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THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 23, 18 November 1879
Agricultural Papers. No. VI. By H. W. Peryman, Esq. “ The desirability of establishing an agricultural training school in this province.” My reasons for reading a paper on this subject are that I have long thought that the advantages to be derived by establishing such an institution in this province would be great. I think most of you will agree with me that there is plenty of room for improvement in farming our lands in this province, for, travel the country north or south, you will see slovenly farming. Some may say it is for the want of means ; I think it might be justly added, for the want of knowing how to farm properly, for had the farmers with their small means been better acquainted with agriculture, there would not have been such unprofitable farming and disastrous results. Some few years back it was thought that anybody could farm; it was only to get the land, and their fortunes were made. Scores of such adventurous farmers have left their farms and returned to some more congenial occupation, wiser but poorer men ; others have stuck manfully to their farms, who started without any previous knowledge of farming, and what knowledge they now possess has been dearly bought in the school of experience, and they might have realised burger inootnes in the time, or as large in a shorter time, had they brought a more intimate acquaintance of the best system of husbandly known to bear upon the favorable position they occupied. Mr Martin Doyle, in his 1 • Hints on Farming,” has said, “ There is perhaps no occupation except that of a legislator so frequently entered upon by persons deficient in the necessary information as farming. To this cause much more than to vicissitudes of seasons, which affect all farmers alike, are to be assigned the disappointment and failures that not unfrequently dishearten and disgust many who engage in agricultural pursuits.” Mr Stephens, in his “ Book of the Farm,” has stated that agriculture in the colonies differs little from the English system ; wherever the same kind of crops are raised the same practice must be adapted, and wherever the same kimd of stock is reared for the same purposes, the same mode of treatment (to some extent) must be pursued. Superior fertility of soil, amenity of climate, nourishment in the food of animals but slightly affect principles, and only modify practice; want of efficient implements may at first induce settlers to try extraordinary expedients to accomplish their end, but as those means improve, and the ground is brought into proper tillage, our peculiar colonial practices will gradually yield to the more matured ones of the old country, eventually the colonies will most probably exhibit splendid samples of British agriculture under the fostering encouragement of a fine climate. The sooner they attain that perfection, the sooner will the prosperity of the settlers be secured. It will not be denied, gentlemen, that according as agriculture prospers in this province, so will every other trade and profession ; as agriculture declines, so will commerce decline. Some of our legislators have (I am afraid, sometimes from sinister motives) patted the farmers on the back, and said they were the back-bone of the country.” It is to bo hoped they will always consider them so, and not make laws that will break their backs by taxing them too heavily. Canterbury is at present a great agricultural country, but I believe that it is destined to become still greater, and one of the finest countries in the world for carrying on agricultural pursuits. It is, therefore, desirable, and in fact necessary, that the best method of farming should be adopted. The most important step to take in that direction would be to teach our young men the best way to farm on the most modem and approved principles. The question may be asked, which way would be the beat to attain this end I Some might advocate placing them for one, two, or three years with good, thorough, practical farmers. Well and good, but I think they are a numerous class in this province ; and those that are competent to teach farming in all its branches would not care to be bothered with pupils. Others may advocate establishing an experimental farm, where all the field operations and experiments should be conducted by the pupils; but an experimental farm would be a most unsuitable place on which to learn farming; for were experiments to be conducted by inexperienced pupils their results would inspire no confidence in farmers. But this much I may say : now that education is the order of the day, and is occupying
the thoughts and time of our legislators, and certain reserves of land have been made for educational purposes, it may not be ill-timed to ask the Government to reserve a few hundred acres to be devoted to an agricultural training institution, where our young men may learn the theory and application of agriculture, practical land surveying and levelling, system of thorough drainage, the management of cattle, sheep, &c., &c., the veterinary science, treatment of the various diseases which cattle and sheep are subject to, the analysation of the different soils and plants of New Zealand, the beat method of describing farm business, how to record the same and describe the operations as they actually occur. A young man desirous of learning a profession or trade must identify himself with and give his mind entirely- for a certain number of years to acquire or become master of that particular profession or trade. So it should be with agriculture—a young man having decided to become a farmer should not be contented with merely knowing how to plough or sow, how to reap or mow, but should be able to describe the why and the wherefore of everything done on a farm, so that when he becomes owner or master of a farm he would be able to manage it well with ease and profit to himself. Farmers should feel it their duty to put it in the power of their sons to acquire an agricultural education. Neither the time nor expense of acquiring an education should deter any farmer’s son from attempting it who desires to occupy a position above that of a farm steward. A good education is the best legacy a father can leave his child. Agricultural training tcools have been established in Scotland, England, and Ireland for years, likewise on the Continent the schools have been carried .on for years successfully ; in Berne, Switzerland, Moeglin, near Frankfort on the Oder. The estate of Moeglin consists of 1200 acres, where an experienced agriculturist is engaged, whose office it is to point out to the pupils the mode of .applying the sciences to the practical business of husbandry. In France, as far back as 1826, an agricultural training school was established near Versailles, in the Valley of Gaily, where the principles of culture in the special application to the art of producing and using produce ; the mathematics applied to mechanics ; mineralogy and geology applied to agriculture, are taught. An agricultural seminary has existed at Temple Moyle, in the county of Londonderry, for some years, where the pupils are educated so as to fit them for land stewards, directing agents, and practical farmers, for the tiffing sum of £lO each per annum. An agricultural training school was established at Aoddesden in Hertfordshire a few years ago. The course of education embraced mathematics, mechanics, chemistry, botany, mineralogy, geology, practical land surveying, book-keeping, practical agriculture, and the management and disease of cattle, and all this is taught at a cost of £25 each pupil per annum. I might also mention the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester, founded in 1845. The college is situated in the middle of a farm 400 acres, where an improved system of tillage is carried out, practical agriculture taught, as well as the varied sciences connected with it. The college fee is £SO per annum for resident, and £3O per annum for non-resident pupils. In Scotland, at least four of these schools exist where, besides undertaking the chemical department, one of these societies—the Highland and Agricultural Society—propose to issue diplomas to young men whose aim it is to become the managers of farms and estates and who have acquired a knowledge of practical agriculture, and have followed such a course of education at any institution which have taught the branches of science having mure immediate relation to agriculture. In concluding this paper, I would express a cherished hope that the time will soon come when an agricutural training school will become one of the many educational institutions of New Zealand, and that the farmers generally will hail the day when it is inaugurated, and show how they appreciate the same by sending their sons to support and carry it on successfully.
THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 23, 18 November 1879
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