Talks on Manures
by Joseph Harris
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"When you have straightened, and cleaned out, and deepened the creek," continued the Doctor, "commence at z on the new creek, and cut a ditch through the swamp to y. Throw the muck on one side, and the sand on the other. This will give you some good, rich muck, and at the same time drain your swamp. Then cut some under-drains from y towards the higher land at w, v, and h, and from f to x. These will drain your land, and set free the inert plant-food, and such crops of timothy as you will get from this swamp will astonish the natives, and your bill for medical attendance and quinine will sink to zero."

The Doctor is right. There is money and health in the plan.

Prof. S. W. Johnson, as chemist to the Conn. State Ag. Society, made accurate analyses of 33 samples of peat and muck sent him by gentlemen from different parts of the State. The amount of potential ammonia in the chemically dry peat was found to vary from 0.58 in the poorest, to 4.06 per cent in the richest samples. In other words, one deposit of muck may contain seven times as much nitrogen as another, and it would be well before spending much money in drawing out muck for manure to send a sample of it to some good chemist. A bed of swamp-muck, easily accessible, and containing 3 per cent of nitrogen, would be a mine of wealth to any farmer. One ton of such muck, dry, would contain more nitrogen than 7 tons of straw.

"It would be capital stuff," said the Deacon, "to put in your pig-pens to absorb the urine. It would make rich manure."

"That is so," said I, "and the weak point in my pig-breeding is the want of sufficient straw. Pigs use up more bedding than any other animals. I have over 200 pigs, and I could use a ton of dry muck to each pig every winter to great advantage. The pens would be drier, the pigs healthier, and the manure richer."

The Doctor here interrupted us. "I see," said he, "that the average amount of ammonia in the 33 samples of dry peat analyzed by Professor Johnson is 2.07 per cent. I had no idea that muck was so rich. Barn-yard manure, or the manure from the horse stables in the cities, contains only half a per cent (0.5) of ammonia, and it is an unusually rich manure that contains one per cent. We are safe in saying that a ton of dry muck, on the average, contains at least twice as much potential ammonia as the average of our best and richest stable-manure."



"You say," said the Deacon, "that dry muck contains twice as much 'potential ammonia' as manure?"

"Yes," said the Doctor, "it contains three or four times as much as the half-rotted straw and stalks you call manure."

"But what do you mean," asked the Deacon, "by 'potential ammonia?'"

"It is a term," said the Doctor, "we used to hear much more frequently than we do now. Ammonia is composed of 14 lbs. of nitrogen and 3 lbs. of hydrogen; and if, on analysis, a guano or other manure was found to contain, in whatever form, 7 per cent of nitrogen, the chemist reported that he found in it 8-1/2 per cent of 'potential' ammonia. Dried blood contains no ammonia, but if it contained 14 per cent of nitrogen, the chemist would be justified in saying it contained 17 per cent of potential ammonia, from the fact that the dried blood, by fermentation, is capable of yielding this amount of ammonia. We say a ton of common horse-manure contains 10 or 12 lbs. of potential ammonia. If perfectly fresh, it may not contain a particle of ammonia; but it contains nitrogen enough to produce, by fermentation, 10 or 12 lbs. of ammonia. And when it is said that dry swamp-muck contains, on the average, 2.07 per cent of potential ammonia, it simply means that it contains nitrogen enough to produce this amount of ammonia. In point of fact, I suppose muck, when dug fresh from the swamp, contains no ammonia. Ammonia is quite soluble in water, and if there was any ammonia in the swamp-muck, it would soon be washed out. The nitrogen, or 'potential ammonia,' in the muck exists in an inert, insoluble form, and before the muck will yield up this nitrogen to plants, it is necessary, in some way, to ferment or decompose it. But this is a point we will discuss at a future meeting."



The Doctor has been invited to deliver a lecture on manure before our local Farmers' Club. "The etymological meaning of the word manure," he said, "is hand labor, from main, hand, and ouvrer, to work. To manure the land originally meant to cultivate it, to hoe, to dig, to plow, to harrow, or stir it in any way so as to expose its particles to the oxygen of the atmosphere, and thus render its latent elements assimilable by plants.

"When our first parent," he continued, "was sent forth from the Garden of Eden to till the ground from whence he was taken, he probably did not know that the means necessary to kill the thorns and thistles enhanced the productiveness of the soil, yet such was undoubtedly the case.

"The farmer for centuries was simply a 'tiller of the ground.' Guano, though formed, according to some eminent authorities, long ages before the creation of man, was not then known. The coprolites lay undisturbed in countless numbers in the lias, the greensand, and the Suffolk crag. Charleston phosphates were unknown. Superphosphate, sulphate of ammonia, nitrate of soda, and kainit were not dreamed of. Nothing was said about the mineral manure theory, or the exhaustion of the soil. There were no frauds in artificial fertilizers; no Experiment Stations. The earth, fresh from the hands of its Creator, needed only to be 'tickled with a hoe to laugh with a harvest.' Nothing was said about the value of the manure obtained from the consumption of a ton of oil-cake, or malt-combs, or bran, or clover-hay. For many centuries, the hoe, the spade, and the rake constituted Adam's whole stock in trade.

"At length," continued the Doctor, "a great discovery was made. A Roman farmer—probably a prominent Granger—stumbled on a mighty truth. Manuring the land—that is, hoeing and cultivating it—increased its fertility. This was well known—had been known for ages, and acted upon; but this Roman farmer, Stercutius, who was a close observer, discovered that the droppings of animals had the same effect as hoeing. No wonder these idolatrous people voted him a god. They thought there would be no more old-fashioned manuring; no more hoeing.

"Of course they were mistaken," continued the Doctor, "our arable land will always need plowing and cultivating to kill weeds. Manure, in the sense in which we now use the term, is only a partial substitute for tillage, and tillage is only a partial substitute for manure; but it is well to bear in mind that the words mean the same thing, and the effects of both are, to a certain extent, identical. Tillage is manure, and manure is tillage."



This is not the place to discuss the merits, or demerits, of fallowing. But an intelligent Ohio farmer writes me:— "I see that you recommend fallow plowing, what are your reasons? Granting that the immediate result is an increased crop, is not the land impoverished? Will not the thorough cultivation of corn, or potatoes, answer as well?" And a distinguished farmer, of this State, in a recent communication expressed the same idea—that summer-fallowing would soon impoverish the land. But if this is the case, the fault is not in the practice of summer-fallowing, but in growing too many grain crops, and selling them, instead of consuming them on the farm. Take two fields; summer-fallow one, and sow it to wheat. Plant the other to corn, and sow wheat after it in the fall. You get, say 35 bushels of wheat per acre from the summer-fallow. From the other field you get, say, 30 bushels of shelled corn per acre, and 10 bushels of wheat afterwards. Now, where a farmer is in the habit of selling all his wheat, and consuming all his corn on the farm, it is evident that the practice of summer-fallowing will impoverish the soil more rapidly than the system of growing corn followed by wheat—and for the simple reason that more wheat is sold from the farm. If no more grain is sold in one case than in the other, the summer-fallowing will not impoverish the soil any more than corn growing.

My idea of fallowing is this:—The soil and the atmosphere furnish, on good, well cultivated land, plant-food sufficient, say, for 15 bushels of wheat per acre, every year. It will be sometimes more, and sometimes less, according to the season and the character of the soil, but on good, strong limestone land this may be taken as about the average. To grow wheat every year in crops of 15 bushels per acre, would impoverish the soil just as much as to summer-fallow and get 30 bushels of wheat every other year. It is the same thing in either case. But in summer-fallowing, we clean the land, and the profits from a crop of 30 bushels per acre every other year, are much more than from two crops of 15 bushels every year. You know that Mr. Lawes has a field of about thirteen acres that he sows with wheat every year. On the plot that receives no manure of any kind, the crop, for twenty years, averaged 16-1/4 bushels per acre. It is plowed twice every year, and the wheat is hand-hoed in the spring to keep it clean. A few years ago, in a field adjoining this experimental wheat field, and that is of the same character of land, he made the following experiment. The land, after wheat, was fallowed, and then sown to wheat; then fallowed the next year, and again sown to wheat, and the next year it was sown to wheat after wheat. The following is the result compared with the yield of the continuously unmanured plot in the experimental field that is sown to wheat every year:

1. Year—No. 1—Fallow No crop. No. 2—Wheat after wheat 15 bushels 3-1/2 pecks per acre. 2. Year—No. 1—Wheat after fallow 37 " — " " No. 2—Wheat after wheat 13 " 3-1/4 " " 3. Year—No. 1—Fallow after wheat No crop. No. 2—Wheat after wheat 15 bushels 3-1/4 pecks per acre. 4. Year—No. 1—Wheat after fallow 42 " — " " No. 2—Wheat after wheat 21 " 0-1/4 " " 5. Year—No. 1—Wheat after wheat 17 " 1-1/4 " " No. 2—Wheat after wheat 17 " — " "

Taking the first four years, we have a total yield from the plot sown every year of 66 bushels 2-1/4 pecks, and from the two crops alternately fallowed, a total yield of 79 bushels. The next year, when wheat was sown after wheat on the land previously fallowed, the yield was almost identical with the yield from the plot that has grown wheat after wheat for so many years.

