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..-FARMIXG NOTES. .

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FARMIXG NOTES. (From the "Agricultural Gazette.") AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENTS. Mr. John Hughes, F.I.C., District Agricultural Analyst for Herefordshire, writes The common "defect of most tnanurial experiments, and one which deters practical men front deriving much useful in- formation from them, consists in the omission of any details respecting the chemical composition of the soils on which the experiments were carried out. This defect applies to the results recently pub- lished under the direction of Dr. Somerville of the tnanurial trials in the counties of Cumberland, Dur- ham, and Northumberland. Although these experiments were conducted at no less than 66 stations, embracing llsio plots and representing 831 acres, no information is afforded re- specting the chemical composition of the respective oils. This omission is very much to be regretted, and seriously reduces the practical value of the recorded results. For instance, what useful information can farmers, respectively located on stiff clay, light gravel, chalk, and black peat soils, derive from the perusal of manuring trials where the chemical composition of the trial plots is not given. The fact that these official results were carried out. on io less than 66 stations, and upon soils admittedly of great variety, only increases the difficulty which the average farmer must experience in determining how far the results obtained in those three Northern counties may be safely regarded as applicable to the BOils in his own particular locality, and under pro- bably very different climatic conditions. As Mr. P. McConnell very truly remarks, we require a common denominator for the purposes of comparison." We vsant *ot only a standard of value for the cost of the experiment itself, but we want information about the chemical composition of tho soils upon which such experiments are carried out, also parti- culars of the rainfall. Soil and season have much more to do with the results than science, because the conditions of Nature are neither fixed nor under the control of man, and agriculture is really much more of an art than of a science. On the farm where I reside experiments on old pasture were carried out with artificial manures, but the results were of no practical use, because the season of 1895 was so unfavourable and the rainfall so de- ficient. To have published such resulr9 would have afforded no practical aid, but probably would have caused confusion in regard to the merits of certain artificial manures and mixtures of manure. Indeed, it is a long and tedious process to conduct agricultural experiments carefully, and with a view of obtaining sound practical information for future J guidance. And when such information has been obtained, it iB:only applicable to similar soils, under similar cli- matic conditions, and in reference to similar crops as the original experiments were carried out upon. This consideration carries us a step farther, and we may reasonably conclude that, having selected the crops to be grown, and knowing the composition of such crops, and the ingredients they take out of the soil, we may, with the aid of a careful analysis, ascertain at once how far the soil is capable of sup- plying naturally the requirements of the particular crops, and how far it will be necessary to supply by artificial means the deficiencies of such a soil. Quite recently a gentleman, who has been carrying on experiments for many years, remarked to the writer that he much regretted be had never taken the precaution of having his soils analysed from time to time as occasion required, for he believed it would have saved much unnecessary expense, and have enabled him to have selected the manures most suitable to his particular soil at once, instead of waiting the completion of a series of experiments carried on each year under different atmospheric conditions. After 30 years' experience, it certainly does appear to the writer reasonable to conclude that an agricul- tural analyst should be able to advise a farmer how far any soil is or is not deficient in the important ingredients of plant food, such as nitrogen, phosphoric acid, potash, and lime, and in what form these ingredients should be most economically supplied. When we are ill we call in the doctor, who, from his own acquired experience, proceeds to administer the remedies best adapted to the particular case. THE GROWTH OF LUCKRNE. A short account of my experience may (Mr. Sanders Spencer says), perhaps, prove of assistance to some of the many who purpose growing this won- derfully prolific and valuable forage plant. In my opinion there is not a tithe of it grown in England that there should be and could be with profit to everyone who keeps a horse, cow, or pig. With regard to the last-mentioned of our domesti- cated animals, I know of no green food which appears to be so generally suitable as lucerne, whilst the amount of food produced fiOm a small area of it, properly managed, is simply marvellous. I am at a loss to account for the neg!e?t of the general body of farmers to grow it. It is true that a difficulty is frequently experienced in procuring a good plant when the seed is sown with a crop of corn on land which is in a high state of cultivation, since it is a plant that must have air in its younger stages and, further, it is a fact that lucerne so sown does not produce any great weight of greenstuff the second year of its growth, as compared with the quicker- maturing plants, such as clover, trefoil, &c. My firs t experience with lucerne was gaired some 40 years since on land of a loamy character. The Iystem adopted was that of drilling the seed in rows about a foot apart, or just wide enough to allow of the ground between the rows being dug each winter with the old-fashioned three-tined manure fork. As soon as autumn set in, a coat of stable manure was spread on the lucerne, and in February or early March all that remained of this was dug into the land between the rows, every piece of twitch being picked off, and the lumps of natural grasses or other weeds being also buried to form manure for the lucerne. Since that period I have seen many different systems of planting and growing lucerne, but for good land I have not yet discovered any plan to equal it. Last season I drilled 201b. of seed on an acre of land. liather less than half of the land was also drilled at the rate of two bushels of barley per acre the other portion was prepared as for barley, and during the months of March and April was horse-hoed and harrowed so as to start the weeds and to secure a fine seed-bed. The whole of the seed was drilled early in May, when rain threatened; a nice quantity of rain fell, and the seed quickly germinated. On that portion not soww wi-h barley the young plants were soon high enough to allow the hand-hoe to be used by July there was a nice cut, and by the end of August it was again ready for cutting, after which a good coat of pig manure was applied this has since been dug in, and the shoots are some lin. or 5in. high already. On that portion where a barley crop was taken the lucerne plants wera very weakly, and the plant so irregular that I have plouglfcd it up, and intend to treat it in the same manner as the other portion was treated last year, when I shall doubtless secure a good plant, and at least one good cutting of fodder in lieu of the corn crop. I shall also obtain a far greater weiglt of greenstuff off the portion grown without a corn crop than I should have done oft that part grown amongst the corn, had I succeeded in obtaining: a good plant. 1h>s !a*t is most difficult, especially if the seed bo sown in barley eith er OHts or whfftt are preferable, aud these drilled thin, ?o that tie growing lucerne secures a suflic.enoy of light and air. I have attempted to grow lucerne in a corn crop at least eight times during the it 20 years, and have only once succeeded in securing a good plant. I am convinced that on good land in high condition it is advisable to sow the lucerne seed without a corn crop. It may appear to be the somewhat more expensive plan, but of this I am in doubt, since the cost of once hand-hoeing the young plant is not more than 3s. 6d. per acre, fond, instead of a corn crop, which at present prices is not or any great value, you obtain pretty well a year's s art in the lucerne growing, and with a tolerable certain y of a good plant against a tolerable cer- tainty o a east an uneven plant. Another poir.t on winch there i3 a variety of opinion is tho advis- ability o or mg the land between the iows of lucerne. I Rill st-rongly of opinion that this answers; at all events, it is possible and profitable to have this operation performed once a year, in the earlv spring *• when labour is plentiful and the work on the fa,rm not so pressing. The land is thus kept cleaner, and the lucerne plant will last several more years than it will where grass and weeds are allowed to figlit for the mastery with the lucerne. Should any twitch spring up. it will, if not furked out. in a short time tQttBider-bly, and eventually kill it. When I was on a light-land farm in Suffolk, the plan adopted was to drill the lucerne in the barley- crop at the rate of about 201b. per acre, in drills about loin, apart; then each autumn a plough was run up between each drill, and a thin furrow turned over on to each row of lucerne; then in the early spring the land was harrowed across the rows, and any grass or twitch which had grown was harrowed out and carted off into a heap, where it soon rotted and was carted on to the land again.

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