The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79
Ruakura State Farm of Demonstration
Ruakura State Farm of Demonstration.
There is no general truth of wider application than that "the Earth is the Mother of all;" and yet scientific agriculture—that knowledge of natural laws and their application, whereby the earth is made to yield her increase to her highest capacity—commands a practical interest from the general public not at all commensurate with the national and human importance of the subject. In a young and naturally fertile country like New Zealand no one denies the supreme importance of the farming and pastoral industries. On all sides in politics the aspiring parliamentary candidate emphatically declares that the farmers are "the backbone of the country." The city business man gives prizes to be competed for at agricultural shows, and at all show dinners talks eloquently of the duty of the Government being to "foster the interests of agriculture."
Inspired by a perusal of our annual trade statistics, newspaper writers point triumphantly to the figures re-presenting our agricultural and pastoral exports, and wax enthusiastic about the marvellous productiveness of "this grand little country" the energy and industry of our rural population and the paramount national importance of our "primary industries." In short, there is no lack amongst us of verbal recognition of the inestimable value to the nation of "the Man with the hoe." or, rather, as a matter of fact, "the Man with the plough." and various other instruments of which the talkers do not even know the names.
Therefore, it may be said the general public does take a very great interest in agriculture, the implication to the contrary in my opening sentence notwithstanding. And in a sense it is quite true that we all feel an interest in that most necessary of all industries to the subsistence of humanity. The politician takes a political interest in the votes of the farmers; the Colonial Treasurer—I beg his pardon—Minister of Finance takes a financial interest in the volume and commercial value of our agricultural exports; the city merchant and professional man take a commercial interest in the "purchasing power" of the farming population; and all sorts of people, who know nothing about farming, take a kindly, romantic interest in it, as a more or less picturesque occupation associated with green fields and lowing herds, waving cornfields, and' the stalwart virtues of the back-block pioneer.
But my remark referred to "scientific" agriculture, and the inadequate "practical" interest taken in it by the general public. By a practical interest I mean an interest which causes people to definitely realise the economic value of scientific knowledge as applied to agriculture. I mean such an interest as will impel those who feel it to exert a persistent pressure upon the Government and members of Parliament to induce them to devote sufficient public funds to the establishment and carrying on with efficiency of our experimental and demonstration State farms, and to provide opportunities for a sound agricultural training for all young men who have the sense to take advantage of it What we want is a thorough knowledge of practical farming, based on scientific principles. The truths of agricultural science are discovered partly in the laboratory of the scientist, but they can only be practically tested and proved by actual experience upon the land. Both kinds of work cost money, and are worth expending money upon, from the point of view of national economy. And yet, notwithstanding the admirable work which has been done in certain directions by our Agricultural Department, there is no division of the public service which is so hampered in its functions by ignorant and carping criticism, and by the grudging spirit in which its fianancial requirements are met when the necessary annual votes are asked for.
If the general public realised what the agricultural and pastoral industries actually mean for this country, they would be enthusiastic about the work of the Agricultural Department, and this enthusiasm would be reflected in the Press, in Parliament and in the Government. The Minister of Agriculture would not be afraid to submit to Cabinet estimates, based upon the advice of his technical advisers and administrative officers, as the necessary amounts required to make the work of the Department efficient in promoting the agricultural development of page 10 the country. Roughly speaking, more than four-fifths of the value of our total exports is made up by agricultural and pastoral products, without taking into account the local consumption. It is no exaggeration to say that the entire material prosperity of New Zealand is absolutely dependent upon the productivity of her soil. Compared with the national wealth represented by our annual output of wool, meat, dairy produce and other products directly or indirectly derived from the cultivation of the land, the value of all other exports is a mere bagatelle.
Some Convincing Figures.
A reference to official returns will amply confirm this statement, as the following figures, taken from an official return for the year ending March 31, 1912, will show:—
The value of our exports of "principal products" for that period was £17,604,870 The proportion of this total output derived from our agricultural, pastoral and other products of the soil (excluding timber, gold, kauri gum and frozen rabbits) was £14,942,543, which shows, as I have said, that more than 80 per cent of the value of our total principal products exported is derived from the products of industries connected with the occupation and cultivation of the land.
