and raised by the University, was declared grand champion of all breeds in America at the National Livestock Exposition in Chicago. The animal had been purchased from a Johnson County farmer and placed on a scientific feeding schedule under the direction of Professor H. R. Smith, who, along with Dean Burnett, laid the foundations of the animal husbandry research program in Nebraska. To the chagrin of those who stressed blood lines, the steer's sire was a Hereford and his dam a cross between a Shorthorn and a Holstein. His victory, said Agriculture, was "a pointer for the farmer who has not the means to indulge in fads or fancy stock, but who does want to breed for the market," and it helped to establish the reputation of the University's book farmers. According to W. D. Aeschbacher in an article on the Sandhills cattle industry, it was at about this time that Professor Burnett advised Sandhills ranchers to concentrate on the production of heavy-boned, low-built cattle. Over the years the continued triumphs of University of Nebraska-fed steers at national livestock shows increased the influence of the University's experimenters on the cattle producers.
Another important contribution of the experiment station came through its study of the cause of animal diseases. The hog cholera experiments begu under Dr. Billings were continued, and scientists were successful in conquering another disease, blackleg, which had taken the lives of countless Nebraska cattle. In 1884, 17 per cent of all range cattle in Nebraska died of the affliction, but by 1901 the toll had fallen to less than one per cent, primarily as a result of vaccine developed and distributed by the University. Moreover, Nebraska's experiment station was the first in America to discover why cattle died when they were pastured on green sorghum. Researchers found that it contained large quantities of prussic acid. Later experiments, however, showed that the sorghum was harmless when cut and cured; and farmers who had stopped planting sorghum began to plant it again.
One question which remained unresolved was that of the proper goals of experimental programs. It will be recalled that in the late 1880's Dean Bessey announced that the University's agricultural programs must be directed toward the resolution of "practical problems," and this had been the philosophical framework within which the experimental work proceeded. But some agricultural leaders insisted that this was a prostititution of agricultural research, which, in their view, should emphasize "pure research" seeking to uncover basic principles. A. C. True, director of the Office of Experiment Stations within the United States Department of Agriculture, held that the Hatch Act had not encouraged pure research; he said that Hatch funds usually went for routine analyses and practical researc. A consequence of his concern was the enactment in 1906 of the so-called Adams Act, sponsored by Henry C. Adams of Wisconsin and written by True, which provided money only for "original research." The Adams Act has been portrayed as a necessary first step in freeing the agricultural scientist at land-grant colleges and experiment stations "from the duties of teacher and analytical drudge." Moreover, according to Charles E. Rosenberg, the Adams Act
permanently strengthened the scientific department of the land-grant
colleges. [It] provided the opportunity for willing men to enter upon the
path of abstract research. More than this, however, it demanded a
practice definition of agricultural research and-- by implication-- of the
experiment station's proper task. Few leaders had ever had occasion to
define agricultural "research" in more than homiletic terms; now,
however, "original investigation" would have to become not merely a
theoretical rallying point, but a concrete standard for the evaluation of
particular research proposals.
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