Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 43.djvu/130

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ordinary chemical analysis that it could give at the best only an imperfect or one-sided view of the character of the soil. Two soils might agree fairly in chemical composition, and yet differ extremely in their fertility. Again, two soils might be about equally productive, and yet have unlike chemical composition. The physical characters of a soil—the texture, porosity, tenacity, amenability to tillage, retentiveness for water, capacity for heat, etc.—equally with the chemical composition, influence its productiveness and value. These considerations had been appreciated for a long time, attempts had been made to take account of the physical capacities of soils; and of late years much attention had been bestowed upon their mechanical analysis—that is, on separating into various grades, according to the dimensions of their particles. Such mechanical analysis was in most cases essential to any conclusive investigation of a soil.

In the report for 1887 the intention was declared to include in the forage garden of the station specimens of all the grasses found in Connecticut. There were about one hundred and twenty species of grasses in the' State, of which eighty-one were then growing in the garden. Prominence was given to persistent meadow, pasture, and lawn grasses, and to those which continually reproduce by culture and seeding; also to other forage plants, sedges, etc. The question of methods of improving Connecticut grass lands so as to make them more productive and more permanent, wherever that was desirable, was declared a question of the first importance. To answer such questions, it is needed to know more about the plants of this character which would grow in the State with less care than others, and with no expense for seeding, their habits of growth, seed production, fitness for meadow and pasture on different soils, feeding value, rooting peculiarities, growth with other varieties, possible improvement by cultivation or by selection of seed, and the effect of different fertilizers. A more general and closer observation of the appearance and behavior of all the useful grasses was also needed, so that they might be known by botanists and farmers at sight through the spring, summer, and fall. Names were needed, also, which should be current everywhere, free from all confusion; because without names there could be no discussion of grasses away from the grasses themselves.

With this eminently practical direction and purpose of his work. Prof. Johnson is a devoted student of science, and an earnest advocate of scientific methods of investigation. He has a pleasant, modest manner, a full knowledge of human nature, and "a practical conception of what farmers want of agricultural experiment stations." As a writer, "his style is clear and concise, yet delightfully smooth, and most agreeably finished."