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it be clearly understood that the great requirement of the wheat, barley, oat, Indian corn, and Timothy crops, is nitrogen, in an available form, in the soil; that rutabaga and other varieties of turnips will collect this nitrogen, in the form of ammonia and nitric acid, from the atmosphere; and that, when they are consumed by cattle and sheep, nearly all this nitrogen is returned to the soil, in an available form, for the ensuing wheat crops; and that these turnip crops are greatly, almost incredibly, benefited by the application of super.phosphate of lime, and farmers will begin to cultivate the turnip to a considerable extent, and a new era will commence in American agriculture.
I believe it will not pay to purchase guano, as a manure for wheat, at present prices; but it certainly will pay to use super.phosphate of lime on the turnip crop, and thus obtain the essentially important element of guano, ammonia, from the great storehouse into which the carbonate of ammonia, arising from the decomposition of animals and vegetables, is continually escaping and is brought back to the plants by every shower of rain.
A good crop of rutabagas, of 20 tons of bulbs and 8 tons of leaves, contains the following substances:
The consumption on the soil of such a crop of turnips would raise a crop of wheat of from 15 to 40 bushels per acre, calculating that 5 pounds of ammonia will produce an extra bushel of grain; and this result is obtained by growing turnips over and above their great value as a food for cattle.
Another valuable means of obtaining nitrogen from the atmosphere is by growing red clover. A crop that would make two tons of clover hay would contain 80 pounds of nitrogen, without reckoning that contained in the roots of the plants. Such a crop of clover ploughed under or consumed by stock, and all the manure carefully saved and applied to the soil, would increase the following wheat crop 16 bushels per acre. In England it is found unadvisable to grow red clover oftener than once in eight years, as if sown oftener the land gets “clover sick," and the crop is a complete failure. The soil of this country, especially of Western New York, is exceedingly well adapted for clover, and I have seen much larger crops here than are ever obtained in England by the use of the richest artificial means.
Super-phosphate of lime will be found a good manure for clover, especially on soils that are benefited by the application of plaster on the clover crop. Peas and vetches also collect their nitrogen from the atmosphere, of which they contain a large amount. For these crops super
phosphate of lime is of no benefit. For beans, super phosphate of lime, in connexion with a salt of potash, will be found a good manure. For mangel-wurzel, beets, carrots, and parsnips, super phosphate of lime is a good auxiliary, and will, if applied in conjunction with barn-yard manure, yield immense crops.
For tobacco I believe super-phosphate of lime will be found very beneficial. The seed is first sown in beds, and the plants transplanted, when about four inches high, into the field. During the first stages of the growth, the plants are liable to be destroyed by insects; and hence any manure that would force them along rapidly out of their reach, would be valuable; this I think super-phosphate of lime will do. Then, again, the object of the grower is not to obtain a very large coarse crop, but a small one, perfectly elaborated, with a small per centage of ash. From the effect of super-phosphate of lime on the chemical composition of the turnip, favoring, as it is known to do, great rapidity of growth and an early maturity, yielding a crop with a large amount of dry organic matter fully elaborated, I think this manure will be, of all others, the best to use for the tobacco plant. I have said that if in English farming the turnip crop was suplied with super-phosphate of lime, it would find sufficient alkalies and minerals in the soils; but I must not be understood to assert that if this manure is applied to the tobacco or cotton-plant, it will be unnecessary to apply any other minerals or alkalies. The case is a very different one in England; the turnips, which it will be seen contain a very large portion of potash, are always consumed on the farm, and thus the potash and other minerals are returned to the soil in the excrements of the animals consuming them. But tobacco is all exported from the plantation and consumed by a class of animals which return nothing to the soil; and as it contains a large amount of mineral matter, it is but reasonable to suppose that the soil will soon be exhausted of minerals if none are supplied as a manure. Of the cheapest method of supplying the deficiency, I cannot speak, but merely wish to call attention to the use of super.phosphate of lime, as a means of producing great. rapidity of growth during the first stages of the plant and inducing early maturity. The super-phosphate of lime, at the rate of 5 or 6 cwt. per acre, should be sown on the beds as contiguous to the seeds as possible; and when the plants are transplanted, a small quantity—say a teaspoonful—should be placed immediately below the plant in the hill; the deliquiescent nature of the super. phosphate attracts considerable moisture, and the plants will not be so liable to suffer from drought.
For potatoes this manure cannot be recommended. The application of artificial manures to various agricultural crops is a subject of great interest and importance. But it is one in which the farmer needs to exercise caution, as it is very easy to lose much money, even though their effect is beneficial. It is necessary to know what increase a given amount of manure of a certain price will produce; and the value of the produce being known, the farmer can calculate with certainty. For instance: I have detailed experiments in which sulphate and muriate of ammonia were used with a very beneficial effect on the wheat crop; yet sulphate and muriate of ammonia, at the present cost of these manures, and the price of wheat, cannot be employed without serious loss. If they should ever be sold at half their present price, or should wheat rise to double its present value, these manures might be used at a great
profit; so it is with guano, lime, plaster, super-phosphate of lime, or any other artificial manure. Their application may be very beneficial in a scientific sense; whether it would be so in an agricultural or economical one, depends on their cost, their effect, and the price of the produce.