So far, these results do not indicate any exhaustion from the practice of fallowing. On the other hand, they tend to show that we can get more wheat by sowing it every other year, than by cropping it every year in succession. The reason for this may be found in the fact that in a fallow the land is more frequently exposed to the atmosphere by repeated plowings and harrowings; and it should be borne in mind that the effect of stirring the land is not necessarily in proportion to the total amount of stirring, but is according to the number of times that fresh particles of soil are exposed to the atmosphere. Two plowings and two harrowings in one week, will not do as much good as two plowings and two harrowings, at different times in the course of three or four months. It is for this reason that I object, theoretically, to sowing wheat after barley. We often plow the barley stubble twice, and spend considerable labor in getting the land into good condition; but it is generally all done in the course of ten days or two weeks. We do not get any adequate benefit for this labor. We can kill weeds readily at this season, (August), but the stirring of the soil does not develope the latent plant-food to the extent it would if the work was not necessarily done in such a limited period. I say theoretically, for in point of fact I do sow wheat after barley. I do so because it is very convenient, and because it is more immediately profitable. I am satisfied, however, that in the end it would be more profitable to seed down the barley with clover.

We must raise larger crops; and to do this we must raise them less frequently. This is the key-note of the coming improved system of American agriculture, in all sections where good land is worth less than one hundred dollars per acre. In the neighborhood of large cities, and wherever land commands a high price, we must keep our farms in a high state of fertility by the purchase of manures or cattle foods. Those of us in the interior, where we can not buy manure, must raise fewer grain crops, and more clover. We must aim to raise 40 bushels of wheat, 50 bushels of barley, 80 bushels of oats, and 100 bushels of shelled corn, and 5 bushels of clover-seed per acre. That this can be done on good, well-drained land, from the unaided resources of the farm, I have no doubt. It may give us no more grain to sell than at present, but it will enable us to produce much more mutton, wool, beef, cheese, butter, and pork, than at present.

"But, then, will there be a demand for the meat, wool, etc.?" The present indications are highly favorable. But we must aim to raise good meat. The low-priced beef and mutton sold in our markets are as unprofitable to the consumer as they are to the producer. We must feed higher, and to do this to advantage we must have improved stock. There is no profit in farming without good tillage, larger crops, improved stock, and higher feeding. The details will be modified by circumstances, but the principles are the same wherever agri-culture is practised.



I have never yet seen a "worn-out" or "exhausted farm." I know many farms that are "run down." I bought just such a farm a dozen or more years ago, and I have been trying hard, ever since, to bring it up to a profitable standard of productiveness—and am still trying, and expect to have to keep on trying so long as I keep on farming. The truth is, there never was a farm so rich, that the farmer did not wish it was richer.

I have succeeded in making the larger part of my farm much more productive than it ever was before, since it was cleared from the original forest. But it is far from being as rich as I want it. The truth is, God sent us into this world to work, and He has given us plenty to do, if we will only do it. At any rate, this is true of farming. He has not given us land ready to our hand. The man who first cleared up my farm, had no easy task. He fairly earned all the good crops he ever got from it. I have never begrudged him one particle of the "natural manure" he took out of the land, in the form of wheat, corn, oats, and hay. On the dry, sandy knolls, he probably got out a good portion of this natural manure, but on the wetter and heavier portions of the farm, he probably did not get out one-hundredth part of the natural manure which the land contained.

Now, when such a farm came into my possession, what was I to do with it?

"Tell us what you did," said the Doctor, "and then, perhaps, we can tell you what you ought to have done, and what you ought to have left undone."

"I made many mistakes."

"Amen," said the Deacon; "I am glad to hear you acknowledge it."

"Well," said the Doctor, "it is better to make mistakes in trying to do something, than to hug our self-esteem, and fold our hands in indolence. It has been said that critics are men who have failed in their undertakings. But I rather think the most disagreeable, and self-satisfied critics, are men who have never done anything, or tried to do anything, themselves."

The Deacon, who, though something of an old fogy, is a good deal of a man, and possessed of good common sense, and much experience, took these remarks kindly. "Well," said he to me, "I must say that your farm has certainly improved, but you did things so differently from what we expected, that we could not see what you were driving at."

"I can tell you what I have been aiming at all along. 1st. To drain the wet portions of the arable land. 2d. To kill weeds, and make the soil mellow and clean. 3d. To make more manure."

"You have also bought some bone-dust, superphosphate, and other artificial manures."

"True; and if I had had more money I would have bought more manure. It would have paid well. I could have made my land as rich as it is now in half the time."

I had to depend principally on the natural resources of the land. I got out of the soil all I could, and kept as much of it as possible on the farm. One of the mistakes I made was, in breaking up too much land, and putting in too much wheat, barley, oats, peas, and corn. It would have been better for my pocket, though possibly not so good for the farm, if I had left more of the land in grass, and also, if I had summer-fallowed more, and sown less barley and oats, and planted less corn.

"I do not see how plowing up the grass land," said the Deacon, "could possibly be any better for the farm. You agricultural writers are always telling us that we plow too much land, and do not raise grass and clover enough."

"What I meant by saying that it would have been better for my pocket, though possibly not so good for the farm, if I had not plowed so much land, may need explanation. The land had been only half cultivated, and was very foul. The grass and clover fields did not give more than half a crop of hay, and the hay was poor in quality, and much of it half thistles, and other weeds. I plowed this land, planted it to corn, and cultivated it thoroughly. But the labor of keeping the corn clean was costly, and absorbed a very large slice of the profits. But the corn yielded a far larger produce per acre than I should have got had the land lain in grass. And as all this produce was consumed on the farm, we made more manure than if we had plowed less land."

I have great faith in the benefits of thorough tillage—or, in other words, of breaking up, pulverizing, and exposing the soil to the decomposing action of the atmosphere. I look upon a good, strong soil as a kind of storehouse of plant-food. But it is not an easy matter to render this plant-food soluble. If it were any less soluble than it is, it would have all leached out of the land centuries ago. Turning over, and fining a manure-heap, if other conditions are favorable, cause rapid fermentation with the formation of carbonate of ammonia, and other soluble salts. Many of our soils, to the depth of eight or ten inches, contain enough nitrogenous matter in an acre to produce two or three thousand pounds of ammonia. By stirring the soil, and exposing it to the atmosphere, a small portion of this nitrogen becomes annually available, and is taken up by the growing crops. And it is so with the other elements of plant-food. Stirring the soil, then, is the basis of agriculture. It has been said that we must return to the soil as much plant-food as we take from it. If this were true, nothing could be sold from the farm. What we should aim to do, is to develop as much as possible of the plant-food that lies latent in the soil, and not to sell in the form of crops, cheese, wool, or animals, any more of this plant-food than we annually develop from the soil. In this way the "condition" of the soil would remain the same. If we sell less than we develop, the condition of the soil will improve.

By "condition," I mean the amount of available plant-food in the soil. Nearly all our farms are poorer in plant-food to-day than when first cleared of the original forest, or than they were ten, fifteen, or twenty years later. In other words, the plants and animals that have been sold from the farm, have carried off a considerable amount of plant-food. We have taken far more nitrogen, phosphoric acid, potash, etc., out of the soil, than we have returned to it in the shape of manure. Consequently, the soil must contain less and less of plant-food every year. And yet, while this is a self-evident fact, it is, nevertheless, true that many of these self-same farms are more productive now than when first cleared, or at any rate more productive than they were twenty-five or thirty years ago.

Sometime ago, the Deacon and I visited the farm of Mr. Dewey, of Monroe Co., N.Y. He is a good farmer. He does not practice "high farming" in the sense in which I use that term. His is a good example of what I term slow farming. He raises large crops, but comparatively few of them. On his farm of 300 acres, he raises 40 acres of wheat, 17 acres of Indian corn, and 23 acres of oats, barley, potatoes, roots, etc. In other words, he has 80 acres in crops, and 220 acres in grass—not permanent grass. He lets it lie in grass five, six, seven, or eight years, as he deems best, and then breaks it up, and plants it to corn. The land he intends to plant to corn next year, has been in grass for seven years. He will put pretty much all his manure on this land. After corn, it will be sown to oats, or barley; then sown to wheat, and seeded down again. It will then lie in grass three, four, five, six, or seven years, until he needs it again for corn, etc. This is "slow farming," but it is also good farming—that is to say, it gives large yields per acre, and a good return for the labor expended.

The soil of this farm is richer to-day in available plant-food than when first cleared. It produces larger crops per acre.

Mr. D. called our attention to a fact that establishes this point. An old fence that had occupied the ground for many years was removed some years since, and the two fields thrown into one. Every time this field is in crops, it is easy to see where the old fence was, by the short straw and poor growth on this strip, as compared with the land on each side which had been cultivated for years.

This is precisely the result that I should have expected. If Mr. D. was a poor farmer—if he cropped his land frequently, did not more than half-cultivate it, sold everything he raised, and drew back no manure—I think the old fence-strip would have given the best crops.

The strip of land on which the old fence stood in Mr. Dewey's field, contained more plant-food than the soil on either side of it. But it was not available. It was not developed. It was latent, inert, insoluble, crude, and undecomposed. It was so much dead capital. The land on either side which had been cultivated for years, produced better crops. Why? Simply because the stirring of the soil had developed more plant-food than had been removed by the crops. If the stirring of the soil developed 100 lbs. of plant-food a year, and only 75 lbs. were carried off in the crops—25 lbs. being left on the land in the form of roots, stubble, etc.—the land, at the expiration of 40 years, would contain, provided none of it was lost, 1,000 lbs. more available plant-food than the uncultivated strip. On the other hand, the latter would contain 3,000 lbs. more actual plant-food per acre than the land which had been cultivated—but it is in an unavailable condition. It is dead capital.

