Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

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AGRICULTURE. IXCREASED AND PROFITABLE PRODUCTION I p THE VALUE OF FERTILISERS. Mr IT Rider Haggard in that very readable piece of light literature "A Farmer's Year" says:— Wheat, our staple product, has again fallen to a figure at which it is not remunerative to grow meat does not, and some think will not, rise, while wool is, I understand, lower in price than it has ever been before. What then is the farmer to do and where is he to turn for aid ? Protection, at niay m, to upon wheat and meat, is at present brt a dream, and he will be wise if he dismisses the hope of it from Hs mind. A bounty on corn might help, but will there ever be a bounty until some great war has taught the people how necessary it is that a certain proportion of our acreage should be kept under corn ?" There is some complexity about this paragraph, but perhaps the greatest charm in the writings of the author of King Solomon's Mines is that so much is left to the imagination. We, however, gather definitely that Mr Haggard considers that the continued maintenance of cereal growing in Britain is a necessity; and with this sentiment I most emphatically agree. But how Mr Haggard proposes to encompass the business is not altogether clear the rent paying farmer cannot for long con- tinue to prodnce at a loss, and it seems scarcely politic to manufacture a "great war" for the simple purpose of demonstrating to the British public the ancient fable that "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." We have indeed a military rehearsal on the stage just now with the world in the audi- torium but sureley, Imperial Britain teaching a few illiterate Dutch farmers the bayonet exercise is not to be classified as a "great war." The educational lesson may possibly prove beneficial, but the attendant expenses of collateral officialdom is likely to be such that the British taxpayer will then be in but a sorry humour to consider the tax- ation of his own daily bread. Then what are we to do ? Is wheat to be allowed to go altogether out of cultivation in Britain, leav- ing us entirely at the mercy of the foreigner ? When Mr Chaplin was at the head of the Agricul- tural Department he told us that wheat must con- tinue to be a standard crop in the home country, but he did not tell us how the bell was to be put on the cat; not even going so far as Mr Ilider Haggard in suggesting a potential solution through the medium of some great war." That shrewd Scotchman, Mr Spier, whose opin- ions we all respect, some time ago assured us that British agriculture was not yet played out, and that the farmer who knew his business would continue to produce wheat remuneratively. Another Scotch- man, that versatile writer, Mr Primrose McConnell, in an article in the R.A.S.E. journal, says:—"If fairly good crops are grown at a minimum cost, making wheat profitable at 30s per quarter is no mystery at all-in fact, it is the most profitable corn crop we have when the strnw can be disposed of at a fair price." Certainly w hal wheat at even a less price than 30s since Mr McConnell made the above remarks, but the possible cost of production has also decreased. Our Essex colonist directs us pretty conclusively to increased production as the solution of that vexed problem of profitable pro- duction and probably that will prove to be the open sesame. When this question of increased pro- duction is mooted it is not infrequently confronted by the pessimistic cry that it is a present over pro- duction that creates the evil by crushing prices below a normal level. But it is difficult to conceive the consistency of any suggestion of over production so long as the fact remains that there are millions of poor wretches—and in our British dominions too-who day by day,ifrom year end to year end, throughout their weary lives do not get half a sufficiency of "our daily bread" to stay the natural cravings of hunger. Sir William Crookes seems to intimate that the world is incapable of the over-production of wheat; and there would appear to be something in this when we consider that only about 18 or 20 months ago the trade manceuvrings of one obscure individual well nigh succeeded in placing Britain in as imminent danger as any outer war, great or little, could possibly do. If the finding of ourselves midway between har- vests with only a six weeks' supply cf bread stuffs in hand wherewith to feed our congested 40,000,000 and the outer sources of supply being cornered, was not a sufficient object lesson to convince us of the absolute necessity of keeping our own powder dry, it will certainly require a war to awaken us, and should there be any delay in the importation of that foreign breadloaf, accidental or otherways, to cause even a temporary scarcity among that forty millions, the outcome would indeed be a great war," and Britain would be needing con- siderably lers bread for a long time afterwards. It was in 1884 that M Georges Ville, the French Agriculturist and Philosopher, said :—" A nation should so husband her resources as to be self-sup- porting and to remam mistress at home under all contingencies. If England has been able, thanks to the accumulated wealth of centuries, to attain a degree of prosperity unequalled by other nations, the day is perhaps not far off when she will learn to her cost that such a constitution is fragile, and find to what immediate reverses of destiny are ex- posed all nations who do not produce sufficient for their maintenance upon their own soil." Since the o-reafc Frenchman uttered the above truisms we have had a sufficiency of objeect lessons presented before us to satisfy any minds except those of millionaire shopkeepers and amateur statesmen so absorbed in the grinding of their own axes, as to be oblivious to