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--AGHtCULTMAL NOTES

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AGHtCULTMAL NOTES [BY A PRACTICAL FARMER.] A GREAT INSTITUTION. In these days of the greatest ^Viir t^ w°rld ever known, it seems strange to realise that trie nations .till' have at least one — This is the great International Institute oi Agricul tare, which has now been at work in Rome lor fire rears. This institute was originated by the King of Italy. is maintained by and at the expense of all the leading countries throughout the world for their joint benefit. Its chief objects are to keep in touch with every new development in agriculture and publish the facts broadcast. It has HOW by far the best means of ascertaining the condition of crops in all the countries; and the information on this subject, which it publishes from time to time, is of enormous value, though perhaps it is only realised by those who remember how, a few years ago, highly mis- leading estimates and statements were circulated about the world's crops. In the earlier years of the Institute's existence, many obstacles had to bo overcome; but now its work is of a very far-reaching character, and will undoubtedly be of enormous value and importance in the near future. All intelligent and thoughtful farmers will, there- fore, be glad to set, some particulars of the origin and work of the Institute as well as photogmohs of the magnificent building erected for its accommo- dation. All this they will find in a most readable pamphlet entitled The International Institute of Agriculture; Its Organisation, its Work, and its Results." Copies of this acceptable publication may be obtained free on application from the Board of Agriculture, London. SMALL HOLDINGS PROGRESS. Like many other things, proceedings under the Small Holdings Act have been much restricted by the war but it is of interest, to see what progress is reported a having been made. The total quantity of land acquired under the Act in 1914 was 198,288 acres. Of this total 139,478 acres are described as having been purchased for £ 4.601.692 and 58,810 acres leaded for rents of E74,186 a year. Of this land 178 911 acres had been actually let by County Councils to 12.684 individual small hol.Jer, and 505 acres sold to fifty small holders, and the councils of county boroughs had let 1.259 acres to 218 individual tenants. In addition, 8,436 acres have been let to sixty-three Co-operative Small Holdings Associations, who have sub-let the land to 1,451 of their members, and 3,580 applicants have been provided with 47 500 acres by private landowners direct. The Act has resulted in the provision of small holdings for 18.468 applicants in seven years. Owing to the financial situation produced by the war, it is impossible .for Councils at present to do much in the direction of acquiring additional land under the Act. The authorities, however, regard it as most im- portant that the excellent machinery which has been set up with so much care by Councils for the administration of the Act should be kept in being, so that it may be ready to re-sume operations when the conditions are more favourable. FIGHTING THE THISTLE PEST. With prices high all round, everyone is eager to make the most of his land and reap u record harvest. Henoe-providt-,i the necessary labour can be ob- tained—it will pay much better than in ordinary seasons to make a very determined attack on weeds wherever land is foul, in the hope of effecting some real and permanent improvement. In many dis- tricts, among the worst because most easily spread weeds are thistles, and undoubtedly the only effec. tive cure for them is cutting. Some kinds of thistle tare kept in check if cut late in the season but in time to prevent seeding; but the troublesome creep- ing thistle has to be cut early and often, so as to prevent the plant from feeding its roots, which are thus gradually starved. A few years ago experiments were carried out at one of the English agricultural colleges with a view to ascertaining the most effective methods of de- stroying these weeds. '-Dressings of salt and sulphur were given a trial, and were found to be of practi- cally no use for the purpose, and in the following year this treatment was given up and cutting alone resorted to. The thistles were cut three times durino- that year. and the same number of times the next season, and this proved so efficacious that by the end of the latter there was little or nothing of the plants left to deal with; while in the third year the plots experimented on were practically cleared altogether. The second growth which followed the first cutting was much enfeebled and the seed-producing stems were less luxuriant. The second and third cuttings greatly reduced the vitality of the plants, and the same treatment during the succeeding year had the effect of leaving but a very small crop to be dealt with. Owing to lack of time and the expense of labour, very few farmers could undertake to cut over thistles three times during any one season, but it lias been shown that even two cuttings have an extremely beneficial result if practised at the proper time. But if any money is to be spent on cutting it is very desirable that neighbouring farmers should be appealed to not to let the weeds run to seed on their land, or it will be spent in vain. Unfortunately, there is no power except such as a landlord may care to exert to oompel anyone to make an effort to keep his land clean. But a neighbourly appeal is not often ignored, and one man's example might be quite powerful enough to cause the clearing of a whole district of thistles. FUTURE OF PIG-KEEPING. The following valuable statement of the present position of pig-keeping is being circulated by the Irish Department of Agriculture. In Denmark farmers are largely dependent upon imported feed- ing-stuffs, and they are now experiencing great duti- culty in procuring their usual supplies. Conse- quently numbers of breeding sows are being killed off, and a marked reduction in the quantity of Danish bacon available for export later on may thus be anticipated. In America the population is increasing steadily, and the demand for meat products is expanding annually. At the same time the statistics of the last Census reveal the fact that the number of pigs was 5,000.000 fewer than those enumerated at the pre- vious census. This indicates that the exports of American bacon to Great Britain, which within recent years have shown a tendency to shrink, are likely to fall off still more rapidly. In Germany, Austria, Russia, and Belgium, the pig stocks are dwindling, and before long an enor- mous shrinkage in the number of pigs in those countries will have occurred. The conclusion to be drawn from these facts is that for some time to come there will be a shortage of bacon in countries which at present send sup- plies to the markets of the United Kingdom. This points to a great demand for bacon and better prices for pigs. It will be deplorable both from the point of view | of the national food supply and in the interests of farmers themselves. when the shortage of bacon occurs and the price of pork rises, farmers are un- able to meet the situation through having depleted their pig stocks. While the immediate outlook may not be regarded as very encouraging by many far- mers, they should not decide hastily to give up feeding pigs, and it would certainly be a mistake to dispose of breeding stock. Wherever possible an effort should be made to grow more produce, potatoes, oats, or barley, for feeding to pigs. By so doing, the cost of producing pork can be reduced and the rise in the prices of imported feeding-stuffs counteracted to some extent. Although the cost of production may still continue abnormally high, the shortage of foreign supplies points to an increase in the prices of bacon and pork, which should more than compensate farmers for any additional outhy on the raising of pigs. The home producer has, therefore, good grounds for regard- ing the future with confidence.

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