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Dorsetshire. The result, however, is not so satisfactory in a profitable point of view as in light land counties, because, as Talpa has shown in bis ' Annals of a Clay Farm, it is almost impossible on a retentive soil, with any paying number of horses, to get through more than one-third of the ploughing before winter sets in, with its rain and snow. The cultivators of the farms which from their natural fertility in dry seasons were in favour for centuries, while what are now our finest corn-growing districts were Moorland deserts, are often beaten by time, prevented as they are by the wet from getting on the land, and obliged to work slowly with three or four horses. Yet on autumnal cultivation depends the security of the root-crops—and the rootcrops are like the agricultural • Tortoise' of Indian mythology, the basis on which rests the rent-paying corn crop. Much, therefore, as deep drainage bas done for advanced farmers, on retentive clays, it has not done enough, and they look anxiously forward for the time when a perfect steam cultivator will make them independent of animal power, and enable them, if needful, to work night as well as day during every hour of dry weather.
We have not thought it necessary to dwell upon any of those profitless agricultural miracles which are from time to time performed, to the great amazement of the class with whom turnips are only associated with boiled legs of mutton, and mangoldwurzel with salad. As little have we cared to describe liquidmanure farms, netted over with iron pipes, irrigated by bose and jet, and a perpetually pumping steain-engine, for the simple reason that, while deep drains, guano, superphosphate of lime, long straw nanure, and other aids to agriculture introduced within the last fifteen years, give an early result, liquid manure, under an English sun, has never been proved to be effective, except for grass crops on a dairy farm. 'We have contented ourselves with selecting illustrations which, though not specimens of perfection in every department, for they all have defects, and in two out of three the buildings and implements might easily be improved, are yet fair types of the system of cultivation wbich is making rapid progress through every district of England. These are farms which are cultivated on commercial principles, instead of being mainly expensive rarec-shows-farms which
pay fair rents, and return fair profits, and yield an amount of meat and corn which is at least double that raised by unintelligent farmers in England, and above four-fold that obtained from a more fertile soil and genial sun by the peasant proprietors of France and Germany.
In the absence of agricultural statistics, we have no exact data for comparing the produce of England before and since the era of
“high • high farming ;' but the following figures will convey some idea of the fixed and floating capital invested by landlords and tenants in modern improvements. Since 1839 at least twelve hundred thousand tons of guano have been imported, for which not less than twelve millions sterling have been paid. In the year 1837 the foreign bones imported were valued by the Custom House authorities at 250,0001. After that date we have no return, but since 1840 one million at least has been paid annually for bones, sulphuric acid, and artificial manures, independently of guano. Since 1846 at least sixteen millions have been invested in deep thorough drainage. Thus we have an expenditure of upwards of thirty millions, without counting the value of new implements and machines, purchased every year by thousands, or the large sums laid out in adding to the productive acreage of farms by throwing down useless hedgerows, or in rebuilding the rude homesteads that served the
preceding agricultural generation, and in replacing the inferior local breeds of stock by better animals suited to the soil and climate.
There are other facts which are full as significant. In 1847 the proprietor of a now prosperous school of agricultural chemistry could not, out of a large number of pupils, find one who was willing to be gratuitously instructed in the science for which farmers willingly pay him at present a heavy extra fee. Even Mr. Pusey, who devoted his life to improvements in cultivation, made the mistake, in his last report, of undervaluing the services which chemistry had rendered to agriculture. Such, however, is found to be its practical value, that the demands of farmers have created a class of chemists who make the relative value of manures and artificial food and the constituents of soils the objects of their especial study. To such inquiries Mr. Lawes devotes the Rothamsted experimental farm and laboratory, an establishment over which Dr. Gilbert presides, at an expense for the last fifteen years of more than 10001. a year. Professor Way, who has lately been succeeded by Professor Voelcker, was bound by his appointment under the Royal Agricultural Society to supply analyses to the subscribers at certain low fixed rates, and he was amply employed by the tenant-farmer community. In the West of England, long considered the very Bæotia of agriculture, Professor Voelcker delivered last year at Exeter, Barnstaple, and Newton Abbott, at the request of the Bath and West of England Agricultural Society, a series of most admirable lectures, the results of experiments carried on at Cirencester, on such subjects as "The Value of Artificial Manures,' Farm Yard Manures,' "The Composition of Fertile and Barren Soils,' «The Nutritive Value of different Oilcakes. In 1840 there was no chemist sufficiently familiar with farming to
treat usefully on these topics; and if he could have talked the very quintessence of practical wisdom, there certainly was no agricultural audience prepared to listen to him. That he spoke the language of science would of itself have been sufficient to convince the tenantry throughout the country that he did not speak the language of common sense. It is true that Coke of Holkham, with his usual acuteness, had long before invited the attention of Sir Humphry Davy to the chemistry of agriculture, and even specially retained a Mr. Grisewood's services for Norfolk; but the public were not yet ripe for instruction, and the lever of superphosphate of lime and guano was wanting to move their minds from traditionary routine. From that period the work went on with railroad celerity. When Mr. Josiah Parkes called on Mr. Handley in 1837, he found him experimenting on a new manure called guano.' Ten years later, although the consumption was enormous, many farmers looked upon its use as a sort of treason, and met innovators with a maxim, which is in one sense sound : “ Nothing like muck.' Others equally ignorant but more enterprising used it freely, and grew great crops without caring to know the reason why. The desire to ascertain the reason why quickly followed, and has already converted many a farmer into a creature of reason from a creature of rule-of-thumb.
