Page images

ferent from those for which the former premiums were awarded.

No person will be entitled to receive a premium, unless he complies with the conditions on which the premiums are offered, and gives notice as required of his intention to claim the same.

In regard to all subjects for which premiums are offered, it is to be distinctly understood, that the trustees reserve to themselves the right of judging of the QUALITY of the animal or article offered ; and that no premium will be awarded unless the objects of them are of a decidedly SUPERIOR QUALITY.

By order of the Trustees,

DANIEL P. KING, Secretary. January, 1842.


To the Secretary of the Essex Agricultural Society:

DEAR SIR-I have continued the use of a compost, composed of the same swamp muck, ashes, and barn manure, as stated in my former papers on this subject, another year, on my farm in Middleton, as successfully as heretofore, making proper allowance for the injury done the crops by the hail of the 30th of June and the drought in August. To the compost used on about two acres, about twenty pounds of salpetre were added ;wherever this went, worms did not injure the corn, while other portions of the field were considerably injured by them. We were not certain of other benefits. My paper on the Science of Agriculture, No. 1, Vol. iii. of our Transactions, is doubtless very imperfect in many particulars and incorrect in some. The assertion ventured that the muck by us used as manure contains a free alkali, in its natural condition, is, I am now satisfied, erro

The test which I relied on, (owing to my antiquated chemistry,) is not a sure one, where alkaline


earths, lime, &c. are present.

From the action of carbonic acid on silicates, both lime and magnesia may change the purple to blue, and during the decomposition which ensues between the sulphate of lime which the muck contains and the test itself, lime in its passage from one state to another may affect the test like a free alkali. Dr. Dana's analysis is doubtless correct. To determine whether the muck we used differed essentially from common peat in its fertilizing qualities, two cart loads of what when dry is a light, fibrous peat, were taken directly from the meadow, mixed with ashes in the same proportion as with the other muck, and four rows through the piece of corn, manured therewith. These rows were as good, we thought a little better than the adjoining ones manured with the compost above mentioned. Since the publication of the paper above mentioned, two editions of Liebig's Organic Chemistry, in its applications to Agriculture and Physiology, have been published at Cambridge. This is a valuable work for scientific farmers, although some of its theories, not being well established by experiments in the field, should be received with caution. His theory of the operation of plaster of paris is a plausible one, and if correct, of great importance. He says, “ the action of gypsum, and chloride of lime really consists in their giving a fixed condition to the nitrogen, or azote, or ammonia, (a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen gases,) which is brought into the soil, and which is indispensible for the nutrition of plants." Ammonia is produced by the putrefaction of animal and vegetable substances which contain nitrogen. ' Animal manures doubtless owe much of their efficacy to this constituent, as those which contain it in the largest proportion are most valuable. Much of the ammonia formed by the process of putrefaction arises and mixes with the atmospheric air. Every shower of rain or snow brings it down again to the earth, and whereever it meets plaster of paris or chloride of lime, it takes the acids from these salts, and forms with them fixed salts. These, decomposed by the roots of vegetables, furnish the nitrogen nceessary to their growth.

The superior value of human excrements and urine as a manure is well known to farmers. Liebig says, “ the Chinese are the most admirable gardeners and trainers of plants, for each of which they understand how to apply the best adapted manure ; the agriculture of their country is the most perfect in the world. In the case of everything except rice, the Chinese seem to manure rather the plant itself than the soil, supplying it copiously with their liquid preparations. Human excrements, especially urine, they consider invaluable. Laws of the state forbid that any of them should be thrown away, and reservoirs are placed in every house, in which they are collected with the greatest care.

No other kind of manure is used in their corn-fields. If we admit that the liquid and solid excrements of man amount on an average to 547 lbs in a year, which contain 16,41 lbs. of nitrogen, this is much more than is necessary to add to an acre of land, in order to obtain, with the assistance of the nitrogen absorbed from the atmosphere, the richest possible crop every year.” This, certainly, appears to us very extravagant, but it should be remembered that this is not the night soil used by our farmers, which has lost most of its ammonia, but an article, with which they have not yet experimented—urine and excrement preserved. It would greatly promote the cleanliness of our cities, towns, and habitations generally, if, instead of the usual vaults, &c. of privies, casks or tubs, with well fitted covers, were placed open beneath the seats, and into these a handful of ground plaster of paris, a small keg of which might be kept standing by for this purpose, were thrown every few days. When these casks or tubs become nearly full, they can be removed, the covers being put on, and carried in wagons, or otherwise, wherever needed, without offending any one. Two sets of these vessels would in most cases be needed, that when one is removed another may be put in its place. This method is now in use at my own domicil, and I find it attended with very little trouble. If the floors of stables, heaps and reservoirs of manure be strewed from time to time with ground gypsum, they

will lose all offensive smell, and none of the ammonia which forms there can be lost ; for ammonia and sulphate of lime cannot be brought together without mutual decomposition, forming carbonate of lime (chalk) and sulphate of ammonia, which are destitute of all smell, and according to Liebig, the greatest fertilizers of soils; for they contain carbonic acid and ammonia, which, with water, contain the elements necessary to the support of vegetables or animals. The same substances are the ultimate products of decay and putrefaction ; and thus death, the complete dissolution of an existing generation, becomes the source of life to a new one.

