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REVIEW OF THE VISIT TO ROTHAMSTED.
BY HON. E. CORNELL, EX-PRESIDENT.
Mr. President and Gentlemen of the State Agricultural Society:
At the suggestion of our venerable Secretary, I propose to occupy a few moments of your time with a brief account of our visit to the experimental farm of John Bennet Lawes, Esq., Rothamsted, England.
The visit to Rothamsted was made on the 1st of July, 1862, by the Commissioners at the International Exhibition of several of the European governments, Col. B. P. Johnson, American Commissioner, Orange Judd, Esq., editor of the American Agriculturist, and myself, in response to an invitation from Mr. Lawes, and never was a lovely summer day more delightfully and profitably enjoyed. We found carriages in waiting for us at the railway station, in which we were soon stowed for a half hour's ride over an excellent road, which carried us to the grey old mansion of Rothamsted, venerable in appearance from the accumulated moss of centuries; clasped in the firm embrace of creeping vines, hoary with age; embowered beneath the outstretching branches of the royal oaks, the graceful elms and the giant yews of old England; upon the inner walls, clustered the story of chivalrous knights and the record of heroic deeds, heirlooms of many generations.
Standing thus in the presence of the past, we paused to reflict-the mind involuntarily swept across the broad Atlantic to our western homes, and contrasted vividly the youth of our own country, and the brevity of our own history, as compared with that which surrounded us. The reflection was not of a painful character. We saw in the free institutions of our country, our free schools, our independent and untrameled churches, in the general intelligence of the masses of our people, the vast undereloped resources of our mines, and the unsurpassed fertility of our soil, unmistakable evidence of a higher and a nobler destiny for America than England had yet attained, or was likely to attain, if she sped on her course with accelerated velocity through as many ages of the future as she numbers of the past.
A few moments devoted to the introductory ceremonies which welcomed the party to the grand old homestead and made them acquainted with its enterprising and liberal proprietor, Mr. Lawes, and his able and learned assistant, Prof. Gilbert, we sat down to a substantial lunch, as a preliminary requisite to the examinations we were about to make of the experimental farm. This disposed of with ample justice, Mr. Lawes furnished each gentleman with a printed “memoranda of the plan and results of the Rothamsted field experiments," &c.
With this document in hand, we followed Messrs. Lawes and Gilbert to
the field to examine the crops as they lay in new made hay, or stood in growing wheat and barley on their respective experimental plots.
The first plot that we came to was an area of six and a quarter acres of the park under "experiment, with different manures on permanent meadow land," of which Mr. Lawas says "the land has probably been laid down with grass for some centuries, and no seed has been artificially sown for the last twenty-five years at any rate; nor is there any record of fresh seed having been sown since the time the grass was first laid down. The experiments commenced in 1856, at which time the character of the herbage appeared to be uniform over all the plots. With some few exceptions, the same description of manure has been applied to the respective plots each year."
The ground was divided into 17 parcels, each staked and numbered to correspond with the memoranda we held in our hands, and by reference to which we could see at a glance what kind and quantity of manure had been applied to each plot during each of the past six years, also the average quantity of hay per acre produced each year. We also had the opportunity to judge of the effect of the manure upon the quality of the bay, as the crop of 1862 lay before ns, each upon its respective plot of ground, where it grew, evenly spread, and ready cured, sufficient for storage in the barn. • Mr. Lawes did not furnish us with the cost price of the manures used, and I have no means at hand of learning their English values. I shall however in refering to the manure nsed, and quantity of hay or grain produced on each plot, append the price that the manure would cost here as computed by a scale of prices furnished me by leading and highly respectable druggists in Albany and New York. We can thus judge more accu. rately of the comparative value of each experiment. • To Plot No. 1, was applied 14 tons farm-yard dung, (the value of which I estimate at one dollar per ton,) and 200 lbs. ammonia salts, composed of equal parts of sulphate and muriate of commerce, costing $25, making manure cost $39 per acre each year, and producing 2 tons 1460 lbs. of hay per acre, which at $10 per ton is $27.30, or $12.70 less than the yearly cost of manures, and leaving the cost of labor in applying the manure and making the hay unprovided for.
Plot No. 2-Had 14 tons farm-yard manure alone costing $14, and produced 2 tons 732 lbs. of hay per acre, at $10 per ton is $23.66, leaving a balance of $9.66 to pay for labor and as profit. . The result of this plot deducted from No. 1, leaves 728 lbs, of hay, worth $3.64, as the productive result of 200 lbs. of ammonia salts costing $25.
Plot No. 3.-Was unmanured, continually, and produced 1 ton 632 lbs. of hay per acre, worth $13.16. Plot No. 12, was also unmanured, continually, and produced 1 ton 856 lbs. of hay per acre, worth $14.28, by taking the mean result of the two, we have $13.72, as the average value of hay per acre without manure, this deducted from the result of No. 2, leaves 1988 lbs. of hay per acre, as the result of 14 tons of farm-yard manure, and fixes the value of the manure at $9.94, or at 71 cents per ton, (less the cost of handling and spreading it upon the land).
