« PreviousContinue »
new information was obtained, and but few useful facts were deducible. In fact, what can be learned from the experiment of seeking, in the market, a mixture called “Croasdale superphosphate,” or “ Baugh’s raw bones,” or any other “raw bone” compounds, and applying them to a few rows in a corn field or potato patch ? In the first place, who knows what the raw bone mixtures, or “superphosphates,” are made of? Certainly, the experimenter docs not. It is apparent, then, that the experiments must be empirical, inasmuch as the substances experimented with are of unkrown fertilizing value. The
phosphates, or bone mixtures usually possess no uniformity in composition. One farmer may be lucky enough to secure a barrel or two of the substances in which a considerable amount of plant nutriment is found ; another may purchase packages of the same brand, which are almost wholly destitute of the phosphatic or nitrogencous elements, and are therefore practically valueless. Thesc, employed in the usual empirical way, of course give varying results,—results which are better calculated to confuse and perplex, than to instruct.
But if the fertilizers we employ are honest mixtures, and have a fixed value, how much positive practical information can we gain, from applying them in a small way, in our fields, without taking into account some important considerations which are usually overlooked? It is true, if we thrust the ~ raw bone” into the hills of one row of potatoes, and leave the next one without the mixture, we can measure and weigh at harvest time, and thus obtain results from which to form wise conclusions, or dogmatic opinions. These results, however, must be regarded as blind guides. Any experiments in husbandry which do not extend over a period of time exceeding one or two seasons, and which do not take into account vai riations in soils and meteorological conditions, are practically worthless. It appears to your Committee, high time that the intelligent farmers of Essex abandoned the “irregular,” uncertain, empirical methods of experimenting with fertilizers, and adopted a form better calculated to advance true knowledge in
respect to the greatest interests of agriculture. In the first place, the materials experimented with should be definitely understood. In phosphates, the exact percentage of soluble phosphates of lime contained in the fertilizer should be known, and also the amount of free ammonia, or ammonia forming constituents. If substances containing potash or soda are employed, a knowledge of the exact percentage of these alkalies also should be had. With the best and most appropriate materials in our hands, we do not obtain in one or two seasons, even a proximate knowledge of how much actual value they may be to our crops. A dry season may prove entirely unfavorable for the appropriation by plants of any one element or compound, or a wet season may produce like results. If a farmer should judge of the influence of a phosphate upon his corn in a dry season, he might be led to condemn one year a material, which in the next, would prove his most efficient and prompt friend. When we bury in our soils a fertilizing agent, it is quite uncertain when we shall receive back the value, or thrice the value in increase of crops. If we are sure we have got the genuine agent there, and in an assimilable condition, we need have but little solicitude concerning ultimate good results, Five years is short time enough to conduct experiments with fertilizers to reach ends, or obtain results worth publishing to the world. Much of the confusion existing among soil cultivators regarding the value of fertilizing agents, arises from the incomplete, unfair, unscientific “trials,” or experiments made. The public taste is so perverted, that all statements of this nature given in the agricultural papers, are read with a peculiar relish. If a farmer is anxious to see his name in print, let him buy a peck of “raw bone phosphate," or “patent guano," sprinkle it in a few hills of corn, or in the turnip drills, and in the autumn send the “results” to the nearest journal. The fame, although short lived, will be cheaply bought. With the care, accuracy, and completeness of detail demanded of experimenters in every branch of science, in this age of the world, it is a pity that we should not improve our
methods in all departments of husbandry. Before scientific agriculture can rise to a point worthy to command confidence and respect, this must be done.
In behalf of the Committee James R. Nichols.
STATEMENT OF WM. R. PUTNAM. It is with some reluctance that I make public my experiments with manures. I regret
my crops were not seen by the Committee earlier in the season; coming as you did, just after the severe gale, you had not so good an opportunity to judge of the effects of different kinds of manure as you would have had before the gale.
If I rightly understand the object of the Society, in offering this premium, it is to collect and publish such information upon the use and the effects of different kinds of manure, as will enable the farmers of the county to judge better what kinds of manure to use. If in my statements I can furnish a peg for you to hang your report on, I shall be satisfied.
