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The new buildings, referred to in last year's report, are in course of erection, and promise when finished to be of a most complete and useful character. Situated, too, as they are in a quiet but nevertheless central part of Reading, and surrounded by a pleasant garden, they present features of an almost ideal character for the purposes for which they are intended.
A portion of the buildings, though new as far as the College is concerned, are not so actually. Five houses which faced the road have been converted into a single block, and are devoted to administrative purposes, literary purposes, music, and the library. All the new buildings are in the back, and consist of a large hall capable of holding 1,000 people, and a range of buildings erected in detached blocks, well apart from one another and only one storey high, but connected together by an open air cloister 300 feet long. It is in these buildings that the agricultural and horticultural departments have their habitation. The building fund has reached nearly £40,000 and has included two sums of £10,000 each and one of £6,000.
In addition to the above, however, the College has received a most generous present in the shape of a promise to build a residential hostel for men. A fine site of two acres has been secured, and, fortunately for agricultural students, it lies about midway between the College and the farm. Although the College is not, in the usual sense, a residential one, it yet undertakes the maintenance of students, by arrangements with lodging keepers
Lectures. In Berkshire, one lecture on the Fertilisers and Feeding Stuffs Act has been given to an audience of 22.
In Buckinghamshire, lectures on various subjects were given at six centres by the county lecturer. Three to six lectures were given at each centre, and the attendance averaged 10.
In Dorset, members of the staff gave a single lecture at two centres to an average audience of over 80, and the county agricultural lecturer gave courses of three or four lectures at each of 15 centres to an average audience of 24.
Field Demonstrations.-In Berkshire, an experiment with swedes to determine the effect on the yield of variable distances between the plants was carried out at nine centres. An experiment on poor grass land was carried out at three centres and on varieties of potatoes at one centre. In Buckinghamshire, the above-mentioned swede experiment was carried out at seven centres. In Dorset, the experiment on swedes was conducted at three centres; on the manurial requirements of poor grass land at one centre, while a further experiment to test the value of nitrogen from different sources as manure for lupins was carried out at another centre.
Dairying. In Oxfordshire, a travelling school for buttermaking instruction visited one centre, at which a fortnight's course in butter-making was held. The class was attended by nine pupils, all of whom took the full course. Demonstrations in butter-making were also held for a couple of days at the show of the Oxfordshire Agricultural Society.
The College has now entered into full occupation of this. New buildings of a useful, but not pretentious, character are being erected, and cottages are also being put up.
A variety of experiments are already in progress, including tests with potatoes, the "seed" of which is of Irish, Scotch, and English origin. Experiments have also been conducted with different varieties of potatoes.
The land is very full of charlock, and consequently spraying is conducted on a large scale.
Twelve acres of the farm are being allotted to the horticultural department in order to establish a fruit station.
The expenditure during the financial year in the agricultural department, including the maintenance of county scholars, and also the grant of £200 from the Board of Agriculture paid over to the farm account, amounted to £3,402. The receipts included grants from county councils, £499; tuition fees from other than county scholars, £1,334; miscellaneous fees and other receipts, £145; subscriptions and share in endowment fund, £135; and the Board's grant of £1.000 to College and farm.
The work in this department is progressing in a most satisfactory way, showing that it is fulfilling a real want. The garden itself is so cropped as to afford students an opportunity of comparing as great a variety of crops and sorts as possible, and combines the cultivation of flowers, vegetables, and fruit. For instance, in the present year there are being grown some 60 varieties of sweet peas for the National Sweet Pea Society, and
a large variety of different types of garden peas (early, medium, and late); some 35 different varieties of carrots; potatoes for the National Potato Society's trials; and a considerable variety of other vegetable crops. All crops grown for comparative purposes are sown on the same day. The vines, planted in 1904, showed signs of yielding a splendid crop in 1906, and the peaches also were full of promise.
The individual students taking courses of instruction in the horticultural department during the past session have been as follows:
Students in their second year
Short Courses in Practical Horticulture
Course in Bee-keeping (terminal)—
The above students came from all parts, viz. :-Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Huntingdonshire, Leicestershire, London, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire, Ireland, Scotland, and one from Germany, and it is evidence of the reality of their desire for instruction that all came at their own expense.
A Saturday course in practical horticulture for elementary school teachers was also held and was attended by six students from Oxfordshire. In addition to the above course, a sequence of four courses of 10 lectures each was given to gardeners, in Reading and the neighbourhood, on botany in relation to horticulture; the classification of plants; fungoid pests; and soils and manures. The courses were very popular and were attended by an average of 45 persons.
Lectures to horticulturists in different parts were also given by the instructor in horticulture.
A number of investigations have been in progress and reports published, while reports have been furnished to various persons who have submitted specimens of disease or insect infestation of plants or fruit trees.
As previously mentioned, an area of 12 acres is set apart at the farm for purposes of fruit growing under the management of the horticultural department.
The total expenditure on the horticultural department of this College, including the cost of the upkeep of the garden and the maintenance of students, amounted during the financial year to £2,027. Grants from county councils were received amounting to £225; students' fees amounted to £818; subscriptions and proportion of endowment fund to £135; miscellaneous receipts to £12; while the sale of produce realised £241. The deficit of nearly £600 was borne by the College.