The Right Bacteria
The word "bacteria" has had a grudging admission
to the vocabulary of practical farmers, and the reason is easily
stated. The knowledge of bacteria and their work is recent and limited.
They are many in kind, and scientists are only in the midst of their
discoveries. The practical farmer does well to let bacteriologists
monopolize interest in the whole subject except in so far as he can
provide some conditions that have been demonstrated to be profitable.
The work of bacteria must come more and more into consideration by the
farmer because nature uses them to produce a vast amount of the change
that is going on around us.
In consideration of the value of legumes we must take into account the
bacteria which they have associated with them, and through which they
obtain the atmospheric nitrogen. This would be a negligible matter, it
may be, if all legumes made use of the same kind of bacteria. It is
true that the bacteria must have favorable soil conditions, but they
are the same favorable conditions that our plants require. A fact of
importance to the farmer is that the bacteria which thrive on the roots
of some legumes will not serve other legumes. This is a reason for many
failures of alfalfa, crimson clover, the soybean, the cowpea, hairy
vetch, and other legumes new to the region.
Next: Soil Inoculation
Previous: Storing Nitrogen