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Where spread, the Artificials have been equally distributed, except on
Plot 3, where 5 cwt. have been applied to the Roots.

"* 7etru. Mixed AitiflelalailerMretaaUiaQta.

Amiiied to BooU only.



Shillings profit per acre.

40 30 20 10

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 I 1 1 M 1 1 1 1 1 1

10 20 30 40

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 i 1 1 1 1 1 1 i 1 1 1 1 t





























* 4 cwt. Kainit to Roots.

t 2 cwt. Kainit to Roots, and 2 cwt. to Hay Crops.


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the diagram, were swedes grown, and then it was found that
7 cwt. of Artificials benefited the crop very considerably. It
is probable that there would have been a similar benefit on the
other plots, and accordingly greater profits than have been
placed to the credit of Plots 2, 5, 9 and 13, if wireworms
and rooks had not appeared to supply one argument at least
in favour of keeping the manure in the bags.

If Table VI. be referred to it will be seen that the other
resiQts at Rose Bank are in general accordance with those
shown in the diagram. On Plots 22, 23 and 24, 7 cwt. of
artificial manures were applied (1) equally to the last four
crops ; (2) half to roots and half spread over the three last
crops ; and (3) all to the last three crops of the rotation, but in
no case was the value of the produce so great a& when the
manure was all applied to the swede crop. The one case, in
which spreading the artificial manure paid, was when very
heavy dressings were used. Plot 19 received 14 cwt. of arti-
ficial manure with 12 tons Dung for the swedes, and produced
crops worth £35 15s. Plot 20 got 7 cwt. for the swedes and 7
cwt. equally distributed over the hay and cereals and the crops
were worth £39 5s. ; and Plot 21 received 14 cwt. equally
applied to all five crops and grew produce worth £37 13s. It
may be pointed out that the four crops grown on Plot 13 were
worth as much as the four corresponding crops of Plot 20,
and worth a good deal more than the corresponding crops of
Plot 19..

The soil of Plot 19 was apparently quite equal to the rest
of the field and it is difficult to give a reason for the inferior
crop. It is possibly due to the fact that the artificial mixture
contained no Potash. Or perhaps the application was more
than was good for the land. Doubling the artificial dressing
at Ravensworth, had the same effect as here. The gross pro-
duce was worth less than where a moderate dressing had been

The figures obtained from the rotation experiment a(t
Cockle Park (Table XXII.) are in accordance with Rose Bank


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results. Where 14 cwt. of Artificials were used without Dung
(Plots 11 and 14) it paid beet to spread them over the rotation;
but where 7 cwt. of Artificials were used with Dung (Plots 16,
19, 20, 21) it has proved better to apply all to the root crop.
At Kavenglass and Woodend, in Cumberland, where 12 cwt.
of Artificials were employed without Dung, the two methods of
using the manure proved to be practically equal. (See Report
for 1899, Table XXV.).

The conclusion to which these numerous trials lead, is that
it is usually best to apply to the root crop phosphatic manures
such as Superphosphate and Basic Slag, or manures that are
chiefly phosphatic, as Bone Meal. We have not sufficient
evidence to justify a conclusion regarding potash manures,
but the indications of both the Rose Bank and the Kimblee-
worth experiments are that the greater part of the Potash
should be applied to the root crop. Except at Cockle Park
we have seldom found potash manures beneficial as top-dress-
ings on arable land. On the other hand their great value
when employed for the root crop has frequently been shown.

As regards the use of common nitrogenous manures, there
is no question that in ordinary seasons on many farms and in
some seasons on all farms, top-dressings of Sulphate of
Ammonia or of Nitra^te of Soda will pay. At Grange Hill, for
example, the liberal use of JS^itrate resulted in a net profit of
£4 per acre in four years, and similarly at Cockle Park the use
of 1 cwt. of Sulphate for each of the two cereal crops left a
profit of £2 13s. per acre (see Plots 12 and 13, Table XXlI.).
At Ravensworth and Kimblesworth, on the other hand, top-
dressings of Nitrate on the one, and of Sulphate on the other
farm, just about repaid their cost.

