Courtesy Reuters

Agriculture and the Future of China

AGRICULTURE in China has a noble history, dating back fully four thousand years, and Chinese farmers are among the most skillful in the world in the cultivation of crops and the conservation of soil fertility. But during the past century four very important factors, not fully understood as yet in China, have made possible a great advance in occidental agriculture, and it seems probable that the application of these factors in China might result in a large increase in agricultural production. Since the future of China is bound up with agriculture, the study of these factors would be highly useful. They are: (1) power, both animal and mechanical; (2) mineral fertilizers; (3) improved farm animals and plants; and (4) means of control of insect pests and of plant and animal diseases. It is with the first and most important of these that this article principally deals.

To those who live in cities and therefore are unacquainted with the importance of power in providing the modern world with food, it may be pointed out that the development of industry, the growth of the cities, the increase in education and culture, have been made possible largely by the application of power to agriculture. A century ago, when agriculture in the United States was carried on in much the same manner and with the same tools as in the days of the Roman Empire two milleniums before, probably three-fourths of the American people lived on farms and less than one-fourth engaged in industry and commerce in the cities and villages. Today, in contrast, only one-fourth of the population live on farms, the balance being released for the production and distribution of manufactured goods and other commodities, and for rendering the professional and other services essential to modern life. It is owing principally to the application of power, both animal and mechanical, to agricultural production, and to the transportation of agricultural and other products, that this great transformation in the economic organization of the United States has occurred. The

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