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without a covering during the winter. No fertilizer was applied
The spring of 1904 was unusually wet and backward so that the first harrowing in 1904 was necessarily delayed until June 3. It was at this time harrowed in two directions with the double action cutaway harrow, and then made level with the Clark smoothing harrow. It was harrowed five times after this before it was seeded.
August 16, there was applied at the rate of 800 pounds per acre a fertilizer made from 500 pounds fine bone tankage, 100 pounds nitrate of soda, 300 pounds acid phosphate and 150 pounds of muriate of potash. The 800 pounds of this mixture carried about 27 pounds nitrogen, 75 pounds available phosphoric acid, 115 pounds total phosphoric acid and 75 pounds potash. The field was then again harrowed with the double action harrow and made true with the smoothing harrow, and seeded with timothy and red top at the rate of 14 quarts of each per acre. The seed was harrowed in with the Clark smoothing
. harrow (without the leveling board) and then rolled. There was an excellent catch and when the snow came the last of November the field was in good shape for the winter.
The following spring (1905) there were applied 300 pounds per acre of a fertilizer carrying about 20 pounds of nitrogen, 8 pounds available phosphoric acid, 22 pounds total phosphoric acid and 50 pounds potash.
As soon as the grass made much growth it was apparent that the piece was overseeded and the grass plants were badly crowding each other. As the result the grass was much finer than timothy and red top usually are. There was such a tangle of fine grasses at the bottom that it could not be cut clean with the mowing machine.
The field was mown the second week in July, at which time the timothy was a little past full bloom. The somewhat less than two acres yielded 61/4 tons of field cured hay. The second growth was not sufficient to warrant cutting. In our experience it is not practicable in the short season of growth to obtain two cuttings of the ordinary grasses. Clover can usually be depended upon to give two cuttings, but unless the first crop is cut too early for the best hay, timothy will give only one cutting a season in central and northern Maine.
The experiment clearly indicates the value of thorough preparation of the seed bed and liberal application of fertilizer for the production of grass. If half the quantity of seed had been used, the yield would probably have been greater and the hay of more desirable quality for horses.
The fertilizers used in growing this crop of 6 tons of hay cost about $40, and the seed and labor of preparation, seeding and harvesting cost about $37. In the next season and succeeding seasons the cost of fertilizers recommended by Mr. Clark and harvesting would be about $25 a year. If three successive crops equal to the first were obtained, the 18 tons of hay would be grown at a cost of a little more than $125. The hay would be worth according to the location of the farm in Maine from $8 to $12 a ton in the barn, or at an average price would bring about $180—a profit of $55 to pay the interest on the capital invested and taxes. With thinner seeding probably a larger crop would have been obtained. If the four tons per acre that Mr. Clark expects from the first cutting were obtained, the profits would be materially increased. It is to be noted that a very considerable part of the profit that Mr. Clark figures comes from the second crop that he can obtain in Connecticut with the 6 weeks longer growing season.
Although it is probable that thorough preparation and fertilization of the soil for hay will in the long run prove profitable even in Maine with its distance from markets, growing grass for the purpose of selling hay is probably not the best kind of agriculture for the average farmer in this State. In a few localities near to the larger cities hay farming may prove a profitable industry.
While thoroughly endorsing the general proposition that thorough preparation and high manuring of the land is essential to the highest success in grass raising, the Station does not recommend the adoption of the Clark method by Maine farmers, chiefly because it does not fit in with mixed farming and rotation of crops. The coarse products of the farm should be fed upon the farm and the manure returned to the land in order to maintain and increase fertility. Selling hay is selling fertility from the farm. Three tons of timothy and red top remove * about 69 pounds of nitrogen, 27 pounds of phosphoric acid and 58 pounds potash that it will cost more than $18 to replace commercially.
* Bulletin 107 of this station, p. 137.
The plan of a hay farm does not admit of rotation of crops. Rotations are very important in the proper and economical handling of land. For instance, if potatoes or corn are grown preceding grass, the land will be in equally good condition from fall plowing and once harrowing in the spring as from the frequent harrowings necessitated by summer seeding. In the rotation most of the cost of the preparation of the seed bed falls upon a money crop as potatoes, or corn, and not upon the next season's grass crop.
The seeding formula recommended by Mr. Clark does not contain clover. This is the most important forage plant that the Maine farmer can grow. It is rich in protein and is able to obtain its nitrogen from the air. While clover hay does not command as good price as that from red top and timothy, it can be grown at a less cost per ton and has a greater feeding value.