Theory and experience agree that nitrogenous manures
are safer " in the bag " than in the ground, until the crop
which they are to benefit occupies the soil, but theory and
experience do not agree when phosphatic manures are in
question. Despite all discrepancies due to soil and the ** un-
controllable conditions " that vex the experimenter, there can


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be but one conclusion from these seven rotation experiments.
The evidence, though seldom striking, is cumulative ; in by
far the greater number of cases, crop after crop gives its
testimony in favour of the soil as a store-house, and, irrational
though the conclusion may appear, both our experiments and
** old established agricultural custom '' agree that it is usually
better to apply our Phosphates " to the turnip crop and allow
the soil to take charge of them " than to ** keep the manures
in the bags and take out and apply them " as they are wanted
for the hay crops and cereals.

The " theory '' of the subject is apparently simple and
straight-forward and is entirely in favour of the less success-
ful of the two practical measures.

It is this : — (1) Plants require soluble Phosphates for the
production of tissue (that is as food) ; (2) phosphatic manures
(which, when applied to the soil, are all in a comparatively
soluble state) are not subject to losses from drainage, as for
example Nitrates are, but they are liable to form very in-
soluble compounds which cannot easily be decomposed by the
roots of plants, and which are believed to be of little use as
plant food. This being the case, it is surely reasonable to apply,
a readily soluble manure, such as Superphosphate to the crop
which requires it. When an insoluble manure, such as Slag or
Bone Meal is applied in the drill it is more thoroughly mixed
with the soil than when applied as a top-dressing to subsequent
crops, and it is possible that this may account in part for the
advantage of using such manures for the root crop (see Report
for 1889, p. 79). But thorough admixture does not account
for the action of soluble manures, and assuming that the sole
function of the Phosphate in the soil is to supply food, it is very
difficult to give any explanation that will reconcile the theo-
retical and practical aspects of this question. It is possible,
however, that the supply of phosphatic compounds to the
cultivated plant is not the sole function of Phosphates. The
development of micro-organisms, like the growth of the green
plants is dependent on a supply of mineral matter, and it


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is quite conceivable that the decomposition of Dnng or of
crop residues may be more or less favourable to a fertile con-
dition of the soil, according as the supply of mineral manures
is abundant or otherwise. One circumstance favouring tbe
view that Phosphates are indirectly, as well as directly, useful
to plants, is the fact that although these manures are highly-
profitable from the commercial point of view, they must be
employed in what is apparently an extravagant fashion. When
we use Nitrate of Soda we expect to recover 50 to 80 per cent,
of the manure in the increased crop; but of the Phosphates
applied to the soil in ordinary farming we seldom recover
more than from 10 to 20 per cent. Is the profit which attends
the use of the phosphatic manure altogether due to the very
small percentage that the cultivated plant takes up, and uses
as food?

There is another aspect of this subject that may be referred
to. Artificial manures influence the texture and water-hold-
ing capacity of soils, and although useful in supplying food,
they may at times unfavourably affect the welfare of the crop.
But so far as the experiments at Rose Bank are concerned,
we have no record of any such injury, and it is unlikely that
the results have been affected by any unfavourable physical
action on the part of the moderate dressings that have been

Summary. —

A rotation experiment was carried out on a poor moorland
soil at Rose Bank, near Dalston, in Cumberland, the soil was
recently broken up from pasture, valued at 7s. 6d. per acre.
The crops were swedes, oats, hay, hay, oats. The first crop
on most of the plots was destroyed, but the others were good.
The experiment contained 24 J-^re plots. A summary of the
results is given and a reference to the results of similar experi-

(1) An organic manure was not necessary to improve the
texture of the soil and Fannyard manure proved much less


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effective than Artificials. In this respect the results at Rose
Bank and Kimblesworth were widely different. These two
experiments illustrate the conditions iq;ider which, on the one
hand, Artificials, and on the other, Dung, may be profitably
employed in arable farming.

