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dition and arrangement of their dwellings; and he will take especial care that the cottages on his estate are constructed with a due regard to these objects,—that there is proper drainage and ventilation, and that the rooms are sufficient in size and number for the accommodation of the labourer's family, without young persons of different sexes being compelled (as is now too often the case) to sleep in the same apartment, to the subversion of decency and decorum, and to the destruction of those feelings of delicacy and moral restraint, which constitute so important a safeguard to correct conduct in after-life.
It is only by attending to each and all of these points that the best results can be secured for the landlord, the tenant, and the labourer, each of whom will then form a part of one great domestic whole, bound together and identified in interest and in feeling-each ready to support the other in the various contingencies of life, and in working out the great problem of obtaining the largest amount of produce from the land, at the smallest cost, and for the longest period. How this important object is to be accomplished, is proposed to be shown under separate heads, in the following pages.
In all agricultural operations, attention must be paid to the nature of the climate. The climate which permits field labour for the greatest number of days in the year, and which brings forward and ripens the largest amount of produce with the greatest degree of certainty, must be considered the best; and the worst kind of climate is that which is unequal, and subject to great and sudden changes. From this latter cause, in some countries, entire crops are often destroyed, at one time from continued drought, at another from excess of rain; whilst sometimes nearly equal injury is done by blight and mildew. The climate most desirable for the agriculturist is that affording a dry seed-time, with spring showers, summer and autumn heats, and winter frosts in seasonable succession.
The elevation of the land has great influence on the climate. In proportion as the height is greater, the air is found to be colder, lighter, and thinner, and is less in quantity in a given space. A person breathing at the top of Mont Blanc draws into his lungs only half the quantity of air which he breathes at the level of the sea, and the air is colder in the same proportion. Vegetable life is affected in this respect similarly to animal life. At a great elevation, vegetation cannot proceed with the same energy as in a low-lying country; and from the retarding effects of cold, and a deficiency of atmosphere, vegetation is slower on high than on low grounds. In general, an elevation of 400 feet above the level of the sea, is fully ten days later, and requires ten days' earlier sowing, than on lands about the level of the coast.
Climate is also affected by situation, and the nature of the country. Vicinity to the sea, which is the great equalizer of temperature, and the interposition of hills to break the force of the winds, generally moderate the severity of a cold climate. The same causes will also increase the dampness of a climate, for
hills attract clouds, and bring down rain. A climate possessing a due proportion of moisture and warmth, of sunshine and clouds, is best adapted for vegetation.
Grain crops will ripen well in a moist climate, provided there has been a dry seed-time, and that the soil be well worked and open, to allow the superabundant moisture to escape. This, in fact, involves one of the great principles of modern husbandry; for the effects of an over-wet climate may in great measure be obviated, by adopting proper methods of draining the land. Draining imparts dryness and warmth to the soil, and will thereby serve to improve a naturally cold and moist climate; and to this very important branch of agriculture too much attention cannot be paid. In proportion as the land is cleared and drained, the climate becomes drier, more regular and more equable in temperature: but if moisture is allowed to accumulate in bogs, morasses, and stagnant ditches, it thence rises in clouds and fogs, obscuring the sun, and chilling the atmosphere.
In countries where the frosts of winter are long and severe, a correspondingly large quantity of snow falls, to cover and shelter the ground. Without these deep snows, the plants and vegetables would probably be destroyed by the intensity of the cold. Snow is therefore most valuable as a winter covering for the herbage, and for preventing the escape of its natural heat from the earth. This is very apparent, on the melting of snow, after it has lain any time on grass lands.
The soil or surface of the earth consists, for the most part, of the crumblings and decayed portions of rocks, and its quality depends on the nature of the substances whence it is derived. Rain, sunshine, frost, the action of the atmosphere in all its stages, are constantly effecting the decomposition of rocks, and separating minute particles from their surface, to form a soil above and around them; whilst the rivers and running waters
transport portions of the matter so separated, to lower levels. By this process, during a long course of years, our fertile valleys and rich meadow lands have been gradually formed.
Sand, clay, and lime, are the principal constituents of all the different kinds of soil; and it is by ascertaining the nature of the soil in every case, and so managing the land as to bring out and improve its capabilities, that the profit of the farmer is to be secured.
Each soil has its natural limits, beyond which the application of manure alone will not carry its powers of production. The farmer's object must therefore be to raise the quality of the soil, by infusing into it new elements of fertility, in which it was before deficient; such as the mixture of clay and marl with sandy and peaty soils, chalk with the clays, and lime with loamy and alluvial soils. In this way the qualities of each description of soil may be improved, and its productive powers greatly augmented.
Soils differ greatly in colour. Some are nearly black, others white, red, and brown, according to the nature of the subsoil, or the rocks out of which they have been formed. Peaty soils are invariably black, or a very dark brown, whilst combinations of iron impart a red colour to the soil, without, however, impairing its fertility.
Soils may be classed under the following general heads, viz:-sandy, gravelly, clayey, chalky, alluvial, loamy, and peaty.
Sandy soils. Pure sand or silex is the earth of flints, and in its simple state is incapable of retaining moisture or promoting vegetation; but when clay, marl, loam, or other soil possessing adhesive qualities, are mingled with it, it may be cultivated with advantage. The Norfolk farmers have, by means of such applications, improved their sandy and naturally sterile soil, and rendered it eminently productive.
When properly prepared, a sandy soil is one of the most profitable which can be worked. It is easily cul
tivated, and is well adapted for occasional pasturage, and for turnip feeding of sheep. The crops to be raised on sandy soils, are-turnips, potatoes, carrots, mangelwurzel, barley, rye, peas, clover, and all the grasses ; but this species of soil is not, generally speaking, sufficiently strong for beans and wheat.
Gravelly soils, are in their nature very similar to the sandy, and require nearly the same treatment. They are in general considered hungry soils; for being of an open texture, the moisture sinks rapidly through them, and their fertility depends on frequent falls of rain, as well as upon a liberal application of manure. They are adapted to the production of potatoes, turnips, and the grasses, and are well suited to a moist climate.
Clay soils. Clay or argillaceous earth, in its ordinary condition, is one of the most difficult kinds of soils with which a farmer can have to deal; but it may be greatly improved by the application of sand, lime, marl, chalk, and all kinds of calcareous matter. Ashes, peat, farmyard manure, the sweepings and scrapings of streets and roads, are all suitable for clay soils; and by a liberal use of these materials, with draining and careful working the land, such soils may be rendered highly productive.
Clay soils are often of so stiff and adhesive a nature, that they continue moist throughout the summer. The plough turns up the soil in strong clods, which are with difficulty broken by the roller. It requires both labour and expense to put such soils into a good state of cultivation, but it may be done, and will in general well repay the outlay.
This soil is adapted for beans, wheat, oats, peas, clover, and tares. Formerly potatoes and turnips were little cultivated on clay soils; but under the modern system of draining and improvement, these roots may now be grown on them to advantage. They are well adapted for hay or clover, but do not generally produce good pasture. Ashes, peat earth, and all other light substances, are useful for lightening and mellowing clay soils, and chalk can hardly be applied in too large quantities.