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Hitchcock's Analysis of Marsh mud by Dana's method, from
Cambridge. Newburyport. Medford.
7.5 Insoluble geine, 7.4
5.6 Sulphate of lime, 2.3
2.6 Phosphate of lime, 0.4
0.3 Granitic sand, 76.9 94.9
100.0 Besides the above named constituents, it contains more or less salts of soda, common salt, &c. From this analysis we may say, that if a soil be quite poor those varieties should be chosen that contain the most geine, and this can be judged of by their comparative lightness when dry, the lightest abounding most in organic matter. But if the soil already contain a good deal of inactive vegetable matter, the varieties that abound most in salts, will probably be most efficacious.
Con Dung. The analysis of the excrement of black cattle fed on hay and turnips, given in Thomson's Chemistry, from Thær and Einhoff, gives, when evaporated to dryness and burnt to an ash, (not reckoning sand,) the following salts and earths in the proportion stated. Lime 12, phosphate of lime 12.5, magnesia 2, iron 5, alumină with some manganese 14, silica 52, murate and sulphate of potash 1.2, 98.7.
These mineral constituents then, together with the vegetable and animal matter, which undergoing putrefaction, forms geine, and gives out carbonic acid and ammonia, shew us in what consists the value of cow dung as a manure.
Road Dust. It has been suggested by Hitchcock and Dana that felspathic and micaceous rocks, if ground in a plaster
mill, would form a good dressing for land. Now we have in many places an abundance of this article ready ground for use, and well mixed too, with animal manure, in road dust, the removal of which would greatly benefit the public, as it only impedes the motion of wheels, either in the form of mud or loose sand, besides its annoyance to travellers when lifted on the wings of the wind. Here is probably a rich source of real “muck sand” hitherto neglected.
The foregoing brief sketch, very hastily compiled, amidst constant interruptions and professional cares, is designed to arouse the attention of practical farmers to a subject full of interest and promise to themselves, their country, and the world. A flourishing agriculture lies at the very foundation of national prosperity. An enlightened and well educated yeomanry is one of the most important constituents of national greatness and glory. Farmers should feel that a higher trust than the cultivation of their fields is committed to them; and that is the cultivation of their own minds; and that, therefore, independent of the pecuniary advantages which the study of the science of agriculture may confer upon them, its influence in strengthening and improving their intellectual powers would prove of incalculable value. Knowledge is power. And no knowledge confers so much power on the individual man, as that which makes him thoroughly acquainted with the philosophy of the art he practices of the avocation in the Iabors of which he spends his life. Such knowledge is not only power, it is happiness, it converts the drudgery of labor into scientific recreation, and where it is the laws, the forces of nature which guide his hand and accomplish his work, it raises his adoration to the Maker of those laws, the cause of those forces, and religion becomes the crowning glory of his existence.
In a communication to a late agricultural meeting at the State House, I proposed for their consideration, as I now do to the consideration of the farmers of Essex county, the following plan of operations for the elevation of the art of agriculture to a comparatively exact science. Let our first effort be to obtain the services of one or more of our best chemists who shall devote all his powers and time to the analyzing of soils, manures, &c., to perfecting the science of agriculture, and preparing for publication a popular treatise on this subject. To defray the expenses let a subscription be opened and papers sent into all parts of the commonwealth, with the understanding that all persons who will subscribe and pay in ad
dollars, or more annually, till such subscription be withdrawn, shall enjoy the privilege of having his soils, &c. analyzed by said chemist, and to have a statement of the constituents of said soils, &c. returned to him, with the opinion of said chemist, as to what is needed to render such soils most fertile; the value of specimens of peat muck, muck sand, marls, &c., and the treatment they need to make them valuable manures for certain soils, &c. Agricultural societies to be admitted as subscribers, with the privilege of having all the soils and manures used by claimants for premium crops, &c. analyzed.
On the above-mentioned communication a committee, consisting of Dr. C. T. Jackson, Nathaniel P. Denny, and Horace Collamore, made an able report from which we have room only for the following extract:-“Your committee are of opinion that there is no subject of human knowledge more recondite than the science of agriculture. No other branch of art requires a more thorough knowledge of the sister sciences than this.—No branch of art has yet been able to exist without technical terms. There is no royal road to learning. The student of agricultural chemistry must labor like others, before he can acquire a thorough knowledge of the science. In order to comprehend the meaning of chemical terms, the
farmer must pay some attention to the elements of the science, and then, by the aid of such glossaries as should be contained in a treatise on agricultural chemistry, he will be enabled to hold intercourse with the elements, and know them by name.”
We have been requested to present the following notice of a course of study contemplated in the Teachers' Seminary, at the South Parish in Andover. It so fully harmonizes with the views expressed in the foregoing essay, and is so well calculated to meet what we consider the present wants of the community, that we cheerfully recommend the institution to those, who are desirous of educating their sons to be intelligent and independent farmers. At a time when the most distinguished men in our country feel it their highest honor, that they are farmers ; and, when all the learned professions, so called, are overstocked, it becomes us, farmers, to consider what is the best manner of educating our sons.
“ Arrangements have been made to introduce scientific agriculture as a regular branch of study; one of the teachers has been engaged, during the past winter, in investigating agricultural chemistry, with a view to give instruction on the subject, and to prepare a text book for the use of the students. Instruction will be given on the subject the coming term, which commences March 25th, in connection with the lectures and experiments in chemistry. The plan of adding scientific agriculture to the branches already pursued, originated from the belief that scientific agriculture must be made a regular
branch of study in our literary institutions before we can make farmers scientific men, and produce a permanent improvement in our system of rural economy. It is our object to afford facilities to our young men for obtaining a thorough English education, especially to obtain a knowledge of the various branches of natural science, that they may be able to understand and apply the great principles of scientific agriculture which lay at the foundation of all successful practice. We propose to teach them botany and physiology, mineralogy, geology, and chemistry with its application to agriculture, and to afford them the opportunity to witness the operations of tillage under the direction of a teacher. No labor will be required, but the opportunity will be given for those who feel disposed, and a fair remuneration paid. The instruction in scientific agriculture will be connected with the processes of analyzing soils. Fully believing that this plan will be of the highest practical advantage to the farming community, and the only one which will ultimately elevate the employment, and raise up a generation of scientific farmers, we confidently present it to the community for their co-operation and patronage.
(NOTE A.-page i 21.)
From Professor Hitchcock we learn that sand or any other stratum of earth that first arrests the water in its descent into the earth, if spread on the surface of the ground, operates as a manure. It is that stratum out of which water continually oozes—that stratum into which all wells are sunk—and which, in many places, is found near the surface of the earth. It probably will be found to contain salts and in some instances free alkalies, which have been washed down from the soil, and here arrested. Hard water which is found in most wells, contains such salts, and here a question of some importance is suggested. Is well water for irrigation more fertilize. ing than rain or brook water? This subject of muck, sand, &c. is one of the highest interest to farmers, since it must afford many a cheap means of renovating their worn out soils. All eyes should be directed to it and experiments tried with it wherever it can be easily obtained.