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It will be seen, therefore, that by dissolving we much more than double the cost, and if but half dissolved their cost is increased more than two thirds in amount.
Great care should be taken when sulphuric acid is poured into water. It must be done gradually, as it generates heat above the boiling point, and is apt to be thrown in the face and on the clothes of the operator.
Sir J. Murray thinks dissolving bones with sulphuric acid objectionable, because there is loss by the soluble phosphates b, ing carried off by water, but there is reason to thiuk that the cause of their effects being so slight after one or two crops is mure owing to certain known chemical reactions in the soil. Soluble salts of alumina and iron, especially the latter, are never absent from soils; and when a soluble phosphate of lime comes in contact with either of these, the phosphoric acid is precipitated as phosphate of iron or alumina, both of which, according to Bischeff, are the most insoluble substances known in water and carbonic acid, but some experiments of Dr. Piggott prove that they are soluble in alkaline silicates.
If there is suspicion that ground bones are adulterated with foreign matters, they can be readily detected with a good pocket lens, which every farmer ought to possess, and also sified coal ashes used to adulterate wood ashes and other manures can be detected, as the smallest grains of coke or coal, always existing in coal ashes, will be exposed by the same means.
The following directions for preparing bones on the farm aTe extracted from the report of Philip T. Tyson, Slate Agricultural Cbemist, Maryland, who has been engaged many years in agricultural investigations:
"I have found no better way of causing the putrefaction and decay of bones than that practiced by me nineteen years ago, after experimenting to some extent, and as inquiries about it have frequently made it necessary to describe the process, it will now be repeated in full.
"Having smoothed over the surface of the ground (under a shed, if convenient), place thereon evenly a layer of three inches of ground bones, and then an even layer of good fine soil or earth free from stones or sticks. Give a good sprinkling of gypsum over each layer of earth. Another layer of bones is applied upon the layer of earth, and the sime alternations are to be repeated with the gypsum until we have four of each, bones and earth, and the height of the pile will be 24 inches. As the bones are usually dry, each layer should be well moistened with water, or, better, with urine, in order to hasten tlie process. It is proper to place two or more sticks in the pile, reaching to the base, which should be frequently examined by feeling them, in order to judge of the degree of heat produced. If the weather be warm, they will begin to heat in a few days, and in a week or two will become hot. When, upon taking out the slakes, they feel unpleasantly hot, the process should be checked by chopping or spading down the mxss from top to bottom, which, if carefully done, mixes the materials well together, and they are ready for spreading. If the process be commenced during cold weather, it may be hastened by placing at the bottom a layer of fresh horsedung about six inches thick, and covering the pile with straw or fodder to retain the heat. If salt is used as a manure, it cannot be applied more advantageously than with the bones, because it promotes their tolubility. It would be better to place the proper dose of salt with the gypsum upon each layer of earth. After trying bones in quantities from 30 bushels down to 10,I conclude that 10 bushels to the acre is the most advantageous quantity. I became satisfied also that ten bushels, prepared as just indicated, will be as effective for a year or two as double that quality applied in a dry state. If, when wheat ground is dressed with dry bones, the soil be dry and continue so, but little effect will be produced on the autumn growth.
DURABLE EFFECT OF BONE MANURE.
"The effect of putrefied bones will be obvious in a few days after the wheat appears above the surface. In ammoniated guano decay has progressed till nearly all its contained ammonia is already formed, and as it is very soluble, it is rapidly washed off during heavy rains, so that when the soil is not frozen in winter the ammonia is passing off, and there is no crop to appropriate it.
"When bones are applied, either dry or in the manner just suggested, they give out their ammonia as the crops require it, but in cold weather the putrefaction is nearly or quite suspended, and again resumed in spring, becoming more rapid in hot weather, when it is most wanted for the crop. Experience has shown that the effect of bones in stiff clay soils is not so prompt as in those of porous character; the compactness of clay prevents sufficient access of air for the decay of bones. In very wet soils ainimal matters decompose so slowly as to benefit crops but little. I had an opportunity lately to notice the durable effect of bones which Ixapplied to land 17 to 20 years since; it continues to produce heavy crops under the judicious management of its present occupant. Loudon, Johnston, and others, say that the effects of heavy bone dressings are clearly shown in England to endure 40 to SO years."
ANALYSIS OF SOILS.
Philip T. Tyson, Agricultural Chemist of Maryland, says: "I have been forced reluctantly to the conclusion that a reliance upon analysis only for sure indications of the causes of sterility in soils was delu ive, and would not hold good in practice. Prof. J. C. Booth, of Philadelphia, was the first professional gentleman with whom I conversed that fully agreed with me in this. At this lime such views prevail generally with chemists and others who have devoted themselves to investigations connected with this important subject. Dr. Anderson, Professor of Chemistry in the University of Glasgow, ana Chemist to the Agricultural Society of Scotland, fully expresses similar conclusions. He says: 'It has been found while in some instances it is possible to predict with certainty, from analysis, that a particular soil is barren, in numerous others a barren and a fertile soil may approach so closely in chemical composition that it is scarcely possible to distinguish one from the other. The majority of analyses fail to give the information desirable for practical deduction. This may, in part, be owing to imperfect analysis, but it is certainly mainly due to imperfect knowledge of the chemical conditions requisite for fertility.'