I do not know that I make myself understood, though I would like to do so, because I am sure there is no point in scientific farming of greater importance. Mr. Geddes calls grass the "pivotal crop" of American agriculture. He deserves our thanks for the word and the idea connected with it. But I am inclined to think the pivot on which our agriculture stands and rotates, lies deeper than this. The grass crop creates nothing—developes nothing. The untilled and unmanured grass lands of Herkimer County, in this State, are no richer to-day than they were 50 years ago. The pastures of Cheshire, England, except those that have been top-dressed with bones, or other manures, are no more productive than they were centuries back. Grass alone will not make rich land. It is a good "savings bank." It gathers up and saves plant-food from running to waste. It pays a good interest, and is a capital institution. But the real source of fertility must be looked for in the stores of plant-food lying dormant in the soil. Tillage, underdraining, and thorough cultivation, are the means by which we develop and render this plant-food available. Grass, clover, peas, or any other crop consumed on the farm, merely affords us the means of saving this plant-food and making it pay a good interest.



If we have the necessary materials, it is not a difficult matter to make manure; in fact, the manure will make itself. We sometimes need to hasten the process, and to see that none of the fertilizing matter runs to waste. This is about all that we can do. We cannot create an atom of plant-food. It is ready formed to our hands; but we must know where to look for it, and how to get it in the easiest, cheapest, and best way, and how to save and use it. The science of manure-making is a profound study. It is intimately connected with nearly every branch of agriculture.

If weeds grow and decay on the land, they make manure. If we grow a crop of buckwheat, or spurry, or mustard, or rape, or clover, and mow it, and let it lie on the land, it makes manure; or if we plow it under, it forms manure; or if, after it is mown, we rake up the green crop, and put it into a heap, it will ferment, heat will be produced by the slow combustion of a portion of the carbonaceous and nitrogenous matter, and the result will be a mass of material, which we should all recognize as "manure." If, instead of putting the crop into a heap and letting it ferment, we feed it to animals, the digestible carbonaceous and nitrogenous matter will be consumed to produce animal heat and to sustain the vital functions, and the refuse, or the solid and liquid droppings of the animals, will be manure.

If the crop rots on the ground, nothing is added to it. If it ferments, and gives out heat, in a heap, nothing is added to it. If it is passed through an animal, and produces heat, nothing is added to it.

I have heard people say a farmer could not make manure unless he kept animals. We might with as much truth say a farmer cannot make ashes unless he keeps stoves; and it would be just as sensible to take a lot of stoves into the woods to make ashes, as it is to keep a lot of animals merely to make manure. You can make the ashes by throwing the wood into a pile, and burning it; and you can make the manure by throwing the material out of which the manure is to be made into a pile, and letting it ferment. On a farm where neither food nor manure of any kind is purchased, the only way to make manure is to get it out of the land.

"From the land and from the atmosphere," remarked the Doctor. "Plants get a large portion of the material of which they are composed from the atmosphere."

"Yes," I replied, "but it is principally carbonaceous matter, which is of little or no value as manure. A small amount of ammonia and nitric acid are also brought to the soil by rains and dews, and a freshly-stirred soil may also sometimes absorb more or less ammonia from the atmosphere; but while this is true, so far as making manure is concerned, we must look to the plant-food existing in the soil itself.

"Take such a farm as Mr. Dewey's, that we have already referred to. No manure or food has been purchased; or at any rate, not one-tenth as much as has been sold, and yet the farm is more productive to-day than when it was first cleared of the forest. He has developed the manure from the stores of latent plant-food previously existing in the soil and this is the way farmers generally make manure."



"If," said I, "you should put a ton of cut straw in a heap, wet it, and let it rot down into manure; and should place in another heap a ton of cut corn-fodder, and in another heap a ton of cut clover-hay, wet them, and let them also rot down into manure; and in another heap a ton of pulped-turnips, and in another heap a ton of corn-meal, and in another heap a ton of bran, and in another a ton of malt-sprouts, and let them be mixed with water, and so treated that they will ferment without loss of ammonia or other valuable plant-food, I think no one will say that all these different heaps of manure will have the same value. And if not, why not?"

"Because," said Charley, "the ton of straw does not contain as much valuable plant-food as the ton of corn-fodder, nor the ton of corn-fodder as much as the ton of clover-hay."

"Now then," said I, "instead of putting a ton of straw in one heap to rot, and a ton of corn-fodder in another heap, and a ton of clover in another heap, we feed the ton of straw to a cow, and the ton of corn-fodder to another cow, and the ton of clover to another cow, and save all the solid and liquid excrements, will the manure made from the ton of straw be worth as much as the manure made from the ton of corn-fodder or clover-hay?"

"No," said Charley. —"Certainly not," said the Doctor. —"I am not so sure about it," said the Deacon; "I think you will get more manure from the corn-fodder than from the straw or clover-hay."

"We are not talking about bulk," said the Doctor, "but value." "Suppose, Deacon," said he, "you were to shut up a lot of your Brahma hens, and feed them a ton of corn-meal, and should also feed a ton of corn-meal made into slops to a lot of pigs, and should save all the liquid and solid excrements from the pigs, and all the manure from the hens, which would be worth the most?" —"The hen-manure, of course," said the Deacon, who has great faith in this kind of "guano," as he calls it.

"And yet," said the Doctor, "you would probably not get more than half a ton of manure from the hens, while the liquid and solid excrements from the pigs, if the corn-meal was made into a thin slop, would weigh two or three tons."

"More, too," said the Deacon, "the way you feed your store pigs."

"Very well; and yet you say that the half ton of hen-manure made from a ton of corn is worth more than the two or three tons of pig-manure made from a ton of corn. You do not seem to think, after all, that mere bulk or weight adds anything to the value of the manure. Why then should you say that the manure from a ton of corn-fodder is worth more than from a ton of straw, because it is more bulky?"

"You, yourself," said the Deacon, "also say the manure from the ton of corn-fodder is worth more than from the ton of straw." —"True," said I "but not because it is more bulky. It is worth more because the ton of corn-fodder contains a greater quantity of valuable plant-food than the ton of straw. The clover is still richer in this valuable plant-food, and the manure is much more valuable; in fact, the manure from the ton of clover is worth as much as the manure from the ton of straw and the ton of corn-fodder together."

"I would like to see you prove that," said the Deacon, "for if it is true, I will sell no more clover-hay. I can't get as much for clover-hay in the market as I can for rye-straw."

"I will not attempt to prove it at present," said the Doctor; "but the evidence is so strong and so conclusive that no rational man, who will study the subject, can fail to be thoroughly convinced of its truth."

"The value of manure," said I, "does not depend on the quantity of water which it contains, or on the quantity of sand, or silica, or on the amount of woody fibre or carbonaceous matter. These things add little or nothing to its fertilizing value, except in rare cases; and the sulphuric acid and lime are worth no more than the same quantity of sulphate of lime or gypsum, and the chlorine and soda are probably worth no more than so much common salt. The real chemical value of the manure, other things being equal, is in proportion to the nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, that the manure contains.

"And the quantity of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash found in the manure is determined, other things being equal, by the quantity of the nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash contained in the food consumed by the animals making the manure."



The amount of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, contained in different foods, has been accurately determined by many able and reliable chemists.

The following table was prepared by Dr. J. B. Lawes, of Rothamsted, England, and was first published in this country in the "Genesee Farmer," for May, 1860. Since then, it has been repeatedly published in nearly all the leading agricultural journals of the world, and has given rise to much discussion. The following is the table, with some recent additions:

TD: Total dry matter. TM: Total mineral matter (ash). Ph: Phosphoric acid reckoned as phosphate of lime. P: Potash. N: Nitrogen. V: Value of manure in dollars and cents from 1 ton (2,000 lbs.) of food.

- - Per Cent. TD TM Ph P N V - - 1. Linseed cake 88.0 7.00 4.92 1.65 4.75 19.72 2. Cotton-seed cake[A] 89.0 8.00 7.00 3.12 6.50 27.86 3. Rape-cake 89.0 8.00 5.75 1.76 5.00 21.01 4. Linseed 90.0 4.00 3.38 1.37 3.80 15.65 5. Beans 84.0 3.00 2.20 1.27 4.00 15.75 6. Peas 84.5 2.40 1.84 0.96 3.40 13.38 7. Tares 84.0 2.00 1.63 0.66 4.20 16.75 8. Lentils 88.0 3.00 1.89 0.96 4.30 16.51 9. Malt-dust 94.0 8.50 5.23 2.12 4.20 18.21 10. Locust beans 85.0 1.75 .... .... 1.25 4.81 11. Indian-meal 88.0 1.30 1.13 0.35 1.80 6.65 12. Wheat 85.0 1.70 1.87 0.50 1.80 7.08 13. Barley 84.0 2.20 1.35 0.55 1.65 6.32 14. Malt 95.0 2.60 1.60 0.65 1.70 6.65 15. Oats 86.0 2.85 1.17 0.50 2.00 7.70 16. Fine pollard[B] 86.0 5.60 6.44 1.46 2.00 13.53 17. Coarse pollard[C] 86.0 6.20 7.52 1.49 2.58 14.36 18. Wheat-bran 86.0 6.60 7.95 1.45 2.55 14.59 19. Clover-hay 84.0 7.50 1.25 1.30 2.50 9.64 20. Meadow-hay 84.0 6.00 0.88 1.50 1.50 6.43 21. Bean-straw 82.5 5.55 0.90 1.11 0.90 3.87 22. Pea-straw 82.0 5.95 0.85 0.89 .... 3.74 23. Wheat-straw 84.0 5.00 0.55 0.65 0.60 2.68 24. Barley-straw 85.0 4.50 0.37 0.63 0.50 2.25 25. Oat-straw 83.0 5.50 0.48 0.93 0.60 2.90 26. Mangel-wurzel 12.5 1.00 0.09 0.25 0.25 1.07 27. Swedish turnips 11.0 0.68 0.13 0.18 0.22 0.91 28. Common turnips 8.0 0.68 0.11 0.29 0.18 0.86 29. Potatoes 24.0 1.00 0.32 0.43 0.35 1.50 30. Carrots 13.5 0.70 0.13 0.23 0.20 0.80 31. Parsnips 15.0 1.00 0.42 0.36 0.22 1.14 - -

[A] The manure from a ton of undecorticated cotton-seed cake is worth $15.74; that from a ton of cotton-seed, after being ground and sifted, is worth $13.25. The grinding and sifting in Mr. Lawes' experiments, removed about 8 per cent of husk and cotton. Cotton-seed, so treated, proved to be a very rich and economical food.