Plot No. 4, a-Was dressed with superphosphate of lime, composed of 200 Ibs, bone-ash, and 150 lbs. sulphuric acid, costing $8. The product was 1
ton 1136 lbs. of hay per acre, worth $15.68. By reference to plots No. 3 and 12, it will be seen that the superphosphate of lime produced only 892 lbs. of hay, worth $1.96, or making a loss of $6.04 per acre in the manure.
Plot No. 4, b-Had superphosphate of lime, as above $3, and 400 lbs. of ammonia salts, worth $50, making $58 per acre for manure. Result 2 tons 928 lbs, hay per acre, worth $24.64. Here we have 1 ton 184 lbs, hay, worth $10,92 to the credit of manure, leaving a loss of $34.36 per acre. A comparison between the results of the two last plots, will show 1792 lbs. of hay as the result of 450 lbs. of ammonia salts, which is a better proportionate result, than No. 1 shows for 200 lbs. ammonia salts, that producing only 728 lbs. of hay.
Plot No. 5—Was dressed with .400 Jbs. ammonia salts, worth $50, and produced 1 ton, 1696 lbs. of hay, worth $18 48, showing a loss of $32.52. The 400 lbs. ammonia salts, producing only 952 lbs. of hay, or a trifle more than half the amount which resulted from its use in connection with superphosphate of lime in plot No. 4 b.
Plot No. 6—Had 400 lbs. ammonia salts, worth $50, and 2000 lbs. saw-dust at $2, is $52, producing an increase of only 28 lbs. of hay per acre, over plot No. 5, proving the saw-dust to be of less value than I have prized it at.
Plot No. 7—Was dressed with mixed alkalies, composed of 300 lbs. sulphate of potass, $24 ; 200 lbs. sulphate of soda, $4 ; and 100 lbs. sulphate of magnesia, $3.50; and with superphosphate of lime, $8. Vaking a total cost of $39.50. This plot produced 1 ton, 1,836 lbs. of superior red clover hay, worth at $10 per ton, $19.18 ; leaving a loss of $20.32 per acre for manure.
Assuming that plot 4 a, estsblishes the quantity of hay produced by the superphosphate of lime, correctly at 392 lbs. per acre, we get 700 lbs. of hay per acre as the amount due to the mixed alkalies, which at $10 per ton would only pay $3.50 of the cost of the alkalics, leaving $28 to their debit account.
Plot No. 8—Adds 2,000 lbs. of saw-dust to the same amount of mixed alkalies and superphosphate of lime that was applied to No. 7, the sawdust at $2, makes the total cost per acre $41.50. The result is 2 tons and 32 pounds of red clorer hay. Here we have an increase of 196 lbs of hay, as the result of the saw-dust, which will pay about half the cost of its application, at its assumed value of $2 per ton.
Plot No. 9—Dressed with mixed alkalies and superphosphate of lime, as above, with 400 lbs. of ammonia salts added, making a total outlay for manures of $89.50, which produces a result of 3 tons, 356 pounds of hay per acre, with very little or no red clover amongst it, worth $31.78, leaving a balance to the debit of manure of $57.72 per acre.
This experiment, however, shows 2,520 lbs. of hay per acre, as the product of the 400 lbs. of ammonia salts. Whereas, Plot No. 5, where the same amount of ammonia salts was used alone, shows only 952 lbs. of hay as the result of the 400 lbs. of ammonia salts, and, on plot No. 4, 6, where ammonia salts was used with superphosphate of lime, the 400 lbs. ammonia salts produced 1,792 lbs. of hay.
Plot No. 10—Had the same dressing as No. 9, with the addition of 2,000 lbs. of saw-dust. The product was 142 lbs. of hay per acre less than that produced on No. 9; in this case the saw-dust seems to have been injurious to the crop.
Plot No. 11–Was dressed with mixed alkalies and superphosphate of lime, the same as No. 7, with the addition of 800 lbs. of ammonia salts, the whole costing $139.50 per acre. The product of this plot was 3 tons, 832 lbs. of hay, worth $34.16, leaving a balance of $105.34 per acre on the wrong side of the ledger.
On this plot we have reached the maximum of production, and also find a very coarse quality of hay, largely intermixed with cocks-foot, resulting from the large amount of ammonia salts used. Indeed, the effect of the manures upon the quality, or character of the hay, changing upon each plot as the manure was changed, was a very interesting feature of the experiments. It will be noticed in this experiment that the addition of 400 lbs. of ammonia salts only increased the quantity of hay 476 lbs. per acre, evidently affecting the quality more than it did the quantity, showing the salts to be in excess of the requirements of the crop.
