Australia. Dept. of Agriculture New South Wales.

The agricultural gazette of New South Wales online

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slaking it combines with water, and slaked lime is a hydrate of lime. As its
hnction in the soil is principally mechanical, a test of its goodness lies in
the readiness and completeness with which it slakes. Both under-burnt and
OTer*bumt lime slake badly, though from different causes. The quantity
to be applied to the soil varies according to the character of the soil. Unlike
most 01 the manurial substances we shall have to consider, its action con-
sists in improving the character of the soil rather than in acting as a direct
plant-food. It is applied in quantities varying from half-a-ton to four tons
per acre every tax or seven years, — heavy clay lands requiring the larger
dressing. It is best to break it up into small lumps, and place it in heaps
about the field, covered with moist loam, leaving it exposed to the air and
moisture for a short time— say about twenty-four hours — ^until it begins to
crumble to powder. As soon as this happens, scatter the heaps with a shovel
as evenly as possible over the surface or the field, and harrow or plough in
Kghtly. Liming is most effectively done in the autumn or winter; but
whenever it is done, the land should be left alone for quite three weeks after
the annlication, and no seed should be sown, nor any nitrogenous manure
addea during that period.

The action of lime is in the first place a mechanical one, in altering the
texture of the soil and with it those properties which depend upon its
^oxture, such as its absorptive power for water, its amenability to tillage

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ice and Use of Artificial Manures.

nail Quantity of a heavy clay be mixed witli wat(
vill lorm a muddy liquid. If a little lime be a(
well shaken, it will be noticed that the solid ma
oose powder, and, in a short space of time if the ^
oil dried, it can be readily broken up by the fin,
3 to the power that the lime has of coagulating
.y, is identical with what taken place on the h
. to the field. The presence of lime also preventi
lay-Hoils undergo on drying, and which causes
on the parched clay-soil. The admixture of lin
ts the formation of a sticky mass when wet, ai
ince when dry.

the action of lime is also strikingly benefice
>f sand together, and increasing the cohesive
)il. Its action is in fact, exactly that of lime on i
B, only on a much modified scale, since for ma
are one part of lime to three or four parts of b
a ton of lime per acre represents one part of lin
and. The action of the lime is the same in
rbs carbonfc acid from the air, forming carbonal
particles of sand together, forming, in the ppoporl
, a hard compact mass, and in the case of the
88 and its power of retaining water. Lime, there
of clay soils, and increases that of sandy soils,
parently opposed to one another. In fact, there
il texture of which is not impvonped bj the add

ime is exactly the same m th»t of stone, or qi
ced, and it is ipeneraliy ppeferable to use the
r slaked, as reeomiaended above. Apaort from the al
[ime in improving the texture of the soil, it has
lOUgh this is not thoroughly imdezstood it mm]
ing headings r —

le free acids sometimes present in soils. Soor
at in such quantity as to be injurious to plant
?tened" by the application of lime, that is to say,
kcida are neutralised.

le inert organic matters in the soil and prom
i most active agents in the production of avail
le possible to have too muc1i oi a good thing, and ai
would tend to burn up the vegetable matt^ of the
I good, but in the moderate dressings above rec
beneficial even on land which has lately been gc
be forgotten also that the action due to caustic-j
Y rapidly converted into carbonate of lime within
action on organic matter. The ^
broying the organic matter of th

I insoluble mineral constitoeiitB
the case with potash, which bein
insoluble compounds such aa f<
Fhosphoric-acid also enters in
more readily utilised by the plaai
and alumina^ with which it is aa

J J.1 i»

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On the Choice amd Use qfArtyicial MatmreM. 421

FonrtUy, carbonate of lime (into whkh we Iia^e Beau tii« lime is soon
conyerted in the soil) ie beneficial, if not neceasaiy to the proeeas of nitrifi-
cation, the peculiar ferment action by wbich tbe inert soil-nitcogen is con-
yerted into nitratea.

Fif thij, whilst it promotes certain ferment action such as the above, it
binders the active growth of many fungoid diseases like rust and smut, and
is oftoi a core for such diieases.

