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In the Botanical Department.
1. A report on the purity, amount and nature of foreign materials, the perfectness and germinating power of a sample of seed: 18. ($0.25).
2. Determination of the species of any weed or other plant or of any epiphyte (air plant) or vegetable parasite, with a report on its habits, and the means of extermination or prevention: 1s. ($0.25).
3. Report on any disease affecting farm crops: 1s. ($0.25).
4. Determination of the species of a collection of natural grasses found in any district, with a report on their habits and pasture value: 5s. ($1.25).
N. B. The consulting botanist's reports on seeds are furnished to enable members, purchasers of seeds and corn for agricultural or horticultural purposes, to test the value of what they buy, and are not to be used or made available. for advertising or trade purposes.
The Royal Society publishes these directions for the instruction of those purchasing seeds: that the purchaser should obtain from the vendor, by invoice (bill) or otherwise, a proper designation of the seed he buys, with a guarantee that it contains not more than a specified amount of other seeds, and is free from ergot (seed diseased by influence of parasitic fungus), or, in the case of clovers, from dodder (a parasitical plant), and of the percentage of seeds that will germinate. The germination of cereals, green crops, clovers and timothy grass, should be not less than ninety per cent; of foxtail, not less than sixty per cent; of other grasses, not less than seventy per cent. The Royal Society publicly announces that the purchase of mixtures of grass seeds should be avoided, and that the different seeds to be sown should be purchased separately. The advisability of this method is, I believe, well known to agriculturists in this country.
The Royal Society's library is well stocked with standard books on agricultural subjects, and the reading room contains the principal agricultural newspapers and other periodicals.
The Royal Society holds examinations to test the qualification of individuals in the following-named subjects, and gives suitable rewards or certificates for successful passing of the same. They are divided into senior and junior. The latest list of examination papers at my command is for 1889, and these are given as a sample:
SENIOR EXAMINATIONS, 1889.
I. Examination in agriculture, written and oral.
Examination in book-keeping, neatness and rapidity of working considered.
III. Examination in chemistry: a, general chemistry; b,
IV. Examination in mensuration and land surveying.
VI. Examination in botany.
VII. Examination in geology.
VIII. Examination in anatomy and physiology.
JUNIOR EXAMINATIONS, 1889.
I. Examination in agriculture.
Examination in elementary chemistry.
III. Examination in mechanics and natural philosophy.
I have stated at some length those characteristics of the Royal Society of England, for which it commands the respect, and interest in its welfare, of everyone who knows about its work, which is strictly and purely agricultural, in the most advanced sense; and I desire to have our agriculturists thus become familiar with its system of work.
It has set an example, which has been approved and followed by the New York State Agricultural Society, in its system of fairs, and, to a more limited extent, otherwise. It has been the aim of the Bay State Agricultural Society to also adopt its system of fairs, at the three exhibitions which it has held, so far as its facilities and opportunities have allowed. There is, of course, a greater liability to financial loss in such a fair, where agricultural exhibits are solely relied upon to draw admission payments, and other methods are not adopted as an offset to a possibility of loss; but the State of New York recognizes their value, and makes an
annual donation of about $17,000 a year to her society. Certainly there is something suggestive in the statement.
Recognizing the value of a purely agricultural show, the trustees of the funds entrusted to the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture (the organization which, I have said, nearly a century ago began to encourage the promotion of Massachusetts agriculture, and the improvement of her stock) have twice guaranteed the Bay State Society's prize list of $10,000; and for its other Fair the guarantee was provided by local interest, supplemented by voluntary subscriptions from many members of the society.
With whatever were their short-comings, or their merits, and they both must have existed, the two fairs at Boston and one at Springfield have received much praise.
In 1892 the Massachusetts Society for Promoting Agriculture will round out a century of successful existence, and proposes to suitably celebrate that event. Whether that event shall be celebrated, and, if so, how it shall be done, remains as yet undecided.