[B] Middlings, Canielle.

[C] Shipstuff.

Of all vegetable substances used for food, it will be seen that decorticated cotton-seed cake is the richest in nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, and consequently makes the richest and most valuable manure. According to Mr. Lawes' estimate, the manure from a ton of decorticated cotton-seed cake is worth $27.86 in gold.

Rape-cake comes next. Twenty-five to thirty years ago, rape-cake, ground as fine as corn-meal, was used quite extensively on many of the light-land farms of England as a manure for turnips, and not unfrequently as a manure for wheat. Mr. Lawes used it for many years in his experiments on turnips and on wheat.

Of late years, however, it has been fed to sheep and cattle. In other words, it has been used, not as formerly, for manure alone, but for food first, and manure afterwards. The oil and other carbonaceous matter which the cake contains is of little value for manure, while it is of great value as food. The animals take out this carbonaceous matter, and leave nearly all the nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash in the manure. Farmers who had found it profitable to use on wheat and turnips for manure alone, found it still more profitable to use it first for food, and then for manure afterwards. Mr. Lawes, it will be seen, estimates the manure produced from the consumption of a ton of rape-cake at $21.01.

Linseed-oil cake comes next. Pure linseed-cake is exceedingly valuable, both for food and manure. It is a favorite food with all cattle and sheep breeders and feeders. It has a wonderful effect in improving the appearance of cattle and sheep. An English farmer thinks he cannot get along without "cake" for his calves, lambs, cattle, and sheep. In this country, it is not so extensively used, except by the breeders of improved stock. It is so popular in England that the price is fully up to its intrinsic value, and not unfrequently other foods, in proportion to the nutritive and manurial value, can be bought cheaper. This fact shows the value of a good reputation. Linseed-cake, however, is often adulterated, and farmers need to be cautious who they deal with. When pure, it will be seen that the manure made by the consumption of a ton of linseed-cake is worth $19.72.

Malt-dust stands next on the list. This article is known by different names. In England, it is often called "malt-combs;" here it is known as "malt-sprouts," or "malt-roots." In making barley into malt, the barley is soaked in water, and afterwards kept in a warm room until it germinates, and throws out sprouts and roots. It is then dried, and before the malt is used, these dried sprouts and roots are sifted out, and are sold for cattle-food. They weigh from 22 to 25 lbs. per bushel of 40 quarts. They are frequently mixed at the breweries with the "grains," and are sold to milkmen at the same price—from 12 to 15 cents per bushel. Where their value is not known, they can, doubtless, be sometimes obtained at a mere nominal price. Milkmen, I believe, prefer the "grains" to the malt-dust. The latter, however, is a good food for sheep. It has one advantage over brewer's "grains." The latter contain 76 per cent of water, while the malt-dust contains only 6 per cent of water. We can afford, therefore, to transport malt-dust to a greater distance than the grains. We do not want to carry water many miles. There is another advantage: brewer's grains soon ferment, and become sour; while the malt-dust, being dry, will keep for any length of time. It will be seen that Mr. Lawes estimates the value of the manure left from the consumption of a ton of malt-dust at $18.21.

Tares or vetches, lentils, linseed or flaxseed, beans, wheat, bran, middlings, fine mill-feed, undecorticated cotton-seed cake, peas, and cotton-seed, stand next on the list. The value of these for manure ranging from $13.25 to $16.75 per ton.

Then comes clover-hay. Mr. Lawes estimates the value of the manure from the consumption of a ton of clover-hay at $9.64. This is from early cut clover-hay.

When clover is allowed to grow until it is nearly out of flower, the hay would not contain so much nitrogen, and would not be worth quite so much per ton for manure. When mixed with timothy or other grasses, or with weeds, it would not be so valuable. The above estimate is for the average quality of good pure English clover-hay. Our best farmers raise clover equally as good; but I have seen much clover-hay that certainly would not come up to this standard. Still, even our common clover-hay makes rich manure. In Wolff's Table, given in the appendix, it will be seen that clover-hay contains only 1.97 per cent of nitrogen and 5.7 per cent of ash. Mr. Lawes' clover contains more nitrogen and ash. This means richer land and a less mature condition of the crop.

The cereal grains, wheat, barley, oats, and Indian corn, stand next on the list, being worth from $6.32 to $7.70 per ton for manure.

"Meadow-hay," which in the table is estimated as worth $6.43 per ton for manure, is the hay from permanent meadows. It is a quite different article from the "English Meadow-hay" of New England. It is, in fact, the perfection of hay. The meadows are frequently top-dressed with composted manure or artificial fertilizers, and the hay is composed of a number of the best grasses, cut early and carefully cured. It will be noticed, however, that even this choice meadow-hay is not as valuable for manure as clover-hay.

English bean-straw is estimated as worth $3.87 per ton for manure. The English "horse bean," which is the kind here alluded to, has a very stiff, coarse long straw, and looks as though it was much inferior as fodder, to the straw of our ordinary white beans. See Wolff's table in the appendix.

Pea-straw is estimated at $3.74 per ton. When the peas are not allowed to grow until dead ripe, and when the straw is carefully cured, it makes capital food for sheep. Taking the grain and straw together, it will be seen that peas are an unusually valuable crop to grow for the purpose of making rich manure.

The straw of oats, wheat, and barley, is worth from $2.25 to $2.90 per ton. Barley straw being the poorest for manure, and oat straw the richest.

Potatoes are worth $1.50 per ton, or nearly 5 cents a bushel for manure.

The manurial value of roots varies from 80 cents a ton for carrots, to $1.07 for mangel-wurzel, and $1.14 for parsnips.

I am very anxious that there should be no misapprehension as to the meaning of these figures. I am sure they are well worth the careful study of every intelligent farmer. Mr. Lawes has been engaged in making experiments for over thirty years. There is no man more competent to speak with authority on such a subject. The figures showing the money value of the manure made from the different foods, are based on the amount of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, which they contain. Mr. Lawes has been buying and using artificial manures for many years, and is quite competent to form a correct conclusion as to the cheapest sources of obtaining nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. He has certainly not overestimated their cost. They can not be bought at lower rates, either in England or America. But of course it does not follow from this that these manures are worth to the farmer the price charged for them; that is a matter depending on many conditions. All that can be said is, that if you are going to buy commercial manures, you will have to pay at least as much for the nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, as the price fixed upon by Mr. Lawes. And you should recollect that there are other ingredients in the manure obtained from the food of animals, which are not estimated as of any value in the table. For instance, there is a large amount of carbonaceous matter in the manure of animals, which, for some crops, is not without value, but which is not here taken into account.

Viewed from a farmer's stand-point, the table of money values must be taken only in a comparative sense. It is not claimed that the manure from a ton of wheat-straw is worth $2.68. This may, or may not, be the case. But if the manure from a ton of wheat-straw is worth $2.08, then the manure from a ton of pea-straw is worth $3.74, and the manure from a ton of corn-meal is worth $6.65, and the manure from a ton of clover-hay is worth $9.64, and the manure from a ton of wheat-bran is worth $14.59. If the manure from a ton of corn meal is not worth $6.65, then the manure from a ton of bran is not worth $14.59. If the manure from the ton of corn is worth more than $6.65, then the manure from a ton of bran is worth more than $14.59. There need be no doubt on this point.

Settle in your own mind what the manure from a ton of any one of the foods mentioned is worth on your farm, and you can easily calculate what the manure is worth from all the others. If you say that the manure from a ton of wheat-straw is worth $1.34, then the manure from a ton of Indian corn is worth $3.33, and the manure from a ton of bran is worth $7.30, and the manure from a ton of clover-hay is worth $4.82.

In this section, however, few good farmers are willing to sell straw, though they can get from $8.00 to $10.00 per ton for it. They think it must be consumed on the farm, or used for bedding, or their land will run down. I do not say they are wrong, but I do say, that if a ton of straw is worth $2.68 for manure alone, then a ton of clover-hay is worth $9.64 for manure alone. This may be accepted as a general truth, and one which a farmer can act upon. And so, too, in regard to the value of corn-meal, bran, and all the other articles given in the table.

There is another point of great importance which should be mentioned in this connection. The nitrogen in the better class of foods is worth more for manure than the nitrogen in straw, corn-stalks, and other coarse fodder. Nearly all the nitrogen in grain, and other rich foods, is digested by the animals, and is voided in solution in the urine. In other words, the nitrogen in the manure is in an active and available condition. On the other hand, only about half the nitrogen in the coarse fodders and straw is digestible. The other half passes off in a crude and comparatively unavailable condition, in the solid excrement. In estimating the value of the manure from a ton of food, these facts should be remembered.

I have said that if the manure from a ton of straw is worth $2.68, the manure from a ton of corn is worth $6.65; but I will not reverse the proposition, and say that if the manure from a ton of corn is worth $6.65, the manure from a ton of straw is worth $2.68. The manure from the grain is nearly all in an available condition, while that from the straw is not. A pound of nitrogen in rich manure is worth more than a pound of nitrogen in poor manure. This is another reason why we should try to make rich manure.



