CAMBRIDGE FARMERS' CLUB.
Waikato Times, Volume XVI, Issue 1332, 13 January 1881, Page 2
CAMBRIDGE FARMERS' CLUB.
The usual monthly meeting of the Club was held at 'the Club House, Cambridge, on Monday eyening last. There were present, Messrs B. H. D. Fergusson, (President in the chair), E. Maclean, G. E. Clark, Jno. Fisher, Kalendar, T. Wells, J. Bunciman, Ellis, E. B. Walker and A. A. Fantham. The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed, and the Club proceeded to ballot for new members, when the following were unanimously elected Messrs J. W. Merrick, G. F. Hosking, James Taylor and A. B. Suttor. Mr G. E. Clark then, at the invitation of the President, read the following essay on
Turnip Culture. Mr President, and Gentlemen, In bringing this important subject before the members of this Club, I trust that my remarks may elicit a good discussion from those present, and that each member will give the Club the benefit of his experiment in the growth of turnips, whether successful or otherwise, which I feel assured will lead to profitable results. I shall sugge-tt a few of the different methods of treatment of lands for the turnip crop, and would heie remark that what will answer for the light porous land in some parts of Waikato will not be applicable to harder boils at all. In the selection of land for the jrrowth of a crop of turnips it is a very common practice to select the most worn out piece of grass land on the iavm, and make the turnip crop a preparation for lelaying down with grass, or possibly a crop of grain. Failure has ofteu resulted from ploughing down all the rubbish in the shape of fera and weeds that may be growing on buch land, thK on tiial has proved very injurious to the welfare of the turnip plants the advantage gained by running a mowing machine over the land prior to ploughing and burning the rubbish will more than repay the cost of the labor. When properly cleared, it j then remains to be determined, if de-arable or otherwise to plough more than once there are two methods of treatment where twice ploughing is reported to, the one *o plough very shallow, and harrow down when well lotted, and then cross plough, the other to plough a good fair depth, and when ready, to ciosspl>>ugh as lightly as possible, the object is to get the surface soil and sub-soil fairly mixed to gefcher. Either of these j two methods has been found to answer well. For once ploughing grass land, it is deshable to use the slcim coulter. I have seen a locally made article, which works immediately behind the skeef, and appears to increase the drauuht but slightly, making capital work, not interfering with the lay of the furrow, and yet leaving all the edges clean. After ploughing I have found a heavy Cambridge, or Cambridge aud Crasskill combined roller (I piefer the latter) the best implement to use, it breaks down the furiows at once, and the hariovrs work freely after it, keeping everything thnt is covered beneath the sod this treatment would apply more especially to light land, for heavy land I should much prefer a regular course of twice ploughing and well working up. Seed per acre must be determined by the condition of the laud and the supposed age of the seed. In a country so infested with insect life ab this ib, too much importance cannot be attached to obtaining the newest possible growth of seed, it will germinate quicker, have more vitality, and hence t h e crop will make more rapid progress than from older seed. If the land is in very firstclass condition and well manured, half a pound per acre will be ample of new seed, if modeiate oidei, thiee-quarters of a pound per acre, and for ordinaiy tillage one pound per acre these quantities are for lands that are manured, it i» well to err on the safe side, ns it i^ easier to hairow up plants than to re-sow the land if too thin. Many farmers fear to apply the liai'rows to turnips le&t they should tear them all up. I can assure the doubtful that the turnip 2)lants when the leaves are from thiee to four inches long are benefited rather than otherwi.se by a btto-e with the harrows (especially in showery weather). The choice of variety of turnip must depend on the time in the season the grower is ready to sow, I think the Swede turnips the most valuable variety, as far w feeding properties are concerned, but hi its culture it is necessary to sow in December, or at latest, middle of January, which occasions having to contend with many weeds that the laler varieties escape. I am inclined to the belief that the Swede requires a more careful culture than the Aberdeen varieties which follow the Swede. In Aberdeen, farmers have fancy varieties purple top or green top, Aboideens, and the Aberdeen yellow. Each variety has its admirers, and it is difficult to make a farmer believe th°re is any variety equal to tho one ho thinks coirect. For my own pait, I have grown them all, and side by side, and have not been able to discover which is the best turnip, but can pionounce them nil good vaiieties. From the middle of January to end of Febmary will be the most desirable time to sow these turnips in succession, as j equired for use. One of the best turnips to follow the Abordeenb is tho Devonshire greystone. It is a most excellent stubble turnip, and although belonging to the turnip variety, has excellent feeding properties if fed. off at maturity, not allowing them to get overgrown. Turnips, after grain crops, it has been proved beyond dibpute that it is possible with a fair application of manure to grow first-class crops of turnips after maturity of crop of wheat or oats. I may hei'e remark an instance that came under my notice at the Root Show held at Te Awanmtu on Ist July last, viz., one of the finest collections of Aberdeen and Greystone turnips it has ever been my pleasure to see, where shown from a full crop grown on land from which good crops of wheat and oats were harvested the January previous. This, 1 think, speaks well for the capabilities of the Waikato lands, where farmers can secure two good crops off their land in the year, and leave it iv splendid condition for receiving grass the following spring, if required. It is known to most of the members of this Club that I am a great belierer in the application of bone manures, as much as possible. As graziers, we are continually extracting from the soil with cattle and sheep properties that these manures contain. It is desirable to return as much of the propertiss that we extract as possible in the manures 'we apply. The differences of opinion in the use of manures are as diverse as those of varieties of turnips many farmers believingr if they secure the finest boneflour they are certain of success with a turnip crop. I can, with confidence, state from what has come under my own especial notice, that any boneflour or bonemeal made from steamed bones, although, of the utmost purity, will render no assistance to the turnip crop for at least six weeks after its application to the land. I have seen it applied beside other manures, and where no manures were "used, and for six weeks no difference was noticeable between boneflour and where no manure was sown, whilst Victorian bonedust and, superphosphate
