
the failure of the farmer, and through his failure, the failure of the
enterprise supplying water.

A large part of the work of this division in the past has been the
carrying on of experiments to determine what we have called the
"duty of water" — that is, the quantity of water that should be ap-
plied to the different crops under varioas soil and climatic conditions.
We have now in publication a report of such investigations running
through several years in the Salt River Valley, Ariz. Similar re-
ports for other sections have been published.

After we have determined how much water should be applied there
remain the purely mechanical questions of how to apply the water
to the fields to get it to the plant roots as it is needed, with the least

89128—22 48

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possible labor and expense, and waste of water. This involves careful
experimentation; and after we have determined the best method, it
is necessary to demonstrate it and show the farmers how to use the
method. We have just completed a series of experiments on methods
on border irrigation, and that is being published now as a farmers^

The engineering problems handled are of two classes, the general
broad engineering problems that apply to the whole irrigation field,
and local problems.

One subject to which we have given much attention is the carry-
ing capacities of irrigation ditches of various construction and align-
ings, and of pipes and siphons. We have made investigations on
wood pipe, concrete pipe, and metal pipe. These reports have been
adopted, you might say, as standards throughout the .country, and
we get a great many demands from foreign countries for that soil
of information. Installation of too small a channel or pipe means
a shortage of water. The installing of too large a pipe or canal means
M waste, because of unnecessary expense.

A necessary preliminary to the use of the proper quantities of water
is the measurement of the water. Measurement is necessary also for
the distribution of water to those entitled to it.

The large quantities of water used and the conditions under which
it must be measured preclude the use of ordinary measuring de-
vices. We have been working on measuring devices of different
characters for a number of years, in cooperation with the Colorado
Experiment Station, in connection with which a hydraulic laboratory
has been maintained for this particular line of work and other tech-
nical investigations. We have made a good deal of progress in this
field, and a number of measuring devices that have been quite widely
adopted, have been developed there.

A large part of the water used in irrigation is carried in open
ditches, and the losses from these ditches ai^e very large. These lo»?es
are serious, for two reasons — they decrease the amount of water that
may be used for useful irrigation and they injure large areas of
valuable land.

Concrete pipe has been much used for conveying wateY for irriga-
tion purposes, and that cuts down the losses of water to a great extent.
We have been cooi>erating in the State of California with the manu-
facturers of concrete pipe in a study of the methods of manufac-
ttiring and to determine how the quality of the pipe could he im-
proved. A very thorough standardization and a great improvement
in the quality of the pipe has been accomplished in California as the

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. AppropriationsAgricultural appropriation bill: 1923, hearing ... 67th Congress, 2d session → online text (page 95 of 114)