SOIL INOCULATION FOR LEGUMES FROM ARTIFICIAL CULTURES
BY THE HELP OF BACTERIA. That legumes such as peas, clover, etc., can by the help of bacteria acquire atmospheric nitrogen through their roots has been a matter of common knowledge for 20 years. The bacteria produce enlargements upon the roots of the plants, which are called root nodules. Not all soils carry the proper organisms, but those deficient can be artificially inoculated. About ten years ago, under the name of Nitragin, commercial cultures were prepared in Germany for the purpose of inoculating sterile soils. This matter is discussed in considerable detail, together with certain experiments with nitragin, in the reports of this Station for 1897, 1898 and 1900. As a scientific curiosity nitragin was of great interest, but in practice it oftener failed to yield satisfactory results than to give them. The principles underlying the use of nitragin are of great practical importance, and many investigators are at work upon the problem. It was announced in an almost sensational article in the Century Magazine for October, 1904, that the U. S. Department of Agriculture had solved the problem of preparing active cultures in a convenient form for distribution. Later the department issued a bulletin *
Bul. 71, Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Dept. Agr.
announcing this discovery and giving the results of a large number of co-operative experiments which seemed to confirm the great claims made for these cultures. Because the soil in New England, where peas and clover have been grown for generations, is very generally inoculated with the nodule forming bacteria, the Station cautioned farmers against the purchase of cultures other than in an experimental way. It seems now that the method itself is unsatisfactory.
Cultures for ordinary legumes were obtained by this Station from the Department at Washington and from the Nitro-Culture Company of West Chester, Pa. The cultures furnished by the company were given to us and we have no reason to think but that they acted in entire good faith and that they believed the method and the cultures they were sending out to be all that was claimed for them. Experiments were carried out by this Station in the summer of 1905 on quite a number of farms in different parts of the State with peas, clover and alfalfa. The results were negative, and because as stated below the failures were due to the culture, the results are not given in detail. While taken by themselves they would not be sufficient to offset the large number of favorable reports printed by the department in the bulletin above cited, they accord with those obtained by many practical men in New England. Why they failed is explained by a very full and careful study made by the New York State Station * in which it is not only shown that the cultures sent out by the department and the commercial companies in 1905 were, so far as examined, worthless, but their studies discredit the method used in the manufacture of the cultures. Their conclusions are summarized as follows:
“I. During the past two years much interest has been shown in the inoculation of legumes with bacteria to enable the legumes to obtain nitrogen from the air.
II. These bacteria have been distributed in a dried condition upon cotton. Before being applied to the seeds the cotton is put into a solution of chemicals and the bacteria allowed to multiply.
III. These packages of treated cotton have had a wide sale at a high price—two dollars for a package sufficient to treat an acre—while the cost of production was less than ten cents.
* Bul. 270, N. Y. State Expt. Sta.
IV. This bulletin gives the results of a bacteriological examination of 18 such packages of cotton.
V. These examinations made it very evident that the packages were worthless for practical purposes.
VI. Substantially identical results upon six of these packages were obtained in five separate laboratories.
VII. It was shown that the failure of these cultures was inherent in the method of their preparation rather than in any knavery of their producers.
VII. While these results will explain the many failures from the use of cotton cultures they should not be undestood as being opposed to the idea of treating the seed of legumes with living bacteria." *
The principle of soil inoculation from cultures is all right, but the method of preparation and shipment practiced by the department and the commercial companies cannot be depended upon. Fortunately for Maine farmers there is probably but little to be gained by inoculating soil for our common leguminous crops such as clover, peas and beans. If one desires to grow alfalfa, soy beans, cow peas, or other leguminous plants that are not usually grown in the State, the inoculation by the application of soil from a field that has grown the desired legume with an abundance of root tubercles is the only sure way yet devised. This inoculation, by the transfer of soil carrying the organism, has never given negative results so far as the writers know. While it is to be hoped that the difficulties that made nitragin a failure, and the equally unsatisfactory results from nitro-cultures may be speedily overcome, the commercial cultures now in the market and any that are likely to be offered in 1906 are apparently valueless for practical purposes.
FERTILIZER EXPERIMENT IN FIELD CULTURE OF GARDEN Peas.
In Northern Maine where potatoes are the chief money crop, a common rotation is to follow the potatoes with clover and mixed grasses, seeding with grain, sometimes wheat, but more commonly oats. In Woodland, near Caribou, in the northern part of Aroostook county, a pea canning industry has been introduced by Geo. T. Goodwin and Company. The peas can be used in the rotation in the place of grain. The culture is very
* Bul. 270, N. Y. State Expt. Sta.