The manure from horses is generally considered richer and better than that from cows. This is not always the case, though it is probably so as a rule. There are three principal reasons for this. 1st. The horse is usually fed more grain and hay than the cow. In other words, the food of the horse is usually richer in the valuable elements of plant-food than the ordinary food of the cow. 2d. The milk of the cow abstracts considerable nitrogen, phosphoric acid, etc., from the food, and to this extent there is less of these valuable substances in the excrements. 3d. The excrements of the cow contain much more water than those of the horse. And consequently a ton of cow-dung, other things being equal, would not contain as much actual manure as a ton of horse-dung.

Boussingault, who is eminently trustworthy, gives us the following interesting facts:

A horse consumed in 24 hours, 20 lbs. of hay, 6 lbs. of oats, and 43 lbs. of water, and voided during the same period, 3 lbs. 7 ozs. of urine, and 38 lbs. 2 ozs. of solid excrements.

The solid excrements contained 23-1/2 lbs. of water, and the urine 2 lbs. 6 ozs. of water.

According to this, a horse, eating 20 lbs. of hay, and 6 lbs. of oats, per day, voids in a year nearly seven tons of solid excrements, and 1,255 lbs. of urine.

It would seem that there must have been some mistake in collecting the urine, or what was probably the case, that some of it must have been absorbed by the dung; for 3-1/2 pints of urine per day is certainly much less than is usually voided by a horse.

Stockard gives the amount of urine voided by a horse in a year at 3,000 lbs.; a cow, 8,000 lbs.; sheep, 380 lbs.; pig, 1,200 lbs.

Dr. Voelcker, at the Royal Agricultural College, at Cirencester, England, made some valuable investigations in regard to the composition of farm-yard manure, and the changes which take place during fermentation.

The manure was composed of horse, cow, and pig-dung, mixed with the straw used for bedding in the stalls, pig-pens, sheds, etc.

On the 3d of November, 1854, a sample of what Dr. Voelcker calls "Fresh Long Dung," was taken from the "manure-pit" for analysis. It had lain in the pit or heap about 14 days.

The following is the result of the analysis:

Fresh Farm-Yard Manure. Half A Ton, Or 1,000 Lbs.

Water 661.7 lbs. Organic matter 282.4 " Ash 55.9 " ——————- 1,000.0 lbs. Nitrogen 6.43 "

"Before you go any farther," said the Deacon, "let me understand what these figures mean? Do you mean that a ton of manure contains only 12-3/4 lbs. of nitrogen, and 111 lbs. of ash, and that all the rest is carbonaceous matter and water, of little or no value?" —"That is it precisely, Deacon," said I, "and furthermore, a large part of the ash has very little fertilizing value, as seen from the following:

Detailed Composition of the Ash of Fresh Barn-Yard Manure.

Soluble silica 21.59 Insoluble silicious matter (sand) 10.04 Phosphate of lime 5.35 Oxide of iron, alumina, with phosphate 8.47 Containing phosphoric acid 3.18 Lime 21.31 Magnesia 2.76 Potash 12.04 Soda 1.30 Chloride of sodium 0.54 Sulphuric acid 1.49 Carbonic acid and loss 15.11 ——— 100.00

Nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, are the most valuable ingredients in manure. It will be seen that a ton of fresh barn-yard manure, of probably good average quality, contains:

Nitrogen 12-3/4 lbs. Phosphoric acid 6-1/2 " Potash 13-1/2 "

I do not say that these are the only ingredients of any value in a ton of manure. Nearly all the other ingredients are indispensable to the growth of plants, and if we should use manures containing nothing but nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, the time would come when the crops would fail, from lack of a sufficient quantity of, perhaps, magnesia, or lime, sulphuric acid, or soluble silica, or iron. But it is not necessary to make provision for such a contingency. It would be a very exceptional case. Farmers who depend mainly on barn-yard manure, or on plowing under green crops for keeping up the fertility of the land, may safely calculate that the value of the manure is in proportion to the amount of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, it contains.

We draw out a ton of fresh manure and spread it on the land, therefore, in order to furnish the growing crops with 12-3/4 lbs. of nitrogen, 6-1/2 lbs. of phosphoric acid, and 13-1/2 lbs. of potash. Less than 33 lbs. in all!

We cannot dispense with farm-yard manure. We can seldom buy nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, as cheaply as we can get them in home-made manures. But we should clearly understand the fact that we draw out 2,000 lbs. of matter in order to get 33 lbs. of these fertilizing ingredients. We should try to make richer manure. A ton of manure containing 60 lbs. of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash, costs no more to draw out and spread, than a ton containing only 30 lbs., and it would be worth nearly or quite double the money.

How to make richer manure we will not discuss at this time. It is a question of food. But it is worth while to enquire if we can not take such manure as we have, and reduce its weight and bulk without losing any of its nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash.



Dr. Voelcker placed 2,838 lbs. of fresh mixed manure in a heap Nov. 3, 1854, and the next spring, April 30, it weighed 2,026 lbs., a shrinkage in weight of 28.6 per cent. In other words 100 tons of such manure would be reduced to less than 71-1/2 tons.

The heap was weighed again, August 23d, and contained 1,994 lbs. It was again weighed Nov. 15, and contained 1,974 lbs.

The following table shows the composition of the heap when first put up, and also at the three subsequent periods:

Table Showing Composition of the Whole Heap; Fresh Farm-Yard Manure (No. I.) Exposed—Expressed in Lbs.

- - - - When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - - - - Weight of manure in lbs. 2,838 2,026 1,994 1,974 Amt. of water in the manure 1,877.9 1,336.1 1,505.3 1,466.5 Amt. of dry matter in the manure 960.1 689.9 488.7 507.5 Consisting of Soluble organic matter { 70.38 86.51 58.83 54.04 Soluble mineral matter { 43.71 57.88 39.16 36.89 Insoluble organic matter { 731.07 389.74 243.22 214.92 Insoluble mineral matter { 114.92 155.77 147.49 201.65 960.1 689.9 488.7 507.5 Containing nitrogen 4.22 6.07 3.76 3.65 Equal to ammonia 5.12 7.37 4.56 4.36 Containing nitrogen 14.01 12.07 9.38 9.38 Equal to ammonia 17.02 14.65 11.40 11.39 Total amount of nitrogen in manure 18.23 18.14 13.14 13.03 Equal to ammonia 22.14 22.02 15.96 15.75 The manure contains ammonia in free state .96 .15 .20 .11 The manure contains ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime 2.49 1.71 .75 .80 Total amount of organic matters 801.45 476.25 302.05 268.96 Total amount of mineral matters 158.15 213.65 186.65 238.54 - - - -

"It will be remarked," says Dr. Voelcker, "that in the first experimental period, the fermentation of the dung, as might have been expected, proceeded most rapidly, but that, notwithstanding, very little nitrogen was dissipated in the form of volatile ammonia; and that on the whole, the loss which the manure sustained was inconsiderable when compared with the enormous waste to which it was subject in the subsequent warmer and more rainy seasons of the year. Thus we find at the end of April very nearly the same amount of nitrogen which is contained in the fresh; whereas, at the end of August, 27.9 per cent of the total nitrogen, or nearly one-third of the nitrogen in the manure, has been wasted in one way or the other.

"It is worthy of observation," continues Dr. Voelcker, "that, during a well-regulated fermentation of dung, the loss in intrinsically valuable constituents is inconsiderable, and that in such a preparatory process the efficacy of the manure becomes greatly enhanced. For certain purposes fresh dung can never take the place of well-rotted dung. * * The farmer will, therefore, always be compelled to submit a portion of home-made dung to fermentation, and will find satisfaction in knowing that this process, when well regulated, is not attended with any serious depreciation of the value of the manure. In the foregoing analyses he will find the direct proof that as long as heavy showers of rain are excluded from manure-heaps, or the manure is kept in water-proof pits, the most valuable fertilizing matters are preserved."

This experiment of Dr. Voelcker proves conclusively that manure can be kept in a rapid state of fermentation for six months during winter, with little loss of nitrogen or other fertilizing matter.

During fermentation a portion of the insoluble matter of the dung becomes soluble, and if the manure is then kept in a heap exposed to rain, there is a great loss of fertilizing matter. This is precisely what we should expect. We ferment manure to make it more readily available as plant-food, and when we have attained our object, the manure should be applied to the land. We keep winter apples in the cellar until they get ripe. As soon as they are ripe, they should be eaten, or they will rapidly decay. This is well understood. And it should be equally well known that manure, after it has been fermenting in a heap for six months, cannot safely be kept for another six months exposed to the weather.

The following table shows the composition of 100 lbs. of the farm-yard manure, at different periods of the year:

Composition of 100 Lbs. of Fresh Farm-Yard Manure (No. I.) Exposed in Natural State, at Different Periods of the Year.

- When put Feb. 14, Apr. 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - Water 66.17 69.83 65.95 75.49 74.29 Soluble organic matter 2.48 3.86 4.27 2.95 2.74 Soluble inorganic matter 1.54 2.97 2.86 1.97 1.87 Insoluble organic matter 25.76 18.44 19.23 12.20 10.89 Insoluble mineral matter 4.05 4.90 7.69 7.39 10.21 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 Containing nitrogen .149 .27 .30 .19 .18 Equal to ammonia .181 .32 .36 .23 .21 Containing nitrogen .494 .47 .59 .47 .47 Equal to ammonia .599 .57 .71 .62 .57 Total amount of nitrogen .643 .74 .89 .66 .65 Equal to ammonia .780 .89 1.07 .85 .78 Ammonia in a free state .034 .049 .008 .010 .006 Ammonia in form of salts easily decomposed by quicklime .088 .064 .085 .038 .041 Total amt. of organic 28.24 22.30 23.50 15.15 13.63 matter Total amt. of mineral 5.59 7.87 10.55 9.36 12.08 substances -

It will be seen that two-thirds of the fresh manure is water. After fermenting in an exposed heap for six months, it still contains about the same percentage of water. When kept in the heap until August, the percentage of water is much greater. Of four tons of such manure, three tons are water.

