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THE PRINCE OF WALES AND ENSILAGE. On Ionclay evening the Prince of Wales presided over a meeting of the Institute of Agriculture, held in the Lecture-hall at the South Kensington Museum, when Mr. Woods delivered a lecture, before a most crowded audience, upon the question of "Ensilage,- its influence on British Agriculture." Among those present were Lord Aberdeen, Lord Denbigh, Lord Wimborne, Lord Aberdare, Lord Monson, Lord ^Sudelev, the Marquis of Huntly, Lord Henniker, Lord Penrhyn, Lord Reay, Lord Harris, and Sir Brandretli Gibbs, the President of the Royal Agricul- tural Society. After referring to the import ant place in British agriculture which the silo system is destined to occupy, Mr. Woods pointed out the modes in which ensilage must revolutionise our husbandry in the breeding ancl grazing of live stock both for the dairy and for the butcher. Our humid climate, although it favours the development of green fodder crops, has hitherto rendered absolutely unavoidable great annual loss in the process of securing them. By the silo this waste may be entirely avoided. Of late years many poor, cold, clay lands have gone out of cultivation, and. as the result of the loose manage- ment to which failing occupiers have had recourse, common couch and other coarse grasses have got the lead, and it would cost a small fortune to clear these soils and render them fit for corn growing or for being properly laid down to pasture. The silo, however, will convert such coarse grasses into useful fodder, and give some return, even though the cultivation be restricted to the stubbing of thistles and obnoxious weeds. Ordinary worthless grasses become in a degree more valuable from the changes which they undergo in the silo. Thus, coarse couch-like grass grown under trees in an open oak wood at Merton have been converted into excellent ensilage. It was given to cows in November, was greatly relished by them, and had a satisfactory influence on their milk. The woody fibre being softened is rendered more easy of assimi- lation. Ensiled herbage is, in fact, more nutritious than fresh; and there being less demand upon an animal's powers of mastication and digestion, there is less waste of food. Mr. Woods stated that for the purpose of ensiling expensive buildings and appliances are unnecessary. An old disused barn is quite sufficient for practical utility. An oblong structure thoroughly air-tight is all that science requires for the success- ful storage of green fodder. At Merton it has been found that a simple mechanical contrivance in the form of a small super-silo obviates the necessity for reopening to fill again and make up the loss arising from shrinkage during a few days after the first fil- ling. Mistakes have been made in the preparation of salt mixed with the grass, —the quantity should be about three-quarters of a pound, and in no case more than one pound to each cwt. of fodder. Bran is the best covering but it should be laid upon, and not under, the which the eiisilage. As to weighting, different opinions are held; but here, a mean is a sound and safe rule. The weight should not exceed 70lb. to the square foot superficial. The portable super-silo is a valuable appliance; for the silo being closed and weighted once for all, the fermentation goes on without a check, and there is formed but one crust or layer of slightly deterior- ated material. After describing the plan of ramming and weighting followed at Merton, the lecturer re- ferred to the ensiling of long grass, stating that he had seen nothing to induce him, on the ground of economy, convenience, or utility, to alter his plan of chaffing all material before putting it into the silo. lie described at length a series of very valuable trials which lie had conducted to ascertain what crops can be most profitably cultivated for ensilage, taking the value of ensilage at the low estimate of £ 1 0s. 8d. per ton, or one-third the value of hay. An acre of heavy meadow grass produced 12 tons of ensilage, and the same quantity made into hay weighed 2 tons 7cwt. Deducting the incidental expenses in both cases, with an allowance on account of rent and tithe, and interest on the first cost of the silo, the balance of profit on the hay came out L.5 19s. lOd.; on the ensilage Elo 15s. 3d.; showing in favour of the ensilage over hay a balance of £ 4 15s. 5d. per acre. Buck-wheat has been tested as an ensilage plant, and its value as such compared with its ordinary value as a seed crop. The weight of ensilage from it was eight tons per acre, and the harvested crop yielded four quarters of grain per acre. In tlio lirst case, the net returns were X4 15s. 9d. in the latter, £ 2 7s. Gd. -giving a balance of £ 2 8s. tl. in favour of ensiled buckwhoat or brank. A similar comparison between ensiled and harvested