Under these circumstances it seems strange that there should be hesitation on the part of any Government in power with regard to asking for liberal votes from Parliament for the furtherance of agricultural education and experiment, by which we may add to our knowledge of the special means where-by, under local conditions of soil and climate, we may materially increase the national wealth by a more perfect development of our extraordinary cultural resources. If the average yearly profits from farming and pastoral pursuits were increased by so small an amount as 5s per acre over our present occupied area it would mean an addition to our national income of something like nine and a half millions sterling. There is little doubt that this could easily be accomplished, as the result of improved cultural methods and the adoption of a more intensive system of land culture where conditions were suitable.
Intensive Agriculture and Demonstration Farms.
We have many examples in other countries of what seem almost fabulous returns per acre obtained by special methods of raising crops and feeding stock. It should be the duty of our Agricultural Department to bring these improved systems of agriculture and horticulture in a visible form under the notice of the younger generation of our rural and suburban population, so that they may see, mark, learn and practically take advantage of the experience and knowledge of others. The influence of ocular demonstration upon farming practice is many times more effective than printed, or even verbal, instruction without actual examples to prove the soundness of the teaching. For this reason I have always contended that properly-conducted demonstration farms achieve a much greater practical effect in raising the general standard of agricultural work and results in a farming community than can be hoped for from the influence of lectures, however good, at an ordinary agricultural college.
I therefore believe it to be a matter of great public satisfaction that we have established in this country such highly useful institutions as the State Farms of Demonstration and Instruction at Ruakura, Momahaki, Waerenga and Were-roa. I believe they are all doing most valuable work, directly and in-directly, for the improvement of agriculture and agricultural education in New Zealand. It must, of course, be understood that in the term agriculture I include horticulture, and the breeding and management of dairy and other farm stock, as well as apiculture and poultry farming.
Women and Bee-Keeping.
With regard to bee-keeping I am informed that no fewer than thirty young women have been successfully trained at Ruakura, and all are now engaged in the industry. One lady is now in charge of a large commercial apiary in Canada. It is here worth noting that under the supervision of that veteran apiculturist, Mr I. Hopkins, it has thus been proved that there is a profitable and healthful field of employment open to women in the bee-keeping industry. I need scarcely add that anything which increases the openings for the profitable employment of women in the country rather than in the towns, is a boon to women and a public advantage to the community.
A State Farm that is not a Financial Failure.
It is of Ruakura State Farm that I wish to speak at present, with the object of doing what I can to make the public generally, and through there our Parliamentary representatives, realise the national value of the work that is being done there. I have re- page 11 cently paid a visit to this institution, whose development I have known and watched from its earliest beginning some twelve years ago. During that period an enormous amount of work has been successfully accomplished in bringing what was originally for the most part a second-class swamp land into its present good order and cultural condition. There is an impression abroad that this has been done at considerable cost and loss to the public funds. Ruakura and other State Farms in the North Island have been referred to in public as having proved "financial failures." With regard to Ruakura there could not be a more mistaken impression. Of course the indirect returns from such institutions in the shape of the increase of agricultural knowledge derived from experimental work, and the example to the farming community of up-to-date methods of farming conducted on scientific lines, governed by practical experience—these great and valuable public services are not to be measured by a comparison of figures in an account book.
Ruakura as a Business Proposition.
I can only, of course, give approximate figures to show the general financial position of Ruakura as a business proposition. But if the Departmental accounts were published I feel confident that the general result would not be very far away from my estimate. Many of us know, as a matter of fact, that the land—an area of 914 acres—cost originally £6300 some twelve years ago. Salaries, purchase of stock, machinery, and upkeep I will put down at an average of £2500 a year during that period, or £30,000. From my personal knowledge and observation I should put down the outlay for permanent improvements at an average of £1000 a year since 1901, or £12,000. This brings the total cost of Ruakura State Farm to the Government, without allowance for interest on capital expended, to £48,300. Against this amount, which for the sake of round figures we may make £49,000, we must set the present selling value of the property, to which should be added the returns from sales of stock and produce from the farm, and the value of the live and dead stock on the property to-day.
Worth £60,000 To-Day.
Of the present selling value of the property 1 consider myself a judge, and I say that it is well worth in the market £60,000. This estimate, I am informed, is £10,000 below that of a competent local land valuer. The value of the live and dead stock on the place I put down at £9000. The returns from sales of stock and produce I can only estimate from what I know of sales that have come under my notice. I believe I am within the mark when under this head I credit the farm with £12,000. This estimate of selling value and return from sales makes up an aggregate of £81,000. If £49,000 be subtracted from this amount we have a gross credit balance of £32,000, which leaves ample margin for interest charges, and any under or over estimates which I may be thought to have here set forth. If such a result in a period of about twelve years can be regarded as "financial failure" we must revise the generally accepted ideas of what constitutes a profitable commercial undertaking. I start with this statement of the commercial position before describing the nature of the various kinds of useful work carried on at Ruakura, in order to correct once for all the singular misconception that the enterprise of buying and improving this property, apart from its public objects, has proved a commercial lose to the State.
