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The Agricultural Experiment Station

Report Of The Director

To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:

The chief duty of the station is to serve the farming and rural life interests in Virginia through experiments, investigations and research designed to solve agricultural problems. Satisfactory progress was made in the work of the station during the year.

The scientific staff of the station consists of 49 persons, of whom 27 devote full time to duties in the station, 11> divide their time between teaching in the college and work in the station, and 7 divide their time between extension activities and work in the station.

Owing to the comparatively low salary scale at our institution, the matter of holding the members of the staff when they receive offers of positions at other stations has become an acute problem in administering the affairs of the station. During this year the station suffered the loss of an agricultural economist, an animal pathologist, an assistant plant physiologist, and an assistant agricultural engineer, who left our organization to accept more attractive positions elsewhere. In each case they were project leaders and valuable members of the staff. Continuity in the service of station workers is highly desirable, for there is bound to be a certain amount of lost motion in the replacement of members of the scientific staff. So the problem of support for the station in such a way that the personnel may be kept intact deserves careful consideration.

New equipment purchased and the construction of a building for one of the field laboratories increased the facilities of the station in a substantial way. The capital outlays for the year were slightly more than $10,000. Many kinds of scientific equipment are required in the various lines of research conducted and the securing of new equipment increases the efficiency of the station’s service.

The Spray Residue Problem

Due to the unprecedented drought of 1930, fruit growers in Virginia encountered a serious problem in connection with the presence of spray residue on the apples. In normal seasons, the rainfall in this state is sufficient to wash the greater part of the spray materials from the apples before they are harvested. This year, however, there was little rain from the time the last sprays were applied in July until the apples were picked in September and October, and consequently, the amount of spray residue (particularly arsenic trioxide) on the fruit was above the tolerance for both domestic and foreign markets. Therefore, it was necessary to adopt measures for removing the spray residue from the fruit before it was marketed. Fruit growers in the West encountered this problem several years ago and stations in that section of the country devised methods for the removal of the objectionable materials from the apples. In the summer of 1930 this station procured a fruit washing machine and installed it at an orchard in the Piedmont region where it was operated successfully throughout the season in cooperation with local fruit growers. Also home-made washers and various machines and devices for wiping the spray residue from the fruit were tried out. Members of the staff, including the chemists, horticulturists, entomologists, and plant pathologists, united their efforts to meet the emergency. The divisions of chemistry and markets of the State Department of Agriculture worked effectively on this problem at the same time and made many hundreds of analyses to determine the amount of arsenic present on samples of fruit from different orchards. As a result of these joint efforts, fruit growers were supplied promptly with effective methods to remove the objectionable spray residue from their fruit. Our bulletin No. 278 describes the experiments and gives conclusions as to methods for handling the spray residue problem. Thus a distinct service was rendered the fruit growers of Virginia in this emergency.

Piedmont Field Laboratory

The General Assembly provided an appropriation for a field laboratory in the Piedmont fruit growing region, and public-spirited fruit growers in that territory donated $2,500 for the purpose. The University of Virginia cooperated in the project by granting permission for the laboratory to be located on its grounds. The laboratory was built in 1930 and it is a substantial structure 26 by 30 feet, with a full basement; the insectary is 12½ by 36 feet. A plant pathologist and an entomologist are located permanently at the laboratory. Sufficient scientific equipment was procured to enable the staff to do thorough research on fruit growing problems in that region.

Soil Survey

The Commission to Study the Condition of the Farmers of Virginia in its report to the General Assembly in 1930 recommended among other important items, “that the soil survey of the state be completed as soon as possible in order to obtain an inventory of our soil resources and to determine the adaptability of our lands to various crops, forestry, and livestock enterprises.” The General Assembly considered this recommendation favorably and enacted a law providing for the continuance of the soil survey to be made under the direction and supervision of the Agricultural Experiment Station in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture, and made appropriations for this purpose during the current biennium.

The work was started promptly July 1, 1930. The station employed two men and the bureau of chemistry and soils of the United States Department of Agriculture furnished two men for soil surveys in Virginia. A survey of the soils in Grayson County was completed. The survey in Rockbridge County was three-fourths complete at the end of the fiscal year. During the winter months when weather conditions were not favorable for surveying, in some parts of the state, a survey was begun in Nansemond County in southeastern Virginia and slightly more than half of the area of that county was surveyed. The survey in Nansemond County will be completed in the winter of 1931-1932. In June of 1931 a survey of the soils in Augusta County was begun.

