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THE TOPEKA DAILY STATE JOURNAL, IWW "ILi-JSP? Tl""" iiiiiimhii I or? Ott ojf'CtecIe find out the why and the 1 JSsm'i'TTi -5 II W 1 1 C wherefore of things is the great function of the U. S. Depart ment of Agriculture. J other branch of Uncle Sam's government pursues so energetically a mission of curiosity. Or rather, to be more ex act, no other Federal institution is inquisitive in the same, shall we call it disinterested way. They are all keen enough for new knowledge, make no mistake about that. Take, for example, the quest cf the Navy Department for new and more pow erful explosives; the scheming of the Post Office Department for cheaper methods of transporting the mails; and the recent tests of the Treasury Department with the object of pro longing the life of our perishable pa per money. But all these governmental activi ties, and dozens of other equally com mendable ones that might bo cited, are designed primarily to benefit the respective executive departments that project them. To be sure the nation may get the benefit indirectly in a more economical administration of public affairs but that, of course, is a rather roundabout way. On the other" hand the Department of Ag riculture has assumed the role of world-wide interrogator primarily, and directly for the benefit of the people at large. Uncle Sam's ' "farm annex" is in much the same position as A trade boomer who personally has nothing to sell. It does not carry on farming or stock raising or fruit cul ture to derive a profit. It does not even worry if its enterprises in this sphere are not self-supporting. Its sole aim is to serve as a missionary of general enlightenment for the entire farmer class and rural population and its aim is to put more money into the pocket of each Yankee tiller of the soil for his year's work. Now, as becomes a seeker after the truth, the Agricultural Depart ment has adopted every promising neans of acquiring that knowledge which it disseminates freely to all citizens of the republic. Field agents have traveled up and down the land, noting the methods of tilling the soil In vogue in various ' localities and yet other scouts have traveled abroad to ascertain whether our farmers and JTOJ77& os? fi& Cftp&rrf72?azo2 CHE vast valley of the Amazon contains a complete system of waterways, draining into the Atlantic, at the equator. In a volume three or four times as great as that of the Mississippi. The In fluence of this upon the ocean Is such as to make its water fresh to a dis tance of several miles from the shore Vessels coming in from LK'erpool and Hamburg proceed up the mighty river as far as Iquitos, In Peru, and thus we have the extraordinary con dition of a sea-port, situated 2,300 miles inland from the coast. The Montana, or forest that great sea of dense vegetation which covers the basin of the Amazon begins upon the eastern slopes of the Andes and extends to the shores of the Atlantic j Ocean. It occupies large portions of. Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil. For the most part it Is a wild region. In its natural state, ! inhabited by a number of distinct j tribes of Indians. Some, whose mem bers have had frequent communica tion with settled communities, are i more or less civilized, but the ma- i jority are primitive savages, hostile to strangers, whom they may attack with blow-gun, or bow and arrow. A party may travel through the forest fox days without seeing a human be ing, whilst their movements " are closely watched and their approach announced before-hand through the peculiar system of "wireless telegra- j phy" employed by some of these In- ' dian tribes. The instrument used is called a tunduy. It consists of a hollow tree-trunk, with three or four holes bored in it, . suspended in the air. This is struck with a club of balsa wood, so as to produce a va riety of sounds, each having a par ticular significance. The sounds are gardeners and stock raisers could learn anything from the folk who are similarly engaged in the Old World. Agricultural "explorers" have penetrated to every nook and corner of the planet to discover products of nature that might profitably be In troduced in the United States whereas in the laboratories at Washington ex perts have beon making exhaustive tests of seeds and fertilizers and road materials and pretty nearly every thing that is uti.ized by the man who makes his living from the soil. Latterly Uncle Sam has made a most important extension of his net for knowledge. It has come about through the establishment by the De partment of Agriculture of what are known as "experiment farms." These farms or testing stations, as they may also be designated, are nurseries for new ideas. Here the experts try out, now under normal conditions and again under unusual conditions, all the schemes that come into their heads. Indeed without these experi ment farms many a suggestion that has ultimately proven highly bene ficial would have been lost to the world because many of the innova tions that originate in the brains of Uncle Sam's agricultural sharps are so freakish, not to say costly of exe cution, that no private farmer who was the least bit conventional or con servative could be induced to try them out even if he had the time and the money. The governmental specialists on our farm troubles have, from the very date of the establishment of