Of Nitrogen, the most valuable ingredient of the manure, the fresh dung, contained 0.64 per cent; after fermenting six months, it contained 0.89 per cent. Six months later, it contained 0.65 per cent, or about the same amount as the fresh manure.

Of mineral matter, or ash, this fresh farm-yard manure contained 5.59 per cent; of which 1.54 was soluble in water, and 4.05 insoluble. After fermenting in the heap for six months, the manure contained 10.55 per cent of ash, of which 2.86 was soluble, and 7.69 insoluble. Six months later, the soluble ash had decreased to 1.97 per cent.

The following table shows the composition of the manure, at different periods, in the dry state. In other words, supposing all the water to be removed from the manure, its composition would be as follows:

Composition of Fresh Farm-Yard Manure (No. I.) Exposed. Calculated Dry.

- When put Feb. 14, Apr. 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - Soluble organic matter 7.33 12.79 12.54 12.04 10.65 Soluble inorganic matter 4.55 9.84 8.39 8.03 7.27 Insoluble organic matter 76.15 61.12 56.49 49.77 42.35 Insoluble mineral matter 11.97 16.25 22.58 30.16 39.73 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 Containing nitrogen .44 .91 .88 .77 .72 Equal to ammonia .53 1.10 1.06 .93 .88 Containing nitrogen 1.46 1.55 1.75 1.92 1.85 Equal to ammonia 1.77 1.88 2.12 2.33 2.24 Total amount of nitrogen 1.90 2.46 2.63 2.69 2.57 Equal to ammonia 2.30 2.98 3.18 3.26 3.12 Ammonia in free state .10 .062 .023 .041 .023 Ammonia in form of salts easily decomposed by quicklime .26 .212 .249 .154 .159 Total amount of organic matter 83.48 73.91 69.03 61.81 53.00 Total amount of mineral substances 16.52 26.09 30.97 38.19 47.00 -

"A comparison of these different analyses," says Dr. Voelcker, "points out clearly the changes which fresh farm-yard manure undergoes on keeping in a heap, exposed to the influence of the weather during a period of twelve months and twelve days.

"1. It will be perceived that the proportion of organic matter steadily diminishes from month to month, until the original percentage of organic matter in the dry manure, amounting to 83.48 per cent, becomes reduced to 53 per cent.

"2. On the other hand, the total percentage of mineral matter rises as steadily as that of the organic matter falls.

"3. It will be seen that the loss in organic matter affects the percentage of insoluble organic matters more than the percentage of soluble organic substances.

"4. The percentage of soluble organic matters, indeed, increased considerably during the first experimental period; it rose, namely, from 7.33 per cent to 12.79 per cent. Examined again on the 30th of April, very nearly the same percentage of soluble organic matter, as on February the 14th, was found. The August analysis shows but a slight decrease in the percentage of soluble organic matters, while there is a decrease of 2 per cent of soluble organic matters when the November analysis is compared with the February analysis.

"5. The soluble mineral matters in this manure rise or fall in the different experimental periods in the same order as the soluble organic matters. Thus, in February, 9.84 per cent of soluble mineral matters were found, whilst the manure contained only 4.55 per cent, when put up into a heap in November, 1854. Gradually, however, the proportion of soluble mineral matters again diminished, and became reduced to 7.27 per cent, on the examination of the manure in November, 1855.

"6. A similar regularity will be observed in the percentage of nitrogen contained in the soluble organic matters.

"7. In the insoluble organic matters, the percentage of nitrogen regularly increased from November, 1854, up to the 23d of August, notwithstanding the rapid diminution of the percentage of insoluble organic matter. For the last experimental period, the percentage of nitrogen in the insoluble matter is nearly the same as on August 23d.

"8. With respect to the total percentage of nitrogen in the fresh manure, examined at different periods of the year, it will be seen that the February manure contains about one-half per cent more of nitrogen than the manure in a perfectly fresh state. On the 30th of April, the percentage of nitrogen again slightly increased; on August 23d, it remained stationary, and had sunk but very little when last examined on the 15th of November, 1855.

"This series of analyses thus shows that fresh farm-yard manure rapidly becomes more soluble in water, but that this desirable change is realized at the expense of a large proportion of organic matters. It likewise proves, in an unmistakable manner, that there is no advantage in keeping farm-yard manure for too long a period; for, after February, neither the percentage of soluble organic, nor that of soluble mineral matter, has become greater, and the percentage of nitrogen in the manure of April and August is only a very little higher than in February."

"Before you go any further," said the Deacon, "answer me this question: Suppose I take five tons of farm-yard manure, and put it in a heap on the 3d of November, tell me, 1st, what that heap will contain when first made; 2d, what the heap will contain April 30th; and, 3d, what the heap will contain August 23d."

Here is the table:

Contents of a Heap of Manure at Different Periods, Exposed to Rain, etc.

- - - - When Apr. 30. Aug. 23. Nov. 15. put up, Nov. 3. - - - - Total weight of manure in heap 10,000 7,138 7,025 6,954 Water in the heap of manure 6,617 4,707 5,304 5,167 Total organic matter 2,824 1,678 1,034 947 Total inorganic matter 559 753 657 840 Total nitrogen in heap 64.3 63.9 46.3 46.0 Total soluble organic matter 248 305 207 190 Total insoluble organic matter 2,576 1,373 857 757 Soluble mineral matter 154 204 138 130 Insoluble mineral matter 405 549 519 710 Nitrogen in soluble matter 14.9 21.4 13.2 12.9 Nitrogen in insoluble matter 49.4 42.5 33.1 33.1 - - - -

The Deacon put on his spectacles and studied the above table carefully for some time. "That tells the whole story," said he, "you put five tons of fresh manure in a heap, it ferments and gets warm, and nearly one ton of water is driven off by the heat."

"Yes," said the Doctor, "you see that over half a ton (1,146 lbs.) of dry organic matter has been slowly burnt up in the heap; giving out as much heat as half a ton of coal burnt in a stove. But this is not all. The manure is cooked, and steamed, and softened by the process. The organic matter burnt up is of no value. There is little or no loss of nitrogen. The heap contained 64.3 lbs. of nitrogen when put up, and 63.9 lbs. after fermenting six months. And it is evident that the manure is in a much more active and available condition than if it had been applied to the land in the fresh state. There was 14.9 lbs. of nitrogen in a soluble condition in the fresh manure, and 21.4 lbs. in the fermented manure. And what is equally important, you will notice that there is 154 lbs. of soluble ash in the heap of fresh manure, and 204 lbs. in the heap of fermented manure. In other words, 50 lbs. of the insoluble mineral matter had, by the fermentation of the manure, been rendered soluble, and consequently immediately available as plant-food. This is a very important fact."

The Doctor is right. There is clearly a great advantage in fermenting manure, provided it is done in such a manner as to prevent loss. We have not only less manure to draw out and spread, but the plant-food which it contains, is more soluble and active.

The table we have given shows that there is little or no loss of valuable constituents, even when manure is fermented in the open air and exposed to ordinary rain and snows during an English winter. But it also shows that when the manure has been fermented for six months, and is then turned and left exposed to the rain of spring and summer, the loss is very considerable.

The five tons (10,000 lbs.,) of fresh manure placed in a heap on the 3d of November, are reduced to 7,138 lbs. by the 30th of April. Of this 4,707 lbs. is water. By the 23d of August, the heap is reduced to 7,025 lbs., of which 5,304 lbs. is water. There is nearly 600 lbs. more water in the heap in August than in April.

Of total nitrogen in the heap, there is 64.3 lbs. in the fresh manure, 63.9 lbs. in April, and only 46.3 lbs. in August. This is a great loss, and there is no compensating gain.

We have seen that, when five tons of manure is fermented for six months, in winter, the nitrogen in the soluble organic matter is increased from 14.9 lbs. to 21.4 lbs. This is a decided advantage. But when the manure is kept for another six months, this soluble nitrogen is decreased from 21.4 lbs. to 13.2 lbs. We lose over 8 lbs. of the most active and available nitrogen.

And the same remarks will apply to the valuable soluble mineral matter. In the five tons of fresh manure there is 154 lbs. of soluble mineral matter. By fermenting the heap six months, we get 204 lbs., but by keeping the manure six months longer, the soluble mineral matter is reduced to 138 lbs. We lose 66 lbs. of valuable soluble mineral matter.

By fermenting manure for six months in winter, we greatly improve its condition; by keeping it six months longer, we lose largely of the very best and most active parts of the manure.



Dr. Voelcker, at the same time he made the experiments alluded to in the preceding chapter, placed another heap of manure under cover, in a shed. It was the same kind of manure, and was treated precisely as the other—the only difference being that one heap was exposed to the rain, and the other not. The following table gives the results of the weighings of the heap at different times, and also the percentage of loss:

Manure Fermented Under Cover in Shed.

Table Showing the Actual Weighings, and Percentage of Loss in Weight, of Experimental Heap (No. II.) Fresh Farm-Yard Manure Under Shed, at Different Periods of the Year.