Farmers in Virginia have expressed much interest in the soil survey and there is wide demand for surveys from different counties in the state. At present our force and facilities are too limited to make rapid progress in this work but it is thought that the need and demand for soil surveys justify substantial expansion. Moreover, the United States Department of Agriculture is willing to aid soil surveys in Virginia in amount equal to the support provided by the state.

Progress Of Investigations

New projects undertaken during the year were: (1) a study of farm organization and management in Grayson County; (2) rural family living in Grayson County; (3) an economic study of poultry farming; (4) a study of real estate assessments; (5) an economic study of farmers’ cooperative purchasing and selling organizations; (6) a study of economic and social conditions in the Appalachian highlands. Altogether, the station is conducting research on 130 separate projects, each of which deals with some problem of importance to the farming interests of Virginia. The object is to direct activities of the station toward practical applications of research to farming, although their relation to the advancement of agricultural science is not overlooked. The projects completed or brought to the stage of definite conclusions are shown in the following list of publications issued during the fiscal year:



275 -- Marketing Fluid Milk in Four Virginia Cities. By J. L. Maxton and C. C. Taylor; 42 pages, 4 figures, 18 tables. December, 1930.

276 -- Marketing Woodland Products in Virginia. By J. Elton Lodewick; 69 pages, 23 figures, 18 tables. December, 1930.

277 -- The Waste Sulphite Material of Paper Mills as an Adjuvant to Certain Spray Materials, By R. H. Hurt; 10 pages. February, 1931.

278 -- Removal of Spray Residue from Apples. By W. S. Hough, R. H. Hurt, W. B. Ellett, J. F. Eheart, and A. B. Groves; 16 pages, 5 figures, 6 tables. June, 1931.

Technical Bulletins


42 -- A Study of Bovine Coccidiosis. By Irl Donaker Wilson; 42 pages, 7 plates (20 figures), 4 tables. Bibliography. May, 1931.

234 -- (Issued by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.) Marketing Apples Grown in the Cumberland-Shenandoah Region of Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. By Carl R. Swinson, J. J. Vernon, F. F. Lininger, F. P. Weaver, and A. J. Dadisman; 50 pages, 5 figures, 38 tables. March, 1931.

237 -- (Issued by the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D. C.) Economic Factors Affecting the Beef Cattle Industry of Virginia. By Charles A. Burmeister and others with the collaboration of J. J. Vernon and C. R. Nobles of this station; 66 pages, 8 figures, 21 tables, April, 1931.

Articles In Journals

Ballinger, R. A., Stock Share Renting in Virginia. Social Science Abstracts, page 54, May, 1931.

Cagle, L. R., The Oriental Peach Moth. Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 104-115. January,1931.

Cagle, L. R., The Oriental Fruit Moth, Virginia Fruit, Vol. 19, page 12. April, 1931.

Drinkard, A. W., Jr. The Experiment Station’s Research Program for Horticulture, Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 157-163, January, 1931.

Groves, A. B., Natural Fire-Blight Infections on Spiraea Vanhouttei. Phytopathology, Vol. 21, pages 89-91. January, 1931.

Hamilton, C. Horace, Some Factors Affecting the Size of Rural Groups in Virginia. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 36, pages 423-434. November, 1930.

Hamilton, C. Horace, A Statistical Index of Topography. Social Forces, Vol. 9, pages 204-205. December, 1930.

Henderson, R. G., Transmission of Tobacco Ring Spot by Seed of Petunia. Phytopathology, Vol. 21, pages 225-229. February, 1931.

HofMann, Fred W., Sources of Nitrogen in Orchard Fertilization. Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 180-191. January, 1931.

HofMann, Fred W., Applying Nitrogen to Apple Trees, Proceedings of the American Society for Horticultural Science for 1930, pages 19-22. February, 1931.

Hough, W. S., Status of Codling Moth Control in Virginia Orchards. Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 135-139. January, 1931.

Hough, W. S., Removal of Leafhopper Specking From Apples. Journal of Economic Entomology, Vol. 24, page 327, February, 1931.

Hummel, B. L., Inter-Community Conflict. Publication of the American Sociological Society, Vol. 24, No.4. November, 1930.

Hurt, R. H., New Spray Materials for Apples and Peaches, Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 88-95. January, 1931.