the sometimes made to carry eight or more miles. This immense forest area Is the world's chief source of rubber supply. Brazil alone ships from the Amazon country about $80,000,000 worth of the material yearly. Here and there in the midst of the Montana are busy centres of the rubber traffic. Manaos stands where the Rio Negro joins the Amazon, and 1,000 miles front the mouth of the latter. It is a modern city of paved streets, elec tric lights, splendid public buildings, and handsome homes. But Manaos is a phenomenon. The usual rubber depot Is not such a lusty young giant. Rosario is a typi cal illustration. It is a very old place and, until recently, was a sleepy vil lage, almost entirely out of touch with the world. Then the rubber tracts in the north of it began to be exploited and Rosario suddenly awoke j UmKS ' flS BBimy Department of Agriculture, been en thusiastic regarding the benefits to be derived from experiment farms. But farms of this kind, to be worth while, cost money to acquire and even mdVe money to maintain and so there was some delay in getting started. Ultimately, however, Con gress provided the money to purchase some farms for such service and now after years of improvement and de velopment the most important of these holdings have been brought to the point where not only are they "model farms" in the matter of equip ment and arrangement but they are productive in a degree which permits the object lessons to be closely stud ied in ail their details. The United States government now has a considerable number of experi ment stations and sub-stations, even extending to Uncle Sam's new pos sessions, such as Hawaii and Porto Rico. With Federal aid and encour agement most of the individual States of the Union have established State experiment stations, in not a few i instances connected with State agri cultural colleges and latterly impor tant private interests engaged in grow ing or using agricultural products (for instance, canning and preserving in terests) have established private ex perimental farms to investigate along the special lines involved. What should perhaps take rank as the first American agricultural ex periment station was established a' Albany, N. Y., in 1S4 9 by the New York Agricultural Society. This pio neer institution was, strictly speaking, to activity and enterprise. Now Its streets are a-bustle with the coming and going of rubber-gatherers, gaunt weatherbeaten Indians and half-breeds of every hue, from eb ony to coffee color. Their lean frames are clad in cotton shirt and trousers. Hats, in every variety of shape and material, cover their heads, and shade their coarse-featured, unshaven faces. The feet are bare, but a pair of sandals are suspended across the shoulders, to be worn on stony trails. Long knives, in leather scabbards, weapon and tool combined, hang from broad belts around the waist. The equipment is completed by a deer-skin rucksack, in which food, smoking materials, and the guarana making outfit, are carried. Pack trains composed of ponies, mules and oxen, guarded by armed Indian escorts, are constantly ar riving and leaving, the former bring a laboratory that' concerned itself with the analysis of soils, manures, etc. In 18 70 an experiment station was established as an adjunct to Har vard College, the first of a long line of experiment stations attached to educational institutions. About five years later Connecticut led the pro cession of States in establishing a State Experimental farm, and the 'au thorities of the Nutmeg State laid out no mean amount of money in pro viding an institution patterned very closely after the best experimental farms then in existence in Europe. Almost from the time of the es tablishment of the Federal Depart ment of Agriculture in 1862 the na tional government has maintained what passed for an experiment farm, although it was indeed a far cry from the modest tract of the Civil War period to the magnificent ex periment farms of the present day, which have only within the past year or two been brought to a point in efficiency which all but realizes the highest ambitions of the projectors. The first governmental farm was lo cated near Washington, D. C, and that city has continued to this day the center of Federal experiment farm work. That it should serve as a hub is but natural, because of sev eral considerations, but primarily be cause it is desirable to have the ex periment farms so located that im TheLand PUBBER ing in rubber from the forests, or supplies from Cuyaba; the latter car rying food, tools, clothing, medicine and rum to the camps in the depths , ! of the Montana. Gatherers are paid about fifty cents a pound for the gum, and an energetic j man, with a fairly good tract to work, will harvest 1,500 pounds in the sea- son of five months, commencing with the first of May. An advance is al ways made to secure the laborers' services. This he seldom repays, but instead goes farther into debt and virtually becomes a slave of the rub- ' ber company. Only a small proportion of the la- bor employed is drawn from the local sources. The greater part of It ' comes from Ceara, whence the ! peasantry are transported in large numbers to Amazonia. Emigration i agents conduct them in parties to j I Manaos, and from there they are sent ' portant experiments may be closely watched by officials who must needs make their headquarters in the City of