(2) On a suitable soil Artificial manures proved lasting in
their effects. In 1900 the second best oat crop among twenty-
four, was grown on Plot 2. This plot received 11 cwt. of
Artificials in 1896, no Dung, and nothing afterwards.

(3) In the absence of Farmyard manure, Kainit greatly
benefited the crops. Its effects were more apparent on the
corn crops than on the hay.

(4) In seveox rotation exi>erimenitls, the question as !to
whether it is better to apply all the artificial manures to the
roots or to spread them over the rotation has been tested thirty-
three times, in twenty-three cases it has proved better to apply
them to the roots. It should be noted that the manures used
were mainly phosphatic in character. Details will be found in
diagrams, see pp. 56-60. At Rose Bank the results derive
special importance from the fact that the soil responded readily
to the action of artificial manures. In this case, too, we com-
pare the effects produced by the residues only of artificial
manures, with the effects of fresh applications, for, in most
instances, the swede crop was destroyed.


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The crop grown at these stations during the past season was
rye-grass and clover hay. This was the third crop of the second
rotation, and the seventh of the experiment. The oat crop of
1901 will complete the second rotation, and a full report will
then be published. Some of the leading features of the hay crop
will be briefly noticed here. The season was a favourable one
for hay, the crops at both farms being exceedingly good. The
actual differences in weight (see Table VII.) between the differ-
ent plots were small, considering the very different treatment
which the land has had ; but the differences in the appearance
of the plots and in the proportions of rye-grass and clover were
in many instances very striking. On both farms, omitting the
Dung greatly reduced the percentage^ of clover. At White-
field, more especially, the. absence of clover on Plot 10 (no
manure) and the poverty of the plant on Plot 20 (Corporation
manure) were very noticeable. The application of six tons of
Dung in the autumn of 1899 was markedly beneficial at
Whitefield, and at Peepy the promise of the crop was also
exceedingly good; but as it consisted largely of clover it
weighed very badly as compared with the majority of the plots,
and the yield of the first " cut '' of hay was less than on plots
that appeared to be much inferior.

The eft'ects of phosphatic and potassic top-dressings were
scarcely noticeable at either station. At Peepy the heavy
dressing of Kainit applied to the root crop improved the
appearance of the clover plant, but not the weight of the hay

The second crops at Peepy were very fair. The aftermath
of Plot 5 looked especially vigorous, and contrasted strongly
with the poor crop on the adjoining Plot 6. On the unmanured
plot the aftermath was almost entirely rye-grass.


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At Whitefield there was very little aftermath. The only
plot that looked at all healthy was No. 5, and here, as at Peepy,
the efEeets of the Dung applied in the previous autumn were
marked. Here, too, there was a sharp contrast between Plots
6 and 6. The result of an insuflScient application of Dung to
the root crop was severely felt by the clover crop at both
stations. The unjnanured land appeared to be completely
exhausted, and upon it there was almost no aftermath. The
aftermath on Plot 18, which received Farmyard manure, looked
much stronger than the second growth on either Plots 19 or 20
(Horse Dung and Corporation manure). Both the first and
second hay crops showed plainly that the clover plant finds
Corporation manure a very poor substitute for ordinary Dung.


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This experiment on a four-course rotation finished with
the crop of 1900. Previous notices of the work have appeared
in the Annual Reports of the Agricultural Department of
the College for 1897 and 1899 (see pp. 49 and 81, respectively).

The soil, a strong, dark loam resting on clay, was broken
up from old pasture in the winter of 1895-96, and divided into
9xe-acre plots. The crops were to have been potatoes, beans,
oats and vetches, but the oat plant was destroyed by birds in
the early sutimer, and white turnips formed the crop of 1899.

The objects of the experiment were educational and the
scheme was very simple. The manures applied and the full
results will be found in Table VIII.

