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Nature volume 20, page 455 | Download Citation

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THIS popular and useful little book has been decidedly improved by the additions and alterations which Dr. Cameron has made. Since the author's death, about a quarter of a century ago, this catechism had been once revised (in 1863) by Dr. Voelcker, but the time had long since arrived for further changes. If the present editor had been less scrupulous in adhering to the original form and substance of Prof. Johnston's work, this issue would have justly merited the description on the title-page of “An entirely new edition, revised and enlarged.” There are, it is true, two fresh pages in the present edition, corresponding to a few new tables of the composition of cattle foods, but we fail to find the numberless small changes and additions which the progress of science demanded. Every sentence of the book should have been rigorously scrutinised and thoroughly amended, or even excised, where necessary. All expressions such as these: “Raneid butter is said to be sweetened”(p. 73), “It is said that if a cow be liberally supplied with whey” (p. 74), “The feeding with whey thickened with meal is said”(p. 74), should be removed. Statements of which the teacher is not sure should not find a place in an elementary catechism. Again, the table, on p. 34, of the ash-constituents removed from an acre by various crops needs emendation. On turning to page 53 we find two other tables showing the produce of corn and straw in certain field experiments with various manures. We do not think the omission of these tables would entail any loss, while their place might be profitably occupied by a series of conclusions deduced from the really satisfactory experiments on crops made at Rothamsted or at some of the continental agricultural stations. For, indeed, what lesson can be learnt from the statement (p. 53) that in an unnamed locality, on an undescribed soil, during a season of which the rainfall and temperature are unrecorded, and by the use of a wheat manure the composition of which is not furnished to the reader, 42 bushels of wheat were produced per acre? Without duplicates and without repetition in different localities and in different seasons, field-trials of manures are positively misleading. But when once such tables as those on pages 34 and 53 have got into a popular work and remained there fifteen years, they have a good chance of remaining fifty.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/020455a0

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