Magnificent Distances. In a general way if may be said I that Uncle Sam's agricultural experl I ment stations concern themselves witn researcn ana tests in nine au ferent fields, namely, botany, soils, fertilizers, crops, horticulture, ento mology, feeding stuffs, animal nutri tion and dairying. At the principal farms not only is there conducted, all e while, a wide range of scientific research in the laboratories and plant houses, but also an immense amount of practical experimental work In the fields, the orchards, the stables and the dairies. At all the more important stations we find the principal crops studied either with regard to their composi tion, nutritive value, methods of cul tivation and manuring and the best varieties adapted to individual locali ties, or else with reference to systems of rotation which it has come to bi realized are of such tremendous Im portance if we are to continue re ceiving an undiminished yield from our hard-worked agricultural areas year after year. Many of the stations ! also investigate injurious insects with j reference to their restriction or de ; struction and at these farms are test j ed the prowess of those bugs which I are brought, often from the utter- ii Tsp pin s Rubber Tree out to the different seringais, or rub ber stations in the forest. To a pair of gatherers, or paraoras, Is assigned a definite tract, the trees of which each taps daily, walking round a blazed trail and gathering the sap as he goes. This he afterwards coagu lates by rolling it on a piece of wood in the smoke of a fire, and ultimately making it up into balls of a certain size, which are collected by the fore man and sent to the nearest depot, whence they are shipped down to Para by river steamer. The paraora builds a rude hut at the beginning of the trail through his tract. There he stores his ra tions and makes his smoking hearth. Until he becomes accustomed to the solitude of the forest, the life is one of terror and discomfort, but he is noj long In adapting himself to his surroundings. Seasoned paraoras will remain alone for months at a time, apparently quite contend, and working hard in the steaming atmos phere, indifferent to the attacks of mosquitoes and small reptiles. The pity of it is that few of these men derive any substantial benefit from the intensely arduous and health destroying lives which they lead. In September, when the rains set in, the gathering of rubber ceases and the forest is soon flooded. The laborers then take up their residence in the town, or central stations. Here, between seasons, there Is noth ing for them to do but drink, gam ble and loaf. Before It Is time to re turn to the forest, the paraora has spent all his earnings of the past season and added to his indebtedness. As he' can not leave his employer until this is discharged, he seldom sees Ceara and his kinfolk again. It i most parts of the earth, to prey upon one or another of the pests that be set our growing crops. Going a step farther effort is made at most of the farms to try out the most advanced ideas with regard to farm building construction, drainage, etc., and the Federal officials in charge of these farms have done much to prove to what advantage concrete and elec tricity, the revolutionizing influences of the age, may be employed on the farm. A new line of usefulness for the government experiment farm, which promises much for the future, has been developed only during th past few months. It is nothing less than a movement to make these up-to-date "show farms" meccas for the visits of farmers and farmers' sons and daughters. Particularly has the Idea taken hold of the instructors at educational institutions, notably, of course, agricultural colleges. They have suddenly awakened to the fact that a few days spent at one of these farms will afford more object lessons than could be obtained otherwise In weeks of travel and which clinch the book learning of the students as nothing else can do. . Of late, student parties, numbering fifty or more in each company, have been descending upon the centrally located experiment farms In great numbers, particularly in the spring and autumn, and the government of ficials have found a new duty thrust upon them, that of personal conduc tors for such parties. At the farm near Washington, which is the es- ! pecial attraction to such pilgrims in i quest of knowledge, the plan is foi i lowed of treating the visitors to a "hay ride" up and down the roads that cover the farm as by a net ! work. A governmental official ac j companies each hay-wagon and as the different plots of land under cul I tivation are reached he briefly ex ! plains the work lit progress much as j the megaphone lecturer dwells upon 1 points of interest for the benefit of : patrons of a sight-seeing automobile. It is found that agricultural students I derive tremendous benefit from suc i cessive visits to the same experiment ; farm, whereby they are enabled to ! view tests and experiments as they 1 progress. Some of the experiment stations are specializing on thoroughly unique work. For instance there Is tlw one j In South Carolina that is exploiting I tea as an American crop. Similarly O SZss-Zaj j is hardly necessary to say that there is no way of escape open to him. The river boats are the only means ! of reaching civilization. They are j j closely watched for runaways. 