Early in April last, when planting peas, part of the piece was manured with good manure made by the horses, cows and sheep, applied at the rate of six cords to the acre ; to the remainder I applied Croasdale's Superphosphate at the rate of four hundred pounds to the acre,—this costs about three cents per pound, and it is said that it is one third Peruvian Guano, and the remainder mostly mineral phosphate from South Carolina. The peas were as early and produced as well as those that were planted upon the manure.
Some of the farmers in this vicinity have been using pine sawdust from the saw mills for bedding for their stock. Does it injure the manure ? is a question that I should like to see settled by a course of well conducted experiments. Last February I spread about ten bushels of sawdust that had been partially dried, on the floor of my sheep pen, then covered it well with hay so that the manure would not mix with it, the
sheep were kept upon it till the last of April, when it was well saturated with urine, this was mixed with some sawdust that kad been used in the stable and well wet with the urine from the horses. I planted peas upon it ; they came up, but did not grow much. By digging and examining them, I found the rootlets avoided the sawdust, and got their nourishment from the soil beyond it.
The first week in May I planted a field of potatoes; part of it being manured at the rate of six cords of manure to the acre, which was a compost' made by mixing three cords of barn cellar manure with three cords of meadow muck. put in the drills on part of the field, and by the side of it I applied Croasdale’s Superphosphate at the rate of four hundred pounds per acre. The same kind of seed was used, (the sebec) those on the manure yielding at the rate of 256 bushels to the acre, and the phosphate giving at the rate of one hundred and twenty-two and one-half bushels per acre. Those on the phosphate came up first, and were of a deep green color in June, in July they rusted. On one acre of the same field I spread six cords of manure, of the same kind as the other, and harrowed it in. It was then marked out in drills, three feet eight inches apart, and planted with Harrison potatoes. On twenty-four rows I put one hundred pounds of Peruvian Guano, costing five cents per pound ; two rows were left without additional fertilizers ; the next twenty-four rows had one hundred and fifty pounds of Croasdale phosphate costing three cents
The acre yielded three hundred and fifty bushels. In the first part of the season, where the guano was applied, the vines were much the largest, and I thought before I dug them that the guano would increase the crop twenty-five per cent, but when they were harvested, I had as many bushels of marketable potatoes in the two rows that were left without it, as in the others. They were uniform in size, though not near so many in number. By measurement, I find that one hundred pounds of guano gave me five bushels of small potatoes and a great heap of vines, the phosphate gave three bushels of small
potatoes and about half as much increase of vines as the guano.
In the corn field which you saw, I applied different kinds of manure, but it was so much injured by the wire worms in the first part of the season, that I cannot give any acurate statement. But the guano, and the phosphate gave only about half as much corn as the stable manure.
That on the fish guano, where it was not injured by the worms, did well.
The manure on the field of ruta baga turnips, which you saw, was prepared as follows : To three cords of meadow muck, I added one cask of lime, twenty bushels of ashes and four hundred pounds of ground bones. In the four first rows we used the mixture at the rate of six cords to the acre. The first row yielded twenty-two bushels, the next seventeen bushels. I account for this difference by the fact that the first got some benefit from the manure upon the cucumbers that were planted by the side. On the fifth row we put two-thirds of the quantity of this mixture, and added twenty pounds of Fales' fertilizer, costing three cents per pound. This produced seventeen bushels. On part of the field, a compost made of barn cellar manure and meadow muck was applied at the rate of four cords per acre, and twenty pounds of Baugh's raw bone, (this bone is prepared at Chicago) and costs three cents per pound. Where this bone was added to the compost, the turnips were the best in the field ; twenty pounds of this bone produced one hundred and fifty pounds of turnips. On this piece, containing about two-thirds of an acre, we had three hundred and thirty-seven bushels.
If I had not already made this statement too long, I might speak of the effects of different kinds of manure upon
the squash crop and the cabbage.
MANUFACTURES AND GENERAL MERCHANDISE.
The Committee on Manufactures and General Merchandise