Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/847

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
827
RICE AND ITS CULTURE.

and what must be done to supply it. If we had fancied that there were no defects in it, recent events, including the irresistible and disastrous overflows of Yellow River, would have demonstrated the contrary. They teach us that unceasing vigilance must be exercised in keeping the artificial waterways open, and that additional works are needed to make the system complete.

A difficulty resulting from the special character of our social organization stands in the way of the execution of new works. The whole of our territory is under cultivation. There is not a corner of the land capable of producing a crop that has not been devoted to some profitable occupation. To construct new canals, enormous sums additional to the expense of labor—very considerable at the cheapest wages—would have to be applied to the indemnification of dispossessed proprietors. There is also considerable diversity in the plans that are under consideration. Some favor the addition of new canals to the old ones. Others prefer vast basins, artificial lakes for the storage of the water of freshets, whence it may be drawn when wanted, to distribute over the country fertility instead of desolation. Formidable as the obstacles to immediate execution may be, we can foresee the time when these great works, indispensable to the completeness of our hydraulic system, shall have been brought to a good end. Then China, endowed with the grandest system of water distribution that the world has ever seen, will have nothing to do but to keep up the good condition of the work of the ancients with its modern additions.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from the Revue Scientifique.

 

RICE AND ITS CULTURE.
By L. W. ROBARTS.

THE rice-plant (Oryza sativa) is a member of the grass family, and furnishes one of the most valuable grains known to economical science. It is cultivated, by the aid of abundant irrigation, in numerous varieties in most warm countries, and in the East Indies and China constitutes the principal food of hundreds of millions of human beings. The grain is also applied to mechanical uses in the arts, and the straw is one of the most highly prized materials of that class.

Ages before the discovery of America rice was cultivated in India, and is of volunteer growth in many parts of that country, "but principally on river-banks, where the seed was perhaps let fall." There is a wild rice preferred by the wealthy of Hindostan, but, on account of its small yield, it is not much grown.

There is no certainty of the place of the nativity of this valu-