"I have already referred to the conclusion that most chemists have arrived at in reference to the analysis of soils for practical applications, but I find I have omitted to notice a very remarkable case of a soil from the Island of Cuba, containing ninety per cent, of oxide of iron. The sample was analyzed by Prof. Hayes, of Boston, and was from a soil producing fine crops of tobacco. The result seemed so strange that I made inquiry of the doctor in reference to the truth of the published statement, which he confirmed. Now, if any chemist were asked to name an article containing 90 per cent, of oxide of iron, would he call it a soil? Would he not call it a very rich iron ore?
"Phosphate of iron, as before stated, has been proven to be soluble in alkaline silicates, which must exist in every soil in which grass or grain can grow. It has also been proven that oxides of iron, while undergoing certain changes in the soil, promote the formation of ammonia and carbonic acid. This will probably account for the fact of the growth of fine tobacco in a soil containing 90 per cent, of iron, previously mentioned.
"Prof. W. R. Johnson's analysis of coal indicates that it is nearly, if not altogether, useless as a manure. The very few cases in which it has been of any service whatever were on stiff clays, by tendency to make it more porous. This purpose, I am sure, can be effected as well or better with materials on the farm or vicinity, at much less cost.
"Jersey Irish Potatoes.—An article in The Country Gentleman, January, 1859, throws some light on the cause of their good quality, after showing, by statistics, that the quantity in four counties had been nearly quadrupled between 1840 and 1850. The writer says: 'I suppose that the preference given to Jersey potatoes is owing to the fact that green sand is almost the only manure used in raising them. It is the common opinion in Jersey that potatoes so raised are much better than those from heating manures.'"
ON GRASS LANDS,
THEIR VARIOUS KINDS, AND THE BEST MEANS OF PERMANENTLY IMPROVING THEM.
BT BOBIRT BMITH, EMMETl's GRANGE, BOTJTH MOLTON, DEVON.
[From the Bath and West of England Society for the Encouragement of Agriculture]
It is now very generally admitted that it is to the Grass Lands of England, in their several varieties, we must hereafter look for our main supplies of animal food during the summer months. The proper treatment of such lands is therefore a matter of great national concern, and the question derives additional interest from the fact that, while arable farming may be said to have a copious literature of its own, comparatively little has hitherto been written on the subject discussed in these pages.
By the general term Grass Lands we mean, not only rich grazing ground and marsh and meadow lands, but also such portions of the arable as in a due course of rotation are occupied by artificial grasses. We have therefore a large and comprehensive subject, and had not the botanical department of it been already dealt with in former volumes of this Journal, we should have thought it necessary to introduce our practical remarks by a cursory glance at the natural history of the grasses. For present purposes, however, it will be sufficient to observe that the grasses, popularly so termed, clothe the surface of every aone, and though varying in character and substance according to the soil and climate in which they are found, they may be represented as indigenous to the whole earth. Thus the best grasses are found in the more even climates, where there is the least cold in winter and no excess of heat in summer, whilst others vary according to the influence of local circumstances, each class having its peculiar affinities and functions in the vegetable kingdom. It hence follows that, while no department of agriculture is generally thought more simple and easy of execution than the culture and improvemt nt of the grasses, yet, from their great variety and the special adaptation of particular genera to particular kinds of soil, considerable judgment is necessary in order to effect permanent improvements.
Until recently very many occupiers endeavored to increase their arable lands by "getting leave" to break up some old field Ot fields then said to have " a natural complaint about thom, only to be cured by the plough ;" but only in rare instances were they found converting arable lands to permanent pasture. There is now a more decided course in favor of grass, and the question, "How to increase our grass land," arises at every turn. And yet a large proportion of the grass lands of England still remain unimproved, and in many instances neglected. This is particularly the case in districts where, in comparison with the arable land in occupation, the extent of grass lands is disproportionate and excessive. An important illustration of this point is furnished by the following extract from a statement as to the condition and appropriation of the land in the United Kingdom, delivered to a Committee of the House of Commons by Mr. Couling, even as far back as the year 1827:
Extract from Mr. Couling's Report, 1827.*
It must, however, be observed that since the date of the foregoing return much additiom! laid h ts been inclosed. Between the years 1827 and 1844 at least three hundred Inclosure Bills were passed by ihe Legislature; and iroru tt e Fourteenth Report of the Inclosure Commissioners, made to Parltarm nt in 1859, we learn that since tha passing of the General Inclosure Act iu 1835, there have been eight hundred and nine applications for inclosures, 1697 exch.in^es, and one hundred and sixty-one partitions, etc., making a total of two thousand six hundred and sixty-seven. It is estimated that th< re are still fif een million of acres of waste land capable of improvement, six million of which would mitke arable land, and the remainder improved pasture.
* To the same authority we are indebted for the following comparativt - statement as to the four Wesiern Counties, lorming the district proper of the Bath and rttftof England Society, viz :—