Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/129

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SKETCH OF SAMUEL WILLIAM JOHNSON.

for the next book, its complement. How Plants Feed, published in 1870. It was exclusively occupied with the subject of vegetable nutrition. The writer, the author said, did not flatter himself that he had produced a popular book. "He has not sought to excite the imagination with high-wrought pictures of overflowing fertility as the immediate result of scientific discussion or experiment; nor has he attempted to make a show of revolutionizing his subject by bold or striking speculations. His office has been to digest the cumbrous mass of evidence in which the truths of vegetable nutrition lie buried out of the reach of the ordinary inquirer, and to set them forth in proper order and in plain dress for their legitimate and sober uses." The author's method was to bring forth all accessible facts, to present their evidence on the topic under discussion, and dispassionately to record their verdict. The books were therefore commended to students of agriculture on the farm or in the school. Besides these books. Prof. Johnson edited Fresenius's Quantitative Analysis, and two editions of his Qualitative Analysis.

The American Agriculturist names Prof. Johnson as one of the trio, consisting of Johnson, Gössman, and the late Dr. Cook, of New Jersey, "who have done so much for agricultural science and experimentation."

The purposes and efforts of Prof. Johnson to make the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station of practical benefit to farmers are obvious to every one who inquires into the character of the work done there, or who will peruse a series of the reports of the institution. These reports are consistently animated by the single thought of those particular features of agricultural science in which the farmers are most immediately interested. One of the predominant crops of the State is grass; the thing the farmers most need to make their agriculture profitable is economical and efficient fertilizers. Accordingly, we find these among the subjects most conspicuously presented. It would be impracticable to go over all the reports seeking instances of this happy adaptation of investigations to the peculiar wants of the people whom it was the station-director's purpose to serve; but two or three from the later reports will illustrate this characteristic of his work. Attention is directed in the report for 1886 to the important relation of the mechanical constitution of soils to the growth of plants. Very little practical benefit, the author observes, is commonly obtained from the analysis of any special soil beyond the detection of some deleterious ingredient, or proving the relative deficiency of one or more needful elements. In most of the cases where the station had undertaken to make soil analyses, the results had probably disappointed those who supplied the samples. It was pointed out as an obvious defect of the