The success enjoyed by Nebraska scientists during the succeeding decades emphasized the prescience of True and Adams.
But there were practical problems facing the agricultural scientists. The University lacked the facilities to conduct extensive research, and more important, the experiment station in Lincoln, because of its location, could not conduct studies relevant to agriculture in the central and western parts of the state. In his 1903 inaugural address Governor John Mickey said-- as University scientists had been saying for some time-- that the diversity of Nebraska's climate and geography produced many different kinds of farming activities and farming problems. Therefore he recommended that an agricultural substation be located in the western part of the state to attack problems peculiarl to the semiarid regions of Nebraska. The legislature responded by voting fifteen thousand dollars to establish a western substation whose purpose would be "to determine the adaptability of the arid and semi-arid portions of Nebraska to agriculture, horticulture, and forest tree growing, such as the production of grain, grasses, root crops and fruits of kinds commonly grown in the same latitude in other States; and also the most economical methods of producing such crops without irrigation."
The substation finally was located near North Platte. In March, 1904, three sections of land south of the city, comprising both valley and upland soils, were purchases for sixteen thousand dollars, with a committee of North Platte citizens donating approximately half of the amount. W. P. Snyder was appointed superintendent, and continued as head of the substation for more than a generation. Few men contributed more to the development of agriculture in western Nebraska than Mr. Snyder, and under his careful supervision experiments were immediately begun to fulfill the intention of the regents and the legislature.The station specialized in experiments in feeding and stock raising; and there was also concern for cultivation techniques adapted to the region. In December, 1908, Professor Burnett announced that experiments at the North Platte substation had included a study of crop rotation and had demonstrated that a period of "summer tillage"-- that is, summer fallowing-- every four or five years "makes a winter wheat crop practically certain, that land which has been summer tilled may be seeded to alfalfa or tame grasses, and that summer tillage methods should not be considered as inconsistent with the most profitable opertion of the land." Laboratory tests had proved that in 1907 "approximately five inches of rainfall as stored [in North Platte soils] by a period of summer tillage for the use of the crop of winter wheat which followed." The wheat crop consumed not only the moisture which fell while it was growing but the surplus five inches as well, and summer tillage acted "as an insurance agent against the loss of crop during winter drought. It lessens the amount of seed required by probably one-half, and normally produces a much larger yield than can be secured by other methods." In view of these findings, the regents concluded that "there is every reason to believe that a large proportion of the hard, level ground in the vicinity [of North Platte] can be profitably farmed." In his 1909 message to the legislature, Governor George L. Sheldon stated that the
results obtained by the Agriculture Experiment Station at North Platte,
Nebraska, have more than justified its establishment, and signify the
importance of establishing other Experimental Stations in the western part
of the state . . . . The prosperity of each section is beneficial to all other
portions of the state . . . . The wealth produced in our western counties can
be greatly increased. There can be no better way to obtain this object than by
establishing additional experimental stations.
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