Drainage a Permanent Improvement.
Ruakura Farm of Demonstration and Instruction has an area of 914 acres, the greater part of which is reclaimed swamp. The large amount of money expended on drainage work is an outlay which, from a business point of view, could fairly be spread over a considerable term of years, as constituting a permanent improvement. The effects of the drainage works, moreover, in bringing the land into full agricultural profit have not yet had time to make themselves felt over a considerable proportion of the farm. After the swamps have been drained the land has to be laboriously cleared of quantities of timber in the shape of buried stumps and logs, the encumbering wreckage of dead forests, which at one time covered the whole country. All this has added to the difficulties and cost of bringing the land into profitable use, and we might quite legitimately from a business standpoint, not expect a full return of the capital thus expended for several years to come, or even full interest upon the expenditure. And yet if the property were sold this year the Government would be recouped more than the whole of its outlay. No doubt this is partly due to the rapid rise in the market value of land in this district. But, nevertheless, the fact remains that as an asset this State farm is worth to-day considerably more than it cost the Government.
How Experimental Work is Profitable.
One of the most valuable educational features of an experimental farm is in what it finds out about farming matters, and makes common knowledge for the benefit of farmers, working under similar, or approximately similar, conditions of soil and climate. In this work of investigation it is just as useful to ascertain by actual trial what course of action should be avoided, or what particular forage crop is unsuitable, or what variety of the cereal plants is interior, or unprofitable, as to demonstrate the best cultural methods to be followed, and the most profitable Crops to be grown. But from the methods and crops which, by experiment, have been proved unprofitable, one cannot expect to show a commercial profit in the farm ledger. The commercial value of such experiments is secured by the farmer who takes note of their results at the State farms, and thus avoids the loss that would be entailed if he had to buy his own experience on these points. At Ruakura work is being carried on which furnishes many valuable lessons to workers on the land on questions connected with farm crops, fruit growing, dairy-farming, sheep-farming, poultry-keeping, and the breeding and care of stock. Not only this, but the whole of the work that has been done, especially in drainage, to bring the Ruakura property into its present high-class condition is, and will be, a valuable guide to those who will avail themselves of the information, having similar swampy, hungry land to deal with and bring into profit.
The Dairying Department.
In the department of dairy farming and management there is much to interest and educate the young dairy-man. The milking herd is composed of pure Jerseys and high-grade Shorthorns. Every cow is individually tested for average yield of butter-fat, and a careful record kept of her performance. According to this record, she is either kept and bred from, or discarded as inferior. The standard the manager, Mr Primrose M'Connell, has set for the Ruakura dairy herd is a high one. He believes that a wise dairy farmer ought gradually to weed out every cow from his milking herd whose yield falls below 3001b per annum of butter-fat. The average return last year over the whole herd of cows at Ruakura was over 3001b. The Jerseys have lately taken high honours and championships at the agricultural shows in the Waikato and at Auckland. On the whole the Jersey herd is a good example of the desirable type of this breed, both in the matter of milking, breed points and constitution.
A Model Milking Shed.
The milking shed is a model of what such a building should be, for economy of labour in milking, absolute cleanliness with a minimum of trouble, and everything that can ensure the purity of the milk—except the milking machine. At present the milking is done by hand, but I believe the installation of an up-to-date milking machine is in contemplation. Now that milking machines have been so much improved, and their great value recognised by the most enterprising dairy farmers in this country, one can hardly regard a model dairy as complete where this equipment is absent.
In this department opportunities art afforded to demonstrate the enormous saving of loss secured by ascertaining beyond doubt which individual cows should be discarded as below the standard in yield. Also what varieties of green forage for the feeding of the cows at different seasons of the year are the most advisable to grow. How ensilage can be utilised, and other feeding questions can all be tested here and the results brought under the notice of the farmers and the farm cadets, of whom 1 shall have something to say later.
I should mention also that there is installed at the Ruakura dairy a complete and up-to-date separating and butter-making plant, under the care of a qualified mechanic, who is competent to instruct cadets in the management and working of such machinery.
The Plant-Testing Work.
