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REPORTS ON INSTITUTIONS AIDED.
The examination for the National Diploma in Agriculture was again held at the Institute, and though the attendance was the largest on record, all those desirous of competing were accommodated.
At the Dairy Show in London, in the autumn, as much as 1 tons of cheese were exhibited. It was all made by the pupils, and as it was sold there to a large provision merchant, they had the opportunity of seeing it from beginning to end.
Pupils trained here, who desire appointments, seem always able to obtain them, and a demand seems springing up amongst firms engaged in the milk trade for students who are able to carry out analyses.
In one instance, two students obtained posts with a large firm of milk sellers as scientific inspectors in London and the district in the country from which the firm draws its milk supply. Other pupils have obtained posts abroad or in the Colonies.
Rooms for bacteriological work have been fitted up at the Institute, but before very long the place will be moved to the new College premises, where buildings on the best modern lines I will be erected.
The expenditure during the financial year has amounted to £1,540, and the receipts included students' fees, £316; sales of produce, £549; miscellaneous amounts, £38; and the Board's grant of £300. The British Dairy Farmers' Association and the University College, Reading, made grants as before in respect of the deficit remaining.
Instruction is afforded in dairying and poultry-keeping. The full course extends in summer from April to October, and in winter from November to March, but students can attend for any period. Periodical examinations are held, and certificates of proficiency awarded to those who pass the dairy examination in both theory and practice. A poultry school, extending over three weeks, is held twice a year, followed by an examination for certificates. Ten days' classes in butter-making and cream cheese-making are also conducted from time to time. External instruction by migratory lecturers is also given in dairying and cheese-making.
This institution has been the pioneer of dairy instruction in the Eastern counties, and there is reason to believe that, in the district concerned, the demand for instruction of this nature is increasing rather than diminishing. It is therefore a source of regret that, with the exception perhaps of Norfolk, the counties composing the Eastern group have not seen their way to take the matter up and support the institute as thoroughly as might be.
In accordance with the schemes of the Board of Agriculture, arrangements are made with the institute for testing farmers' milk at a nominal fee. It is satisfactory to know that the number of samples sent in is increasing. During the past year, also, several farmers have availed themselves of the existence of this institute, by sending in milk during the summer, when they had more than they could otherwise dispose of, to be there converted into cheese. The results are reported to have been satisfactory.
During the year the following pupils received instruction at the institute :
In Norfolk, a travelling dairy school visited seven centres, and courses of ten days' duration were held in butter-making and soft cheese-making, a second course being held at one of them. In all 100 pupils came under instruction, of whom 39 took the full course. At a further centre, a course of instruction in hard cheese-making was also held, in addition to butter-making. The course seems to have been a successful one as 21 pupils came under instruction, of whom all but six availed themselves of the full course provided.
In West Suffolk, a course of butter-making instruction was held at two centres. Twenty-nine pupils attended, but only eight took the full course. Short courses of three lectures each in poultry-keeping were also held at two centres in the county.
In East Suffolk, courses were held at three centres, and were attended by 41 pupils; of these, 25 received instruction for the full period of ten days.
In all the above counties, demonstrations were given at various local shows, while an instructor from the institute visited a number of farms in East Anglia, and gave expert advice on dairy matters. Several senior students were also sent out to take charge of private dairies.
The expenditure during the financial year amounted to £960. The receipts included county council grants and scholarships, £543; payınents from agricultural societies, £78; fees from other than county scholars, £9; donations and miscellaneous amounts, £23; and the grant from the Board of Agriculture of £300.
It is satisfactory to note that new members and associates continue to be enrolled, and as the work of the Institute becomes more widely known in the counties supporting it, it is certain that the numbers will still further increase. It is, however, unfortunate that owing to the very nature of the work undertaken, the practical results from it can only be arrived at after the lapse of some time and the exercise of a considerable amount of patience. It is not always easy to ensure this on the part of those public bodies whose members are not within easy distance, but this is being overcome as much as possible by organising visits from persons in the contributing counties interested in fruitgrowing and cider-making, and during last autumn a considerable number from each of the counties concerned visited the Institute and became more fully acquainted, than they could be by merely reading reports, with the work being pursued. It was satisfactory to note that all who came seemed satisfied with the value of the work undertaken.
It is also proposed that a number of exhibits from an educational point of view at some of the leading agricultural shows in the district should be made, and this should have a good effect in bringing the aims and objects of the Institute prominently before those who are capable of benefiting by it.
A scheme has been adopted whereby working pupils from the subscribing counties can be received at the Institute for a period of not less than one year, for instruction in fruit-growing. Such pupils receive for their work a moderate wage, while the counties, it is suggested, should contribute scholarships towards the maintenance of the pupils during their period of instruction.
Considerable attention has been paid to the question of adulteration of cider and the use of preservatives. A letter on the subject was addressed to local authorities in Great Britain stating that samples of cider and perry would be analysed at the Institute free of charge, and suggesting that special attention should be drawn to those imported from abroad.
As a result, some 66 samples were sent in by five local authorities, and their examination revealed some interesting facts.
Salicylic acid was present in 23 of the samples, one sample containing 45-6 grains per gallon, another 42, and a third 21. It was a recommendation of the Departmental Committee on Food Preservatives that, in liquid food, salicylic acid should not be permitted in greater proportions than at the rate of eight grains per gallon. Two of the above samples, it will be seen, contained more than five times that amount.
Four samples sent gave rise to the belief that they were not cider at all, but an artificially made up liquid to which the name of cider had been given.
Investigation was also pursued into matters not susceptible of chemical analysis, such as the characteristic flavour of well-known 'vintage" varieties of fruit, and the rate of fermentation of the juice, two matters which seem to be of primary importance in determining the value of a variety as a "vintage could only be carried out by actually making cider from each vintage" fruit. As this variety coming under investigation, the work would have had to be done on such a large scale as to be prohibitive, had not a method been devised of making it on a small scale in the laboratory. The results were encouraging, and this method will be still further pursued.
In the out-door section of the Institute considerable progress in the growth of everything planted has to be noted. In the young orchard the trees were, though planted in grass, given an area of cultivated land six feet in diameter round each. It is proposed to extend this experiment considerably, enlarging the area at regular intervals round some, leaving it at its present extent round others, and allowing the space now cultivated to become covered again. with grass round others. Numerous experiments are being made with various "washes," and also with different fungicides, with a view to the prevention of canker.
In addition to the one acre set out as a fruit plantation, a further half acre has now been planted with 25 different varieties of apples, one row to each variety, and ten trees in a row. Another half acre will be planted during the current year.
The expenditure during the year amounted to £974, but this does not include capital expenditure on buildings and machinery. The receipts included grants from the contributing counties, £650 from the Bath and West of England Society, £100; members' subscriptions and affiliation fees of local associations, £55; sales of produce and miscellaneous amounts, £115; and the Board's grant of £300.