Hide Articles List

14 articles on this Page

FIELD AND FARM,

News
Cite
Share

FIELD AND FARM, SOWING UNDER DIFFICULTIES. Although sowing has been carried on with 0 little or no interruption in the early districts for nearly three weeks, the work has (observea the "Agricultural Gazette") been so exception- ally arduous that the progress made is compara- tively small. In too many cases double the usual amount of cultivation has failed to pro- duce satisfactory seed-beds for barley or oats, and where patience has not been fully exercised crops have been put in under conditions afford- ing very little chance of good results. Occa- sional night frosts have rendered the surface of the soil somewhat more friable than it was a fortnight ago but they have not been severa enough to penetrate more than two or three inches, so that the lower soil remains as tough as ever. Our farm reports show that spring wheat has been sown to quite an uncommon extent in many parts of the country, and for that crop the tillage has been more satisfactory than for barley or oats, as wheat loves a solid bottom. POTATO PLANTING. A good deal of land is being prepared for potatoes, and the planting of the main crop will be carried on to a considerable extent this week if the weather proves dry. Land ploughed since the rainy weather needed more frost than it has had but plenty of cultivation has got it to pieces fairly, though there are more clods than are desirable. Growers are in no great hurry to plant, as April is a more generally favoured time for the work than March is, and the conditions will probably improve hereafter. THE SEASON. Judging from my own locality (savs Prof. John Wnghtson in the "Agricultural Gazette ") the season is undoubtedly late, so far as farm work is concerned. There is nothing now abnormal in the weather, as it is dry, cool, ai'id seasonable. Land works well, and sowing pro- ceeds rapidly. Still, at the close of the month there will be less sown by a great deal than usual, and an unusually large area will be sown in April or even in May. Attention has been so exclusively given to preparing land for spring corn that but little has been accomplished in the way of root land cultivation. The weedy con- dition of stubbles produced by last year's^cains, and the impossibility of employing steam, culti- vators after harvest to clean them, are resulting in foul fallows for the coming root crops, and an amount of work which will probably be be- yond the power of most farmers to cope with. One of the baneful effects of the year 1903 will be a survival of couch where it ought to nave been eradicated by autumn cultivation. Spria-T cleaning has an ominous sound to most of us^ and is associated with discomfort in the house fcut it is almost equally unwelcome in its appli- cation to field work. It takes so much time to clean land for roots that the season slips away and we find our hopes of heavy crops frustrated by late drilling. SPRING CLEANING OF LAND. Anyone who has troubled to read agriculture as she is written in books must be aware of the evils of spring cleaning. In the first place, spring ploughing, which 'eems almost necessary in the case of foul land, buries the fine surface produced by frost and exposes a hard untract- able lurrow slice only too liable to be caught by tne drought and turned to brick. This is not undesirable for a summer fallow, but it is highly eo for root crops whicn require as fine a tilth ■as can be obtained. It is, therefore, probable that the bare fallow may be forced upon us in many cases in which it was our intention to sow root crops. That an unusual amount of land will have to undergo this ordeal is in every ,way likely, and, if so, it may prove the means of increasing the area of wheat for 1905, which .wul be a desirable result as the area in wheat: during the present year is likely to be unpre- cedentedly small. There does not seem to be any serious objection to decreasing the root area in favour of well-worked fallows lying ready for wheat in September. The cost of roou cultivation is so heavy, the risk so con- siderate. and the return so uncertain, that a leisurely-made bare fallow will commend itself to many as one way out of the difficulty. Circumstances differ so enormously in. farming that it is impossible to write for all, but on strong iana whicn nas run wild and is still in much the same foul condition as it was last September, root cultivation must almost necessarily be restricted and carried out tentatively as opportunities oc- cur. inere is no need to make cast-iron plans for the luture, but it is highly probable that the summer will find a large area of the fallow breadth still unready for turnips. CULTIVATORS. It is certain that most writers favour the use -of the cultivator in preference to the plough for •the reason already given. They teach that the cultivator preserves the fine tilth on the surface, and is, on the whole, better able to draw string of couch out of the land than the plough. Allow- ing the advantages of the cultivator, whether spring-tooth or otherwise, I am strongly of opinion that no implement has yet been contrived which equals the plough for thoroughness. It must precede the cultivator, and the latter must -be regarded as a finishing or at least progressive instrument. Forty years ago there was an effort made to discredit the plough and to boom the cultivator for spring work, and the Ipsson still remains, although it has been qualified by ex- perience. What should be guarded against is over-ploughing or repeated ploughing in late ,spring. Winter ploughing is only second to autumn ploughing, and early spring is still a good time for ploughing land "intended for roots. Tne cultivator does best in land loosened by the plough. If land is ploughed when actual drilling 11 -is still distant, it may be cultivated, rolled, drttgged, harrowed, etc., and the couch cleared 0 off. Nay, it may be desirable to repeat the ploughing and take off a second coat of couch, but this ought to be sufficient. A few weeks be- tween ploughing and drilling will allow the mois- ture to rise from the sub-soil and permeate the seed-bed, and, certainly, this season there will be an abundance of water in the sub-soil to rise into the soH by capillary attraction. Over-ploughing ought, to be avoided, on both light and heavy lands. In the one case it produces a. rough sur- face for drilling, and in the other it promotes evaporation, and thus injures the coming root crop. There is a great contrast in the object in. view between a summer fallow and a preparation for Toots. In bare-fallowing a harsh, baked, roasted clod is exactly what is, wanted to ensure death to every green thing and promote an arid condi- tion of soil which will kill even couch itself. Such a frizzled or roasted condition of soil in July is the best, precursor of a tilth suitable for wheat- sowing in September, and is always insisted upon in dissertations upon bare-fallowing. In preparing land for roots the" object is to secure conditions favourable to growth at the -very time that the clods, of the bare fallow ought to be roasting in the midsummer's sun. Conser- vation of moisture and mould are the objects1, and these seem inconsistent with late spring ploughing or over-cultivation with a view to cleaning land. One of the most successful root cultivators I ever met with informed me that he ploughed his stubbles after harvest and never touched them again until the day before he drilled his swedes. He then ploughed as much in one day as he could raise and split the next, and drilled by night. This was in East Lothian, and the cultivation was conducted upon the raised ridge system, as is usual there. If roots are drilled upon the flat, the same general principle may be followed, al- ways provided that the land is clean. It is this fearful foulness in land which makes farming un- profitable, and root crops uncertain. Could we but plough and sow, how much easier would farming be and it could be sc. don« in most cases, if only the land were clean. Plough, dress, and drill would then be all, and half the horses would become superfluous, and half the labourers would lose their places! T suppose, from the point of view of employing labour, even weeds are a blessing to some, if a curse to others.

[No title]

jGARDEN GOCSIP.

OUR SHORT STOIIY. I

ISOCIAL SERVICE.

A FAMOUS PBOPHECY.

A KACE OF FORGEJIS.

[No title]

TALES OF " RED JACK."

-TRANSVAAL LABOUR.

I CENSUS OF PHYSIQUE. I

[No title]

WOMAN'S WORLD.

[No title]