A very useful and interesting feature of the experimental work is the area devoted to the testing of different varieties of oats, wheat and barley. Fourteen acres of land are occupied by the several plots devoted to this purpose. The tests are made with the view of ascertaining the comparative merits of the varieties of cereals experimented with in the matter of, firstly, resistance to disease, and secondly, suitability to the soil and climate of the locality. As I paid my visit a little before harvest-time, I had a good opportunity of observing the striking differences in freedom from disease and growth of straw and grain which appeared in the different plots of wheat, barley and oats, grown side by side and under exactly the same treatment. Owing to the wet and cold spring this season, the conditions were favourable to the development of disease in grain crops, and therefore the test was a reliable one in favour of page 13 those varieties which had withstood these bad influences and remained free from disease. Of course, as regards suitability for locality, apart from resistance to disease, the nature of the particular season must be allowed for.
A Good Disease-Resistant Wheat.
Amongst the wheats there was one from the New South Wales Agricultural College, called The Cedar, which appeared to be a very promising kind. This wheat was practically free from disease, and grew with a nice well upstanding straw, carrying good heads. On the other hand, there was another variety of wheat close by, the name of which I forget, which in growth was a complete failure, proving its absolute unsuitability for the locality.
Throughout the fourteen acres there were numerous examples of this kind of lesson, affording the most valuable guidance to farmers as to what variety of oats or other grain would prove the most profitable for them to sow. This kind of knowledge is worth money to the working farmer, and is supplied by the Demonstration Farms for the benefit of the whole farming community, if they choose to avail themselves of it.
The best method of growing mangels was exemplified is a field of fifteen acres. The crop was looking grand and very healthy at the date of my visit, towards the end of December. The great superiority of the ridge system of root-growing and singling was here apparent, especially in the cleanness of the crop as regards weed growth. The amount of fertilisers used on different plots varied from half a ton to the acre down to no manure at all, and the several results in yield will be measured and recorded. Mr M'Connell considers the maximum dressing pays best as a general rule. He points out that an extra l cwt or 2cwt of manure often makes a difference of as much as 10 tons to the acre in yield, and therefore the added cost of the liberal treatment need not be regretted. There was some disease in mangels last season, but where not thus affected, 40 tons of roots per acre were grown at Ruakura.
Experiments with Lucerne.
There has probably been no experimental work at Ruakura which will prove more valuable to the country, commercially speaking, than the experiments which have been carried out in the cultivation of lucerne, or, as it is called in America, alfalfa. This forage crop, for productive yield and feeding value for all kinds of stock, is well-known wherever it can be successfully grown. Belonging to the family of the legumes, it is, moreover, an improver of the soil by its nitrogen-fixing qualities and its deep root action. In such cultural conditions as obtain in California, the Argentine and most parts of Australia, namely, rich soil and a hot and dry climate—lucerne is the crop par excellence for stock-feeding purposes. It was not at all certain, however, that it would give satisfactory results as compared with other forage crops under the climatic and soil conditions of the Waikato and other districts of the North Island. At Ruakura a number of varieties or strains of lucerne have been, and' are being tested, amongst which are the Peruvian, Hunter River. Arabian and the so-called "colonial" strain. The latter is from seed grown at Marlborough, in the South Island, and very likely was originally grown there from Hunter River seed.
Twelve Inches Growth in Twelve Days.
The different varieties are grown side by side in long narrow strips, and sown in drills. This summer is the second season of growth since first planting. The plots had all been cut twelve days before the date of my visit—December 20—and in the case of the Peruvian variety twelve inches high of fresh growth had been made. This proves the wonderfully rapid growth of lucerne after a cutting. At the time I was there the Peruvian and Arabian varieties looked best as regards growth, but all kinds were doing well. Last year, Mr M'Connell tells me, Hunter River came first and Peruvian fifth for weight of crop. That was the first season of growth, however, and certain kinds may take longer to establish themselves in the ground before they can do their best.
The manure used on these experimental plots of lucerne was an ordinary dressing of basic slag, with carbonate of lime (not burnt) at the rate of one ton to the acre. The effects of top-dressing each season will no doubt be tested.
A Broadcast Crop.
So much for the small plots. I was then shown a 5-acre paddock of lucerne which had been sown broadcast, and had just been cut for the second time this season. The green lucerne was still on the ground, and was being turned over for drying by a very handy little turning machine, which did the work quickly and with the minimum of bruising and shaking be- page 14 fore the forage went into the stack to make lucerne hay. The broadcast crop has the advantage for farmers —where labour is scarce and dear—of covering the soil so as to keep down the growth of weeds, and thus the labour of cleaning between the drills is avoided. Up to the present Mr M'Connell is very pleased with the results of the broad-cast culture as compared with drilling, in the case of lucerne. But the land should be fairly clean to start with, otherwise drilling is best.
