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heaps of alternate layers of good sod or muck, with a like sprinkling of salt as above, under circumstances which secure a due development of heat, will always be the cheapest form of phosphate, unless the relative market prices of bones and American guano, containing 60 to 70 per cent of phos phoric acid, may make the latter cheaper.
12. The economical method, then, to be pursued by the farmer is dependent upon the selection in the first instance of the mineral manures best adapted to the wants of his farm, and the crop he seeks to ensure; upon its distribution throughout a soil thorougly pulverized, and its retention for the use of the upper branches of the roots in connection with his barnyard manures, likewise so applied and distributed; upon a system of deepening, opening, and rendering friable his subsoil, and giving the roots of all cultivated plants the easiest as well as furthest range for the mineral food they best appropriate; in short, upon the employment of all the methods suggested in this question, but in every instance he is to select his mineral manures, and adapt his tillage and rotation so as to make each crop (the influence of the seasons being a fair average) a profitable return upon his expenditure, labor and investment.
THE ROTATION OF CROPS. On the evening of the second day of the New York State Fair, an inter esting discussion was had on the rotation of crops. The question announced was as follows:
. Subject.—The best rotation of crops suited to the climatic conditions of the middle tier of counties in the State, on farms having at least eighty acres of good arable land.
[The question to be considered with the end in view of obtaining a maximum annual revenue in cash, and at the same time the largest amount of manure of the greatest fertilizing value. The amount paid for labor, its proper application, and the capital invested for stock, whether for sheep, cattle, horses, &c., of one or more of these kinds of domestic animals, being the same in all cases, and the condition of the markets for the several products of the farm, being an average one.]
The discussion was opened by Hon. T. C. Peters, of Genesee, who remarked in the outset that it was difficult to determine what we are to understand as the middle section of the State.
The Chairman, Hon. A. B. Conger, said it was not intended to confine the discussion to the best system of rotation in the middle tier of counties, but to the climatic conditions of the middle section of the State.
Mr. Peters resumed, saying that he was still in a dilemma. He believed the climate in the central counties of the State varied considerably. Pompey Hill, in Onondaga county, was from 1,000 to 1,200 feet above tide water, while the general level of the middle counties was not more than 400 feet Now as 350 feet altitude are equal to one degree north, the temperature of Pompey Hill would be as cold as that of Montreal. Portions of the central counties were well adapted to wheat growing, while others constituted the. best butter and cheese districts of the State. The system of rotation adapted to a wheat farm, would not suit a dairy farm. On a dairy farm the great object was to get grass; and he thought that dairy farmers, the best of them, were paying more attention to making manure and applying
It judiciously, than the wheat growing farmers. Wheat growers, from the quantity of straw they have, can make more manure than the dairy farmers--but he would not say that they could do it more profitably. The dairy farmers in this State have less competition than the grain growers. Neither New England nor the West can successfully compete with them. The best butter on the continent is made in the dairy districts of this State. In some sections of the dairy districts cheese is generally made, while in others farmers confine themselves to butter. Does not know the reason. Perhaps it was because the climate of the butter districts was not adapted to grain growing, while that of the cheese districts enabled the farmers to grow more grain to feed to their cows. He could not say, but perhaps it required more grain to make cheese than to make butter. Mr. P. closed with a wish to hear from Col. Pratt on the subject.
Col. Pratt was unable to answer, as he did not make cheese. He kept fifty cows, but made butter only; did not understand the cheese business. Has seen no better corn this year than his own. He makes 500 or 600 cords of manure every year. He puts it into a heap and pours the liquid from his pig pens over it. Applies it in the spring, and plows or harrows it in. If left on the surface and allowed to dry up, it is of little use. Horse dung dropped on the road and allowed to dry, is of no value. Thinks highly of white clover for cows, also for bees.
The discussion soon took a somewhat wide range, and was participated in by Messrs. Houston, of Oneida, Geddes, of Onondaga, Walker and Sanford, of Oswego, Loomis, of Cayuga, and others.
Hon. Geo. Geddes remarked that they had a great diversity of soil and climate in his county-Onondaga. In the town of Camillus they could raise better tobacco than in Kentucky, while Pompey Hill grows rich in making cheese. Farmers would adopt that system of rotation which was best adapted to their particular location. He did not want a Herkimer county man to tell him how to grow wheat, and he (Mr. G.) was sure be could not tell a Herkimer county man how to make cheese.
