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Now let us consider the effect of this preparation of manure.
1. The manure is not suhjtct to any decomposition in the heap, and, consequently, its original volume remains the same, no matter whether it lies but a few weeks or for some length of time, before it is used. It is an advantage to be able to keep the manure, without any considerable loss, until there is ample time for hauling it off; and this is a matter of greit importance iu many ca-es, because the farmer is mueh more independent in respect to the rotation of his ciops and in the arrangement of the labor to be performed.
2. As the manure remains wholly uadecomposed, it comts into the soil, and is decomposed, like fresh manure from the stable, wheieby the putrefactive productions of its carbonic acid and ammonia gases are wholly made to benefit the soil, being retained by it. •
Although we deem it an evidence of honorable industry in a farmer when he puts his manure into the soil as soon as possible, yet there are seasons and circumstances compelling him to let his manure lie for a longer period of time, and sometimes in a high temperatme of the air; then the application of plaster certainly is of great importance, especially for such kinds of soil as require fresh manure, on account of their porosity.
3. It is a fact, confirmed by long experience, that plastersd manure operates much better upon hot and calcareous kinds of soil, because it is nlowly decomposed, and thus will endure longer; besides, there may be put at once a mueh larger quantity of plastered manure into the soil, without apprehending that the next succeeding crops might be injured by the tx;tss.
Manure which had been plowed under in a hot soil, in the last year, was found to be almost entirely unchanged at the second plowing—nearly like unphistered manure—after having lain half a year; while unplastered manure had completely disappeared out of the soil, after the first crop had been gathered.
4 The richness of ttie plastered manure in nitrogen is shown not only by chemical analysis—for this might deceive—but especially by the extraordinarily luxuriant vegetation of all crops first raised upon it.
Before proceeding to prove this assertion of v. Feilenberg, by facts, I may be permitted to state some other facts.
From the fall of 1848 to April of 1855, the Principal at the Agricultural School at Beberbeck, an electoral domain of Hesse, it being also a stud establishment, and, during the frequent long absence of the Director, the justiciary, Urichs, the Principal, served iu the capacity of superintendent of the establishment.
All the lan''8 of this domain, amounting to about 1,000 acres) are situate in the region of variegated sand-stcne. This elevated region extends in undulating ridges over the whole Reihard's Forest. Corresponding to the general character of this hilly region, the arable soil is a sandy loam, nearly free of sione, and destitute of lime. The chemical condition of the soil is nearly everywhere equal, and varies only in respect to the humus, according as the fields have been cuhivated earner or later and been manured more copiously or sparingly, or have been more or less exhausted.
The depth of the arable soil now measures from 5 to 10 inches ; but before the present lease it averaged not over 4 inches. In the newly turned up fields at the south-southwest line of the domain, the so-called swamp-ore, hydrate of iron, is found here and there in the soil, and still more in the deeper strata.
The condition of the subscil partly is very similar to that of the upper crust, and differs from it only by being more compact and retaining more water; but partly, also, from an argillaceous, rolling or solid stratum of sandstone, and even here and there a substratum of real potter's clay, which lies so close to the arable portion, that, on that account, a considerable portion of the fields have an impermeable subsoil, and, before Mr. Urichs took the management of the domain, in 1845, was so wet, cold, sour and full of weeds, that red clover grew very scantily upon 300 acres of the arable land ; the turnip-crops, without previous artificial mineral manuring, failed regularly; on the other fields, rye and oats were unsafe crops, and beans, peas and vetches, white clover and grass crops could not be raised at all, without liming.
It was evident that this domain so shamefully neglected required, beside an intelligent and energetic cultivation, especially to be deoxydized, cleansed of the weeds, and highly manured.
And the work was undertaken in earnest: the fields were thoroughly cleansed of all root and seed weeds in the beginning, by making narrow beds; the subsoil was drained, and various organic and inorganic manures, paying for themselves, were purchased; the arable soil was proportionately deepened and most carefully cultivated; the culture of forage and the stock were augmented almost incredibly; and the chief thing of all was the most careful preparation of the barn-yard manure, by means of plaster. During the principal's management, he attended to having the manure forthwith brought out of the stables into the ground; but when this was not practicable, for good reasons, then not only the dung-heaps, as soon as its odor betrayed a development of gis, was strewed over with plaster, now and then covered wilh earth moistened with liquid manure, and tramped down as solid as possible by the cattle, but also all the cattle-stalls were strewed with plaster twice every week, and the sheep-fold was strewed over with the plaster every morning, lest an atom of ammonia should evaporate into the faithless air; and yet the plaster could be obtained at no cheaper rate than by v. Fellenberg.