Ctu%ona40 t^Ume^ or aa it is sometimes called '^nuid lime" is onbumed
Insaitone or shelU erushed. Its addition to the seil promotes fermentatiaii
and nitiifieatiofn, prevents chiy lands from pnddlme, and in short has mndi
te same action on the soil as lime has, except where socfa action depends,
upon the conversion of lime into carbonate. It is mihler in its action^ and as
a rule, burnt lime is to be preferred.

G^sum or plaster is also a substance that may be sometimes used to
advantage. Its action consists almost solely in setting free potash, hence it
is most useful on soils rich in potash, and for such crops as clover it is of
especial service. It is best applied moist or in wet weather at the rate of 2
to 3 cwt. per acre. Gypsum is also often used as a ^* fixer," that is to say,
when added to dung or urine or decaying animal and vegetable matter it
decomposes the carbonate of ammonia which is being continually evolved
from such substance and converts it into sulphate of ammonia, in which
form ammonia does not escape into the arr. Ir a heap of dung from which
the odour of ammonia is perceptible be mixed with a few shovelsf uU of moist
gypsum, the smell will be found to have disappeared, in other words the
ammonia is " fixed" and its loss prevented.

Mamires Gantaining Phosphoric Acid.

Phosphoric acid is applied to the soil almost exclusively in the form of
phosphate of lime, and its sources are bones, rock -phosphates, and guanos.
In the apparent absence of any largo quantities of phosphatic rocks in our
continent, we are principally dependent for our supply of phosphate of lime
on the bones of animals. Bones vary very slightly in composition from
wluBtever source they are drawn, or from whatever part of the animal they
we taken, though as a rule the thigh-bones and the bones that have to bear
t^e greatest mechanical strain, afre the richest in phosphate of lime. Bones
MB composed chemically of water, ossein or collagen, fat and mineral saltcr.
The last-named, which are left behind as ash when the bones are burnt,
consist principally of phosphate of lime. Bone-ash contains about 88 per
oent. of this substance, together with about 10 per cent, carbonate of lime,
s&d in much smaller quantities magnesium compounds, and fluoride and
chloride of calcium.

The ossein of the bones is the substance which is converted into gelatine
hy boiling with water, and is an albumenoid containing about 16 per cent,
iiitrogen. Bones are therefore a nitrogenous as well as a phosphatic
iBanuie. An average samj^e reduced to powder as bone-mea!, containa about
45 per ceot. phospittte of lime, and a trifle undmr 4 per cent mtrogen.

MUfis are used in a variety of ways. They may be used whole^ or bvoheii,
or redueed to powder (as bone-meal^ bone^diist, or greund bones), they may
be boiled^ or steamed, or fermented ; calcined (bone^aBh)^ ehaorred (bone-
bbfik), or oonvertediato superphosphate^

We will now see how ihMe difbieut methods ef treatment afbct their
composition and action.

Digitized by


422 On the Choice and Use of Artificial Manures.

When simply broken or cruBhed their chemical composition is, of course,
unaltered, and the principal advantage derived from their finer mechanical
condition is the greater rapidity of their action. Whole bones resist decom-

Sosition within the soil for a considerable length of time, and it is very
oubtful if their use is in any sense economical. In fact, as the object of
artificial manuring is to feed the crop rather than the soil, it is doubtful
whether slow-actmg manures are in any case economical. The case of lime,
which we have just considered, stands on a different footing. Lime is seldom
anplied as a direct plant-food. Its action is practically confined to the soiL
The substances we have now to consider are valuable only when they are
available as plant-food ; they produce little or no permanent benefit to the
soil, and if their decomposition is slow the plant receives its nourishment in
snudl driblets, inadequate to its needs.

Bones are therefore most efficacious when crushed, and within certain
limits, the finer the powder the better the product as a manure. An addi-
tional advantage of fineness of division lies in the ease and evenness with
which it can be distributed on tbe land, or mixed with other manures.

Bone-meal is decomposed in the earth, the nitrogen in the ossein being
converted by putrefaction into ammonia, and the phosphate of lime rendered
soluble by the action of carbonic acid and the vegetable acids. It is
particularly suited to turnips and root-crops generally, grass, tobacco, fruit-
trees, and in fact is a manure of almost universal application. It is applied
at the rate of from 3 to 5 cwt. per acre, and if mixed with a manure contaming
potash, forms a complete manure, and is an excellent substitute for stable
manure. It is more particularly adapted to light soils, and is sometimes
disappointing on heavy clays, the probable reason for which is that in stiff
clay soils it is more or less protected from putrefaction (which we have seen
is the cause of its efficacy) by the absence of air and moisture.

