During the first part of the present century so many fields had become impoverished by unskillful tillage, in Europe, that Germany, France and other Nations were compelled to establish large numbers of Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations, to prevent further deterioration of the soil, and serious suffering from want of food. Since the establishment of such Colleges and Experiment Stations the productiveness of the soil (i. e., in Germany), has increased steadily under the influence of improved methods of agriculture. In all of the oldest sections of this country the average crop of wheat, com. cotton, etc., have declined so steadily and rapidly that agriculture is no longer considered a desirable pursuit. In fact, there are thousands of farms in the Southern States, which were productive less than half a century ago, that have been abandoned as worthless. A few years ago it was not difficult to pay for a good farm in the interior of Iowa with two or three crops of wheat, but on account of the rapid deterioration of the soil we are now obliged to buy our wheat, for home consumption, from Minnesota and Dakota. Although there is nothing to encourage farmers who intend to follow the old methods of tilling the soil, yet they have less to complain of than the horticulturists, as the winter of 1884-5, and the severe drouths of 1886 and 1887 furnished the proof that there is not a single American variety of the apple, pear or cherry, which is adapted to Iowa. Peaches, and many varieties of the apple which were grown successfully in Central New York forty years ago, are tender and unprofitable there now. The cutting down of the forests in New York, and other States, has caused droughts and extreme changes in the weather to be much more common than formerly. And where large areas of the West have been brought under cultivation similar changes have taken place. On account of such soil and climatic troubles, Congress was induced to pass the Hatch Law, authorizing the establishment of an Agricultural Station in each of the States and Territories, and its maintenance at Government expense.
Speer, R. P.
"Organization, work already performed, future work of the station,"
Bulletin (Iowa Agricultural Experiment Station): Vol. 1
, Article 2.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/bulletin/vol1/iss1/2