Thousands of acres furnished the most indubitable evidence of the excellency of this preparation of the manure; and the domain of Beberbeck may be considered every year more and more a model farming establishment.
On this subject all should ponder who complain of scarcity of manure, and especially those who can buy plaster still cheaper, or those on whose lands top manuring does not take proper effect; but pulse, clover, and clover grass will grow after plastered manure, even if these crops did not thrive well otherwise.
After this general, comparative argument in favor of the preparation of manure with plaster, we return to the special evidence of v. Fellenberg. He directs the attention to the luxuriant vegetation of clover, remarking that then the clover need n ot be plastered upon the leaf, and that he had, at the second cutting, not only stalks of 4 feet in height, but that he gathered from a Swiss acre (juehart), at 400 square rods, 40 hundred weight of clover-hay at the first cutting, and 60 cwt. of clover-hay at the second cutting, or nearly fodder enough to feed a cow for a whole year from one juehart, 70 cwt. per Prussian acre.
Tne same results are observed in grain crops, by their luxuriant roots and stems, and by getting more grains, and these more perfect. So he reaped, last year, upon plastered manure, of spelt 12, of wheat 15, of barley 20, and of rye, 13 maker from the Swiss juehart, or 27 grains for each grain seed. His neighbors, having used unplastered manure, were compelled to be contented with much smaller crops.
But did the plaster alone produce these results? To answer this question in the affirmative, unconditionally, would be a delusion. These results are attained, and are relatively attainable, only by the above-described very careful (and it might be styled paltry, when once learned) and easy method of preparing the manure, by applying plaster. Without this great carefulness, the effect of the plaster would not be so powerful, because, if the air had more ready access, decomposition would commence in the heap, whereby the combinations formed for the conservation of the nitrogen would again be dissolved and destroyed.
The ammonia is known to enter the plant, not as sulphate but as carbonate of ammonia; thus, it must be decomposed again in the soil. This decomposition is to take place in the ground, but not in the manure-heaps, otherwise the application of plaster would be a failure.
This preparation of manure, with the application of plaster, is not sufficient to produce a large quantity of powerfully operating manure; much depends upon the keeping of the stock of cattle, in general.
Cattle poorly kept and fed give little and poor manure. A middle-sized cow, well and economically fed, requires daily about 30 lbs. of hay, or its equivalent, one-half of which is calculated as her sustenance, the other half as productive feed—making about 110 cwt. of hay, or its equivalent, requisite for the year.
Now if, for instance, 1100 cwt. of hay is fed to 10 cows, of course a larger quantity of manure will be obtained than if 15 cows are fed on the same amount of hay, because then 20 lbs. of hay daily would be the share to each cow—or 15 lbs. of hay as sustenance, and only 5 lbs. of hay as productive feed, would be consumed. Without taking into consideration the inferior manure made by such badly-fed cows, there would be lost, to the production of manure, 76 lbs. of hay daily consumed as sustenance for the extra five cows, or about 270 cwt. of hay per year. But if we suppose that of the feechgiven to the cows, only the productive feed produces manure, and the feed for sustenance is consumed exclusively to keep the animal in statu quo, there remains only 5 lbs. of hay per cow daily; and thus we would lose daily 10 lbs. per cow for the productive manure, amounting to 548 cwt. per year. This 270 cwt. of hay, with the litter, would have produced 130 cwt. of manure, but 548 cwt, with the straw, about 1500 cwt.
This simple illustration shows that the abundant feeding of cattle is of great importance to the production of manure.
If the productive power of the cultivated soil does not gradually decrease, on account of the ctttle being badly fed, the loss of manure above stated must be replaced by money—by buying what is lacking. But if the cattle are fed abundantly, and proper care is taken that all the nitrogen be conserved 1n the manure, we need not apprehend that the known strata of guano and Chilian saltpetre will be exhausted, before new and still richer sources of vegetable nutriment will be discovered, by unceasing scientific investigation and by practical agriculture, resting upon the broid foundation of physiology. Ever since the beginning of the present century, the investigations of the unlimited fijld of agriculture have produced wonderful results; yet there is no doubt that, at the threshold of the next century, our descendants will be justified in calling our present scientific accomplishments only a well-meant and, therefore, praiseworthy scientific beginning.
