Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/553

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545
THE SOIL AS AN ECONOMIC FACTOR.

which other soils, which are in themselves very good, are totally unsuitable. And this leads at once to the idea of the adaptation of special crops to special soils.

In a general way it has long been recognized that certain soils are unusually well adapted to the production of particular crops, as the celery soils of Kalamazoo, the wheat soils of the Red River valley, etc. But it is not generally recognized that each particular individual soil is best adapted to some particular crop or rotation of crops, and perhaps the greatest economic sin of the farmers of this country has been the almost general refusal to appreciate this cardinal, fundamental truth. Much improvement in this direction is to be noted within the last few years. It has come to be more and more recognized that at least some soils are more profitable when confined to the production of particular crops, as with the lettuce soils about Boston, the soils of the apple belt through the middle Western States, the soils of the sugar-beet areas, the sandy truck soils of the Atlantic seaboard, all coming into prominence for the particular crops cited.

Something more than merely empirical determinations on this subject can now be recorded; and perhaps the most striking illustration is a development of certain soils in the Connecticut Valley, which soils were generally regarded as very poor and practically valueless, until it was pointed out as the result of the soil survey of the Connecticut Valley by the Bureau of Soils, U. S. Department of Agriculture, that these very soils were markedly similar to those of Florida, on which the best Sumatra seed tobaccos were grown. The climate of the Connecticut Valley during the growing season is not very different from that of Florida, and by the use of the tent-like arrangements for shading, to which reference was made above, climatic conditions over the soils in both Connecticut and Florida can be made very similar indeed. This has actually been done, and there is now being grown in the Connecticut Valley a fine grade of cigar wrapper, which apparently equals in every respect the best product of Florida or of the Island of Sumatra itself. This is but one of the most striking of several similar developments for particular types of soil to which attention might be directed, where the possibilities have clearly been seen, before the introduction of a crop or dependent industry. Many thousands of dollars have thus been brought to the producers, and this, than which there could be no greater, is a powerful economic argument for the liberal support of soil studies on a broad, but systematic, basis.

With this idea of the adaptation of particular soils to particular crops, it becomes evident at once that the classification of the agricultural soils is not only desirable, but a fundamental necessity for the thorough scientific study of the soils of the country. This necessity is now so well recognized that the national government