Boiled or steamed bones or bone-meal.

When bones or bone-meal are boiled, and more effectually when tbey are
subjected to steam, the ossein of the bone is gelatinized, and more or less
removed, whilst the fat is also removed, the resulting compound being there-
fore poorer in nitrogen, but richer in phosphoric acid. The treatment
renders them more fnable, and they are easily reduced to fine powder. The
removal of the fatty matter also renders them more easily decomposed in
the soil, as fresh bones are more or less protected'f rom external action by ihe
presence of the fat. The proportion of phosphoric acid is therefore not
only increased, but its rapidity of action and consequent effectiveness as a
manure is increased, at the expense of course of the nitrogen, which may
be reduced 1 or 2 per cent., as the accompanying table will show : —

Fermented Bones,

Bones may be decomposed and rendered more active by mixing them with
about one-fourth of their weight of clay, and keeping the heap moist with
stable-liquor or urine. The heap should be protected from rain. By this
process also there is a loss of nitrogen, but the phosphate is rendered more
readily available and proportionately increased. This is a method that
deserves to be made use of where bones are plenty, and there is no means
of reducing them to powder. Thirty to forty bushels per acre is the pro-
portion recommended for grass lands.

Digitized by

Google I

On the Choice and Use of Artificial Manures. 423

Bone-ash, — The residue left after tbe calcination of bones consists, as wo
have seen, mainly of phosphate of lime, and contains no nitrogen. It is not
largely used as a manure, its principal application being in tbe manufacture
of superpbospbate. It is dissolved in tne soil by carbonic acid, and con-
Teyed thus directly to tbe plant.

Bane-black is tbe product of charring bones. Tbe broken bones are sub-
jected to strong heat in closed iron cylinders, whereby they are converted
into bone-charcoal, on exactly the same principle that wood is converted
into wood-charcoal. The volatile matter of the bones is driven off in the
form of gas, water, oil, and tar, and the carbon present is for the most part
left mixed as charcoal with the mineral matter of the bones. This product
is largely used by sugar-refiners for removing the colouring matter from
raw syrups. After it has been used for this purpose a certain number of
times, it becomes unserviceable, and can be obtained at a cheap rate for
manurial purposes. It may be axjplied directly to the soil as a phosphatic
manure, or better converted into superphosphate by treatment with acid.
This substance is the basis of the manures manufactured by the Colonial
Sugar Company.

Bone-black by itself is a purely phosphatic manure, containing only a very
small proportion of nitrogen. The charcoal present has no fertilising value,
and it is slightly poorer in phosphate of lime than bone-ash. It is, however,
worthy of c onsideration as a manure on account of the low price at which it
can be obtained.

The following table shows the alteration in composition which bones
undergo when subjected to the above methods of treatment. The analyses
are for the most part taken from G-riffiths' work on manures, and are not
analyses of the same sample, but represent fairly the composition of the
several products. The analyses of bone-black was kindly supplied by
Mr. Walton of the Sugar Company, and represents their " char, after it
lias been used for the purposes of refining.


Boiled S^^^


uh. ,




•Organic matter, includ-
ing 10% carbon in the
case of charcoal

Calcium phosphate ...

Calcium carbonate alka-
lies, &c













8 02










100- 1 100-




•Containing nitrogen ...


1-76 1 1-60


07 1 0-7

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Digitized by


Chemical Notes. 425

I Talaable manurial anbstance we have got here. In addition to their direct
action as plant-food, wood-ashes act beneficially in improving the quality of stifE
day-lands, and equally so in binding light sandy soils. In fact, they benefit
Ae soil mechanically exactly in the same way that lime does. Avith the
exception of nitrogen which, of course, has been burnt off, thej contain all
the ingredients of a complete manure, and in a particularly serviceable form.
It might, therefore, be expected that the addition of a nitrogenous manure
would make a complete manure of them. But such addition must be made
wif^ great caution, as the presence of free lime and alkalies in the wood-
Mhefl are liable to decompose the nitrogen in such a mixture, driving it ofF
in the form of ammonia, the smell of which will be apparent when sulphate
of ammonium and wood-ashes are mixed together.

