Organization For Research

Horticulture is composed of so many industries and involves so many sciences that its problems are too diverse and too complex to permit of many definite statements in regard to organization for research. But several generalities may be set down as essentials to a good organization: (1) There must be a man in command - a broadly trained man. (2) The position of the experimenter should be permanent, subject only to efficiency. (3) The time and thought of the investigator must not be taken up with other activities, as administration, teaching, extension work and the like.

(4) The organization must be permanent, to give continuity, coherence and exhaustiveness to the work.

(5) The organization should usually correspond with the subdivisions of horticulture rather than the sciences upon which it is founded. That is, there should be pomologists, gardeners and florists, rather than botanists, chemists and entomologists. (6) Money and effort should be concentrated upon a few comprehensive problems that can be exhaustively carried to sound conclusions. Too many experiments are but fragments of a larger problem; discovered to be such, they are often discarded after waste of time and money.

The third of the essentials just given needs amplification. The greatest deterrent to good work in experimentation is the association of research with teaching either in the classroom or from the institute platform. So much of the time and energy of men having these dual-purpose positions is taken by the more present, and therefore more pressing, work of teaching that they are often investigators only in name. In every institution where teaching and investigating are combined, the demand is naturally strongest from students, and investigation suffers. There are, it is true, advantages in the combined position of teacher and investigator, but few indeed are the cases in which the disadvantages do not outweigh them and always the research work suffers.

There should be cooperation between the horticultural experimenters in the several states and the United States Department of Agriculture. A most pathetic spectacle in our agricultural institutions is that of isolated men attacking one and the same problem, duplicating results, often duplicating errors and in either case wasting public funds. So far as possible there should not be overlapping of experimental work, unless duplication is desirable to make more certain the results. In the latter case the work should be jointly planned and from time to time compared and adjusted to secure efficiency and economy. The Society for Horticultural Science is an excellent clearing-house in which the official horticultural experimenters in North America may interchange ideas and adjust their work.

Theories in horticulture are so general, facts so numerous, evidence of one kind or another so easily adduced, that the temptation is strong to state a theory, supply facts from the many already known, adorn the work with a dash of personally collected evidence and call the result an experiment. Such work lacks coherence and is incomplete. Few, indeed, are the horticultural investigators who make their work invincible by exhaustiveness. Again, the urgent call for results has led to the study of problems admitting of hurried conclusions rather than those that are fundamental, and for this reason much work is unfinished and inconclusive. The superb exhaustiveness of Darwin's work, much of it horticultural experimentation, should furnish inspiration and method to investigators in this field of agriculture in particular. All call to mind that the "Origin of Species" is but a short statement of the theory of evolution which is then shown to be an impregnable fact by a vast amount of evidence over which Darwin labored for twenty years, biding time until his views reached full maturity. There is every temptation to publish prematurely, but permanent work is that which is completely worked out.

Besides, given time, investigation is easier, material coming of itself which, under speed, would have required travail of mind to bring forth.