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admirably adapted for the growing of alfalfa, though the life of the plant will vary with the depth of the surface soil, and more especially with the composition of the subsoil. In the province of Córdoba, where 1,111,500 acres of alfalfa are cultivated, two conditions diametrically at variance are observable. In the eastern part, as throughout the entire Central Pampa, the surface soil maintains an average depth of two to three feet, composed of heavy, black, alluvial loam, with a little admixture of fine sand, underlaid by a stratum of plastic yellow or blue clay of immense thickness: this formation is very favourable to wheat and maize, but limits the life of alfalfa to such time as is necessary for the tap-root to penetrate a few inches into the clay, when the plant loses its vigour and gradually dies
In the neighbourhood of Villa Mercedes, and the whole south-western section of the province, the surface soil consists of an extremely sandy, alluvial loam, varying in depth from six inches to two feet, and, if judged by the appearance of the aboriginal grasses, which are sour and sparse, presents no attractions to the agriculturist. Nevertheless, it is in these lands so uninviting to the eye that the alfalfa plant has found a habitat. The illustration does not, however, end with this particular district. Further west the broad tract of country which intervenes between the meridian passing through the City of Córdoba and the Andes is principally composed of similar lands, in much of which, notwithstanding the arid nature of the climate, alfalfa is cultivated without irrigation, the province of Mendoza accounting for 259,715 acres; San Juan for 286,520 acres; San Luis for 98,000 acres; and the territory of Pampa for 232,100 acres. As I am not an expert in the science of geology, the explanation I am able to give of this seeming anomaly, though accurate enough as to detail, will probably fall short of what an audience such as I have the privilege to address will expect.
Immediately below the surface soil, from which it differs little in composition, a stratum of saturated sand of an average depth of sixty-five feet is encountered followed by a hard seam five to ten inches thick of a calcareous deposit; underlying this seam another stratum of super-saturated sand and gravel of greater depth is met with. As a rule, a plentiful supply of water for stock purposes is obtained by sinking a pit six to nine feet, and a bore hole into the lower stratum secures a semi-artesian well. The abundance of moisture, due to the proximity of the ground water level, promotes a rapid and healthy development of the alfalfa plant in its younger stages, and the profound depth of the water-carrying subsoils ensures an unknown length to the period of its existence; many "alfalfares," known to have been planted more than seventy years ago, still rank among the most prolific in the province. I will make only one other remark on the long life of these pasturages. Some experts on the culture of alfalfa, it seems to me, attach an exaggerated importance to the extreme depth to which the roots will penetrate in a loose, well-watered subsoil. The preservation of an even and bounteous stand of alfalfa depends far more on the conditions obtaining within a reasonable distance of the surface; for when
the mechanical nature of the surface soil affords free aeration and uninterrupted capillary movement, the plant will to a large extent perpetuate itself by reseeding, always provided sufficient moisture is available in the subsoil. Irrigation in a great measure assists selfpropagation, and counteracts the prejudicial effects of a heavy surface soil, but it cannot altogether eliminate the disadvantages arising from a close, heavy subsoil and a remote ground water level. A study of the map throws considerable light on the peculiarity of these water-carrying strata, for we notice at once the phenomenon that characterises the rivers of what may be termed the "Central River System."
Commencing with the rivers flowing from the north, the Rio Dulce starts in the Sierra de Aconquija in the Andes chain, traverses the provinces of Tucuman and Santiago del Estero, and empties itself into Lake Porongos on the northern border of Córdoba. The Rios Catamarca and Fiambala cross Catamarca and disappear in the sands of the province of Rioja. The Bermejo, El Zanjon, Castano, and San Juan, the most important rivers of this system, are fed from the snow-clad Cordillera de los Andes, and, flowing south-east, are lost near Lake Huanacacho, in the province of San Juan. Further south, the Mendoza, Tunuyan, Diamante, Atuel, and Desaguadero, all of which take their rise in the Andes, flow east across Mendoza into Mar Chiquita del Sur, in the territory of Pampa. The system also includes the rivers Primero, Segundo, Tercero and Quarto, starting in the Sierras de Achales, and the Quinto, whose source is in the Sierra of San Luis, all of which disappear in the south-west of the province of Córdoba.
