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Clover may be ploughed into the land as manure, with advantage, particularly on limestone and sandy or gravelly soils. This may perhaps be considered a wasteful practice; but we are told by eminent agriculturists, that it is a cheap and profitable mode of improving exhausted or light soils; and premiums have been given for the growth of wheat sown upon clover lea, the whole of the second crop of clover to be ploughed in the first year.
The quantity of clover seed necessary for a statute acre, is from one to two stone, according to the state of the land; but when ground is perfectly cleaned by a regular course of drill husbandry, one stone will generally be found sufficient. It is, however, only on land well ploughed, and well manured, and in which no weed is suffered to appear, that this smaller quantity of seed ought to be used. The clover plant in such land will tiller uninterruptedly, and possess itself of the whole surface.
The seed may be saved from the second crop ; and if the first cutting be in May or June, the second will be ripe in September, which is generally a favourable month for saving the seed.
Without clover for summer feeding, no man should presume to call himself a farmer. An acre of good common pasture will only feed one cow from May to November, but an acre of good clover will support three, and in some cases even four cows for the same period, if fed in the house, by which a valuable supply of manure will likewise be obtained. Indeed, feeding cattle on any grass land is wasteful, in comparison with feeding them in the house : but with clover, it would be wanton and absurd waste.
The profit which store pigs, fed entirely upon clover or vetches, will afford to the farmer, has not been noticed; but it is very considerable, particularly if you can give them at the same time a little buttermilkeven the rinsings of the milk vessels, with clover, vetches, or lucerne, will keep the pigs in good condition.
Of late years there have been frequent complaints of the failure and falling off of the clover crops, and in
many instances it has been found that when often repeated, as in the four-years' rotation, it degenerates and diminishes in produce. Various causes have been assigned for this deterioration, and various attempts have been made to remedy the evil, with more or less success. It seems probable, however, that clover requires longer intervals before the soil is again capable of producing it in perfection, than has hitherto been assigned it in the four-years' shift. All the known facts appear to tend to this conclusion, and to point to an extension of the interval, by extending the rotation ; which would likewise, in all probability, be advantageous to all the other crops in the series.
By extending the rotation, the soil would have more time to recruit in that description of nourishment, which the clover has abstracted from it, and which is necessary for its growth. With this view, a crop of peas or tares has in some instances been substituted for clover, after the barley crop in the four-year course; and the clover has been sown after the wheat or barley in the next rotation, which makes the interval between the clover crops seven instead of four years; and this change has proved advantageous. Indeed, some persons have contended that clover should have an interval of not less than eight years between one crop and another, in order to ensure an abundant produce.
Clover invariably succeeds well after flax. This fact is well known to the Belgian farmer, who always acts upon it; and it is a circumstance no less curious than important. If we could ascertain with certainty, why some plants grow luxuriantly in company with others, or in succession to others, whilst with plants of a different kind they fall off or fail altogether, a most important point would be established for regulating the succession of crops, on the best and surest basis. Of one thing, however, there can be no doubt, namely
– that by thorough-draining and deep-ploughing, by which fresh soil is brought to the surface, and a dry and warm bed is prepared for the seed, every description of crop is improved, and rendered earlier in its growth, and more certain in its produce; and this is
128 AMERICAN COW-GRASS. ITALIAN RYE-GRASS. perhaps more markedly the case with clover, than with any other description of crop.
The American Cow-Grass, possesses properties in many respects very similar to the red clover, with the advantage of being a perennial plant. It does not, however, usually give so good a crop the second year; and, unless for the purpose of mixing with other grasses for permanent leys, it is never found superior to the red clover. The cow-grass may, however, be a good substitute occasionally, when the land becomes tired of growing clover. If you cannot have either red clover or cow-grass, as may sometimes happen when first entering upon an ill-managed farm, you may sow a crop of vetches, which are always useful.