Forty Tons of Green Forage Per Acre.
In the course of the season five cuttings can be had, beginning in October and going on to March, and even April, in favourable seasons. The estimated yield, judging from results already obtained at Ruakura, is about forty tons of green forage per acre from the five cuttings, or an average of eight tons each cutting.
More About Plant Testing.
This department, to which I have already referred, is under the care of Mr Green, and is likely to prove a field of experimentation of the greatest practical value. Mr Green is admirably adapted for the work of his department, being a competent botanist, and at the same time a trained practical horticulturist and gardener. The scope of the plant-testing experiments ranges from pasture grasses and green forage plants to vegetables for the kitchen garden—including the many varieties of native flax (Phormium tenax). There are more varieties of this important fibre plant propagated and tested for weight and quality of fibre at Ruakura than anywhere else in New Zealand. Considering the commercial importance of the flax industry to this country, a knowledge of the characteristics of the several varieties of phormium indigenous to this country is likely to prove of great practical value when the time comes, as it is certain to come, when this valuable fibre plant will be deliberately cultivated for profit, instead of, as at present, allowing the industry to remain entirely dependent upon the wild growth for a supply of leaf for the mills.
Breeding New Varieties of Grass and Cereals.
In the breeding and observation of the comparative merits of varieties and sub-varieties of grasses very interesting and useful work is being carried on. As one example I may instance prairie grass. This grass has long been favourably known for its great feeding value, both as regards quantity of yield and nutritious qualities. The trouble is that, as a pasture grass for ordinary grazing purposes, it has hitherto proved almost useless, from the fact that its habit of growth—well out of the ground, and with a weak connection with the roots and the soil—makes it easily killed out by the close grazing of stock. More-over, so fond are stock of prairie grass that they eat it out to the very heart, and as the crown is well out of the ground it gives the animals an opportunity to eat it so closely as to destroy the plants.
Variety of Prairie Grass for Pasture.
At Ruakura can be seen certain plants of this grass which Mr Green has grown from seed selected from a chance plant, of which the habit of growth was deeper in the ground, and the shoots spreading out flatter than in the case of ordinary prairie grass, which has an upright, tufty growth. The individual plants from the seed of the closer-growing kind, which reproduce this characteristic in the highest degree, will be preserved and bred from, always discarding the plants that revert to the ordinary type, until a special type is established which will be able to hole its own in permanent pasture, under grazing conditions which are not too severe. There is a very reasonable hope that this result will be brought about by patient perseverance. In any case the trial is well worth making, and it could never be made anywhere else than at an experimental farm, not carried on for immediate commercial profits. I have merely cited this as an example of the valuable kind of work that is being carried out at Ruakura State Farm, and which is liable to be ignored by the casual observer, whose criticism is apt to be as casual as his observation.
The Ruakura Rust-Proof Oat.
I now come to an achievement in plant breeding that can be credited to this State institution, which ought to rejoice the soul of our friend the "practical" farmer. For in this instance something has been done the value of which can be counted up is pounds, shillings and pence. I refer to the production of a variety of oats which so far has proved absolutely resistant to the disease known as "rust." This variety was raised from one plant grown from selected seed Four years ago Mr Green selected a single head of oats from a field of this grain. From amongst the plants raised from the seed of this single head one plant was selected as appearing quite free from "rust" or "smut" page 15 This season there was enough seed to sow five acres, and when I saw the crop it was about ready for harvesting, and was absolutely free from rust or smut. These oats were growing alongside other oats showing plenty of rust, even some Algerians not being quite free from it. Such a test must be a convincing one, proving that a variety of oats has been produced by careful selection at Ruakura which is proof against this pernicious fungoid disease. The loss to growers through rust in oats has been very great in the past ten or twelve years, when almost any kind but Algerians was grown.
A Good Cropper.
Apart from its rust-resistant qualities this variety of oats promises to be a good cropper, and a good sample of grain. The yield, judging from appearances of the Ruakura rust-proof oats, should run from sixty to seventy bushels per acre. (Since this was written the actual harvest returns of this oat crop pan out at ninety bushels to the acre.) The raising of this valuable variety is alone worth many thousands of pounds to the country.
The Farm Cadets.
