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Land and Capital 1

soil, nature, wealth, industries, materials, natures and extractive

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LAND AND CAPITAL 1. Mad and Nature.—Man first began to rise above the level of the beasts of the fields and forests, and to be able to satisfy an increasing number of wants, by entering into a sort of business partnership with Nature. He doubtless first scratched the soil with sticks when he began in a primitive way to cultivate vegetables and cereals, and for many thousand years his partner, Nature, was so generous and rich in re sources that she demanded no share of the product, but old plots of ground long cultivated grew stingy a,nd refused to produce the expected crop. Then man discovered that the land must be fed and that if he buried in it the offal of the animals which he had tamed, or even the dead compost of a swamp, Nature was pleased and the soil gave forth its old yield.

This first partnership between man and Nature is still in existence, and in all civilized countries many scientific men are constantly at work. upon plans and methods to make a more effective use of the resources of man's rich partner. The partnership is so impor tant that governments maintain special departments whose sole function is the conservation and develop ment of nature's resources, whether in lands, mines, rivers or forests.

The products supplied by nature are commonly known as raw materials, and with very few exceptions are not consumed by man until he has effected some change in them by cooking them with heat or by changing their form thru manufacture. Among our primiti,-e ancestors there was undoubtedly a time when their total wealth, all the utilities in their possession, consisted of raw materials. Today, however, men have developed such a multiplicity of wants and such great ability to satisfy them, that raw materials con stitute a relatively small part of the existing store of wealth of economic goods in any civilized country.

2. Agriculture and the the writings of economists land is given the broadest possible mean ing. It is made to include not only the soil and its undetached products such as forests and growing_ crops, but also all of nature's productive forces and riches such as rivers, lakes and mines. In economics

Niagara Falls, the river Thames and the beautiful lakes of the north of Italy are all classified under the head of land.

Soil varies much in fertility and different pieces of land are adapted to the production of different crops because of differences in their chemical elements. In the last fifty years increasing attention has been given to the study of the chemistry of the soil, and as a result the productivity of many different _kinds of land has been greatly increased. The scientists at work in the agricultural colleges and laboratories of America and Europe deserve most of the credit for this progress.

Only in recent years has the physics of the soil begun to receive the attention it deserves. Most farmers in the middle of the nineteenth century sup posed that the destruction of weeds was the main object of hoeing and cultivating a crop. Now it is known that cultivation of the soil has a second and in many regions an equally important purpose, namely, the creation on the surface of a mulch of dust to pre vent evaporation of moisture. The so-called dry farming now practised in certain arid regions is only one of the contributions made by the science of physics to the art .of agriculture.

The science of bacteriology is also helping the farmer in his struggle with the soil. It was discov ered, for instance, that soils long cultivated often con tain harmful bacteria injurious to the crop; also that certain varieties of clover contain bacteria which extract fertilizing nitrogen from the atmosphere.

These and other natural sciences have been very helpful, not only in agriculture, but also in all the industries which have for their end the utilization of nature's resources.

3. Extractive economist views nature as a storehouse of potential wealth, and all industries aiming at the production or development of that wealth are called extractive industries. Farming, cattle raising, mining, forestry, floriculture, lumbering, fishing, horticulture, are some of the most important extractive industries.

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