The vetch crop of 1900 was a moderate one, the best yieU
was 33 J cwt. on Plot 7. The small dressing of Artificials
proved to be a considerable assistance. It is remarkable that
the Uung applied to Plot 3 in 1899 should have been of so
little use to the vetch crop in 1900, and it will be noticed that
neither of the *' Dung '' plots has done well. From the
results of the first two seasons it may be inferred that Plot 2
was naturally one of the best, and the poverty of the vetch
crop must have been due either to the disappearance of the
manurial residue of the Dung, or, as is much more likely, to
an inferior condition of the soil brought about by a failure of
the previous crop. A good crop of turnips, or a bare fallow,
may, either of them, leave land in good condition, on the
other hand a crop of 7 tons of turnips is likely to leave the
soil in anything but good condition. Remarks have already
been published on the individual crops and, as the plots were
small and some of the crops failed, it will be safer not to
draw any conclusion from the general results.


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In reading tirough Table VIII. it will be noticed that the
question of the time for applying Artificials was tested on four
plots, and as in most of the other trials application to the
fallow has paid best. The returns from the potato crop were,
however, very erratic, and if we exclude them, and compare
the returns from the three subsequent crops, we find that the
figures are not so favourable to this system. The later crops
were better where the Artificials were spread. In the circum-
stances it could hardly have been otherwise.

It will also be observed that the very heavy application of
Artificials applied to Plot 8 appeared to lower the yield of the
potato crop, and in spite of its beneficial action on the beans
which followed, it has actually reduced the gross returns by
nearly £2 per acre. This may be accidental and would not
have been worth notice, were it not that it corresponds with
the results got at Eavensworth and Rose Bank.

The most interesting point in connection with the Barnard
Castle experiment was the effect produced on the bean crop of
1898 by the omission of Dung. On Plot 8, which in the
previous season received 12 tons of Dung and a heavy dressing
of Artificials, there was a crop of 37 bushels of beans ; on Plot
9, where the potatoes had received the same Artificials but no
Dung, the bean crop was only 11^ bushels.*

* The failure of the bean crop was probably due to the lack of available nitrogen.
Where Dung had been employed in the previous season the supply of nitrogenous
food wonld be enough to support the young bean plants until the root organisms
^iiuide them independent of soil nitrogen. But the Artificials used for the potatoes
on Plot 9 would have disappeared before the spring of 1898. It is a mistake to
suppose that, because in the later stages of its life a bean plant may become in-
dependent of soil nitrogen, that it is independent at all times.

In a case (at Aberystwyth) where beans were grown after potatoes on land
recently broken up from pasture the young plants were found to be greatly injured
^y the absence of soluble nitrogenous manures. On land abundantly supplied with
Phosphates and Potash, but without Nitrogen, scarcely a plant developed root
nodules. The few that did appear came late in the season (middle of July), and the
«rop was a failure. Where a complete artificial manure was used, nodules formed
^ery abundantly in June and the crop was a fine one.


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In the following Table the names and other particulars are
given respecting the stations on which Old Land Hay experi-
ments were carried out in season 1900.


No. of Table,
giving details.


Cumberland, Set I.

Castle CaiTock



Cumberland, Set II. ,






Shield Ash


Palace Leas, Cockle

Mr. M. Walker
Mr. J. W. Steele
Mr. T. Troughton
Mr. G. Graham

Mr. J. P. Johnson ..

Dr. Parker

Mr. J. Holliday
Mr. H. W. Pallister

Messrs. The Seaham

Harbour Stud Co,
Mr. J. Robinson

Mr. C. Marshall
County Council


A systematic account of these experiments has been given
in the Eeports already issued by Dr. Somerville, and it will
not be necessary to refer to the figures of the present year in


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detail. So far as the profits are concerned it may be stated
that, with an exception referred to on p. 74 the conclusions
of the earlier years are being confirmed. The interest now
centres not so much in the money returns, as in the gradual
changes in soil and herbage which are being brought about
by the action of certain of the manures.

The changes in the character of the herbage of the Cumber-
land stations was the subject of an article by Dr. Somerville in
Vol. VII., No. 3, of the Journal of the Board of Agriculture y
which has been reprinted by permission (see p. 84). Some
further gradual changes, and some of the lessons taught by the
comparison of last season's results with those of former years
will now be noticed.