Mr. Walker, of Oswego county, said in his district they cultivated land merely to get grass. If a field runs out, they break it up and plant corn, and then seed down again with rye. They plow merely to get in manure and reseed.
Hon. R. K. Sanford, of Oswego, thought this question of rotation was a very important one, and that it would be well if the principles on which a rotation of crops is based were better understood. It was very well for gentlemen to come here and state facts, but a fact in itself was of no use to him, unless it could be classified and some general principle deduced from it. On a wheat farm, the question with the farmer was how frequently he could raise wheat-how the exhaustion of the soil, caused by the re moval of a crop of wheat, could best and most speedily be restored. In the dairy districts grass is the object, and the question then was, how to increase it. Is it better to top-dress, or to break up, manure and reseed?
Rev. Mr. Loomis, of Caynga county, thought one of the most important questions for the farmers of this State, was in what way and with what products could we best compete with the West. He thought we should have least to fear in cheese and butter making, and in raising fruit Mr. L. mentioned an interesting fact: He top-dressed an old meadow, that would not produce over three-quarters of a ton per acre, with straw, and it increased the crop of hay to two tons per acre. He top-dresses his meadows and also his pastures, with straw, and it has an excellent effect.
Mr. Geddes said his rotation was pasture, plowed in the spring and planted to corn; then oats; next wheat, seeded down in the fall, at the time of sowing the wheat, with six quarts of timothy seed per acre, and six or eight pounds of clover seed in the spring. Formerly he allowed his grass land to lie two or three years, but now, on account of the cut-worm, he only lets it lie one year.
The Chairman summed up the discussion as follows:
1. Though the climatic conditions of the State vary greatly in those particulars observed by the meteorologist, there is yet a law of uniformity with reference to the early occurrence of extreme heat and cold, drouth and moisture, as well as of their transition periods, which give to a very large belt of the State a fair average medium in respect to such conditions. These are quite necessary in a system of rotation of crops designed to meet the leading points of the question, to wit, a maximum annual cash revenue and the largest amount of rich fertilizing manures.
2. To apply this system wisely, it is first necessary to divide farming lands into those which are properly devoted to pasturage, and those which are strictly arable. None should be included in the latter class which may not be profitably used for deep tillage and subsoiling.
3. Under this general division we notice the fact that in the present system of dairy farming, the producers of butter and cheese, which now bring large prices for exportation, (the statistics having been furnished in the discussion that 22,000 tons of cheese and 16,000 tons of butter had been exported from the port of New York in 1862, 75 per cent having been shipped to English markets)—that these producers are buyers of grain for the support of their dairy stock.' It may soon be that instances will be found where the growers of tobacco, or some other high-priced product, will extend the culture of such crops until they also are purchasers of ordinary farm produce. In such, and all specialties in farming which a state of the markets may justify for the time being, without stopping to notice the results of their general adoption, in the glutting of markets, &c., it is sufficient to remark that the farmer purchaser of grain for his stock refuses to make for himself the profit of raising that grain. While it is not the province of this Society, in its discussions, to discourage any such special. ties in farming, it certainly cannot undertake to give any encouragement to their future, or to any system of farming which discards the raising of Indian corn, the most profitable crop—the sheet anchor of American agriculture.
4. The five-course system generally adopted in this State on arable lands, of corn for the first year, oats or barley for the second, winter grain for the third, and hay for the fourth and fifth, is no longer productive of the large returns sought for in this question; for where the cash sales are increased -whether of grain, or hay, or even of straw—the manurial products are proportionably decreased, and thus the capacity of the farm to pursue the course. The interposition of a root crop after the corn, with deep tillage and special manaring, as well as that of a clover crop after the spring grains, would tend to enrich the surface by the draft made by those crops upon the subsoil, and would increase the amount and manurial value of winter feeding.
5. At the present time, if corn for the first year were followed by roots, as above, for the second, flax might successfully follow for the third (provided the system of water-rotting the flax is wholly abandoned, and the outer boon or shove removed by proper machinery and restored to the soil), and would be found to exhaust it only to the extent of the seed sold; and in this way might be a safe crop for winter wheat to follow, and this, with two years of hay, would make a six-course system.
6. The four-course system of England, and the five-course of the county of Onondaga, are remarkable. The latter, better adapted to this country, is, for the first year, corn upon a clover and timothy sod; for the second, oats or barley; for the third, wheat, with six quarts of timothy and clover each, and twelve bushels of plaster; for the fourth, hay; and for the fifth pasture. Under such a course, where all the coarse fodder and bay are consumed by sheep, and a few horses and cows are kept for farm use, and only wheat and the produce of the fold sold, there is but little left for improvement, except in some regions in the introduction of roots, and the feeding of them to sheep, and with straw, to store cattle. The advantage would be marked in economising the feeding value of straw.