Johnson, E, P., Results of Experiments with the Use of Pigeon-Pox Virus as Cutaneous Vaccine against Fowl-Pox. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Vol. 79 (New Series 32), pages 81-86. July, 1931.

Patteson, G. W., Know Your Soils for Profitable Crop Production. The Loudoun-Fauquier Breeders’ Magazine, Vol. 2, Pages 17-18. 1931.

Patteson, G. W., Proper Land Utilization in Northern Virginia. The Loudoun-Fauquier Breeders’ Magazine, Vol. 2 pages 27 and 37. 1931.

Polson, Robert A., Social Changes in Walworth County, Wisconsin. A Study of Trends in Town-Country Relations. Publication of the American Sociological Society, Vol. 25, No.2, pages 139-142. May, 1931.

Pratt, Avery D., Does the Nickel Dissolved from the Container During Pasteurization Catalyze the Destruction of the Vitamins of Milk? The Journal of Nutrition, Vol. 3, pages 141-156. September, 1930.

Schoene, W. J., Plum Curculio Studies at Crozet in 1930. Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 134-135. January, 1931.

Schoene, W. J., Leafhopper Studies During 1930. Journal of Economic Entomology, Vol. 24, pages 177-180. February, 1931.

Shear, G. M., Studies on Inanition in Arachis and Phaseolus. Plant Physiology, Vol. 6, pages 277-294. 1931.

Wingard, S. A., Some Important Orchard Diseases. Proceedings 35th Annual Meeting of the Va. State Hort. Society, pages 143-151. January, 1931.

Public Service Rendered

The station cooperates freely with the State Department of Agriculture, the United States Department of Agriculture, state institutions, and with farmers, when such cooperation will promote the station’s service to the commonwealth. Efforts are made to bring the results of experiments and research to the attention of farmers and other interested persons, through bulletins, press articles, agricultural journals, radio addresses, and addresses before farm organizations .and groups of farmers. Members of the staff keep in touch with county agents, home demonstration agents, and teachers of vocational agriculture in order to carry to those who need it the findings of the station. On numerous occasions members of the staff went to different communities to look into and advise farmers concerning some local problem. The entomologists and pathologists at the station and field laboratories promptly advised the extension authorities as to observations and experiments on pests and diseases of fruits; and this type of information furnished the basis for the V. P. I. spray service which is used effectively by fruit growers in the state.

Feeding trials with peanut meal as the source of protein in mashes for chicks showed that the feed was a practical substitute for half or more of the meat scrap commonly used in the rations for chicks. This information will be helpful to poultrymen, and at the same time it points the way to a new use for peanuts that are grown extensively in Virginia.

Experiments with the waste sulphite material from paper and pulp mills (known as lignin pitch and available both in powdered and paste forms) showed that these materials are useful in certain sprays and serve the purpose of stickers and emulsifiers. Practical methods for using these materials were worked out.

The value of calcium monosulphide as a fungicide was discovered by R. H. Hurt, assistant plant pathologist on our staff. During the year this material was used in a limited way in all of the important fruit growing regions of this country, and rather extensively in some localities, with satisfactory results.

Future Needs

The services rendered by the station are vital to the interests of agriculture and rural life in the state. In order to make these services most effective, it is highly important that the support given the station should be sufficient to procure and retain thoroughly trained and competent members of the scientific staff. Additional personnel is now needed for investigations in poultry husbandry, horticulture, home economics, agricultural chemistry, farm crops, soils, agricultural economics, and animal husbandry. Provision should be made also for investigations and experiments on farm forestry problems which are exceedingly important to farmers who have small boundaries of timber on their farms. The scientific staff is the key to effective station service, and the most important need of the station is adequate provision for the scientific staff.

Next in importance is the need for additional laboratory and office space. At present the space is inadequate and crowded conditions are not conducive to the best work. Some of the laboratories are improvised in odd quarters that are poorly suited for such purposes. A substantial, fire-proof building is needed for laboratories, offices, and particularly the agricultural branch library.

The station is now renting two tracts of land of 100 and 200 acres, respectively, for conducting experiments with beef steers and herd management of beef cows. It would be desirable for the institution to own land which could be used for these purposes; and in the long run numerous economies could be effected if sufficient land were owned by the institution.

Respectfully submitted.

A. W, DRINKARD, JR., Director.