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some other. Again a variety of crops may have exhausted the surface soil of most of its plant sustaining properties where shoal plowing has been the practice, and the farmer considers his farm worn out, when, if he would deepen the cultivation a few inches, he would probably turn up to the action of air and water, many important elements necessary to sustain vegetation.
It has been contended by some, (I can hardly think they were practical agriculturists,) that the earth contains within itself all the elements of vegetation, and that it only required right practice in tilling the soil, to constantly bring out and mature the productions of the earth, without the aid of fertilizers; that as fast as the surface soil became exhausted, by bringing up a new soil which had lain dormant for a length of time, all the elements necessary to sustain vegetation were alternately reproduced and replaced, and that the process might be continued indefinitely.
In the renovation of worn out lands as well as in general farming, there is, no doubt, much to be gained by deep cultivation, and by frequently bringing to the surface some of the sub soil, or dead earth as it is frequently tormed, and thoroughly mixing and pulverizing together ; but the farmer who neglects to husband all his means to procure fertilizers, and manages to return to the soil the elements taken therefrom by his crops, however perfect his tillage or cultivation, will sooner or later find bimself with a worn out farm; and if he cannot realize from his sales of stock, &c., quite as much ready cash, or make as quick turns as from the sales of produce, yet he can hardly fail to see what the end will be in the course pursued. Too much consequence can hardly be attached to the making, saving and application of manures, by those especially who have exhausted lands to renovate; and while I deem it of the first importance to the cultivator to make the most of his barn yard manure—which may be his chief dependence-yet I think in renovating worn out lands, much advantage may be derived from a right application of calcareous or other artificial manures. Gypsum, lime and wood ashes are cheap dressing, and pay well on most soils—perhaps best on dry loamy and gravelly. Most of the cereals and vegetables, partake largely of these, consequently exhausted soils to a greater or less extent are so, from too large a drain of them without return; and they can hardly be dipensed with in the recovery of soils so
impoverished, unless there is an abundant supply of barn yard manure at hand, which generally answers all purposes of fertility. Lime and salt mixed, in most soils may be used to good advantage on Indian corn, and on most if not all kinds of grain, especially wheat and barley. Ashes and salt make good dressing for potatoes and most other vegetables, and at the same time assist the grass crop for several years, or at least as long as it is profitable to mow land without changing its use, which I think, as a general rule, where farms will admit of it, should not be more than two or three years. I think I have seen good results this season, from the use of lime and salt mixed in proportion of one hundred pounds of salt dissolved in water with which three hundred pounds of quick lime was slaked dry, and mixed with about two bushels of gypsum; about twelve bushels of this mixture was spread on an acre of worn out land, with good success.
An acre of dry loamy land which had been mowed till it yielded less than a balf ton of lay to the acre, was plowed two years since, about two inches deeper than before, and eight common cart loads of barn manure plowed in. Last season it yielded about one hundred and sixty bushels of potatoes, which were dressed with wood ashes, salt and gypsum, mixed in proportion of four bushels of ashes, one of gypsum and one of fine Liverpool salt, about one gill to each bill. This season it was twice plowed anıl once harrowed, and two and a half bushels of two rowed barley sowed upon it; at the same time there was spread upon it about ten bushels of the salt, lime and gypsum mixture, and harrowed twice more; and forty five bushels of barley was the yield, which was one third more than grew on the same kind of land adjoining, which was tolerably well manured last season for corn. It is evident here that the deepening of the cultivation, a more thorough mixture and stirring of the soil, and supplying it with those particular elements of which it had been exhausted, contributed mainly to the crop. which (it will be borne in mind) grew upon worn out land. The cost of this mixture did not exceed fifty cents per bushel, including five dollars per ton for freight. Lime and salt mixed in the above proportion, I think will generally be found useful when properly applied in renovating exhausted soils. Although the effects of such manures may not be so durable as barn manure, yet whatever increases the crop,
increases the means for supplying the defects of the soil, if the crop (as it should always be) is consumed upon the farm.
Artificial manures, such for instance, as lime, gypsum, wood ashes, salt, &c., are frequently condemned, because they were wrongly applied. It must be borne in mind that they do not contain all the elements found in barn manure; consequently their beneficial effects can only be realized on such soils as are deficient in those properties to be supplied by the dressing. If the soil is not deficient in lime, then lime cannot be applied to advantage; and the best way for farmers in general to acquaint themselves with the proper use of them on their own farms, is to experiment on a small scale. And especial regard, in experiments, should be had to mixture and quantity as well as kind. I think I have seen good results from salt and lime, mixed as before stated, applied to corn and potatoes ; yet great care should be taken that but a small quantity comes in contact with the seed; and I have never known corn to suffer materially by the worm, where about half a table spoonful of it was carefully sprinkled over the seed afler dropping; and when it is used as top dressing, it is better to put it around the plant, an inch or two from it. In this manner, a common handful of the salt, lime and plaster mixture, may be used to a hill of corn or potatoes. If the salt and lime mixture only, is used, a less quantity should be applied; two thirds will be sufficient.
