Composition of Cereal Straw

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    THE seemingly facetious title, “The Two Ends of Straw”, appears over an article by Dr. H. Nicol in Agricultural History (10, No. 1, Jan. 1936), reviewing some early, but fundamental, research upon the composition of cereal straw. The work of Prof. J. F. W. Johnston in 1842, of J. P. Norton and P. F. H. Fromberg in 1845, and of J. I. Pierre in 1863 and 1866 is collected to show that straw has a great diversity of composition between the root end, and the parts towards the flower. The work of Pierre is particularly detailed, and supplies a great deal of material not widely known at the present day. Dr. Nicol discusses some of the results in relation to the recent hypothesis of ‘negative migra tion’ of plant constituents, where nitrogen and mineral elements are returned to the soil. Several additional papers upon the partitional analysis of straw have come to light since the publication of the article under review, but the most recent is dated 1879. There is considerable gratification, but also cause for humble reflection, that modern ideas are being confirmed by work which has remained in oblivion for nearly sixty years.

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