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EVERY farmer has heard the term superphosphate of lime used many times over, and yet there are many who may not know exactly what it means. It is a scientific term, used, first, to designate a class of salts of phosphoric acid soluble in water, in distinction from such as are insoluble. It has recently come to be applied as a technical term to fertilizers which contain phosphoric acid in a form soluble in water.
Phosphoric acid, it must be borne in mind, is a mineral substance that is absolutely essential to the growth of plants. There is scarcely a living plant on the face of the globe that does not require it as a part of its food. And our higher plants, such as are used for the sustenance of inan, require it in larger quantities than most others. Our cereal crops, in this country, for instance, take out from our soils not less than two hundred and seventy five thousand tons of phosphoric acid every year, which must be replaced in some form or other, or a gradual exhaustion of this important element must inevitably take place.
Now, some soils contain a greater abundance of phosphorus than others, to be sure, but no matter how large a percentage a soil may contain, if any particular class of plants is to be grown upon it repeatedly, and the crop removed, the necessity of greater supplies will be more and more apparent, and an artificial application will be needed.
The most economical source of this supply is bones. These are composed chiefly of phosphate of lime, or lime and phosphoric acid, but in this form the substance is still insoluble in water. Phosphoric acid is what is known in chemistry as a tri-basic acid. Each atom is capable of uniting with three atoms or molecules of a salt as its base, and in bones this base is always lime, that is, the phosphoric acid in bones is always united with lime in the proportion of one atom of the former to three of the latter. Now, if we can replace two of these three parts of lime by water, that is, put two parts of water in the place of two parts of lime, we change the nature and character of the whole substance. And this is just what we do when we treat the bones with sulphuric acid, or the common oil of vitriol of commerce. When water takes the place of two parts of lime in the molecular structure of phosphate of lime, the substance becomes easily soluble in water. It is converted into a soluble condition, and in this form it is available as the food of plants, and is called superphosphate. If there is an abundance of sulphuric acid used, the two parts of lime which are removed from the combination with phosphoric acid will unite with the surplus, and form sulphate of lime, which is common plaster or gypsum so that most true superphosphates contain more or less plaster.
The difference, then, between a phosphate of lime, as we find it in bones, and superphosphate, is, that in the one form the phosphoric acid with lime is insoluble in water, and in the other it is soluble. In the first form it is not available as food for plants. Unless it is decomposed by the action of sulphuric acid, the plant cannot get hold of it till it goes through the long process of natural decay. Treatment with sulphuric acid brings it into a condition to be easily and quickly available, and it is one of the most important discoveries of modern science, so far as its connection with agricultural chemistry is concerned.
Law of Commercial Fertilizers.
IN the progress of agriculture within the last thirty years, commercial or concentrated fertilizers have become more and more essential to success. It is now very generally recognized that they must come in as a necessary adjunct to farmyard manures in what may be called high or intensive farming, everywhere. It is, therefore, of the highest importance that the manufacture and sale should be regulated by law, as a means of protecting the farmer against fraud and imposition. If the extent to which these fertilizers are used in all parts of this country, and, indeed, over the civilized world, could be exactly known, the figures would be truly astonishing.
The regulation by law has been attempted in many of the states, though not quite so effectively in this country as in Great Britain. It is evident that it must require a competent scientific inspection, and the co-operation of purchasers with the efforts of the government. But where it has proved effectual, it has resulted in a greatly increased public confidence, and consequently in the greatly increased sale and use of these fertilizers. The protection against fraud, therefore, has inured to the benefit of the manufacturers themselves, as well as to the farmers who have patronized them.