Contrary to all received notions among farmers, and hitherto among scientific men also, Liebig asserts that geine, humus or vegetable mould are not the food of plants, and declares that so far from humus being extracted from the soil, it is in fact increased by cultivation; as in the case of a forest, the more abundant the growth of wood upon it, the greater the amount of humus upon the soil, where the debris (leaves annually thrown off,) is suffered to remain upon the land ; and contends that after the leaves are formed, plants derive their nourishment chiefly from the atmosphere. On this, Dr. Dana remarks, “as regards Liebig there are so many points to be settled in vegetable physiology, that his views can be considered at present only as highly ingenious, bold, and counter to experience.” Liebig says, that " when vegetable mould is placed in a vessel full of air, it extracts oxygen therefrom with greater rapidity than decayed wood, and replaces it by an equal volume of carbonic acid." But this is only a partial view of the action of air upon geine; it produces not only carbonic acid but water also, by uniting with the hydrogen of the geine. The amount of water proceeding from this cause is truly astonishing. It has been found by actual experiment, * equal per hour from an acre of fresh ploughed sward to 950 lbs., while the undis

* These interesting facts, for which Dr. Dana refers to Nicholson's Journal, Vol. 23, pages 51–57, induced me to obtain and examine the paper which contains them. The experiments are so interesting and important that I have been

turbed ground gave not a drop. This is equal to the evaporation per hour from an acre, after the most copious rains. Here let us pause and consider ; we can, it seems, generate water in the soil in a dry time, by stirring it with a plough or cultivator! This proves the correcteess of an observation made by Cobbet, I think, on the cultivation of Indian corn, that the effects of a drought upon it may be prevented by ploughing among it every morning while the dew is on. He thus noticed the fact without understanding the cause. Evening ploughing must be preferable to morning, however, as the roots would have a longer time to absorb the genera

induced to make the following abridgement, to be inserted as a note to my communication.



* J. C. Curran, Esq. M. P., to cleanse his foul grounds without resorting to fallows, planted them with cabbages, in a quincunx form, allowing 4 1-2 feet between each plant; 2350 were set per acre. The manure, about fourteen tons, was deposited as deep as the plongh could penetrate, drawn by four horses, and the plants set directly above it. The plough and harrow, constructed to work betwixt the rows, was constantly employed during the summer, and the ground,

poor cold clay soil, was as completely freed from weeds as it could have been by a naked fallow. The crop in October was 35 1-2 tons per acre, many of the cabbages weighing 55 pounds each. Astonished at his success, and unable to account for it, he by mere accident met with the Bishop of Llandaff's experiments on evaporation from earth [newly ploughed I presume,] which had remained for thirty years without any practical application of it to agriculture. It appeared to him highly probable that the rapid growth after the hoeing of drilled grain, was attributable to the absorption of the evaporation produced from the earth, and was the cause of the growth of his cabbages. Accordingly, the following year he cultivated cabbages and potatoes in the same manner, with like

In the mean time, he made constant experiments with glasses contrived for the purpose, to ascertain the quantity of evaporation from the land, which he found to amount on fresh ploughed land to 950 lbs. per hour on the surface of a statute acre, while on the unbroken no moisture arose from the earth. The evaporation from the ploughed land was found to decrease rapidly after the first and second day, and ceased after five or six days, depending on the wind and sun. These experiments were carried on many months; after July the evaporation decreased. The evaporation after the most abundant rains was not advanced beyond what the earth afforded on being fresh turned up. Evaporation from dung is five times as much as from earth, and is equal on the surface of an acre to 5000 lbs. per hour. By making use of dung in its freshest state, he says, the farmer may extend his cropping to one third more land, with the same quantity of manure. He recommends covering it deep. Manure exposed on the surface tends to no good. I have omitted his philosophical inferences from these experiments, for they are obviously incorrect. Dr. Dana's theory is more satisfactory. Such facts are imperishable, and cannot fail, sooner or later to enlighten those for whose benefit they are recorded. More than sixty years have now elapsed since the Bishop of Llandaff sowed the seed of a great improvement in agriculture, which is now just beginning to vegetate, and attract the attention it deserves. Let then every newly discovered fact in science and art be recorded. It will sooner or later benefit mankind.

« PreviousContinue »