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KB? "The Tramp.")

At the request of a farmer in the Asliimrton district I, have been asked to supply some "information for the farmers generally regarding the local Experimental Area, and what is likely to become of it in the future. In .attempting to supply the latter information. I. must admit that the farmer has presented me with a difficult problem. From what I can gather the area at the present time is in the position of a. little unwanted baby. Although it has not been officially announced, there are persistent rumours afloat locally that the Agricultural Department would be very pleased to droo the control of the area altogether. Indeed, it appears as if the Department's interest in the farm is on the wane. Some little time back its officers were filled with effervescency regarding ihc nature of experiments that would be carried out under Departmental iurisdiction and the valuable fount of information that would be available for the farming community. No end of visits were paid by the Department's experts to the area, who could be seen in Ashburton almost every week; but latterly. for some reason or other, these visits have been Retting fewer and fewer. , One can only take the inference from this that Departmental interest is fast approaching the washout stage. No doubt this article, if it serves no other purpose, will have the effect of the Department announcing its intention of what is likely to happen to the area in the future. There is no doubt about it that the farming community in this County are totally ignorant of any experiments that have been carried out on the area., and for this the Department is partly - "to blame. A business man, when he has the goods to sell, takes immediate steps.- to aca.uaint the public, and if he does not he soon finds the spiders spinning .cobwebs over the entrance to his premises.

Work has been carried on steadily month in and month out at the farm | under the direction of the caretaker, and vet the Department, with all the means at its disposal for publicity, has not thought fit to 1 -issue periodical reports to the public, of'work in'hand and prospective experiments, etc. . I understand that valuable information for the time the farm has been established has been compiled. A great portion of this is of a. scientific nature, but, even bo, there is no reason why a portion of it could not have been put into readable form and served up to the farming community. The farmer with whom I conversed suggested that Mr Allan, agricultural science master at the High School, could prepare this information for the farmers. If we admit that Mr Allan could undertake this publicity part of the programme, and that his Vands were not tied by the Department, then the question arises who is going to pay him for his trouble ? Mr Allan attends to the interests of his school in regard to agricultural science, and does it. very thoroughly, but here .his. obligations end. I contend that if the farmers of this .district require this information, and assuming that the Department will not undertake to supply it. then the farmers, through the A. nnd IP. Association or the Farmers' Union,, should approach Mr Allan either to deliver a series of lectures or publish periodical reviews of the area operations, and that the farmers, who will stand to ;gain all, and lose nothing, pass^ round the hat and liberally recompense Mr Allan' for the extra labour involved. It will thus be seen that the farmers are also apathetic, and cannot be hold blameless in this matter, for had they shown an eagerness to participate in any information available those who control tne area would have taken some steps to meet that demand.

I have recollections of one field day held for farmers, to show them the growing crops, but instead of farmers nocking from all parts of the County, they were content to remain at home and be represented mainly by a few of their brethren and a majority of townspeople. The said field day did not take place at a busy Beason of the year, so there was no excuse, and had a special clearing sale of stock and sundries been advertised to take place on the same day at the farm-, I venture to state that the farmers would'nave assembled in hundreds. To sum up the whole position, the area is like the local branch of the Farmers' Union, an object of no groat intorest as far as the farmer is concerned, and until it is widely advertised and made attractive, it will still remain an unknown quantity. The High School Board must not misconstrue the above remarks or think for a moment that any reflection is being cast upon it for the part it is taking in connection with the area. There are farmers in this community who suggest that the board, assisted by three or four practical farmers, should have supreme control of the area. The board would then be unrestricted to carry out any experiments it so desired and at the same time farm a portion of the area in such i a way as to make it revenue producing. There is great need for many experiments in this County, for instance, the testing of grasses to extend over a period of years, hi order to find out their resisting powers and feeding properties under periods of drought, etc. Another important test should be the succession <jf crops and their effects upon the soil. These tests cannot be carried out in one or two years, and so should be carried over a long period in order that their value may be properly established. There are many other suggestions, but 1 leave (these now to the farmers,' whom it is hoped will rally their forceß and back ijp the High School Board to a man, and so let us have an Experimental! Ate;i that will be known from one end of bbc Dominion to the oaiev, cijd cue that will draw visitors -with magnetic influence. ■ ■

I have to thank ' 'Interested" for his encouraging letter, alreadz published. He will note that I stated: "some farmers." I had in mini struggling farmers and not the gditlemen who had qualified when latour was scarcest for the title of f'benzine burners," and who never losj an opportunity of making' the loudest noise regarding the labour. shortage, and who were regular visitors to two or three times per wtek.

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Bibliographic details

LAND, STOCK & CROPS, Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9602, 6 May 1919

Word Count

LAND, STOCK & CROPS Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9602, 6 May 1919