The Legislature of Massachusetts of 1874 took hold of the matter in earnest, and enacted a law which requires every manufacturer or importer of commercial fertilizers to take out a license at the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, paying therefor fifty dollars annually for each kind of fertilizer offered for sale, at the same time filing with the Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture a paper giving the names of his principal agents, and the name and composition of the fertilizer made or imported by him. He is also required to have the article analyzed, and to give the percentage of nitrogen, of anhydrous potassium oxide, or its
equivalent in potassium, in any form or combination soluble in distilled water, and of phosphoric oxide, in any form or combination soluble in a neutral solution of citrate of ammonia at a temperature not exceeding one hundred degrees Fahrenheit; and also the percentage of phosphoric acid not soluble as above with the material from which it is obtained. A copy of the analysis must also accompany every parcel sold or offered for sale. The penalty for a violation of the law is fixed at fifty dollars for the first offence, and one hundred for each subsequent offence.
The chemist of the State Board of Agriculture is made State Inspector of Fertilizers, and it is made his duty to analyze one or more specimens of every kind of commercial fertilizer coming within the cognizance of the law; and he is authorized to take from any package of fertilizers in the hands of any dealer, samples not exceeding one pound each. He is required to report the results of his inspection annually to the State Board of Agriculture. It is also made the duty of the Secretary of the State Board of Agriculture to institute proceedings against all parties violating the act, on being informed of such violation by the Inspector.
This law, if faithfully enforced, ought to furnish ample protection.
FEW persons, probably, are aware of the amazing growth which the agriculture of this country has made during the last thirty or forty years, or since the opening of canals and railroads to the West. Previous to 1825, when the Erie Canal was opened, there were no lines of railway to facilitate the transportation of merchandise. The increase after that date was slow at first, as compared with some recent periods; but the yield of Indian corn had risen, by 1840, to about 380,000,000 of bushels. In the ten years following, the increase of this cereal was quite marvellous, for in 1850 it amounted to about 600,000,000 bushels, occupying 31,000,000 acres of land. It was a gain of 57 per cent. in ten years, while the increase of population in the same time was only 35 per cent. It formed about three sixteenths of the whole agricultural production of the country, and amounted to over 25% bushels for each inhabitant. This truly American product, the king of cereals, reached the enormous figure of about 840,000,000 of bushels in 1860.
The increase in the production of wheat was scarcely less astonishing. From about 85,000,000 of bushels in 1840, it has risen to nearly 300,000,000 in 1870, and has entered very largely into the exports of the country, and become of vast commercial importance. At the same time, our ability to increase the production is capable of almost unlimited expansion, by the occupation of new lands, the introduction and use of machinery, and the spread of population.
Taking, therefore, these two great staples together, it appears that we raise very nearly 1,200,000,000 of bushels a year, or enough to give a bushel apiece to every man, woman, and child on the face of the globe. It is to be borne in mind, also, that the agricultural interests of the country involve a vast amount of capital, give employment to myriads of men, and produce, annually, the enormous income of twenty five hundred millions of dollars.
THE PUBLIC DEBT.
Statement of the Public Debt, September 1, 1874, not including bonds issued in aid of the Pacific Railroad Corporations.
TOTAL DEBT less amount of cash in the Treasury
Total Debt, less amount in Treasury, September 1, 1873.
POETRY, ANECDOTES, ETC.
VALUE OF A GOOD EDUCATION. DR. JOHN FORBES, in speaking of his success in life, after giving several reasons for it, concludes thus:
"Lastly and principally, because the good man to whom I owe my existence, had the foresight to know what would be best for his children. He had the wisdom, and the courage, and the exceeding love, to bestow all that could be spared of his worldly means to purchase for his sons that which is beyond price, EDUCATION; well judging that the means so expended, if hoarded for future use, would be, if not valueless, certainly evanescent, while the precious treasure for which they were exchanged, a cultivated and instructed mind, would not only last through life, but might be the fruitful source of treasures far more precious than itself. So equipped, he sent them forth into the world to fight life's battle, leaving the issue in the hand of God; confident, however, that though they might fail to achieve renown, or to conquer fortune, they possessed that which, if rightly used, could win for them the yet higher prize of HAPPINESS."