Weight Loss in Percentage of original of Loss. Manure weight in Lbs. in Lbs. Put up on the 3d of November, 1854 3,258 Weighed on the 30th of April, 1855, or after a lapse of 6 months 1,613 1,645 50.4 Weighed on the 23d of August, 1855, or after a lapse of 9 months and 20 days 1,297 1,961 60.0 Weighed on the 15th of November, 1855, or after a lapse of 12 months and 12 days 1,235 2,023 62.1

It will be seen that 100 tons of manure, kept in a heap under cover for six months, would be reduced to 49.6-10 tons. Whereas, when the same manure was fermented for the same length of time in the open air, the 100 tons was reduced to only 71.4-10 tons. The difference is due principally to the fact that the heap exposed contained more water, derived from rain and snow, than the heap kept under cover. This, of course, is what we should expect. Let us look at the results of Dr. Voelcker's analyses:

Table Showing the Composition of Experimental Heap (No. II.) Fresh Farmyard Manure Under Shed, in Natural State at Different Periods of the Year.

When put Feb. 14, Apr. 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. Water 66.17 67.32 56.89 43.43 41.66 [A] Soluble organic matter 2.48 2.63 4.63 4.13 5.37 Soluble inorganic matter 1.54 2.12 3.38 3.05 4.43 [B] Insoluble organic matter 25.76 20.46 25.43 26.01 27.69 Insoluble mineral matter 4.05 7.47 9.67 23.38 20.85 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 [A] Containing nitrogen .149 .17 .27 .26 .42 Equal to ammonia .181 .20 .32 .31 .51 [B] Containing nitrogen .494 .58 .92 1.01 1.09 Equal to ammonia .599 .70 1.11 1.23 1.31 Total amount of nitrogen .643 .75 1.19 1.27 1.51 Equal to ammonia .780 .90 1.43 1.54 1.82 Ammonia in free state .034 .022 .055 .015 .019 Ammonia in form of salts easily decomposed by quicklime .088 .054 .101 .103 .146 Total amount of organic matter 28.24 23.09 30.06 30.14 33.06 Total amount of mineral substance 5.59 9.59 13.05 26.43 25.28

Table Showing the Composition of Experimental Heap (No. II.) Fresh Farmyard Manure Under Shed, Calculated Dry, at Different Periods of the Year.

When put Feb. 14, Apr. 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. [A] Soluble organic matter 7.33 8.04 10.74 7.30 9.20 Soluble inorganic matter 4.55 6.48 7.84 5.39 7.59 [B] Insoluble organic matter 76.15 62.60 58.99 45.97 47.46 Insoluble mineral matter 11.97 22.88 22.43 41.34 35.75 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 [A] Containing nitrogen .44 .53 .63 .46 .72 Equal to ammonia .53 .66 .75 .56 .88 [B] Containing nitrogen 1.46 1.77 2.14 1.78 1.88 Equal to ammonia 1.77 2.14 2.59 2.16 2.26 Total amount of nitrogen 1.90 2.30 2.77 2.24 2.60 Equal to ammonia 2.30 2.80 3.35 2.72 3.08 Ammonia in free state .10 .067 .127 .026 .033 Ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime .26 .165 .234 .182 .250 Total amount of organic matter 83.48 70.64 69.73 53.27 56.66 Total amount of mineral substance 16.52 29.36 30.27 46.73 43.34

The above analyses are of value to those who buy fresh and fermented manure. They can form some idea of what they are getting. If they buy a ton of fresh manure in November, they get 12-3/4 lbs. of nitrogen, and 30-3/4 lbs. of soluble mineral matter. If they buy a ton of the same manure that has been kept under cover until February, they get, nitrogen, 15 lbs.; soluble minerals, 42-1/2 lbs. In April, they get, nitrogen, 23-3/4 lbs.; soluble minerals, 67-1/2 lbs. In August, they get, nitrogen, 25-1/2 lbs.; soluble minerals, 61 lbs. In November, when the manure is over one year old, they get, in a ton, nitrogen, 30-1/4 lbs.; soluble minerals, 88-1/2 lbs.

When manure has not been exposed, it is clear that a purchaser can afford to pay considerably more for a ton of rotted manure than for a ton of fresh manure. But waiving this point for the present, let us see how the matter stands with the farmer who makes and uses the manure. What does he gain by keeping and fermenting the manure under cover?

The following table shows the weight and composition of the entire heap of manure, kept under cover, at different times:

Table Showing Composition of Entire Experimental Heap (No. II.) Fresh Farm-Yard Manure, Under Shed.

- - - When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - - - lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. Weight of manure 3,258. 1,613. 1,297. 1,235. - - - Amount of water in the manure 2,156. 917.6 563.2 514.5 Amount of dry matter 1,102. 695.4 733.8 720.5 [A] Consisting of soluble organic matter 80.77 74.68 53.56 66.28 Soluble mineral matter 50.14 54.51 39.55 54.68 [B] Insoluble organic matter 839.17 410.24 337.32 341.97 Insoluble mineral matter 131.92 155.97 303.37 257.57 - - - 1,102. 695.4 733.8 720.5 [A] Containing nitrogen 4.85 4.38 3.46 5.25 Equal to ammonia 5.88 5.33 4.20 6.37 [B] Containing nitrogen 16.08 14.88 13.08 13.54 Equal to ammonia 19.59 17.46 15.88 16.44 Total amount of nitrogen in manure 20.93 19.26 16.54 18.79 Equal to ammonia 25.40 22.79 20.08 22.81 The manure contains ammonia in free state 1.10 .88 .19 .23 The manure contains ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime 2.86 1.62 1.33 1.80 Total amount of organic matter 919.94 484.92 390.88 408.25 Total amount of mineral matter 182.06 210.48 342.92 312.35 - - -

This is the table, as given by Dr. Voelcker. For the sake of comparison, we will figure out what the changes would be in a heap of five tons (10,000 lbs.) of manure, when fermented under cover, precisely in the same way as we did with the heap fermented in the open air, exposed to the rain. The following is the table:

Contents of a Heap Of Manure at Different Periods. Fermented Under Cover.

-+ -+ -+ -+ When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. -+ -+ -+ -+ lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. Total weight of manure in heap 10,000 4,960 4,000 3,790 Water in the heap of manure 6,617 2,822 1,737 1,579 Total organic matter 2,824 1,490 1,205 1,253 Total inorganic matter 559 646 1,057 958 Total nitrogen in heap 64.3 59 50.8 57.2 Total soluble organic matter 248 230 165 203.5 Insoluble organic matter 2,576 1,260 1,040 1,049 Soluble mineral matter 154 167 122 168 Insoluble mineral matter 405 479 935 790 Nitrogen in soluble matter 14.9 13.4 10.4 15.9 Nitrogen in insoluble matter 49.4 45.6 40.4 41.3 Total dry matter in heap 3,383 2,038 2,263 2,211 -+ -+ -+

It will be seen that the heap of manure kept under cover contained, on the 30th of April, less soluble organic matter, less soluble mineral matter, less soluble nitrogenous matter, and less total nitrogen than the heap of manure exposed to the weather. This is precisely what I should have expected. The heap of manure in the shed probably fermented more rapidly than the heap out of doors, and there was not water enough in the manure to retain the carbonate of ammonia, or to favor the production of organic acids. The heap was too dry. If it could have received enough of the liquid from the stables to have kept it moderately moist, the result would have been very different.

We will postpone further consideration of this point at present, and look at the results of another of Dr. Voelcker's interesting experiments.

Dr. Voelcker wished to ascertain the effect of three common methods of managing manure:

1st. Keeping it in a heap in the open air in the barn-yard, or field.

2d. Keeping it in a heap under cover in a shed.

3d. Keeping it spread out over the barn-yard.

"You say these are common methods of managing manure," remarked the Deacon, "but I never knew any one in this country take the trouble to spread manure over the yard."

"Perhaps not," I replied, "but you have known a good many farmers who adopt this very method of keeping their manure. They do not spread it—but they let it lie spread out over the yards, just wherever it happens to be."

Let us see what the effect of this treatment is on the composition and value of the manure.

We have examined the effect of keeping manure in a heap in the open air, and also of keeping it in a heap under cover. Now let us see how these methods compare with the practice of leaving it exposed to the rains, spread out in the yard.

On the 3rd of November, 1854, Dr. Voelcker weighed out 1,652 lbs. of manure similar to that used in the preceding experiments, and spread it out in the yard. It was weighed April 30, and again August 23, and November 15.

The following table gives the actual weight of the manure at the different periods, also the actual amount of the water, organic matter, ash, nitrogen, etc.:

Table Showing the Weight and Composition of Entire Mass of Experimental Manure (No. Iii.), Fresh Farm-Yard Manure, Spread in Open Yard at Different Periods of the Year. In Natural State.

- - - When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - - - lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. Weight of manure 1,652. 1,429. 1,012. 950. - - - Amount of water in the manure 1,093. 1,143. 709.3 622.8 Amount of dry matter 559. 285.5 302.7 327.2 [A] Consisting of soluble organic matter 40.97 16.55 4.96 3.95 Soluble mineral matter 25.43 14.41 6.47 5.52 [B] Insoluble organic matter 425.67 163.79 106.81 94.45 Insoluble mineral matter 66.93 90.75 184.46 223.28 - - - 559.00 285.50 302.70 327.20 [A] Containing nitrogen 3.28 1.19 .60 .32 Equal to ammonia 3.98 1.44 .73 .39 [B] Containing nitrogen 6.21 6.51 3.54 3.56 Equal to ammonia 7.54 7.90 4.29 4.25 Total amount of nitrogen in manure 9.19 7.70 4.14 3.88 Equal to ammonia 11.52 9.34 5.02 4.64 The manure contains ammonia in free state .55 .14 .13 .0055 The manure contains ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime 1.45 .62 .55 .28 Total amount of organic matter 466.64 180.34 111.77 98.40 Total amount of mineral matter 92.36 105.16 190.93 228.80 - - -

"One moment," said the Deacon. "These tables are a little confusing. The table you have just given shows the actual weight of the manure in the heap, and what it contained at different periods." —"Yes," said I, "and the table following shows what 100 lbs. of this manure, spread out in the yard, contained at the different dates mentioned. It shows how greatly manure deteriorates by being exposed to rain, spread out on the surface of the yard. The table merits careful study."

