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hands for deepening and ameliorating the condition of those grudging and scanty soils ; and thus lay the foundation wherein your manures may exert all their quickening influences. This is no matter of doubtful and uncertain experiment. The subsoil plough, invented in England, has been used there with the greatest success. It has also been tried, in a modified form, in this country, by some of our most enterprising cultivators, and commended as one of the greatest improvements of our times. I believe it will work a great revolution in our agriculture; and that with the aid of subsoil ploughing, and liberal manuring, many of our now almost barren wastes will be converted into smiling and fruitful fields.
Deeming this a matter of great importance, and one worthy of the especial attention of the members of our society, and of the agricultural community at large, and believing that many of the soils of this county, are especially adapted to this mode of cultivation, I have taken the liberty of transcribing a note on this subject, from the first report of our indefatigable agricultural commissioner. *
Having considered thus briefly two of the more obvious modes of increasing the productive powers of soils, viz: manuring, and altering its texture, depth, and properties, by tillage and other means, I shall now advert to another mode, which claims especial consideration in this county; I mean, changing the relation of the soil with respect to moisture. In looking over the surface of the county, we find vast tracts of land wholly unproductive. Much of this land is not susceptible of being brought under cultivation, except at an expense which would be ruinous to the farmer, who is seeking the means of support from working on the soil. But a much larger proportion of this unimproved land, estimated in the gross in the reports of the valuation committee in 1831, at thirty four thousand two hundred and
eighty one acres, is adapted to a most profitable cultivation.
The amount of unimproved land in the county somewhat exceeds that of English and upland mowing, and is more than double that in tillage. A large portion of this land, consisting of low, bog, mud, and peat meadows, is capable of being drained. It is now absolutely worthless, or nearly so. These tracts are distributed through the whole county. Scarcely a farm can be found, which does not contain some land of this description. If susceptible of draining at a moderate expense, these lands, in their present condition, though producing nothing except what is offensive alike to the eye, and a just agricultural taste, are intrinsically worth more than the average of the first class of upland tillage bottoms. They are virgin soils, and contain vast accumulations of vegetable deposites, furnishing the best aliment for most kinds of plants, and especially for grasses. When drained of the exuberant moisture, and the soil has been sufficiently exposed to the action of the atmosphere, they become extremely productive, and may be kept so at a very inconsiderable expense. This is not matter of speculation, theory, or book learning, but of actual and repeated experiments, made by practical farmers, who have shown us the results, the processes, and the expense of the operation. The transactions of our society, as published from year to year, contain splendid and most encouraging examples of this kind of husbandry. Among the most recent, I refer you to those of Mr. Osborn, of Lynn, and Mr. Brown, of Saugus. If any farmer doubt, as to the expediency of this mode of cultivation, I would ask him to visit these reformed meadows, as I have done, and see them producing every variety of crop, in the greatest richness and abundance. For three successive years past, in the month of June, I have seen one of these reclaimed meadows, containing about twenty acres, under the cultivation of Mr. Phinney, the gentleman before refer
red to, producing between two and three tons to the acre of the best English grasses.
This subject cannot be pressed too strongly on the attention of our Essex farmers. These sunken, sterile, and unsightly meadows contain mines of wealth, and require only the hand of the judicious cultivator to work out the precious metals, in all sufficient and reasonable abundance. I say, again, let every farmer, who is blessed with this species of soil, try the experiment for himself. He may do it on a more limited scale, if he please. If he is unwilling to grapple with one or two acres, let him try one or two rods ; and if he should not be perfectly satisfied with the experiment after a fair trial of two or three years, as one of the trustees of the society, I should not be unwilling to assume the whole expense of all the experiments that might be made, and to become, with my colleagues, personally responsible for such an engagement. I have entire confidence in the feasibility and profitableness of this mode of culture ; and I hope I may live to see the day, when these detached prairies shall become the gardens of Essex, rejoicing the heart and eye of the passing traveller, and returning their golden harvests into the barns and granaries of the husbandman.
Before quitting this topic, I cannot forbear relating an anecdote, which will illustrate the general views here presented. Within the last year, an aged farmer, who has made himself rich by this mode of cultivation, adopted extensively, many years ago, was. called as a witness before a sheriff's jury, to estimate the value of a neighbor's land, which had been taken for a highway. The land was a narrow strip of three rods in width, running partly over upland tillage or field, and partly over a meadow, producing coarse and sour grass. Several witnesses were called in behalf of the petitioner for damages to appraise these different soils, and all of them, except the old farmer, estimated the upland considerably higher than the meadow. When he was called, he reversed the es
“ I do presume,
timate ; and the counsel for the county, apparently
In this connexion, it may be proper merely to advert to the improvements, which have been made within a few years in the cultivation of salt marsh by ditching, draining and dykeing. There is a large quantity of this land in the county, fourteen thousand one hundred and thirty nine acres, being just about equal to the quantity in tillage. It is well known that a large portion of this salt marsh is comparatively unproductive. The experiments, which have been made, in several instances, at improved modes of cultivation, in the ways referred to, augur well for success. If it is found, on farther experiment, that these lands are susceptible of improvement in these or other ways, to the degree, which the experiments actually made would seem to warrant us in expecting, it is obvious that a vastly increased productive power may be obtained from this source, and considering the amplitude of the source, it would be difficult to estimate its value or impor
tance. I commend this subject to the special attention of the seaboard farmers, who are mainly interested in these lands.
Land that is worth cultivating at all, is worth cultivating well. If, therefore, an individual find himself in the possession of a farm which will not reimburse the expense of good husbandry, he had better abandon it at once, for all experience teaches, that no man can afford to be a farmer under a system of bad husbandry. The earth was not made for thriftless, inefficient, or unskilful cultivators, nor will it yield to such its full increase.
No farmer should feel that he discharges his whole duty, unless the effect of his cultivation, is to make his farm better every year. He may be sure that it is capable of an indefinite improvement, and his constant aim should be, to increase and multiply its resources, and productive power. The question should not be, whether fifty or an hundred dollars. judiciously expended in labor or otherwise will add so much to the saleable value of his estate, but whether he can receive it back again with good interest. His mode of cultivation should not be based on any idea of the present or prospective value of his farm in the market, but on that of a permanent and continued possession from generation to generation; and that if he do not reap all the benefits himself, he is laying up a certain treasure for his descendants.
One principal reason, I apprehend, why more attention is not paid by our farmers to the cultivation of fruit trees, is that they do not promise an immediate profit. The trees must be planted—they must be nursed in their early growth, and some seven or ten years must elapse, before they will yield any considerable profit. Whereas, the wise and sagacious cultivator calculates remote as well as immediate profit. If he sees that fifty or an hundred apple-trees, for instance, planted by the side of his fields, or in a lot set apart for this purpose, will begin to yield a