At present we have but little data on which to make satisfactory calculations, and they can only be obtained by extensive systematic field experiments, conducted by scientific and practical men. Agricultural papers for the last few years, in America and Europe, have been filled with experiments with artificial manures, but, from want of a knowledge of their composition, the previous treatment of the soil, and other incidental circumstances, little positive knowledge can be obtained from them; and, though the experimenters are worthy of all credit, yet, had the money which these individual experiments cost been devoted to one experimental farm, whose experiments could be systematically carried out, the state of our agriculture would be very far advanced to what it is at present, and agricultural operations could be carried on with all the certainty that attends manufacturing processes. It has been supposed that a knowledge of the composition of plants, especially of their ashes, would enable the scientific agriculturist to apply the proper kind of manure, and that the crop would increase or diminish in exact proportion as these ash constituents were supplied or withheld. But this theory, however plausible it may appear, and though it has received the sanction of the highest scientific authorities, yet common experience, the infallible test in all the great practical arts, has pronounced this view erroneous. [?] Many readers of this essay who may have adopted these theories, will be surprised to see super-phosphate of lime recommended for root crops which contain so little phosphoric acid, and so much stress laid on the importance of ammonia for wheat, which is emphatically a carbonaceous grain, as also condemning it as a manure for beans and peas, which are eminently nitrogenous. All that can be said is that, however paradoxical they may appear, they are the conclusions of those who have spent years in a most laborious and expensive investigation of the requirements of agricultural plants, both in the field and the laboratory. They are also substantiated by the general practice of the best practical farmers.
Many agricultural writers in this country and in England have shown a warmth of feeling on this subject that is perfectly irreconcilable with a love of truth and the advancement of scientific agriculture. They seem to think that individuals had no right to make experiments, how. ever carefully conducted, and certainly no right to publish their results when obtained, especially as they happened to run counter to these gentlemen's theories. All I have to say on the subject is, that experience will very soon decide which of the two systems is right; and, as a believer in the French, rather than in the German theory of artificial manures, I have no fears for the result.
It would have been satisfactory to have given some experiments with the mineral phosphate of lime, in its natural and manufactured state, made in this country; but, though it has been used by a great many different individuals, there are scarcely any experiments published which are at all conclusive on the subject.
B. P. Johnson, esq., has kindly furnished me with the following: Mr. B. B. Kirtland, of Cantonment farm, Greenbush, used the Crown
Point mineral, manufactured into super-phosphate of lime, on Indian corn, at the rate of a table spoonful to the hill; and, by way of comparison, on alternate rows plaster and ashes were sown; and on another portion fish manure was used. The result was, the rows which received the phosphate were the most vigorous, stood the drought much the best, and at harvest had the most good corn. He tried it on cabbages, cauli. flowers, and melons, with the most marked result; applied it on grass, but with no perceptible effect. But it is proper, also, to mention that plaster and ashes applied at the same time, on another portion of the field, gave no visible results.
Professor Emmons has used it on Indian corn, melons, tomatoes, &c., with like effect. I have, myself, never seen it applied to Indian corn, but, judging from the effect it has on wheat, should think it is not to be expected to do much good, except on soils rich in nitrogenous matter and deficient in mineral substances—a condition in which soils that have long been cultivated with Cereal crops are hardly ever found.
But I shall be happy to alter my opinion if experiments, which I trust will be extensively made this summer, shall prove the contrary. In applying super-phosphate of lime, as a general rule, it is advisable to place it as near the seed as possible, as it does not injure the seed if mixed with it, and the rootlets of the young plant immediately find a palatable nourishment.
I cannot but look on the discovery of this rich phosphate of lime, and its value as a manure for our crops, as a subject of national importance, which will have a great influence in modifying some of the reprehensible features of our present system of culture, and establishing one in which the now immense export of the valuable fertilizers of the soil shall be reduced to that quantity which the different soils will bear, and retain their fertility.
DETAILS OF AN EXPERIMENT ON RAISING POTATOES, IN THE YEAR 1852.
By H. H. Eastman, of Marshall, Oneida county, N. Y.
(We give the very interesting and valuable experiments made by H. H. Eastman, of Marshall, Oneida county, New York, which have been undertaken in consequence of the premiums offered by the society. Mr. Eastman will continue his experiments next season, and we anticipate important results from the experiments which shall be made.]
In the hill
Half-shovelful in 100 12
each hill. Equal quantities of 6 0 do
Handful in each 60 12
Two-thirds sho- 75 12
velful in each
hill. Compost. 60
Two-thirds sho- 77 12
velful in each
Two-thirds sho- 78 12
Two-thirds Bho- 68 0
velful. In hill. 60 One whole potato in In hill..
Large handful to 85 4 bill.
each hill. Manure of fowls...
Top of hill at plant- 6 0 One whole potato in Top of hill. Large handful to 64 12
Handful to each 59 3
hill of hill, afier pota- Top of kill
Top of hill when Handful to each 54 3 toes were up.