1 The rubber tree which grows In ! damp districts is the species known I as the hevea. The castllloa, or cau 1 cho, is found on dry soil. There are i comparatively few places In the Am ! azon basin that produce the latter. Where It Is found the sap is secured j by cutting down the tree, so that each j season exhausts a post and new tracts must be constantly sought. The Government of Brazil Is con ' structing a railroad, about 210 miles j in length, around the series of rap ids and cataracts on the rivers Ma- , deira and Matamora, which are the ! chief affluents of the Amazon. This will connect the navigation of the main stream with the 2,500 miles of waterways of Bolivia, and will, also ; give easier access to the Acre terri tory, which is believed to be the richest rubber region in the world. A small section of this line is already in operation, and it is anticipated that its entire length will be com- i pleted within a year's time. Para Is the old time centre of the rubber trade of Brazil. It Is also one of the places where yellow fever is still epidemic. It could be, and should be eradicated. It Is an ex- . ceedingly beautiful city, with clean and well kept streets and plazas. The Botanical Gardens, on the out- ! skirts, are probably unexcelled by any in the world. Para was founded early in the sev enteenth century, but today has the aspect of a thoroughly modern city throughout. It has always enjoyed a flourishing trade, but the high tide of Its prosperity came in comparatively j j there is a station in Louisiana that I Is seeking Improvements In the meth ods of sugar cultivation and manu facture; an Institution in Callfornli that Is going extensively Into th mysteries of wine and olive oil man ufacture; and an experimental estab j llshment in Virginia that Is concen trating effort on the production ol i superior vinegar and fruit syrups j There Is one station devoted to de i vising Improved methods of cultivating ! cranberries, and bee-culture and nut- growing are yet other spheres of ac tivity that enlist the attention of ex perts in special "Intelligence offices" of this kind. The model experiment farm of all the world Is the one located at Ar lington, Virginia, a short ride by trolley car from the city of Washing ton, and an institution which has been dubbed the "field laboratory of the Department of Agriculture." This farm of four hundred acres was part of the historic Robert E. Lee estate which came Into possession of the government at the time of the Civil War and Its present fertility ! a particularly impressive object lesson because of the wretched condition of the land when the Federal farm ex perts took hold of It a few years ago. This has been transformed Into as fair a farm as one could wish to see, a domain In the fields and greenhouses of which a force of nfty to sixty men carry on every Imagi nable form of vegetable testing and vegetable forcing; cultivation under shade; apple raising In a wonderful orchard that contains 686 varieties of apples; grain cultivation: and as an interesting "side line" experi ments In the cultivation of those plants from which the world derives its most important drugs. Only recently the Bureau of Ani mal Industry of the Department of' Agriculture has acquired a huge farm in Maryland, supplementing a smaller farm in the same State, where there will be carried on Investigations bear ing in any way upon the animals to be found on the farms of America. As may be surmised experiments in dairying practice play an Important part In this branch of the work, but there are angles to the undertaking which the average citizen would not sdspect. For Instance, Uncle Sam la here experimenting with milch goats and with that new family of farm animals, the offspring of a sturdy American mule and the zebra which was presented to then President Koosevelt by an African potentate. recent years with the growth of the rubber business. A small district near the water front Is the centre In which the avla dores and rubber buyers congregate. Here consignments are received by steamers and samples examined in the offices of the operators. These sam ples are always cut open and sub jected to various tests in order to detect adulterations. After it has been sold to the exporters, the rub ber is packed in wooden cases and reshlpped to foreign ports. The United States takes $30,000,000 worth of it, or more, annually. When a river steamer arrives with a cargo of rubber, the shipping dis trict of Para Is a very busy spot. Stevedores, warehousemen! commis sion agents, brokers, buyers, export ers, and a host of underlings, work day and night until the shipment la disposed of and on Its way to the ultimate markets. When prices are high, money Is plentiful In Para, and th Brazilian spends It with the lavish hand of a sailor on shore leave. Lon don and New York regulate the prices of rubber and during the crop season the operators in Para and Manaos are in constant communication with these cities. There Is a good-natured rivalry between Para and Manaos. The lat ter was a village thirty years ago and the old city affects to look upon It as little more than a mushroom town at present. But Manaos accepts these pleasantries with good grace, as she can well afford to. She has her own rubber exchange and vessels laden with the valuable product clear from her docks for European ports She Is growing faster than Para and gaining a constantly greater graap on the business.