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decidedly acid with litmus paper as those of the Hungarian
grass.

Although in these experiments the strong chemical affinity
of the alkaline carbonate of ammonia may have caused the
exosmose of more of the dissolved acids of the plant-sap than
would pass out into any ordinary soil, and may have even ex-
erted some decomposing action on the soft tissues or the fluids
of the plants themselves, yet they are not without some value
as indicating how, possibly, the plant may form a special solu-
tion, different probably for different species, in the immediate

vicinity of the rootlets, of mineral substances in the soil which
432



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX. 87

may be insoluble in the ordinary surface waters. Researches
into the nature of the special soil solvents of different plants
may aid the practical farmer in the selection of crops in an
ameliorating rotation, as it seems highly probable that some
kinds of vegetables can exert a more powerful decomposing
action on the silicates of the soil than others.

433



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX.



TABLE I. SOILS, SUBSOILS, UNDER-CLAYS, &c., DRIED AT 212 F.


Remarks.


PS . .
1 "' * 1 I *

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434



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX.



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Black sandy soil, prairie, in cultivatio
Black waxy soil, prairie land.
Black waxy soil, prairie land, in corn.



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HOOO



435



90



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX.



Remarks.


Mining Citv Coal B'k. newop'ng. Mud Cr'k.
Cane Cr'k Mine, new op'g, n'r Hun'w'l Fur.
Same 'ocality (sample 2).
Same locality (sample 3).
Marshall Moran's Bank, Big Hill.


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Light lilac-grey . .
Light yellowish-grey


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Remarks.


From Hall's patch drift.
From Skillian Bank.
From one mile south of Centre Furnace.


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436



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX.



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Remarks.


No. i, foundry iron, Centre Furnace.
No. 2, foundry iron. Centre Furnace.
No 3, mill iron, Centre Furnace.
Mill iron, Trigg Furnace
Silver-grey iron, Trigg Furnace


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437



9 2



CHEMICAL REPORT APPENDIX.







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438



GEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF KENTUCKY

N. S. SHALER, DIRECTOR.



CHEMICAL EXAMINATION



OF THE ASHES OF THE



HEMP AND BUCKWHEAT PLANTS,



WITH REMARKS ON ITS BEARING ON



HEMP CULTURE IN KENTUCKY.

BY ROBERT PETER, M. D., ETC., ETC.,

CHEMIST TO THE SURVEY.



439



CHEMICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ASHES OF
THE HEMP AND BUCKWHEAT PLANTS, &c.



The hemp crop is of considerable importance in Kentucky
agriculture, more especially in the richer portion, called the
Blue Grass region, where the soil has been formed by the dis-
integration of the fissile layers of the lower Silurian lime-
stone rich in the mineral elements of plant nourishment.

According to the State Auditor's report, the gross amount
of hemp fibre produced in our State was 18,981,819 pounds
in 1872, and 21,375,306 pounds in the more productive, moist
season of 1873.

Of this latter quantity seventeen counties, situated wholly
or in part in the Blue Grass region, produced 21,194,445
pounds, and the five counties of Bourbon, Fayette, Jessamine,
Scott, and Woodford produced 17,951,350 pounds. Mason
county, the next in this industry, having also raised 828,300
pounds. It is, therefore, evidently a crop which is believed to
be profitable only on our richest lands. The soil which best
suits it is the rich, pervious, and well-drained loam, well
charged with humus or the dark mould resulting from veg-
etable decomposition, such as results from the completely
decomposed sod of recently cleared woodland pastures, or
blue grass or clover ground, well plowed and made thorough-
ly fine and uniform in texture. Such land, in a favorable
season, has been known to produce as much as 1,200 pounds
of hemp to the acre, and it will yield an average of about 800
pounds for ten to fifteen years in succession, if properly man-
aged, in ordinary seasons. As the price of hemp rarely falls
below one hundred dollars per ton of 2,240 pounds, and this
crop usually brings in cash, the great value of this industry is
evident.

VOL. I.-CHEM. 29. 44! .