As she was instrumental in the formation of our original county agricultural societies, and set an example by holding fairs of her own, until the successful establishment of the former made her own fairs superfluous, when she withdrew from that field of usefulness, it would seem eminently proper that an extended account of her work during the century should find place here, but that can be reserved for 1892.
Myself a believer in the value to a State of extensive, purely agricultural fairs, where specimens of the best live stock and best agricultural products can be seen, I hope that such may be continued in this State at proper intervals. They help the State in two particular ways: directly by benefiting the producer and tending to his advancement, and indirectly by educating the consumers to appreciate the value to them of intrinsically better articles, and training such consumers to be willing to pay fairly for those articles.
The Massachusetts Charitable Mechanics' Association, after endeavoring to support annual exhibits, some years ago decided to hold their fairs triennially, and have met with great success.
Their fair of 1890, which continued in Boston for about two months, profited them to the extent of $60,000.
Can we not in Massachusetts succeed in preserving a State agricultural exhibition of live stock, produce, etc., by adopting the triennial system of the Charitable Mechanics' Association, in some form that shall unite all agricultural interests in the State in one triennial fair, based on purely agricultural principles? It would seem that this suggestion might be developed into such a success that breeders and producers would regularly vie to secure all available space, to such an extent that our best hopes would be realized. Could the State afford to guarantee against loss to the amount of $10,000, if not donate that amount triennially?
In New York State the annual appropriation to the State Agricultural Society is, as I have said, near $17,000; but that includes a requirement for work which is here largely placed under the direction of our State Board of Agriculture, by its power over the annual bounty to agricultural societies.
Can this Board formulate rules to so direct the use of that bounty as to bring about more benefit to the State's agriculture than is now the case; and do any of the societies' annual printed reports, or "transactions," give us any evidence to suggest the possibility of such action doing good?
There are practical difficulties in the way of keeping our older county societies up to our ideal standard, as we all know; and much less can we expect to reach that standard at the fairs of the smaller societies. But it is desirable to preserve these annual meetings, and the local management must be responsible for the methods employed without undue interference from outside. We must all recognize the value that pure and complete agricultural fairs, aiming for the improvement of agriculture and her products, can be to the State, if held in the best location, with regularity as to time; and all county and local societies could well occasionally join in making a State fair a grand success. It must prove of as much value to all our local agricultural societies to have an extensive and purely agricultural fair at proper intervals in the State, as it is to our educational system to have in existence the invaluable assistance of our normal schools. Both are educational
The organization which shall be best able to conduct such a fair should have the full respect of all our local societies, and be able to depend upon their fair share of co-operation in providing a sufficient quantity of entries to largely fill the several departments at such an exhibition. The premium list should be open to all parts of the country, in order that the best should be sought wherever it may exist, in order that the State might either learn better, or show off her supremacy. Assured of such support, the direct and best management to bring about the most successful results should be as independent, but as responsible, as possible. In the large Western fairs, the management is often lodged in the person of a single individual.
It is understood that this Board meets, under direction of the statutes, to exchange ideas, and to consult, among other duties, as to how we can best act collectively, and through our own societies individually, for the advancement of our Commonwealth's agricultural prosperity, and to sustain her agricultural institutions in advancing knowledge in this same direction.
It is my endeavor not so much to attempt to tell an intelligent body of men, representative of all parts of the State, what I think they should do, for I should not presume to that, but to give this deliberative body a target at which to aim some of their remarks, in the hope that good results may be reached, by our concluding to adopt ways, if such exist, by which we can make advances in our system. Encouraging and aiding the work of our local societies should be the basis for such action as may be decided upon.
I have already referred to the annual "transactions" of the agricultural societies, and briefly return to that subject. Public Statutes, chapter 114, section 5, contains this:
"Every such society [receiving bounty] shall annually, on or before the tenth day of January, make a full return of its doings, [stating several well-known requirements]; including all reports of committees, and all statements of experiments and cultivation, regarded by the president and secretary as worthy of publication, and with such general