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sowing it with grass-seeds; and before any other crop is sown, a top-dressing of chalk should be applied. In the spring following, the folding of sheep must be in active operation on the land, and then a crop of turnips should be taken, all the other processes following, as before described. The brushwood, fern, furze, &c., collected from the surface, should be burned in May or June, and the ashes sown as a top-dressing with the turnips.
IMPROVEMENT OF CLAY LAND.
The mode of improving clay land scarcely admits of a brief explanation, for the clays vary so much in quality in different districts, and are so full of peculiarities, that portions even of the same field sometimes require to be treated differently. The great leading rules can therefore only be noticed here, leaving it to experience in each locality to govern the mode of their application.
The first object in the improvement of clay lands must be, to effect a perfect drainage of the soil, by carrying off the surface-water, and also the water held in suspension as it were in different strata in the clay, and which is derived from springs, that fill the land in their descent from adjoining heights.
After a complete drainage has been effected, the land should be subsoiled and exposed to a winter's frost, and a summer's sun to open its pores and meliorate its tenacity; and then it should be sown with tares, to be fed off by sheep folded thereon, as the weather and the state of the land may permit. The plough should follow the fold as quickly as possible, and a crop of wheat may then be taken. Lime, if it can be procured, will probably be the best dressing for the wheat crop; but sea-sand, peat-earth, ashes, or chalk, may answer, and the selection of the manure must be left in each case to the judgment of the farmer, according to local circumstances. A crop of turnips should follow the wheat, to be fed off by sheep, and then a crop of beans, to be followed by oats and seeds.
Great care ought to be taken not to tread clay land when it is wet, and every means should be adopted to keep its pores open, and to loosen and lighten its texture as much as possible. In very dry weather, however, care must be taken to keep the soil compact, an excess of brittleness being nearly as bad as an excess of tenacity in clay lands. With due attention and judicious management, such lands are capable of being rendered highly productive, and will well repay the labour and care bestowed upon them by the farmer.
RECLAIMING OF WASTE LAND.
If the land to be reclaimed is cold, wet, stony, or gravelly, with a shallow subsoil, as is frequently the case, it should be first trenched to the depth of 15 inches, keeping the better sorts of soil uppermost, and throwing the stones on the top. A less depth than 15 inches will not be sufficient-less has often been tried, and the land has turned out thin, poor, and springy, thus throwing away the outlay incurred, whilst an additional depth of four or five inches would have rendered the undertaking successful.
Any poor shallow soil, which may have been cultivated for years with little profit, will be greatly improved by breaking up and loosening the hard subsoil; and the reason of this is plain-the rain penetrates the earth until it arrives at the firm unbroken crust of subsoil which prevents its escaping, and the water being thus retained, it keeps all that is above it wet, cold, and unprofitable. The deeper, therefore, that this hard crust of subsoil is placed below the active soil, the better will be the yield; and hence it follows, that deep soils are always more productive than those which are shallow.
It is on this account necessary to cut through the hard stratum, commonly found at the bottom of the surface-soil of inferior lands, either by deep trenching, or by subsoil-ploughing. Where this is not effectually done, the farmer will have to complain of cold land and bad crops, and of the necessity of ma
nuring more frequently than his neighbours; the cause of which is, that the hard crust of subsoil prevents the escape of the rain-water, and keeps the soil wet and cold; but if this crust were broken up, the land would become dry and fertile. Yet how many instances are there in which nothing has been done to break up the subsoil, and thus to give a greater depth for cultivation, although complaints are constantly made about the poverty and thinness of the soil.
When the land is trenched, the stones should lie upon the surface for a season, to consolidate the earth, and rot the turf that has been turned down. They should then be taken off; the smaller ones for under drains, and the larger may be used to make a fence round the field. If any of the stones are too large to be removed, they may be readily broken into pieces, by first digging around and under them, and then lighting a fire on the top, when there is wind enough to make it burn briskly, and blow away the ashes; by this means they will, in a short time, crack and fall to pieces. Large stones may be broken in this way, at small labour and expense. The land must afterwards be formed into regular ridges, 18 feet broad, with small furrows between each, so formed as to have a gradual fall, and that the surfacewater may run gently off, without cutting and carrying away the soil.