4 CHEMICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ASHES OF

The hemp plant, under favorable conditions, is of most rank
and luxuriant growth, attaining on our rich lands a height of
ten to fourteen feet in favorable seasons, even when sown so
thick, as is the practice, that it is closely crowded, and so com-
pletely covers the ground that not a weed can grow amongst
it. It therefore requires a soil which can readily and quickly
furnish to it the mineral elements necessary to its rank and
rapid development, and at the same time furnish the large
supply of moisture it requires without losing that highly
porous condition and absorbing power which invites the pen-
etration of the gases and vapors of the atmosphere, on which
this plant is so greatly dependent for nourishment and growth.

The well-drained loam of this Blue Grass region, which is
charged with black vegetable mould or humus, offers these con-
ditions ; the humus not only having great power of absorption,
but containing in a soluble and available state the mineral
elements of plant nourishment, and, moreover, acting as a sol-
vent for those which are contained in the earthy constituents
of the soil itself. We can therefore readily understand why
the hemp plant thrives upon such land ; but why so luxuriant
a growth can be maintained on the same surface for ten to
fifteen years in succession, without any material exhaustion of
the soil, is another question.

The observing hemp farmer has long since arrived at a cor-
rect conclusion in this respect. He saw that while this most
luxuriant plant produced an immense green crop, and required
the richest soil to supply its rapid demand for nourishment
during its short season of growth (of four months only), yet
all its leaves and other green tissues, together with all that is
removed from it in the process of dew-rotting, in the ordinary
mode of hemp culture, are restored to the soil which produced
it, and nothing is sold and carried off from the land but the
cleaned hemp fibre, which, if well cleaned, contains very little
but atmospheric elements, the removal of which can therefore
cause but very little deterioration of the soil.

Moreover, during a great part of the year the ground is

more or less shaded and protected, first by the growing plant,
442



THE HEMP AND BUCKWHEAT PLANTS, &C. 5

then by the roots left in the ground after cutting, which some-
what diminish the washing action of rains and improve it in
their gradual decay, as do also the leaves which fall and the
hemp when spread on the ground to dry, after being cut, and
lastly, when it is spread out upon it in the winter process of
dew-rotting, as it is called, during which all the readily decom
posable parts of the plant are washed out and decomposed by
the rains and dews and the action of the air; enriching the
surface soil beneath.

Managed in this way, and commencing with suitable rich
land, the scientific observer understands, that although the
growing plants may temporarily draw heavily on the soil for
the mineral (earthy) ingredients necessary to their growth,
amongst the most important of which are potash and the
earthy phosphates, yet in the subsequent processes, the most
of these are returned to the ground again in the decay of the
leaves and other green parts, and in the soluble and decom-
posable matters which are leached out of the stems in the pro-
cess of rotting; and that any small loss of these from the
arable surface which may occur from the sale of the hemp
fibre may be more than compensated by the action of the
tap-roots in bringing them up from the lower strata of the
ground. He understands further, that all the mineral ele-
ments thus restored, being left in organic combination in what
is termed the humus or vegetable mould which results from
this decay, are in a very soluble condition, and most available
for the quick nourishment of the subsequent crop.

If the hemp plant, instead of being dew-rotted on the
ground on which it had been grown, is entirely removed from
it and submitted to the process of water-rotting, the culture
becomes eminently exhausting to the land ; mainly because
so much of the elements of fertility is necessarily carried off
in the water used. This was proved many years ago in rela-
tion to the flax crop of Ireland, in the chemical analyses of
the water in which the flax had been steeped, and of the plant
and the lint, by Dr. Kane ; and experience to a certain extent
in this region, in the water-rotting of hemp, has given the

443



6 CHEMICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ASHES OF

same result. It is, perhaps, fortunate for our farmers, there-
fore, that this process, although several times proposed to
them, has never been received with much favor.

The foregoing facts being of common experience, the writer
desired, by the chemical examination of the mineral or earthy
constituents of the hemp plant, as given in the ash in different
periods and conditions of its growth, in different parts of the
plant, and the various stages of its preparation, to study more
fully the relations of this crop to the soil, and to understand,
if possible, the true reasons why it is not an exhausting pro-
duct when properly managed, as well as to learn the best con-
ditions for its successful culture.