The Italian Rye-Grass is extremely valuable, as well for its earliness, as for its great productiveness. It is consumed with avidity by all kinds of stock, and there are now few farms, of any extent, without a supply of it.
The Italian rye-grass, although valuable as an early grass, retains its powers of growth to a late period of the year, as many as four successive cuttings of it having been taken during one season. A patch of this grass, which had ripened its seeds, and was cut in November, on the 24th of December had attained a length of above a foot, notwithstanding some sharp frosts had intervened ; thus showing a superiority over any other grass in producing winter herbage.
If sown on wheat stubble immediately the corn is removed, say early in September, it will be fit for soiling in May, and yield nearly as good a crop as if it had been sown in the previous spring ; provided the land is dry and in good condition, and that the stubble has been well worked. A little manure at the time of
sowing, will be of great use in forwarding the growth and increasing the yield of the crop.
Doubts have heretofore been expressed as to the duration of the Italian rye-grass, but these no longer exist; and the best authorities are now agreed in considering, that it has fully established its character as a perennial plant. About three bushels of seed are required for the statute acre ; but it is necessary that the land should be well worked.
TARES, OR VETCHES.
Vetches, or Tares, are a valuable crop, for soiling and feeding cattle, which are fonder of them than clover, or any other green food : but when wet or foul, or too green and succulent, the stock fed on them are liable to violent colics, by eating too eagerly of this enticing food. To prevent this, the tares should be given in small quantities, and alternately with straw or hay. " When intended to be cut green for soiling, the seed sown should be at the rate of three bushels and a half per statute acre, and about a sixth or eighth part of oats or rye will be found a valuable addition to the crop. The seed should be put into the ground at intervals, from the end of March, to the end of May, so as to furnish successive cuttings for the soiling of the stock. The seed may be sown broadcast, or in drills, but the latter is always preferable ; and after being harrowed in, the ground should be rolled, to allow of the free use of the scythe. · Loams and strong soils, which are clean, dry, and in good condition, will produce good crops of vetches without manure, as will also light or poor soils, if well prepared. A good crop of vetches may be obtained after wheat, on fertile soils, and the land will be benefited thereby. On light soils, it is advisable to sow vetches after turnips or other manured crops, and then to sow wheat afterwards, by which two good crops will be obtained; whereas, by sowing the wheat after the turnips, the crop is not always better or more certain,
and the land would not afterwards produce vetches, without manure.
On land intended for turnips or rape, if it be too wet for winter vetches, sow the spring vetch in February or March, which can generally be gotten off in time for a succeeding crop. When vetches are intended for soiling, the land cannot be too rich and strong ; but light dry soils are most suitable, when the seed is intended to be saved.
Two ploughings are generally necessary for spring vetches—the first between Michaelmas and Christmas, and the second immediately before sowing: but care should be taken to clean the land before sowing, as it cannot be so well done afterwards.
The winter vetch is generally sown in September and October, and the first sowing ought to be made as early as circumstances will admit. Successive crops should be sown from the middle of August to the end of October, in such quantities as may be required, to keep up a regular and constant supply of green food for your cattle. There is an early variety of winter vetch, which, if sown in August or early in September, will be fit to cut about the 1st of May, when food is most scarce. This variety is said to yield good crops, and is worth looking after. 21 bushels of the vetch seed, and 1 bushel of rye, are sufficient for an acre.
The spring variety, if sown in January, in a warm sheltered situation, will generally be fit for cutting early in June, and may be followed by turnips. Other sowings may be made in February, the beginning and end of March, and the beginning of April. That sown in the early part of March will be fit for cutting the middle of July, and that sown at the end of March will be fit for cutting in August. The quantity of seed will depend upon the period of sowing, the nature of the land, and whether it is intended to soil the crop, or to save it for seed. When grown for soiling, a greater quantity is necessary than if the crop is to be saved for seed. Under ordinary circumstances, however, it may be said that from 12 to 14 stone, with about 4 stone of oats or rye, per statute acre, is sufficient for