There are at present eleven cadets at Ruakura, this number exhausting the present available accommodation for the purpose. This purpose is to pro-Tide such training at the State farms as will make good farmers as distinguished from technical agricultural experts and instructors. The latter, it is hoped, will be turned out in sufficient numbers by agricultural colleges in affiliation with the University colleges. The training of a youth to become a practical farmer includes teaching him how to do the actual work required on a farm, and also the best methods to follow in tillage cropping, stock and dairy management, based on a broad knowledge of the scientific principles which govern the best farming practice. Each cadet is required to take the part of a farm hand in all the work of the farm. He is supposed to stay at least one year at the farm, but is not bound to do so He may stay two years if he desires, but not longer under present regulations. I agree with Mr M'Connell, the manager, in thinking that, if in his opinion considered suitable, a cadet should be allowed to stay on for three years to get the full benefit of the excellent training given at Ruakura. At present nothing is paid by the cadet, even for board and lodging, which is, as it should be, substantial and comfortable. For the first three months the cadet earns nothing as wages for the work done, as in the case of inexperienced boys it is naturally worth very little. After that, if the manager considers he is worth it, the youth is paid 5s a week for the first year and 17s 6d a week for the second. The Agricultural Department reserves the right, at the discretion of the manager and on his report, to terminate a cadet's stay at the institution at any time. The boys are under the absolute control of the manager, who keeps a fatherly supervision over them after working hours, and none may leave the farm without his permission.
Sound Elementary Teaching.
The nature of the teaching is more or less elementary from a scientific standpoint, but, from what I gathered, sound and thorough as far as it goes. For instance, it is not attempted to cover the whole field of agricultural chemistry in the course of teaching provided. But the scientific principles which govern the fertilisation of the soil are explained. The three or four important elements in plant nutrition, and the nature and effect in relation to these of the manures the farmer buys and applies to the land, are made plain to the learner. He is thus made to realise the practical value of the analysis which the vendor of artificial manures is bound to supply with his invoice, and in other ways—such as the botanical and other reasons for the rotation system of cropping—he is taught to perceive the commercial value of scientific Knowledge in farming. Each lad is connected for a fortnight at a time with each department of work, such as the dairy, the agricultural, the horticultural, the sheep-farming, or any other branch of farming work carried on at the farm, and after a time he can specialise on any particular branch to which he wishes to devote special attention.
A Valuable Business Training.
It will thus be seen that a youth wishing to take up farming as a life occupation has great advantages in the training he receives at a State farm of demonstration and instruction. He is comfortably housed, well cared for and properly trained to become an intelligent and competent farmer, and it is a question, in my mind, whether it would not be in his own and the public interest that a moderate fee should be paid by each cadet, at least sufficient to cover the bare cost of his board. It may be said that his work on the farm does that. If so, it will be returned to him in wages. The idea of charging a moderate few is not page 16 so much to make money out of the cadets as to guard against the general notion that what is offered to the public for nothing is probably worth very little. The payment of a fee would also be some guarantee against a boy wasting his time at the institution by in-attention and idleness. It he, or rather his father, knew that waste of time meant for him waste of money as well, it would be a strong influence in favour of steady and intelligent work. The question is at all events one worthy of consideration by the Department.
The Manager of Ruakura
In Mr Primrose M'Council the Department has secured the services of a man singularly well fitted for the position of manager of an experimental and demonstration farm where training is provided for the sons of farmers and others, which is intended to make them good farmers. The fact of whether he has or has not a paper diploma from some scientific institution, as an agricultural scientist, is of very little consequence. It is of far more importance that he should be, what Mr M'Connell is, experienced in the best farming practice. He is essentially a practical farmer on scientific lines. The whole bias of his mind is scientific in relation to farming practice, i.e., reliance on scientific principles, interpreted and made use of in the light of experience. Hit-or-miss, rule-of-thumb methods one feels certain Mr M'Connell would eschew. Anyone who has some knowledge of the subject who discussed any agricultural question with him will find his opinion to be that of a thoughtful man of experience, who is well read on all important aspects of up-to-date agriculture. He has none of the narrow-minded cocksureness of the theoretical "expert" white he has at the same time an intelligent appreciation of the value of the knowledge gained by expert research. Good farming is a tradition in his family, and he takes a keep personal interest in the problems which present themselves for solution by the progressive farmer, whose object is to make his calling as profitable to him-self and as useful to the country as possible. The manager at Ruakura is therefore, in my opinion, the very mar that is wanted for the position he occupies, both as regards the work or the farm and the teaching of the cadets.