The first step in this investigation is to ascertain the aver-
age composition of the mineral ingredients of the entire hemp
plant as given by the chemical analysis of its ashes ; and as
the works accessible to the writer give but very limited inform-
ation on the subject, he procured from his own farm, and sub-
mitted to this analysis, five different samples, produced in two
different seasons, grown under different conditions, and col-
lected in different stages of their growth. The ashes of
these, obtained by careful incineration at a moderate heat,
were analyzed by the approved processes several compara-
tive analyses of the same ash having been made to secure
greater accuracy and the results are tabulated below in com-
parison with the average of two hemp-ash analyses published
in 1865 by Professor Emil Wolff, of the Royal Academy of
Agriculture, at Hohenheim, Wirtemberg, which are repub-
lished in the Appendix, page 378, of "How Crops Grow," by
S. W. Johnson.

The samples examined may be described as follows :

Sample A, Entire hemp plants, including roots, leaves, &c. ;
collected on September 4th, 1874, when fully mature and
ready for cutting; grown on somewhat elevated, very rich
ground, the second year only from the broken up blue grass
sod of woodland pasture, which had not been previously
cleared or cultivated within the memory of the present race,

444



THE HEMP AND BUCKWHEAT PLANTS, &C. 7

but which had been the site of a large circular earth-work*
by the ancient mound-builders, and which seemed to have
been enriched by a long residence upon it of these prehistoric
people. The sample, notwithstanding the great fertility of
the land, was very small, in consequence of a continued droiiglit
which prevailed during tlu season of its growth, it not being
more than six to seven feet in height.

Sample B. Mature hemp plants, taken as it is usually cut, the
roots and a small portion of the stems being left in the ground,
and having only the top leaves, the others having fallen ; col-
lected September, 1873; grown on the field described above
in a very moist and favorable season, so that it was very tall
and large stemmed. The samples were about twelve feet
high. Some hemp plants this year attained a height of four-
teen feet.

Sample C. Six hemp plants entire, leaves, roots, and all ;
collected, before full maturity, on July 27th, 1874, from the
same rich field, in the very dry season. The plants were about
six feet high, and were in full leaf and in flower.

Sample D. Entire hemp plants, including roots, leaves, and
immature seeds ; grown on the experimental field selected by
my son, Benj. D. Peter, f for practical experiments in hemp
culture. This ground had been long in cultivation at least
fifty years. This sample was grown on lot 3, to which aboiit
200 pounds of plaster had been applied early in the growing
season. The sample was collected on September 8th, 1874.
The plants were quite small, not more than from five to six
feet high, in consequence of the continued drought of this
season and the condition of the land.

Sample E. Similar to sample D ; grown on the neighboring
lot 4, of this experimental field, under similar conditions, ex-
cept that no plaster or any other fertilizer was applied to this lot.
A part of this lot 4, however, where a fence row formerly
stood, happened to be somewhat richer than any part of this

.* Fully described in Collins' History of Kentucky.
tSee Prof. N. S. Shaler's Report.

445



CHEMICAL EXAMINATION OE THE ASHES OF



or the plastered lot, as shown by the greater luxuriance of the
growth of the hemp in that part.

F. The average of the analyses of the ashes of two entire
hemp plants as given by Prof. Emil Wolff, as above stated.

In this table, as well as in the following ones, the carbonic
acid of the ash is excluded in the calculations, for more com-
plete comparison of the proportions of the essential mineral
ingredients of the ash.

TABLE I. A. OF THE CHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF THE ASH OF THE
ENTIRE HEMP PLANT, CALCULATED IN 100 PARTS OF THE ASH, WITH
EXCLUSION OF CARBONIC ACID.





A.


B.


c.


D.


E.


F.


Lime ....


78 4.82


-31 2QQ


48 689


CG 6 'i


AC. ^67




Magnesia


8 558


6 017


6.441;


8.576


I I 225


o 6


Potash


77.4.7C


4.? .7-20


29. i 18


27 . C [Q


2"? Qt\\


18 T.


Soda . . . . ...