The ash of young wood is especially rich in potash, and generally
speaking, the ash of young and small wood, as young boughs, twigs, &c., is
more valuable than that obtained from the trunk or heart of an old tree.
The following are the best methods of utilising wood-ashes : —
They may be used alone as a top-dressing to grass and pasture, and
for leguminous plants, but they are of benefit to nearly all crops, potatoes
and roots, fruit and vines, being specially benefited. They are applied at the
rate of from 25 to 30 bushels per acre.

A mixture of wood-ashes and bone-meal in the proportion of 5 cwt. bone-
meal to 25 bushels ashes is said to be an excellent substitute for farmyard
numure. Such a mixture should be made as it is required, and not kept mixed.
Instead of mixing superphosphate with loam or earth when applying it to
the land, it may be advantageously mixed with three or four times its weight
of wood-ashes. But the best way of utilising wood-ashes is the compost-

The best material with which to compost it is undoubtedly peat, but other
decayed or decaying vegetable matter is nearly as good, such as straw, old
Wes, twigs, and refuse of this sort generally. Such substances are
fennented by the action of wood-ashes and their nitrogen rendered available.
The most convenient from of the compost-heap will vary on different farms,
wd the subject is so wide and important that it will bo more properly
discussed in a chapter to itself. On farms where the compost-heap is an
institution, it should not be forgotten that the addition of wood-ashes forms
the best method of utilising this product and improves the value of the
compost-heap. Where such a system of utilization of waste matter is not
pnuiised, the following method of composting ashes will be found useful : —
Hake a heap of alternate layers of peat or peaty loam, or vegetable refuse
and wood-aahes, or make a hole and fill it with these substances in alternate
layers, moisten the heap with urine or slop-water, and allow to ferment for a
few months, when it may be turned over. The addition of stable-manure,
dung, and in fact all refuse-matter of the farm will benefit such a heap,
which may be thus made the means of utilising a great deal of valuable
fertilising material which would otherwise be thrown away.

The aoove remarks apply to unleached ashes, such as are obtained from the
burning of timber.

leached ashes contain practically little but lime and carbonate of lime, as
the potash and phosphoric acid are for the most part leached out. Their use
wid action are similar to those described under the heading of carbonate of
lime. They may be sometimes economically used instead of this substance,
hut in no case will the farmer derive any benefit from leaching his own ashes.

Digitized by



Chemical Notes.

Australian Honey.

The following notes on the constitution of a few
honey and of honey obtained from well known ap
interest to bee-keepers.

Of five samples of commercial honey examined, i
adulterated with starch, syrup — or glucose. The f
polarimeter readings and the percentage of glucose, ^



1. Commercial (adulterated) ...





2. Commercial (adulterated) ...

...! 21-33


+ 142

3. Commercial (adulterated) ...

... 19-50


+ 130

4. Commercial

... 210



5. Commercial

... 2618



C. Honey from apiary of Mr.
H. Moore (Singleton).





7. Mr. Walker (Tenterfield), bees
on white clover.




— 9^1

8. Mr. W. Abram (Beecroft), bees fed
on mixed flowen.




9. Mr. AV. Abram (Beecroft), bees
on orange blossom.


26 33



10. Mr. A. E. Taylor (Cowra)...





11. Mr. Worrell (Baulkham HiUs)





The pohirimeter readings were always taken at the same t
inTer»ion and the temperature is taken into account in t]
the second table.

At the risk of introducing technical terms I will b:
of some of these observations. This will save time
will enable those who care to follow this work to un(
the subject.

Honey consists principally of a mixture of two suga
A solution of dextrose observed in the polarimeter ro
the right, levulose to the left. Levulose, however, tun
far to the left as dextrose does to the right, consequer
equal parts of these sugars will exhibit a left-handei

Digitized by


Chemical Notes. 427

handed orlevo-rotation will be observed if there is any considerable quantity of
Jeyiilose present. Now, cane-sugar is also a somewhat doubtful constituent
of honey. This substance is strongly dextro-rotatory ; but after inversion,
that is, after having been boiled with acids for a certain time, it is converted
into a mixture of dextrose and levulose in nearly equal proportions, and
becomes in consequence levo-rotatory. Hence, in comparing the figures in
colunms 3 and 4 in the above table, any increase in tne angle towards the
left is attributed to the inversion of cane-sugar, and any adulteration with
cane-sugar may be detected by this means.