The regularity of the phenomenon is primarily owing to the surface configuration, which is singularly level even up to the foot of the Cordillera, and these, as is the case with the mountains already mentioned, rise precipitously from the plains. I will not attempt to formulate a precise definition of the relationship between these rivers and the subterranean water found in the plains, but it seems probable that from where they disappear, the water is conducted through porous strata to the sand-beds, in which gravitation and capillarity again bring it to the surface; analogous facts on a smaller scale have been observed in other parts of the world.
It would not be possible in the time allowed me to enter at length into the vast and manifold resources of the Argentine Republic. A few items must therefore suffice to show the strides that have been made in population, enterprise, and wealth; and of these the pastoral and agricultural statistics are for the purpose of this article particularly informing.
The division of "Statistics and Rural Economies " has supplied the following particulars :-The population in 1878 totalled 1,850,000; this had risen in 1895 to 4,094,911, and in 1901 to 5,026,913. Immigration between 1870 and 1880 was made up of 260,613, which increased in 1891 to 1900 to 648,326. The length of railways open for traffic in the year 1880 was 1435 miles, a great
portion of which was the property of the State-always a suspicious feature in a new country. In 1901 there was in existence 11,000 miles, all owned by private companies. The imports advanced from £11,000,000 in 1878 to £20,607,850 in 1902; and the exports from £11,580,000 to £35,897,345 during the same period.
When trade advanced the shipping industry could not lag behind. In 1902 a grand total of 2,196 ocean-going vessels, with a tonnage of 3,973,782, left Argentine ports; while the local trade was represented by 46,735 coasters, with a tonnage of 8,954,650.
As regards cultivation, in 1872 the area under crops was 1,430,000 acres, and the country was dependent on sources for its bread supplies. Alfalfa first appears as a separate item in 1883 with 351,975 acres. In 1890 and 1901 the number of acres under tillage and permanent pasture was as follows:
In January of this year a helpful little brochure issued by the Minister for Agriculture, gives the areas under alfalfa in 1903 at 4,829,521 acres, and in 1905 at 5,437,981; to which a foot-note is added explaining that the latter figures represent the area at the commencement of the year, and 6,422,000 acres can safely be taken as the acreage at the present time. The following table gives the amount of wealth invested in live stock since 1878:
The magnificent item of £35,897,345, representing the export trade in 1902, rests wholly upon an agricultural basis, as the following table shows::
These figures are more expressive than the most glowing rhetoric in illustrating the progress of Argentina which has taken place in a little less than a single generation.
Passing now to the rise and development of the pastoral trade: In 1878 there were exported 230,000,000 pounds of wool, and a considerable quantity of hides (I have not been able to ascertain the exact amount); in 1902 Argentina's production of 511,521,920 pounds of wool was almost one-quarter of the total world's production, which is calculated at 2,231,000,000 pounds; and 103,306 tons of all descriptions of hides, together with 417,823 mares hides were exported. The freezing establishments first started an export business in 1883 with 17,165 wethers; thirteen years subsequently—in 1896-1,768,206 wethers and 7,092 steers were despatched; and in 1902 the total reached 3,429,275 wethers, and 207,755 steers. the frozen meat consumed in England, Argentina supplied 59.50 per cent., Australia 21.60, and New Zealand 18.90 per cent.
The live stock trade, at first confined to Brazil and the West Indies, was augmented in 1891 by shipments to Europe, and in 1892 figured at 40,000 sheep and 125,458 cattle. The advance from that date has been truly phenomenal, the numbers in 1898 being 577,813 sheep and 359,296 cattle. The appearance of the "Foot and Mouth" disease in March, 1900, caused a sensible decrease in the exportation for 1900 and 1901, which, however, was partially compensated for by an increase in the amount of frozen meat, jerked beef, and preserved meats; the two latter items accounting for 454,000 tons in 1902, when the live stock trade made an effort to regain its lost prestige with a total of 112,501 sheep and 118,303 cattle. The last item I shall refer to is one of great interest, namely, butter, of which 8,765,625 pounds were exported in 1902.
