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----------FIELD AND FAR-kl.


FIELD AND FAR-kl. (From The Agi imltivral Gazette.") CATCH CROPPING. This is a very big question (remarks Prof. Jonn Wrightson) involving considerations of soil and climate, custom, and knowledge. It is extremely difficult for a farmer to adopt a system entirely dif- ferent to that of his district. "Farms are not managed entirely by the farmer, although he is the final authority and referee. Still, no farmer can successfully manage his sheep on lines contrary to the views of his shepherd, or his cows and cattle in opposition to the ideas of his dairyman, or his tillages in spite of the nowns of his carters. 1 am speaking of extensive farming, and not of small farming, where the farmer and his son or brother and an odd man perform all the work. On large farms, where there 18 a regular staff of capable end well-paid men, each of whom is supposed to ktow his business, the farmer is bound to pay attention to what they think, and he would be ill-advised to take lines of his own in direct opposition to such experienced, men. There is a liability in newspapers to regard the farmer as being able to do anything he likes irrespective of his men, but this is a great mistake. Wherever a system has been adopted in a district the men are as well ac- quainted with it as the farmer himself and under- stand all the details thoroughly. They naturally stand aghast at suggestions taken from newspapers or books which are contrary to their experience, and there is considerable danger that the alteration, if pressed, will fail somewhere between the legislative and the executive. The new plan may be badly con- ceived and imperfectly carried out, and. the result will be disappointment. The general conclusion is, therefore, that the wisest course is to follow the prac- tice of the neighbourhood, doing it well. Wherever catch crops can be cleared in good time for root cultivation, and wherever one ploughing after folding is sufficient for roots, catch cropping may be practised, but when one ploughing is in- sufficient the pressure on the teams will be found too great. When circumstances are favourable, the growing of roots after catch crops is very simple, and very inexpensive. No dung is applied, because the sheep manure is enough. The land is ploughed, dressed, and drilled after the sheep, and within a week of their clearing the ground, turnips are coming up in row. Such land is best under crop, and requires no winter fallow. It is low rented, light, and the crop mostly depends upon the sheep. A case cited by Mr. Proút, is that of 300 acres of land, 100 acres of which are in pasture. It is clear that his 200 acres of tillage might be cropped in four shares of 50 acres each respectively, in roots, barley, clover, and wheat; but Mr. Prout says a very few rounds of this rotation would suffice to make the whole clover sick, and not long after- wards turnip sickness would intervene. The rotation actually followed is: (1) Roots, (2) barley, (3) seeds, (4) seeds, (5) seeds, (6) seeds, (7) seeds, (8) seeds, (9) seeds, (10) wheat. In other words seven-tenths are in seeds and three-tenths are in crop. We are not told if all the 200 acres of land are light, but we are told that a particular 50-acre field is [light and infested with wireworm. Certainly a system of cropping such as the above might be -thought to be constructed especially to breed wire- worm. I cannot agree that seven years under seeds is calculated to nurse land, neither, in its best pense, do I call it light cropping. Seven years under seeds would, in my opinion, be liable to prove unre- munerative, because the land would detericrate, and the produce would be lost. As to clover sickness, I suppose the clover must die out long before the seven years is over, or this land would be growing clover seven years out of ten instead of two and a-half out of ten as in the simple four-course rotation. The system of seven years out of 10 in clover is more likely to render ground clover-sick than two Mtd a-half years out of 10. If not, it must be because no clover grows after the first year. But clover sickness is confined principally to red clover, and it its not necessary to always sow this particular descrip- tion of clover. It is manifestly impossible, and might even appear ridiculous, for a Hampshire farmer to instruct a Pembrokeshire farmer how to manage his land. It ts possible that seeds may be productive for seven years, and that being productive they may be pro- fitable. If profitable, there 6eems little reason to desire change. If not, it might be desirable to break tip. seeds and take crops, as originally proposed by Mr. Prout. This particular 50 acres field is too large to put under roots all at once. It, in fact, is one quarter of the entire arable land. It has some- how found its way into seeds all at once, and it is, or was, proposed to break it up for catch crops, at the rate of 10 acres a year. I have already pointed out that the idea of taking catch crops out of seeds is not advisable, because a corn crop ought to intervene. Roots out of seeds are risky because you break up stiff land in the height of summer. To twice plough would not be advisable under such circumstances, for you could neither cross-plough nor run back the fur- row without making a mess. On the other hand, one ploughing out of seeds for roots would be likely to be followed by grass growing up among the roots. The case, therefore, seems clear, to take wheat or oats after (if not all) a part of the field and take catch crops after corn. It is only deferring the experiment for one year, and therefore does n(;% interfere, with the principle of catch cropping. As to land running-wild because & root, crop failed, we cannot claim a failed rool t-rop at equiva- lent to a summer fallow. This land was quietly resting under seeds, when it was ploughed, dressed, and drilled with turnips, which struggled on fat many weeks, and finally were pronounced-a. failure. Meantime the buried couch grass ramified freely, bbreughthe loosened soil, and soon spread a aet of roots This would not have happened if it had remained un- plpughed. Nothing sets weeds moving quicker than ploughing,, and if there is no crop (as in this case) they gain as^sndency in loose soil. I am, however pleased to notice that the crop on this particular field which, was dated to be looking badly, has. vastly im- proved during the last three or four weeks, and now bids fair to equal the neighbouring fields, which was favourably contrasted with it a fortnight ago. But Mr. Prout agrees with me that light land \s better cropped, and does not benefit by rest. Whj then does he keep his land down seven years in seeds ? I opine that hiu answer would De that he does not wish to do so in the future. I am inclined to think that the sooner Mr. Prout gets back to » modified four-course or five-course shift, the better it will be for him. This is, however, written under the reservation that it is really impossible to tender prac- tical advice to a cultivator residing in a distant locality. The very essence of advice ought to be that it is capable of being followed with advantage.







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