^78


1 4.^8


i .280


47^


OO9




Phosphoric acid ... . .


8 667


HI 6j.


JO 784.


1 1 721


17 211


ii 6


Sulphuric acid


2.272


I .622


.040


I .4-72


I 4.45


2 8


Chlorine


.984


.522


.640


. ^OI


.27"?


2. 5


Silica


1.181


I . iqq


2.740


7 . 7l6


1.T.A.2


76
















Per cent, of earthy phosphates . .


18.186


29-773


21 .692


28.460


27.427


....


Per cent, of ash to the air-dried
plants, carbonic acid excluded .


4.223


2.563


5-055


4.126


4.203


4-6


Per centage of ash, carbonic acid
included


5.^60


7.-2C7


6.754


5.288


5.^46



















This table shows some notable differences in the ash pro-
portions and composition. For example, sample B, grown in
the moist season, as compared with the others grown during
the drought, gave a smaller ash per centage to the dried
plants ; its ash contains smaller proportions of lime, magnesia,
and silica, and larger proportions of potash, soda, and phos-
phoric acid.

The immature sample C, gathered in July, as compared
with the other samples (A, D, and E) of the same dry season,
which were gathered in September, shows a larger per cent-
age of ash to the dried plants.
446



THE HEMP AND BUCKWHEAT PLANTS, &C.



The samples D and E, grown on the old land, while they
give about the same average of ash to the dried plants, show
a smaller proportion of potash.

Not much importance is attached to the proportion of silica,
which is evidently stated much too high in the analyses quoted
by Wolff. The hemp plant, being somewhat viscid on its ex-
terior, always has more or less fine silicious dust adhering to
it, derived from the soil, which cannot be removed by wash-
ing the plants. This the writer attempted to exclude, in his
analyses, by dissolving the ash in diluted acid (nitric or chloro-
hydric), and excluding all that remained undissolved as most
probably fine earth accidentally adhering to the plant. This
may, in some cases, be a slight cause of error, but probably
not so great as the retention and analysis of the adhering
fine dirt with the plant ash, which seems to have been done
in the analyses quoted by Wolff. For the same reason the
alumina and iron oxide were also excluded.

The real significance of these differences of proportion and
composition of these ashes can better be seen where the com-
parison is made with the proportions of the dried plants them-
selves to the several ingredients of the ash, as given in the
following table :

TABLE I. B. OF THE QUANTITIES OF THE ASH INGREDIENTS IN 100 PARTS
OF THE AIR-DRIED HEMP PLANTS, CARBONIC ACID EXCLUDED.





A.


B.


c.


D.


E.


F.*


I ime .... ...


i .624.


0.802


2 .461


2. IQT.


i 968


1 .74.




.361


. i"54


.T.12


.356


.47C


. ^o


Potash


1.1582


I . 121


I .472


Q77


I .OI2


.74


Soda


.016


O}7


.06";


.019


a trace.


. i"


Phosphoric acid .... . .


.366


..63


.S2";


.488


. 160


.4.7


Sulphuric acid


.OQ6


.O4.2


.04.7


.061


06 1


IO


Chlorine ...


.O4.I


.OI 1


.022


.012


OI I


JO


Silica


. M4


.ou


. I }Q


. US


. I4.I


. V)
















Per cent, of earthy phosphates . .


.768


.763


1.103


1.182


i .150


....


Per cent, of ash to dried plants. .


4.223


2.563


5-055'


4. 126


4-203


4.00



*See Wolff's tables, " How Crops Grow," page 383. Calculated to the dried plants.



447



IO CHEMICAL EXAMINATION OF THE ASHES OF

This table shows, that while the smallest proportion of min-
eral or ash ingredients, to the dried plants, was given in the
season when the hemp had a luxuriant growth because of the
regular supply of moisture, the difference was occasioned
mainly by the greater quantities of lime, magnesia, and silica
in the plants of the dry season, and not by any material
variations in the proportions of the alkalies or phosphoric



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