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Better farming for Duval County. November 21, 1914
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00000206/00011
Finding Guide: A Guide to the Peter Henry Rolfs Collection
 Material Information
Title: Better farming for Duval County. November 21, 1914
Series Title: Writings and Speeches 1891-1920
Physical Description: Unknown
Physical Location:
Box: 1
Divider: Articles, Speeches and Other Writings
Folder: Better farming for Duval County. November 21, 1914
Subjects / Keywords: Agricultural extension work -- Florida.
Agriculture -- Florida -- Experimentation.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Brazil -- Minas Gerais.
Agriculture -- Study and teaching -- Florida.
Citrus fruit industry -- Brazil.
Leprosy -- Research -- Brazil.
Minas Gerais (Brazil) -- Rural conditions.
Escola Superior de Agricultura e Veterinaria do Estado de Minas Gerais.
Florida Cooperative Extension Service.
University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station.
University of Florida. Herbarium.
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: AA00000206:00011


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Those of the audience who were present here on Thursday night

will not be greatly disappointed if they expect to hear an address

along essentially the same lines and if they expect to hear essentially

the same truths brought out.

The Jacksonvi]le Board of Trade has done a 'mot splendid work

in all of these lines. This work has been carried out in a thorough

manner anil in an unselfish way. It has been a mod e] for BoaLrds of

Trade in various parts of the State and even in other States. It is

tne most live, wide awake body of rijen that we find anywhere in the

- country.

Througii their untiring industry they have brought to Jack son-

ville large luiubering concerns, large manufacturing establ ishlimnts.

have succeeded in having imiimense quantities of phosphate shipped

through this port, and ihave now further shown their extreme usefulness

in securing for Jacksonville what will finally be the finest systepn- of

public do 3:s in the South, and possibly male Jacksonvil..le one of the

greatest ports in the United States.

The latest piece of wori that lias been uiid,'rtalren and the one

that means more for the development of Duval County than all the work

ta:en up heretofore, is that of the Agricultural Burpau, !io city or

country can be perm.ianen tly prosperous without having a very large a ri-

cultural country surroundir g it. The larger the city, the more import-

ant it is for the city to have the country surround ing it developed.

'N 2

Plants,are Canned Sunshine

Soil is a material to hold plants in position. Usually it is

considereJ that the soil is everything to- a plant. This, however,
hasabeen proven time and again to be erroneous way of lool:ing at the

soil. About 60 years ago this idea was "ery rudely shocked when a

German c:rofessor succeeded in growing aiL oak tree in water to which

had been al.ded the proper plant foods. This oal: tree not only grew

but produced acorns, thus demonstrating beyond doubt that soil was not

such an important factor in plant growth as it had previously been


The plant tissues are composed mainly of carbon, hydrogen and

o~ygen. These three elements are about us in very large quantities

and may be had free of charge. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxy-

gen. There is again inn the atmosphere a very large mount of carbon

dioxide, wiich is composed of car;ion and oxyren. The plant takes

water up through its roots, and from the atmosphere the leaves take. in

carbon dioxi'd e. In thepr.eaene of suishline and the mysterious cherni-

cal action of the green part of the leaves of plants, the carbon, h1ydro-

gen and oxygen become assemriued in certain definite ratios. 'Ten

these three elements are coijiined in their proper ratios and under

proper conditions, starcli is the result. Sweet potatoes are valuable

because of the large ai.ountt of starch they contain, anywhere from

18;) to 24;. in the mature tubers. In addition to starch potato tubers

contain 75< water.

Sugar which enters very largely into our food, is composed of

carbon, hydrogen and ozygen, combined in a sl ightly different proportion

than in the case of starch. Here aTain we see wy have these elements

which are most abundant. Sugar cane contains about 10i sugar and 80(

water. Here again we see that the principal value of the sugar cane

lies in the portion made up of carbon, r'drogen and oxygen. n.t1 i ,

addition bO water and the sugar,in the caie, we have 5,' to 7;0 cellulose.

This is ma'je up of carbon, hydrogen and. ozygen, in essentially the

same proportions as in the case of starch. We have therefore left only

from 3% to 5;.f of material that was not originally ill the atmosphere

and which may be had by anyone for the taking.

Legumes in addition to containing a large amjouint of hydrogen

and oxygen, contain from 2C- to 3 nitro.:en. Nitrogen is present in

the atmosphere aid maeo3 up about 76"' of its volume The leguminous

plants by the mysterious help of the nitrogen gathering bacteria are

able to obtain this nitrogen and use it in building their piant struct-

ure. After the legfuinous pants have used this material for the benefit

of their own structure, the nitrogen is then turned b.jcj to the soil

and may be used byr other plants in their economy. Peanuts, velvet

beans and cowpeas gather large quantities of nitrogen and are especially

valuable for this quality.
SSandy Soil Mlae the Scale-Goat.

It is quite tie usual thing to condemn the Florida soils be-

cause of their sand: nature.: Unfortunately those who are so vehement

in tneir denunciation of the soil because it is sandy, have not given

this matter serious attention.