Figures of such magnitude contain not only visible evidence of the great increase in wealth, but they also point to some titanic propelling force that has assisted Argentina to outstrip all competitors in pastoral exports, and this leads up to my main contention that alfalfa is the fundamental element supporting and giving activity to the pastoral industry. The explanation becomes still more intelligible when the meat trade is dealt with under its three primary divisions of live stock, frozen meat, and conserved meats. Of these three sub-headings the live stock trade is incomparably the most important, inasmuch as the animals exported must be of the highest quality, and able to compare favourably with the cattle received from the United States, Canada, and other countries, where every art and scientific method is made use of to produce a thoroughly finished animal and the first grade of beef. What farmers in those countries are accomplishing by the aid of artificial foods and stall feeding, the Argentine farmer is doing in the open with alfalfa. Moreover, an all-the-year round trade would be impossible if the old system of grazing had not undergone a distinct change, in that the most enterprising estancieros, possessing suitable lands, had these laid down. under alfalfa, and by this means elevated their businesses from that of mere cattle raising to fattening and dairying establishments.
For freezing purposes the ordinary, rough Argentine "mestizo " (half-breed), of which a large majority of the stock of export cattle
is composed, is perfectly suitable for the trade when run for a short time on the alfalfa fields: and this is particularly necessary during the winter months, when the wild grasses are hard and indigestible. As regards live and frozen wethers, every practical farmer knows that it is much more difficult to breed and finish a good steer than a passable wether, but here again the quality of the mutton has its influence on prices; furthermore, it must be borne in mind that the grade and quantity of wool yielded is an item of supreme importance, and it is gratifying to know that a short time ago the State Department of Statistics announced that under normal conditions the yield of wool per sheep had increased from 3 to 5 pounds since 1880.
Now I have told you a little about the most important centres of the great pastoral industry, whose ramifications have spread and have made meat almost a drug in our home markets; but these by no means exhaust the potentialities of Argentina, whose resources are only commencing their course of development. Scattered over the northern provinces there are numerous extensive, well-watered valleys awaiting a population to carry on the cultivation of the land; added to these there is the riparian province of Entre Rios, with its gently undulating plains capable of yielding almost any product, and in which, before many years elapse, alfalfa is destined to reign supreme. While south of a line drawn westward from Bahia Blanca, in the great arid desert of Patagonia, with its pebbly soil and innumerable unwholesome "salitrales (saltpans), presenting a remarkable contrast to the calcareo-argillaceous deposit which constitutes the essential feature of the whole Pampean formation, there is no possibility that alfalfa can ever be cultivated, excepting in a few favourable patches.
We often hear it said now-a-days that the nineteenth century belonged to the United States, and that the twentieth century belongs to Canada. I hope and trust for the honour of the British Empire and the Anglo-Saxon race the prognostication will be verified, but I am constrained to think that in this great race Canada is carrying too much weight. Argentina for the most part enjoys a climate of surpassing fructuousness, the rainfall is abundant and comes at the right seasons, vegetation is growing all the year round, and the husbandman can work in the field three hundred and sixtyfive days out of the year. In the quasipolar atmosphere of the "Great North West" the productive forces of nature lie dormant for more than six months out of the twelve, and the farmer, be he ever so industrious, must hibernate in much the same condition. But I rejoice to think that Canada has a rival in every respect worthy to compete with a people, whose grand old traditions and assiduous struggle against nature, have made them at once, the most sterlingly honest and lovable people it has ever been my fortune to meet, and I have travelled considerably.
In giving expression to these thoughts, I am not unaware that other persons may think I am indulging in a poet's dream, in an illusion that vanishes before the light; yet those familiar with what