Plot No. 13—Was supplied with mixed alkalies, superphosphate of lime, and ammonia salts, in the same quantities as No. 9, to which 2,000 lbs. of cut straw was added to supply silicate. The result shows a falling off of 224 lbs. of hay per acre.
Plot No. 14-Had mixed alkalies and superphosphate of lime, the same as No. 7, with 550 lbs. of nitrate of soda added, making the total cost of manure of this plot $100, producing 2 tons 1,796 lbs. of hay per acre, worth $28.98, leaving a balance against the manure of $71.02.
Plot No. 15—Was dressed with 550 lbs. nitrate of soda, cost $60, and produced 2 tons, 144 lbs., worth $20.72, leaving a balance against the soda of $39.28; deduct the result of this experiment from No. 14 and it gives us 1,632 lbs. of hay as the product of mixed alkalies, and superphosphate of lime, when combined with nitrate of soda, which is 540 lbs. of hay more than they produced in plot No. 7, when they were used alone.
Plot No. 16-Had mixed alkalies and superphosphate of lime the same as No. 14, with 275 lbs. of nitrate of soda added. The crop was 2 tons 873 lbs. of hay, or a loss of 924 lbs. of hay by the withdrawal of 275 lbs. of the nitrate of soda.
Experiment No. 14, as compared with No. 7, shows 1,960 lbs. of hay as the result of the use of 550 lbs. nitrate of soda, and No. 16, compared with No. 7, shows 1,036 lbs. of hay as the result of the use of 275 lbs. of the nitrate of soda. In one case the one pound of nitrate of soda produces 3.56 lbs. of hay; in the other, one pound of nitrate of soda produces 3.76 lbs. of hay.
Plot No. 17. This plot has nothing but 275 lbs. of nitrate of soda, worth $30.25, and produces 1 ton 1,640 lbs. of hay, worth $18.20, leaving to the debit of soda $12.05. This experiment also gives us 896 lbs. of hay as the result of the use of 275 lbs. of nitrate of soda, or one pound of nitrate of soda as producing 3.25 lbs. of hay.
Having finished the examination of the grass plots, Messrs. Lawes & Gilbert led the way to the wheat field, where an area of 13 acres was staked off in the same careful mannner that was observed in relation to the grass
plots, the plots carefully lettered and numbered to correspond with the schedule, and under "experiments on the growth of wheat, year after year, on the same land, without manure, and with different kinds of manure.”
The croping of this ground during the five years previous to the commencement of the experiments in 1844 was as follows: In 1839, turnips, with farm-yard manure; 1840, barley; 1841, peas; 1842, wheat; 1843, oats; the four last crops without the application of manure of any kind.
The experiments commenced in 1844, and had been continued with wheat every year since on the same ground, and nearly the same description of manure used on the same plot each year, excepting the unmanured plots, and they were continually unmanured. The crop that we had the pleasure of examining was the 19th crop of the experiment, and what appeared quite remarkable to me, was, that the unmanured plots should still continue to produce wheat.
The plot for the wheat experiments was divided into twenty-three subdivisions, with a foot-path between each, which enabled us to make a very minute examination of the several parcels of growing wheat.
The ground had been carefully and thoroughly cultivated; not a weed of any kind was to be seen growing among the wheat, and the wheat itself was entirely free from any intermixture of varieties.
The treatment of each plot, as to manures, and the average product per acre of wheat for the 18 years, was as follows:
Plot No. 3—Was unmanured continually, and produced an average of 154 bushels per acre per annum for each of the 18 years.
Plot No. 20—Also unmanured, as above, and produced an average of 153 bushels per acre. I shall therefore assume 15} bushels per acre as the average annual natural product of the land, and the excess over that amount produced on the other plots, respectively, will be considered as due to the manure applied thereto.
In computing results, I will, for convenience, and, as being near the mark, estimate the wheat to be worth $1.50 per bushel, and the manures the same as it was valued for the grass plots.
Plot No. 0—Was dressed with superphosphate of lime, composed of 600 lbs. of bone ash and 450 lbs. sulphuric acid, all costing $23, and produced an average of 170 bus. of wheat per acre, or a gain of 24 bus. per acre for the use of the manure, giving only $3.38 to pay for the manure used, leaving a loss of $20.62 per acre. It seems from this result that superphosphate of lime alone is not the thing for wheat, especially in the quantity here used.
Plot No. 1-Received a dressing of mixed alkalies, in the following quantity, 400 lbs. sulphate of potass, is $32; 200 lbs. sulphate of soda $4, and 200 lbs. sulphate of magnesia $7, making a gross amount of $43 per acre. The product of this plot was 16 bus, of wheat per acre, demonstrating as clearly as in the case of the former plot, that mixed alkalies alone are not what the growth of wheat requires. The increase in the quantity of straw in the two last experiments, as compared with the quantity of straw on the unmanured plots, shows about the same proportions as in the wheat, and proves that both the stalk and the sced seeks other food.
Plot No. 2.--Here we find a fertilizing element that our farmers are better