If it be asked what has been practically gained within the last twenty years by the investigations of the agricultural chemist, we would answer, certainty. We knew years ago that farmyard manure was excellent; by the light of chemical science we learn why it is a perfect universal manure,' we learn how to manufacture and employ it best, and we learn why on clay soils it may be safely, nay advantageously, left for weeks on the surface before being ploughed in. Chemical science again teaches us why lime, which is not an active manure, although valuable as a destroyer of elements hostile to fertility, produces great effect for a series of years, and then not unfrequently ceases to show any profitable results; it teaches us to what crops guano, to what superphosphate of lime, to what farmyard manure may be most profitably applied, and when a mixture of all three. Chemistry settles the comparative value of linseed cake, cotton cake, and karob beans; shows when pulse should be used for fattening pigs, and how to compound a mixture of Indian corn and bean-meal which shall produce fat bacon neither hard nor wasteful. The conclusions of science were previously known empirically to a few, but their range was limited and their application accidental. They have been reduced to order and rendered universally available for the use of plain farmers by the investigations of men like
Lawes and Voelcker. As the latter observes, there are too many modifying influences of soil, climate, season, &c., to enable us to establish any invariable laws for the guidance of the husbandman;' but the more we can trace effects to their causes and ascertain the mode in which nature operates, the nearer we are to fixed principles and a sure rule of practice.
It would seem then that the first great epoch of modern agricultural improvement began with Lord Townshend, who demonstrated the truth embodied in the adage,
"He who marls sand
May buy the land, showed the value of the turnip, and, as we presume, must have been a patron of the four-course system, which had its rise in Norfolk about the same time. The second epoch was that of Bakewell, whose principles of stock-breeding have ever since continued to raise, year by year, the average value of our meatproducing animals. The third epoch dates from the exertions of such men as the Duke of Bedford and Coke of Holkham, the latter of whom, combining usages which had been very partially acted upon, brought into favour drilled turnip husbandry, carried all the branches of farming as far as was permitted by the knowledge of his time, and did the inestimable service of innoculating hundreds of landlords and tenants with his own views. The fourth epoch, if we were to take each advance from its earliest dawn, would comprise the various dates of the opening of the first railroad, the importation of the first cargo of guano, the publication of Liebig's first edition of the 'Chemistry of Agriculture,' and the deep draining of the Bonesetter's field on Chat Moss; but in general terms it may be said to date from the first meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society at Oxford in 1839, when farmers began to be familiarized with men of science, and men of science learned not to despise agricultural experience. This last era is almost the birth of yesterday, and already, as compared with any former period, the results read more like a page from the Arabian Nights than like a chapter in the history of agricultural progress. Deep drainage, artificial manures, artificial food, improved implements, and railroad conveyance, have been the leading means by which the change has been wrought. Deep drainage has brought into play the unexhausted fertility of our strong clays; portable manures and purchased food have increased the crops on land of every degree, Mangold and swedes have been made to flourish on stiff soils, and cereals on sieve-like sands. Downs have been transformed from bare pastures to heavy root and rich grain
bearing fields. The visitors to Salisbury Plain at the agricultural show of 1857 were surprised to find a large part of it converted into productive corn-land-a change which has been almost entirely effected within the last twenty years. The scientific mechanic has provided the tools and machinery for breaking up and pulverising the ground, for sowing the seed, for gathering the crops, for preparing it for market, for crushing or cutting the food for the stock, with an ease, a quickness, and a perfection unknown before. The railroad is the connecting medium which maintains the vast circulation, conveying the agencies of production to the farmer, and the produce of the farmer to the market. The steam-cultivator is, perhaps, about to be added to the triumphs of mechanism, and then will be realised the expression in the fine lines of Mr. Thackeray on the Great Exhibition of 1851—an expression which was premature if it was intended to be historic, but which we hope, and almost believe, will prove to be prophetic.
• Look yonder where the engines toil ;
These England's arms of conquest are,
Brave weapons these.
With these she sails, she weaves, she tills,
And spans the seas.'