ON September 30, 1943, Sir John Russell will retire from the directorship of the Rothamsted Experimental Station, which he has held since 1912, when he succeeded the late Sir Daniel Hall. During 1907-12 he was Goldsmiths' Company soil chemist at Rothamsted. In these thirty-five years of service Sir John has been associated with striking advances in agricultural science. An early achievement was the evolution of a method-then conveniently described as partial sterilization-for restoring the fertility of rich, but 'sick', soils such as tomato and cucumber beds. A sub-station of Rothamsted was established at Cheshunt, in the centre of the glass-house industry, to deal with this and related problems ; its work was so successful that it quickly became an independent research institute. During the War of 1914-18 Sir John was technical adviser to the Food Production Department. Shortly after the War, the agricultural research and advisory organization was greatly expanded by the Government and, in common with other institutes, Rothamsted enlarged its staff and its programme of research to include plant pathology and entomology as well as its traditional subjects of soil science and crop growth. Important scientific advances were made in all of these branches and Sir John attacked the double problem of testing them under varying soil conditions and agricultural systems, and of accelerating their absorption into farm practice. He increased the contacts of Rothairtsted with agriculturists and farmers' organizations until the objects and work of the Station became as well known in the countryside as among men of science. Striking proof of this was given in 1934, when the experimental fields were threatened with building developments: a public appeal was issued for funds to purchase the farm, and the amount required, £35,000, was over-subscribed in less than two months.
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