I have witnessed apparently exhausted mowing lands materially improved by the application of three bushels of gypsum to the acre, at the same time abandoning the practice of grazing it in the spring and fall. Also lands which were used for pasture till almost useless, being covered with moss, restored to good profit by three years' cultivation, with the use of gypsum only, deepening the cultivation a little each year, and removing the loose rocks, at the same time obtaining a crop of oats and peas, sufficient to pay all the cost of renovation; and this year, which is the fourth since the process commenced, it yiolded at least one and a half tons of hay per acre, and by a judicious system of rotation of crops, and at the same time returning in manures what the four years' crops have afforded, I cannot see why a high state of cultivation cannot be attained ; at the same time receiving in the crops ample remuneration for all expense of labor and fertilizers. As before stated, the subject of renovating
worn out lands, embraces every department of agriculture, and can hardly be considered without encroaching upon the province of others who have the subject of manures, and so forth, committed to them. I have therefore felt myself at liberty to only make a few random remarks on the general subject of farming, and it may not be altogether inapplicable to the subject to consider its pecuniary importance.
It cannot have escaped general observation, that from some cause or other, many good farms have become more or less exhausted, and the owners have been induced to sell cheap, and emigrate to the western states. And it is still a question with many, whether it is better to renovate the exhausted soil, or emigrate to the new lands. It is evident at a glance, that much here would depend on circumstances. A man with very limited means, a man with a family which he wished to settle around him, or a young man beginning in life that wished to try his fortune in the vicissitudes and speculations incident to the growth of a new country, might find it for his interest to lay a foundation for the future in a new settlement, and wait for the results of time and chance, to increase his means with his necessities. On the other hand, a man somewhat advanced in life, and desirous to spend his remaining days in the enjoyment of privileges attained by society of maturer growth, or a man with but small means, may safely invest in a good soil, although somewhat exhausted, and find it both pleasurable and profitable to renovate and restore it to its original capabilities, and thus at once secure the privileges and pecuniary value which a well regulated society and accumulated and concentrated wealth give to it.
The improvements in the State, in agriculture, the exhibitions and the reports of crops of various kinds which have been raised on an acre of land, must sooner or later force the conviction on every careful observer, that a large class of farms in this State do not now yield one-fourth of their capabilities, and that the same amount of labor and capital now expended on the whole, might be more profitably expended on one-fourth part. I admit the reasoning of many of our farmers, that if a man can profitably farm on twenty-five acres of land, with hired labor, he can realize double the profit on fifty; or, that from circumstances, he might for a short time, realize more clear profit on the fifty acres. I admit that farming is a paying busi
ness in Maine, and provided it is conducted upon true and correct principles, like every other good business, it is profitable according to its magnitude. I am well aware that to renovate an exhausted farm, and bring it into a desirable state of cultivation, requires time, labor, and capital in proportion to what is to be accomplished, and the size of the farm, in my opinion, should always be in proportion to the means of carrying it on; and the true principles of farming are, to make every acre produce nearly if not quite its entire capacity; (there may be an exception in regard to hay,) and although it may take some time to accomplish this, yet well directed efforts will consummate our object sooner or later.
Some years since, I met in Massachusetts, an intelligent gentleman of that State (if I may be allowed to judge of such a character) who appeared to be much interested in farming, and made many inquiries relative to agriculture in Maine. "Ah!" said he, "you run over too much land in Maine; land is too cheap there; the same was true once of Massachusetts, and the defect is not entirely remedied yet.” He said his grand-father settled on one hundred and sixty acres of land about forty miles from Boston; he succeeded in his life time in making a valuable farm, kept a good stock, and supposed he was doing all that could be done profitably on a farm of that size. It was subsequently divided between his two sons, each of whom made such improvement that they kept the same amount of stock, and raised as much produce as their father. "And," said he, "my farm consists of forty acres, one-fourth part of the original, and I keep as much stock, and raise as much, as the whole originally did, and I do not believe I have reached its capabilities by considerable, but I will do it."
And in conclusion, I will only add, that in my opinion, a correct system for renovating worn out land, embraces a correct system of general farming; a system which, if correctly followed, will not run out farms. A correct knowledge of the system must be gained by studying what is written, by observing general practice and its effects, and by practicing what experience proves to be correct.
The farmer who rejects scientific agriculture, (or what he terms book-farming) altogether, is like a certain class of physicians who value themselves on account of their ignorance of science, and boast of having derived their skill from an unlettered Indian, and usually