natural progression. Britain cannot control either the production or price of cereals generally, but she has the power to keep her own cupboard furnished, and it is but very slatternly housekeeping to rely on a slice out of the breadloaf in your neighbours' pantry; par- ticularly with a fluctuating waterway between. But, fortunately, Monsieur Ville does not philoso- phise only, he defines the principles by which production may be profitably increased and low prices successfully combated, proving the correct- ness of his deductions by practical demonstration. He basis his lesson somewhat as follows In the production of crops there are certain fixed outlays, which are much the same whether the crop is good, bad, or indifferent. For a graphic example, let us I take wheat; there are rent, taxes, cultivation, seed, harvesting, &c., which are much the same whether the crop is good or bad. Let us suppose these amount to C4 10s per acre. If the yield was bu" 20 bushels, the cost of production, apart from the straw, would be 36s per quarter; with a yield of 24 bushels the cost would be reduced to 30s; with 32 bushels 22s 6d, and with a yield of 40 bushels these fixed expenses would be but 18s per quarter, or one half that of the poor crop of 20 bushels, and there are many 20 bushel crops grown: to which may be attributed much of the outcry of depression." However, let us consider this land would have produced 3qrs per acre without any manurial con- sideration, a reasonable and liberal surmise the cost would be 30s per quarter, with the straw for incidentals. But if the waygoing price was 35 or 4s below this, the wheels would yet clog; now suppose to our fixed cost wo add a variable outlay in fertilisers, say 12s 6d—and increase our yield to 4 quarters—again a reasonable and moderate sur- mise. Our grain now stands to but 25s 7d per 2 quarter. If we double the 12s 6d, and get 5 quarters of wheat, onr acreage cost will be in- creased to S,5 15s, but our productive cost will be reduced to £ 1 3d per quarter, with an extra amount of straw and some residual value besides. Such is about the method in which Ville demon- strated his case, and the soundness of it has been abundantly proved in numerous instances all over Britain, yet, nevertheless, many farmers continue to restrict their use of fertilisers to the root crop. The most frequent remark offered in justification of this short-sighted policy is that the present low prices of corn will not admit of any expenditure in manure, overlooking the fact that fertilisers have also become equally low in price, and that the taking advantage of this latter complimentary reduction is the natural antidote to the former difficulty. Artificial fertilisers are now much lower in price than when Ville so urgently advocated their greater use, and, further, the phosphates have been sup- plemented by basic slag, coataining a useful per- centage of lime in combination with its phosphate, thus serving a dual purpose in one operation. An application of 5 cwt. of this lime phosphate and 2 cwt. of kainit per acre any time during the next two months could scarcely fail to prove remunera- tive on either cereals clovers, or grass. This is sound all round advice, but of course vary- ing circumstances suggest modifications for instance, if the preceding crop clover or roots has been liberally treated with mineral manures, the ensuing cereal crop should do fairly well without a further present application; and yet my experience tells me that such additional dressing would pay. I was talking with a large farmer a day or two ago, and he said that last year he dressed some fields of clover with 6 cwt. of basic slag per acre, and he was so satisfied with the result that he was this year making similar application to the whole of his clovers. He further stated that he was going to dress his wheat with 4 cwt. of phosphate and 2 cwt. of kainit per acre, except those fields where the clover had been slagged last year; he considered the clover had done so well last season that the wheat would there do well enough on the residue. I was asking this gentleman what his experience was as regarded the application of slag in the autumn or in the early months of the new year, as I had heard several differences of opinion on this point. He said he had found no practical difference, provided he got it on before a dry season set in; on the clover and grass he considered it was a question of convenience as to when the land conld be spared, and be clear of stock. For the wheat he preferred top dressing after Christmas and harrowing when dry enough and reminded me of a report of Professor Wright's, of Glasgow, saying that for oats there was no practical difference whether the slag was applied with the seed or earlier; personally he, Professor Wright, preferred it put on with the seed, but such dressing to the oat crop was profitable either way. Another farmer, joining us,was asked the same question, and gave much the same reply if his grass or clover was unoccupied in November or December he should probably put the slag on, but now he had six tons standing in the shed and had been some weeks, as this year, through the dry summer, he was rather short of roots, and as his grass had grown freely he was keeping his stock on it as long as he could, and did not suppose it would make much difference whether the phosphate was applied in November or February as nature to a great extent lay dormant during that time. I have not yet made reference to nitrogen, as it occupies a position distinct from phosphate and potash; but a slight touch up with nitrate of soda in the spring is the saving of many a weakly crop. Of course it increases the expense, but this is re- couped in the extra growth of straw, and general bulk of grass respectively. HESIOD.


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