Table Showing Composition of Experimental Heap (No. III.). Fresh Farm Yard Manure, Spread in Open Yard, at Different Periods of the Year. In Natural State.

- - - - When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - - - - Water 66.17 80.02 70.09 65.56 [A] Soluble organic matter 2.48 1.16 .49 .42 Soluble inorganic matter 1.54 1.01 .64 .57 [B] Insoluble organic matter 25.76 11.46 10.56 9.94 Insoluble mineral matter 4.05 6.35 18.22 23.51 - - - 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 [A] Containing nitrogen .149 .08 .06 .03 Equal to ammonia .181 .69 .07 .036 [B] Containing nitrogen .494 .45 .35 .36 Equal to ammonia .599 .54 .42 .46 Total amount of nitrogen .643 .53 .41 .39 Equal to ammonia .780 .63 .49 .496 Ammonia in free state .034 .010 .012 .0006 Ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime .088 .045 .051 .030 Total amount of organic matter 28.24 12.62 11.05 10.36 Total amount of mineral substance 5.59 7.36 18.86 24.08 - - - -

The following table shows the composition of the manure, calculated dry:

Table Showing Composition of Experimental Heap (No. III.), Fresh Farm Yard Manure, Spread in Open Yard, at Different Periods of the Year. Calculated Dry.

- - - - When put April 30, Aug. 23, Nov. 15, up, Nov. 1855. 1855. 1855. 3, 1854. - - - - [A] Soluble organic matter 7.33 5.80 1.64 1.21 Soluble inorganic matter 4.55 5.05 2.14 1.69 [B] Insoluble organic matter 76.15 57.37 35.30 28.86 Insoluble mineral matter 11.97 31.78 60.92 68.24 - - - 100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00 [A] Containing nitrogen .44 .42 .20 .10 Equal to ammonia .53 .51 .24 .12 [B] Containing nitrogen 1.46 2.28 1.17 1.09 Equal to ammonia 1.77 2.76 1.41 1.32 Total amount of nitrogen 1.90 2.70 1.37 1.19 Equal to ammonia 2.30 3.27 1.65 1.44 Ammonia in free state .10 .05 .040 .0017 Ammonia in form of salts, easily decomposed by quicklime .26 .225 .171 .087 Total amount of organic matter 83.48 63.17 36.94 30.07 Total amount of mineral substance 16.52 36.83 63.06 69.93 - - - -

I have made out the following table, showing what would be the changes in a heap of 5 tons (10,000 lbs.) of manure, spread out in the yard, so that we can readily see the effect of this method of management as compared with the other two methods of keeping the manure in compact heaps, one exposed, the other under cover.

The following is the table:

Contents of the Mass of Manure, Spread Out in Farm-Yard, and Exposed to Rain, Etc.

- - When Apr. 30. Aug. 23. Nov. 15. spread out, Nov. 3. - - lbs. lbs. lbs. lbs. Total weight of manure 10,000 8,350 6,130 5,750 Water in the manure 6,617 6,922 4,297 3,771 Total organic matter 2,824 1,092 677 595 Total inorganic matter 559 636 1,155 1,384 Total nitrogen in manure 64.3 45.9 25 22.4 Total soluble organic matter 248 100 30 24 Insoluble organic matter 2,576 992 647 571 Soluble mineral matter 154 87 39 33 Insoluble mineral matter 405 549 1,116 1,351 Nitrogen in soluble matter 14.9 6.9 3.6 1.7 Nitrogen in insoluble matter 49.4 39 21.4 20.7 - -

It is not necessary to make many remarks on this table. The facts speak for themselves. It will be seen that there is considerable loss even by letting the manure lie spread out until spring; but, serious as this loss is, it is small compared to the loss sustained by allowing the manure to lie exposed in the yard during the summer.

In the five tons of fresh manure, we have, November 3, 64.3 lbs. of nitrogen; April 30, we have 46 lbs.; August 23, only 25 lbs. This is a great loss of the most valuable constituent of the manure. Of soluble mineral matter, the next most valuable ingredient, we have in the five tons of fresh manure, November 3, 154 lbs.; April 30, 87 lbs.; and August 23, only 39 lbs. Of soluble nitrogen, the most active and valuable part of the manure, we have, November 3, nearly 15 lbs.; April 30, not quite 7 lbs.; August 23, 3-1/2 lbs.; and November 15, not quite 1-3/4 lbs.

Dr. Voelcker made still another experiment. He took 1,613 lbs. of well-rotted dung (mixed manure from horses, cows, and pigs,) and kept it in a heap, exposed to the weather, from December 5 to April 30, August 23, and November 15, weighing it and analyzing it at these different dates. I think it is not necessary to give the results in detail. From the 5th of December to the 30th of April, there was no loss of nitrogen in the heap, and comparatively little loss of soluble mineral matters; but from April 30 to August 23, there was considerable loss in both these valuable ingredients, which were washed out of the heap by rain.

Dr. Voelcker draws the following conclusions from his experiments:

"Having described at length my experiments with farm-yard manure," he says, "it may not be amiss to state briefly the more prominent and practically interesting points which have been developed in the course of this investigation. I would, therefore, observe:

"1. Perfectly fresh farm yard manure contains but a small proportion of free ammonia.

"2. The nitrogen in fresh dung exists principally in the state of insoluble nitrogenized matters.

"3. The soluble organic and mineral constituents of dung are much more valuable fertilizers than the insoluble. Particular care, therefore, should be bestowed upon the preservation of the liquid excrements of animals, and for the same reason the manure should be kept in perfectly water-proof pits of sufficient capacity to render the setting up of dung-heaps in the corner of fields, as much as it is possible, unnecessary.

"4. Farm-yard manure, even in quite a fresh state, contains phosphate of lime, which is much more soluble than has hitherto been suspected.

"5. The urine of the horse, cow, and pig, does not contain any appreciable quantity of phosphate of lime, whilst the drainings of dung-heaps contain considerable quantities of this valuable fertilizer. The drainings of dung-heaps, partly for this reason, are more valuable than the urine of our domestic animals, and, therefore, ought to be prevented by all available means from running to waste.

"6. The most effectual means of preventing loss in fertilizing matters is to cart the manure directly on the field whenever circumstances allow this to be done.

"7. On all soils with a moderate proportion of clay, no fear need to be entertained of valuable fertilizing substances becoming wasted if the manure cannot be plowed in at once. Fresh, and even well-rotten, dung contains very little free ammonia; and since active fermentation, and with it the further evolution of free ammonia, is stopped by spreading out the manure on the field, valuable volatile manuring matters can not escape into the air by adopting this plan.

"As all soils with a moderate proportion of clay possess in a remarkable degree the power of absorbing and retaining manuring matters, none of the saline and soluble organic constituents are wasted even by a heavy fall of rain. It may, indeed, be questioned whether it is more advisable to plow in the manure at once, or to let it lie for some time on the surface, and to give the rain full opportunity to wash it into the soil.

"It appears to me a matter of the greatest importance to regulate the application of manure to our fields, so that its constituents may become properly diluted and uniformly distributed amongst a large mass of soil. By plowing in the manure at once, it appears to me, this desirable end can not be reached so perfectly as by allowing the rain to wash in gradually the manure evenly spread on the surface of the field.

"By adopting such a course, in case practical experience should confirm my theoretical reasoning, the objection could no longer be maintained that the land is not ready for carting manure upon it. I am inclined to recommend, as a general rule: Cart the manure on the field, spread it at once, and wait for a favorable opportunity to plow it in. In the case of clay soils, I have no hesitation to say the manure may be spread even six months before it is plowed in, without losing any appreciable quantity in manuring matter.

"I am perfectly aware, that on stiff clay land, farm-yard manure, more especially long dung, when plowed in before the frost sets in, exercises a most beneficial action by keeping the soil loose, and admitting the free access of frost, which pulverizes the land, and would, therefore, by no means recommend to leave the manure spread on the surface without plowing it in. All I wish to enforce is, that when no other choice is left but either to set up the manure in a heap in a corner of the field, or to spread it on the field, without plowing it in directly, to adopt the latter plan. In the case of very light sandy soils, it may perhaps not be advisable to spread out the manure a long time before it is plowed in, since such soils do not possess the power of retaining manuring matters in any marked degree. On light sandy soils, I would suggest to manure with well-fermented dung, shortly before the crop intended to be grown is sown.

"8. Well-rotten dung contains, likewise, little free ammonia, but a very much larger proportion of soluble organic and saline mineral matters than fresh manure.

"9. Rotten dung is richer in nitrogen than fresh.

"10. Weight for weight, rotten dung is more valuable than fresh.

"11. In the fermentation of dung, a very considerable proportion of the organic matters in fresh manure is dissipated into the air in the form of carbonic acid and other gases.

"12. Properly regulated, however, the fermentation of dung is not attended with any great loss of nitrogen, nor of saline mineral matters.

"13. During the fermentation of dung, ulmic, humic, and other organic acids are formed, as well as gypsum, which fix the ammonia generated in the decomposition of the nitrogenized constituents of dung.

"14. During the fermentation of dung, the phosphate of lime which it contains is rendered more soluble than in fresh manure.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11     Next Part
Home - Random Browse