Denmark, which forty years ago was a sandy spit of land pro-

jecting into the Iorth Sea, is todat one of the richest and most pros-

perous countries of Europe. Forty years ago it was rtoa considered

of sufficient value to be worth having. After the Franco-Pru siani war

Germany was perfectly satisfied to let Denmark be ani i penpendent kingdom

it was considered so sandy ard sterile as to be of no value to anybody.

But. the wise Danes set themselves to work to study the situation,

and today they are sending out more and better products from the farm

than any otjier country in Central Europe. They have the most magnifi-

cent system of agriculture and every locality has its farm bureau

and its marketing organization. This has been worked out to the

greatest perfection and to the minutest details by the Danes. Forty

years ago, when sand -as merely water r and insoluble material, the

Danes set about finding a means to improve the soil. Their first

step .'as..'to begin raising cattle and hogs. They bought our cotton

seed ("wnich was then a waste product). They continued for years

to import this valuable fertility producing material. Of course the

United States was asleep at this time, but you can depend upon an

American not to take his nap for any very long time. The American soon

discovered that he was practcally giving away the most valuable

material he had in his farming operations, and today if. the Dane wants

this product he h-s to pay a generous price for it.

Germany forty years ago was not cortsid-red to be a veiyr pro-

gressive agrilcltural nation, but at this time the GerrmaL government re-

quires that agriculture shall be taught in all the coiiimon school s.

T!irty years ago the German nation was sending to America

hundreds of tioisa:3iilnds f her ablest meiin. Tnis was the most valuable

product that any country could have. Through the means of her ag-

ricultural schools and the tecnnica] research of her Uhliversities

Germany h)as improved her agriculture until she is tod ay capable of

supporting her entire popil action on the products of her soil., and the :

emigration has been so reduced that during the last year only a few

tnousaxnd Germans cajte to this country to becorie citizens of tne

United States. Geri any last year exported sugar, in other words she

F 5

was sending out carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and keeping at home the fer-

tility producingmaterial s. She also iirrported those products that

would increase the fertility of her soil.

However, :I need. not go so fi.r abroad to show tnat a sandy con-

dition of the soil is no serious problem. We have only to look at the

East Coast of Florida and there we fi-n a soil made up of 99.1 -l, sand and

insoluble matter producing large crops of valuable food. The pineapple

soils of the East Coast are the most sterile soils that are used for ag-

ricultural purposes anywhere, when we consider it from the standpoint

of their che mial imale-up.
The Fl atwoou s Scarecrow.

I have already told you that some people condemn Florida soils

because they are sandy.. We have til3 otherl.people who condemn Florida

soils because they are so flat and lacking in drainage that the water

is likely to sand on the:-m for a considerable time. In the place of our

level condition being a hiiLdrance to agriculture it is one of the --

Ho3 and, is the riches r nation -_

wiich has a larger population of contented people than can be found any-

where in the world. Everyone, howeverjis familiar with the fact that

a large proportion of this area is actually below seta lev-el the seas

having been fenced out by immense dikes and the water pumped out.

Wind-mills are largely used for this purpose but when the wind is not sif-

ficient to drive these mills engines are used to supplement the wind.

The Hollander you will notice is a very thrifty, frugal sort of person

and does not propose to pay m.,ney for motive power when he can &t it


In Holland the level at which the water is allowed to stand

is regulated by law; they know exactly to a fraction of- a inch whaat

amount of water that should stand in the canals to make te farm.u most


But why go so far aw;-i when we have example after exarnpl e

of the same kind right under our eyes. Take the region around Hastings

for instance. Land there in the early nineties, I amJ told, sold for

twenty-five cents an acre. People wanted the land sil 3y for the

tinmer rights and. as soon as the timber was cut off the l<-and was

allowed to go back to the State for taxes. I remember in riding from

Palatka to St. AugusTine in the early nineties, that it seemed to be a

region iade up of pine barrels and flatwoods ponds, the irost dreary that

one could possilly wish to see. This was about the beginning of the set-

tl iment of the land and the stopping place on the railroad was known as

Hastings. A few cucumbt~rs were produced, some winter cabbage, corn

and other stuff raised in a small way. Mr. Ha'ttins found that by drain-

ing some of the land he could have crops growing the year rouCd.. It

took only a little while for mIore settlers to come in ai now you will

find mainy mil':s of drainage canals, many laterals,, and almost every

farm, has its ditches and artesian we]]s. Some ofd e land that was sold:

in 1890 for a few cents per acre, cou3d iLo 'be readily sold for 1l50 or

'.200 per acre.

In 1902 I addressed ai audience at Hastirgs on the success of

raising sLu. ier crops. I recoirUiended at tat t time that corn be grown

after the Irish potatoes were ta]:en off. This idea was pronounced in

seriousness, but taken as a joke by the audience, yet Hastings was des-

tined to be the first station in Florida that exported corn by the cj.r-


r,"- / -. ,." ,.-, ,'
'/ Has'tings has gone one step better, and in the place',,of sending"

out her corn she uses it to fatten cattle, and has a slaughtering

estab]isiiment so she can send out her dressed beef.

i.. 4"
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