Effects of Season. —

The hay crops of season 1900 were satisfactory, and, with
the exception of 1898, better than in any of the past five years.
The average produce of the unmanured and best plots at eleven
stations in each of the five years ending 1900, was as follows : —

Best Plot.



















Average of 5




The following table will be of interest as showing the
influence of season on the hay crop in different localities. It
gives the produce per acre of the unmanured and the best
plot on four stations situated in a line stretching across Eng-
land from sea to sea. Shield Ash, near Stanhope, and Castle
Carrock, near Brampton, are inland stations. Seaham and
Eskdale are both close to the sea, the one on the east, the other
on the west coast.


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im 1











^ !



& i







Cwt. ICwt.










lOi 21







Shield Ash











Castle Carrock ...










48 1













Two Classes of Grass Land. —

So far as the North of England is concerned, the land
devoted to the growth of hay may be divided into two classes,
viz., land that is noty and land that is greatly benefited by the
application of slag.

When land is not benefited by slag, or is only moderately
improved by its use, our experiments indicate that complex
manures* should be used, that they should be used in small or
medium dressings, and that they should be applied frequently.
Heavy applications at an interval of years cannot be recom-
mended. A stunted plant, like a starved animal, is unable to
assimilate much food, and it may prove as wasteful to manure
a poor meadow heavily, as to feed lean hide-bound cattle on
full rations of cake and meal. The herbage of the meadow,
and the digestive organs of the beast, should be gradually
accustomed to liberal fare.

But, when land is markedly improved by Slag, as in the
case of the soils at Cockle Park, then the best practice would
seem to be to manure heavily and occasionally. This, at least,
has been our experience in the Tree Field (see p. 134). Nor,
in this case, is any complex manure required. As a first step
in improving the herbage. Slag, and Slag alone, will often
prove superior to any mixture that cf,n be compounded.

* See footnote, page 44.


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The Action of Basic Slag:.—

This difference in the treatment of the two classes of grass
land may be explained by the action of Slag. This manure
has a direct and an indirect effect on the pasture. Like Super-
phosphate and Dissolved Bones, it supplies Phosphates, and
Phosphates benefit the majority of the plants that make up a
hay crop; but to a greater extent than any other Phosphatic
manure. Slag stimulates the growth of the clovers, and the
advantage of using this substance on its own peculiar soil is
due to the fact that it enables white clover to cover the ground
before the grasses become strongi enough to dispute the surface
with it. In the " battle of the meadow " white clover is not
a strong fighter, but when suitably aided it strikes quickly.
It is when Slag enables clover to obtain a temporary mastery,
that it becomes of peculiar value as a nmnure. The way in
which clover ameliorates poor thin clay soil by opening it up
and by bringing in supplies of plant food from the atmosphere,
is alluded to on p. 136.

The clovers are very readily injured by acids or sourness
in the soil, and this explains the superiority of Basic Slag over
the acid soluble Phosphates as a food for clover. The botanical
separations of the herbage for the first four seasons of the
experiment on Tree Field, Cockle Park, admirably illustrate
the different effects of acid and basic Phosphates on the
development of white clover. The percentage of this plant
found in the hay cut from four of the plots in each of the four
seasons is shown in the following table.


Percentage of White CloTer
in Herbage.







1 cwt. Super for 1897, and again for 1900 ...
5 „ Bade Slag for 1897, and again for 1900. . .
10 „ „ „ „ «o^ repeated













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Why Slag Fails.—

Basic Slag of the highest quality is often found to be value-
less, or comparatively valueless, on meadow land. On sui>erior
pastures, where white clover is unable to assert itself. Slag
seldom proves effective; but even upon poor grass land,
where it ought to work well, Slag is sometimes found to be a
worthless and exhausting manure, because the soil is naturally
deficient in Potash. When Slag fails for this reason, the fault is
the fanner's ; the manure would prove profitable if it were used
with discretion. A great many of our poor pastures are, like

Online LibraryUnited States. General Land OfficeAnnual report on field and other experiments / Durham, Eng. University ... → online text (page 5 of 41)