IT fortifies my soul to know
WHATEVER You wish your child to be, be it yourself. If you wish it to be happy, healthy, sober, truthful, affectionate,| honest, and godly, be yourself all these. If you wish it to be lazy, and sulky, and a liar, and a thief, and a drunkard, and a swearer, be yourself all these. As the old cock crows, the young cock learns. You will remember who said, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." And you may, as a general rule, as soon expect to gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles, as get good, healthy, happy children from diseased, and lazy, and wicked parents.
DR. JOHN BROWN, of Edinburgh.
WE tread the paths their feet have worn,
SIMPLICITY is that rectitude of soul which forbids a too anxious attention to ourselves and our own actions. This amiable virtue is very different from sincerity, and far excels it; for we often see very sincere persons who are devoid of simplicity. They would not pass, indeed, but for what they are, but they are continually apprehensive of appearing to be what they are not. The child of simplicity affects neither virtue nor truth, and is ever inattentive to that self of which the generality are so jealous. FENELON.
THE ship may sink,
A hasty death in the bitter sea;
But all that I leave
In the ocean grave
THE days are getting longer, and the sun does not set as soon as it did in January, therefore farmers have ample opportunity to put in the seed for an early crop of clothes-pins.
Turnips should never be pulled-it injures them. It is much better to send a boy up, and let him shake the tree.
Cows, in wet and slushy weather, should not be allowed to leave their rooms, otherwise a sudden attack of influenza may dry up their milk. Be care
Can be slipped and spared, and no loss to ful, also, not to give them vinegar with
their pickles. A simple diet of soup, plain roast beef and potatoes, and rice pudding, is the proper thing to make cows thrive.
It is evident that we are to have a backward season for grain. Therefore it will be well for the farmer to begin setting out his cornstalks and planting his buckwheat cake in May instead of August.
The pumpkin is the only esculent of the orange family that will thrive in the North, except the gourd, and one or two varieties of the squash. But the custom of planting it in the front yard, with the shrubbery, is fast going out of vogue: for it is now generally conceded that the pumpkin, as a shade tree, is a failure.
One of the sweet old chapters, -
O, hushed by the tender lesson,
FLOWERS WITHOUT FRUIT.
PRUNE thou thy words, the thoughts control,
That o'er thee swell and throng: They will condense within thy soul, And change to purpose strong.
But he who lets his feelings run
In soft, luxurious flow, Shrinks when hard service must be done, And faints at every woe.
Faith's meanest deed more favor bears, Where hearts and wills are weighed, Than brightest transports, choicest prayers,
That bloom their hour and fade.
J. H. NEWMAN.
A TRAVELLER, on his arrival in the city, stopped for a moment to examine a coat hanging in front of a clothing-store, when the proprietor rushed out, and asked, "Wouldn't you try on some coats?"
"I dunno but I would," responded the traveller, consulting his time-killer; and he went in and began to work. No matter how often he found his fit, he called for more coats, and after he had tried on thirty, he looked at his watch, again resumed his own garment, and walked off, saying, "I won't charge a cent for what I've done. If I'm ever around this way again, and you've got any more coats to try on, I'll do all I can to help you."
A SCHOOL-BOY, being requested to write a composition upon the subject of "Pins," produced the following: "Pins are very useful. They have saved the lives of many men, women, and children, in fact, whole families." "How so?" asked the puzzled teacher; and the boy replied, "Why, by not swallowing them." This matches the story of the other boy, who defined salt as "the stuff that makes potatoes taste bad when you don't put on any."
JOSH BILLINGS was asked, "How fast does sound travel?" His idea is, that it depends a good deal upon the noise you are talking about. "The sound of a dinner horn, for instance, travels half a mile in a second, while an invitashun tew get up in the morning I have known to be three quarters uv an hour going two pairs uv stairs, and then not hev strength
enuff left to be heard."
A POLITICIAN, in writing a letter of condolence to the widow of a deceased
member of the legislature, says, "I cannot tell you how pained I was to hear that your husband had gone to heaven. We were bosom friends; but now we shall never meet again."
IF your neighbor's hens are troublesome,