oats showed a balance of £4 19s. lid. per acre m favour of the ensilage. In siloing oats there is a further advantage gained, as, when cut in a green state, the crop does not exhaust the land to the same extent aa when left to mature. Moreover, the ground is cleared so early, that common turnips can be sown at once to be ready for consumption on the land in the following spring. On light, sandy soils, spurry (■<pcrgula arcensis) may be profitably cultivated; and an experimental crop grown at Merlon, under Lord Walsinghani's direction, yielded a most excellent food for sheep and cattle. On twenty acres of blowing sand, so poor in quality that it had seldom produced either corn or roots, and was for the last two or three years abandoned to a state of nature, spurry gave 5^ tons per acre; the ensilage came out in excellent order, and sheep and cattle fed upon it, mixed with straw chaff, preferred it to grass ensilage. The trial was so satisfactory that arrangements have bet)n made to seed upwards of 120 acres for the present year. A crop of maize grew from 7ft. to 9ft. high, and some of the stems were 5in. in circum- ference, the weight of crop being no less than twenty- eight tons per acre. The changes in constituents due to fermentation in the silo altered the woody fibre so that the stems and knots could be pressed into pieces by the thumb and finger. The maize gave a net return of £:2u 9s. 6d. per acre. and a, crop of swedes grown side by side gave only £4 10s. 9d. per acre, showing the very large balance of £15 18s. 9d. per acre in det.-iied 0 favour of the maize. Mr. Woods then detailed the highly satisfactory results which lie has found from feeding cows and sheep with ensilage mixture. A valuable suggestion was then thrown out that a large trade may probably be done in supplying town dairy- men and cow-keepers with ensilage in casks, as a sixty gallon cask will hold thirty-one ton weight of the preserved grass. In conclusion, the lecturer expressed the gratitude of agriculturists for the interest which the Prince of Wales manifested in agriculture, and for his presiding at this meeting of the institute. A vote of thanks to the lecturer was carried unani- mously, and Lord Aberdeen, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Prince of Wales, presented him with a volume of Miss Ormerod's book upon agriculture. The vote was carried by acclamation. The Prince of Wiles, who, upon rising was received with loud and prolonged cheering, said:—My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen, I wish, in the first place, to tender my thanks to Lord Aberdeen for the book upon agriculture which he, as chairman of the Council of the Institute of agriculture, has been kind enough to present to me and, in the second place, to return my hearty and sincere thanks for the cordial reception you have been good enough to give me to-night. The duties you have conferred noon me in making me your chairman to-night, have, in place of being onerous and difficult, been not only very light but have been very pleasant, for I have had the advantage of listening to the most interesting and exhaustive lecture upon ensilage which Mr. Woods has delivered. I cannot claim to hare gone thoroughly into this most important and interesting subject at any depth; I have, however. some acquaintance with it, because some lfi months ago, when on a visit to my friend Lord Walsingliam at Merton, questions in connection with this subject of ensilage were brought under my notice, and my atten- tion was then for the first time drawn to the subject. As to the future, it is. of course, impossible to foresee to what extent ensilage may be carried out, but I am convinced from what we have heard this evening from the lips of Mr. Woods that those who are moving in this subject are dealing with one of very great importance, and I am at all events assured that we ought to be very much in- debted to Mr. Woods and to Lord Walsingliam for giving very careful trial to what may prove in future years the means of rendering very great and valuable ser- vices to agriculturists. Most cordially do I endorse the remarks which fell from Sir Trevor Lawrence, that even now, after the hard times which the farming interests of this country have suffered for some years, there is a prospect of the great interests which are involved in the agricultural question having a brighter future before them, and that a new gleam of light may be thrown upon their fortunes by the successful carrying out of this new experiment in agriculture- this question of ensilage. Most cordially and sincerely do I hope the experiments which have been made, and their results, may be of advantage to the agri- cultural community. 0



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----....--'5 OSMAN DIGMA.




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