Our knowledge of the composition of honey is very unsatisfactory ; but it
is reasonable to suppose that it consists essentially of these two sugars,
dextrose and levulose, together with a very variable proportion of cane-sugar,
and of 1 to 4 per cent, of substances whose nature is unknown.

The most reliable observations of pure honey would seem to establish the
fact that pure honey, except under exceptional circumstances, is levo-rotatory.
and it will be seen that all the honeys in the above table of known origin are
levo-rotatory. Now, the substances with which honey is most likely to be
adulterated are starch-syrup or cane-sugar. Glucose obtained from starch
exhibits a strong right-handed rotation, consisting as it does of maltose, and
dextrin. Cane-sugar we have seen is also dextro-rotatory, consequently we
may regard a honey exhibiting a strong right-handed rotation as having
received the addition of one of these substances. One other technical point
and I have done. The sugars, dextrose and levulose, have the power of
reducing alkaline solutions of copper. This gives rise to the figures in column
5, which give the total percentages of these sugars. Maltose possesses this
power to a less degree and dextrin not at all. After inversion for throe
hours at 100** C. (see column 6), dextrin and maltose are converted com-
pletely into dextrose, and hence the higher percentage of glucose in column
6 is due to the presence of dextrin and maltose.

If we now examine our table in the light of the above data, we notice that
the first three honeys all show a strong dextro-rotatory reading. They all,
moreover, yield a precipitate of dextrin on the addition of alcohol. * The
high-reading of No. 3 excludes the possibility of there being any levulose
present. It is simply starch-syrup or American glucose, with a slight
flavouring of honey. Nos. 1 and 2 probably contain genuine honey, to<;ether
with a considerable addition of starch-syrup. The composition both of pure
honey and of starch-syrup are so variable that it is not easy to state dogmati-
cally the amount of such admixture which in the case of No. 1 is probably
considerably over 20 per cent., and in No. 2 over 10 per cent.

The above facts suggest the probability that the bulk of the so-called
honey in the market is largely adulterated, and it is to be hoped that the bee-
teepers of New South Wales will be able to see their way to protect themselves
against such practices.

The remaining honeys, Nos. 4 and 5, give the same readings as genuine
honey, and there is no reason to doubt their genuineness. No. 5 has
granulated (dextrose has crystallized out), which is an additional indication
of its purity. No. 4 is somewhat more strongly levo-rotatory than the
samples of genuine honey, but not strikingly so, and is not unlike Mr.
Taylor's honey. If invert-sugar is used as an adulterant, the reading will
he more strongly levo-rotatory ; but as honey is to all intents an invert-sugar,
the estimation of this substance would be a very difficult matter in the

Kaent state of our knowledge, provided the mixer were ordinarily judicious,
e higher price of invert-sugar fortunately renders its use extremely

Digitized by



Chemical Notes.

The following table shows the approximate composition of the gem
loneys examined, including the two commercial samples, and are calcul
rom the readings given abore, on the assumption that honey consists ma
if dextrose and levulose, with cane-sugar.

Percentage composition of genuine honeys.

at 110' C.





No. 4







No. 5







No. 6

23 02






No. 7







No. 8






No. 9






No. 10







No. 11







None of these honeys gave any indication of dextrin by the test applied, and
rere all granulated or have granulated on keeping. I have to express my indebtednc
Ar. Helms for the samples of genuine honey, obtained *>>rrtiiflrTi fK« nr^iiffaaxr n
[entlemen named ; and to Messrs. Walton and Steel, of
company, for several useful hints as to working and calculi

Digitized by


Report on Diseased Animals and Meat Act,- 429

Report on tl]e Adnjinistratioij of Diseased
Ai)in)als ai]d Meat Act.

The Under Secretary for Finance and Trade, —

Online LibraryAustralia. Dept. of Agriculture New South WalesThe agricultural gazette of New South Wales → online text (page 53 of 118)