7. One ton of good wheat straw, not over ripe, besides 34.8 lbs. of sweet oil of grateful odor to cattle, contains nearly 20 per cent. of good food and water, and is about one-third of the feeding value of the best hay. Of the remaining 80 per cent., generally rejected or passing off into the manure heap, and treated as insoluble woody fiber, nearly 20 per cent, is soluble in dilute sulphuric acid, &c. It is more than probable that the pectic acid, &c., of the turnip plays the same part in rendering that portion of the straw, which is insoluble in water alone, soluble, and thus digestible. The English farmer keeps his store cattle fat through the feeding months of the year on straw and turnips rendered fine, and allowed to remain long enough mixed together to produce a slight action of the acid of the turnip marked by heat. The severity of our winters forbids the copying of this method, unless the heat may be kept up artificially (perhaps, by the process of steaming,) and economically.
8. The rotation of crops pursued in this country has been easily departed from by the farmer who has not pursued the method of deep tillage and high manuring, and is mostly a system of pliable adaptation to the state of the markets. In England, a system of rotation once adopted is rarely departed from. We may note that while the price of ordinary farming land in this country has not advanced more than 50 to 80 per cent., the rentals paid by the English farmer have been advanced in the past thirty years from 1s. or 1s. 6d. sterling per acre to £3 10s., and in some instances to £5.
9. If a four, or six, or even an eight-course system, were adopted on an arable farm, say of 120 acres, and once established, the annual product of such farm would be, say on the six-course system, 20 acres of corn, 20 acres of turnips and potatoes, 20 acres of flax, oats or barley, 20 acres of wheat or rye, 40 acres of hay; and the producer could determine for himself how much he could profitably feed to his farm stock, sheep or store cattle, &c., how much he could sell of grain and potatoes, hay and straw, for cash, and how large increase in his manure heaps he would gain for the enrichment of his land, and the diminution in expenditure for special manures.
10. As no plan for such a system of rotation has been submitted in this discussion, with tables giving an estimate of the value of each crop in the series, or showing how much might be directly sold, or how much profitably fed to stock, with a careful measurement of the increase in the manure heaps, it is recommended by the Society to the Executive Committee that prizes be offered for essays, based on experimental trials after the above methods, on the best system of rotation, to be recommended to the farmers of this State on their arable lands.
THURSDAY, 3D EVENING. There was another full meeting of the farmers of New York at the City Hall this evening. Hon. A. B. Conger, chairman, delivered an essay based upon the discussion of the previous meeting, and asked the meeting to adopt it as the gist of the debate; it was passed. The question of the evening was then stated to be "The best method of husbanding manure, and the best method of applying it to the land."
As no person was ready to open the discussion, Solon Robinson said for the purpose of affording those present an opportunity to talk upon a direct proposition, he would assert that the best method of treating manure, is not to husband it at all, but to apply it directly, as fast as made, to the surface, if upon grass, and work it into the soil if upon plowed land.
The Hon. T. C. Peters said he had a word to say upon the subject debated last evening, as he does not believe in the necessity of rotation. On lands east of Batavia, forty crops of wheat have been grown in succession, and have probably averaged thirty bushels per acre, and the last crops are as good as any of the preceding. The Chair bas stated in his argument that he considers corn an essential in a system of rotation, but he doubts whether it will pay to grow corn in this State, where farmers can buy it at their doors, upon an average of forty cents a bushel, unless the corn fodder will pay the expense of cultivation by using it to make butter, cheese, beef or mutton. Near market it will pay to grow oats, but not at points far distant from cities or villages. Near such, and they are near most farms along the line of the Central railroad, it is policy for farmers to grow such crops as find the best market, and therefore they will not adhere to any system of rotation. As a general thing, straw crops are more valuable in this State than corn, whicb is an objection to including it in any system of rotar tion. Farmers away from large towns will have to adopt a system that depends more upon sales of animal products than grain, and then they will have manure to apply where it is most needed. Grass and clover, as a general thing, pay better than wheat and corn. It does not pay to keep such fields as I have seen in the eastern counties covered with mullens, where, as in Columbia county, the rotation corn, rye, oats, buckwheat, and where rye is grown till it will grow no more, and the land is given up to mullens.