Nevertheless, we will cheerfully return to our task, and we repeat it to all our worthy colleagues who will listen, that a nitrogenous manure, according to the law of nature, must always increase the productive power of the soil, if we are not induced to raise too many marketable products, which do not return any manure to the soil.
Von Fellenberg writes: "Four years ago, when I took possession of my paternal manor, I found it very much exhausted; the lessee had, during a period of 20 years, worked only to his own benefit; and I found every thing was'e and desolate.
"During the first summer I was hardly able to feed the four horses and six cows I received; rye produced scarcely six-fold; clover remained little and feeble; of hay and after-math I could hardly reap 15 cwt. from the juchart; potatoes and bulbous plants yielded very poorly ; in short, the estate was completely exhausted, and caused me some loss.
"Now I am able to keep twelve to fourteen cows and six horses.
"All this was accomplished without purchasing any manure—without bonedust, guano, or Chilian saltpetre—or any feed; there was purchased only about 100 cwt. of straw per year, because but little grain could be sown in the beginning; and, besides, the oats were requ:red for che horses,
"Since the lands had been properly cultivated before I took possession, this extraordinarily rapid improvement of the estate and increase of the crops may chiefly, if not exclusively, be attributed to the very careful accumulation of manure."
It is pl.iin that some expenses were connected with this; but who could, without an equal amount of expense, have produced similar results? Surely not by applying gunno and Chilian saltpetre. By fish-guano, by manuring with se.v grass and weeds? Such assertions must be proved by figures, which will remain true as gold upon the touchstone of long experience.
Then we will yield, but no sooner. It is the agricultural chemist's life task to unfold, by the aid of all scientific arguments, the results obtained by these processes, in the laboratory of experimental agricultural chemistry.
Von Fellenberg further writes: "For a beginning, I can expect no more th in that, every year, fully one-third part of the cultivated land can be manured, with over 300 cwt. of manure per juchart, and one head of cattle can be kept upon every 3 jucharts of soil of middling quality."
Then, with an exact economic il management, every year there can be manured as many jucharts (acres) of cultivated land as there are head of cattle in the stable; and each and every head will produce the manure requisite for an acre per year; or, in other words, with every head which, as the yield 'ncreases every year may be added to the stock, in the course of time, one more acre of land can be manured.
This result is confirmed, if we take for the basis of our calculation, in the transformation of the food and the litter, the factor of 2.5 lb. of hay or its equivalent X straw = the quantity of manure. If we estimate the food of a cow. per year, at 110 cwt. of hay, or 30 lbs. per day, and the stra* at 25 cwt., we find 110 X 2.5 lbs. = 275 -f- 25 = 300 cwt.; and from this it is also eviJent that, since the average yield of straw per acre may with safety be estimated at 25 cwt., on only as many acres of land straw-produ;ing crops need be raised, as head of cattle can be kept, or are intended to be kept.
In the above calculation, all the liquid manure, and other collections from the stable, are not taken into account, being equal to such a cash amouut as will amply pay all the expenses of the above-described preparation of manure.
Here we may state, also, the method in which v. Fellenbtrg prepares horsedung, because it may be instructive to many farmers. As the liorse-dungr on account of its peculiar dryness, cannot be tramped down very solid upon the dung-hill, but will easily mould, therefore it is brought upon the dung-heap only after it has lain for about 14 days on the watering place, in the immediate vicinity of the well, and, being wetted there, has become a more compact mass. When thrown upon the dung-hill, it is forthwith strewed over with plaster.
The liquid manure flawing from the dung thus prepared has a very strong odor of sulphuretted hydrogen, and is a powerful fertilizer. It is entirely neutral to litmus paper, which proves that no more free ammonia is contained therein, but that it has been completely fixed by the sulphuric acid of the plaster.
But against the above-described method of preparing manure, the objection may be raised that it aims too partially at the conservation of the nitrogen, and pays too little attention to the other imp rtant vegetable nutriments, suca as phosphoric acid and alkalies. This objection is easily refuted.
In general, cultivated soil, if regularly manured, possesses enough of those volatile matters, so that their exhaustion may not be appiehtnded, especially if it is manured with stable-dung—the only manure which we call a perfect manure, because it contains all the substamx-s required for the growth of pi ants; and moreover, an exhaustion of the soil need not be apprehended, with a careful, assiduous and deep cultivation, by which the mineral substances contained therein are broken up and made accessible to th? plants.
But here also an analysis, made in acc-.'-rdince wi'h the strictest rules of " Hack art," furnishes the proof in figures.
The soil selected for experimental investigation was a wet, cold and sterile loam-soil.