In spring, the land thus prepared may be planted with potatoes, after which a compost of earth, peat, sand, lime, or marl may be laid on as a top-dressing, and it should then be sown with oats. The third year it may be dunged, and planted with potatoes again, or be sown with turnips or mangel-wurzel, followed by barley and grass-seeds, after which it may come into the regular rotation, and will be nearly as good as land originally of a more fertile character.
Bog, peat, or moss land, contains more vegetable matter than any other, and becomes highly productive when properly treated.
In reclaiming bog, and coarse wet broken land, the first object is to attend to the drainage and get rid of all superfluous water, after which you must bring the surface to a level, by throwing the rough heights into the holes and crooked water-courses, and forming the whole into ridges 18 feet in breadth, leaving a cut about a foot deep between the ridges, which must be slightly raised at the centres, to allow the surface-water to run off. If there is more of the rubbishy turf than is required for filling up the holes and hollows, it should be formed into heaps, and when dry, burned to ashes for manure. The black bog yields a large quantity of valuable ashes, and may be thus profitably burned : but the red bog is softer and more spongy, and yields scarcely any ashes, and these so light and volatile that the least breath of wind disperses them.
Paring and burning land is generally disapproved of by agriculturists, but with respect to bog and peaty soil, all the heath, fog, and coarse grasses, together with the surface, to the depth of five or six inches, may profitably be burned for manure. When burned, the ashes should be kept in heaps, and protected from the weather by a covering of sods, until it is regularly spread when the land is cropped.
Lime, marl, and sea-sand always improve bog, moss, and cold wet lands, by mingling with and decomposing the coarse sour vegetable matter with which such soils abound, and rendering the land more solid and productive : but no moss land can be considered thoroughly reclaimed, until it has had a coating of clay, gravel, loam, or some kind of earth, to the depth of from three to six inches, with a dressing of lime or sand, and until sufficient drainage has been provided to carry off the surplus moisture.
In spring, the land prepared as above may be planted with potatoes, dibbled in; and oats may be sown the following spring, with or without manure, according to the condition of the soil. The next crop should be turnips, potatoes, or mangel-wurzel, manured again with sand, marl, or lime, if possible ; and then barley with grass-seeds, rolling it well afterwards. This will next year give a sward of grass, which, at the end of summer, may be cut for hay, or it may be pastured by sheep or calves, heavy cattle being kept off, as they would be apt to poach the ground. After two years' grass, oats may again be sown, followed by potatoes or turnips, manured ; and the land will then be fit for any purpose, if kept free from water, and liberally supplied with manure.
In reclaiming any great extent of waste land, it ought to be divided into the number of fields best suited for the size of the farm, and the regular rotation of crops. The enclosures should all be square ; for it has been found that in square fields, five ploughs will do as much work as six when the sides are irregular; and there is also less waste ground in the borders.
DRAINING. Draining is one of the most important, as well as one of the most necessary operations in agriculture; and, when properly conducted, it is uniformly followed by beneficial results.
A certain indication of the want of draining in arable land, is where the crop grows strong on the summit of the ridges, but weak and thin at the sides, and little or none in the furrows. Whenever this is observed, no time should be lost in setting about draining the land, without which it will never produce good crops. No labour and expense in working and manuring the soil, can possibly yield a remunerative return to the farmer, until the land is relieved from the excess of moisture which these appearances indicate. Until this is done, the application of manure in any shape will be useless, for its fertilizing qualities will be immediately diluted and destroyed.
The effect is the same, whether the moisture arises from springs below, or from the atmosphere above; and the excess must in either case be removed by draining, before the land will be capable of yielding a due return for the labour and manure bestowed upon it.
If any springs appear, they must be kept from the surface by cutting an under-drain, of sufficient depth to intercept them, where the wet appears, and filling for