had made rapid progress from the first appearance of the plants. Further I may state that a gentleman in the Te Awamutu district whose word is most reliable, assured me last year in trying one of the beat brands of boneflour that comes into this market beside Victorian bonedust, the former was a failure and the latter a full crop attributed to the one acting at once, and getting the plant quickly out of the way of insects, and the other failing to render the assistance at the time when most needed Some few advocate the uaeof chemical manures for the turnip crop, it is quite possible they may grow a good crop of turnips, and in Britain or an country that haa been systematically farmed »nd> well manured for years, they may be very valuable but on our lands that have never been manured at all to use highly chemical manures with a view to feeding the land is much like a man trying to live on brandy it may give him a considerable impetus for a short time but will leave him worse than it found him in the end. Mexican guanos have been used with very fair results. The desirability of growing turnips for the support of cattle and sheep during the winter months needs no comment from me, I believe it to be an acknowledged fact, and those that fail to do so may be considered behind the times. There are few countries that possess the same advantages that this country does for the culture of turnips and using them when grown, there are doubtless many instances of great waste in feeding off a crop of turnips through not having fences to subdivide, to put a quantity of cattle on a field that will last them for three months, and let them remain there during that period is not well, if it can be avoided four or five divisions would be much better for both stock and laud. I have found that one seven foot post and three five feet, three by three to the chain with five wires will keep cattle on turnips well. I used only sucli fences for that purpose last year, and the labour of removing is very small. I consider the culture of turnips in this country only in its in fancy at present it will require time to establish a proper system and to determine what is the proper proportion of a farm, to sow with and what to follow in rotation. When this is arrived at, and one and all are prepared to give such crops a fair application of bone manure, I have no hesitation in stating my belief that this country will produce double the quantity that it has ever done yet and that the size and quality of stock will be equal if not surpass anything we have yet seen. Mr John Fisher cordially endorsed the greater portion of the essay but was sorry Mr Clark had not entered a little into the preparation of the soil. Grass land, worn out paddocks, should be ploughed in September, and afterwards subjected to the action of the cultivator, which would have almost as good effect as two ploughings. He had followed this plan this season, had sown with swedes in November, drilling in about |lb of seed, with one cwt. of Victorian boneflour to the acre. He had put the harrows over the ground five times, and the crop now looked thick and promising. PTe had not grown the Devonshire Greystones, and did not like them they had too much water in them. He hud tried another turnip, called All the year round. He found that it grow very well at first, but fell off afterwards. It did not, however, die away so quickly as the Aberdeens and Greystones varieties. In regard to the essayist's remarks about the relative value of bones and chemical manures, he might say that List year he had tried bonedust against Gran's mixture. The season was very unfavourable, and the seed did not start for several weeks. On places where equal quantities of both manures had been put, Crans Avas the best but where the manure was of equal value only, the bones had the advantage. He had seen splendid results in grain crops down country, from the use of Mexican guano. He hoped to see the drill more generally used in the culture of turnips. He felt sure that of bonedust drilled, would go further than double the quantity sown broadcast. Captain Runciman said they would all be aware that he had more to do with new land than old worn out grass paddocks: still, he knew enough of the matter to justify himself in fully endorsing the remarks which had been made upon it. oven i£ tiie work of clearing the land were found to be costly, they might rest assured that it would be profitable in the end. An excellent plan in regard to the rubbish, such as fern and course grass, &c, was to put it into a heap in the middle of the turnip field with a stout pole through it. Thus disposed of, they would find the cattle devour almost every morsel when being fed off on the roots. Some time ago he had seen a crop of rough cocksfoot cut off a paddock intended for turnips and burnt. He was confident, had it been stacked in the manner suggested, the cattle would have eaten every bit of it. To show what cattle fed off turnips would eat to form their cud, he might tell them that last year he had a crop of about 33 acres of very good turnips on reclaimed swampland. Adjoining this were some fifteen acres of flax, which the cattle swept completely out of existence. The cattle did exceedingly well, as well, indeed, as they could have done in the summer, He could not hold with the opinion that land for turnips should Kb ploughed twice. By so doing good grass was often lost. If the land were ploughed once and scarified, or treated with a disc harrow, and Veil relied, the same object would be attained. He had seen land thus treated took remarkably well, showing a splendid tilth. Brills r should' certainly be used. By their means less manure could be given, because the manure would be applied directly to the turnip. The after result would also be more satisfactory, in that the greater quantity of turnips grown, would leave the land proportionately richer. Touching the varieties of turnips most suitable/he wris doubtful whether Swedes, were a success. It seemed to him that at the time
they should be sown there were always a large .number of caterpillars in existence. Still, if they failed there remained time to replace them "with some other kind of turnip. Last year he had tried all the kinds sold by Mr Clark. The cattle first of all 'tejjjl' J ,upon the Devonshire greystone (a varieiy which he did not think would thrive on damp ground), and then upon the Aberdeen kind, following up the "All year round. v Regarding the latter, his experience fully bore out what had fallen from Mr Fisher. In answer to Mr Maclean, Captain Runciman said he most certainly approved of using manure, if only to give the young plants a start. He had used Mexican guano, Crans mixture, and Californian bone flour. He had not tried Victorian bones. Weight for weight, lie thought Gran's manure did best for a time. He did not fancy Californian bone flour at all. The quantities used were Crans, 2 cwt. per acre Californian bone flour, 2 cwt., and in some places 3 cwt. Mexican guano, 2 cwt. He was very much pleased with the latter. He had a crop of oats this season which he believed to be second to none in the district. It was rather thin, owing to the sparrows; but a prettier crop he had nevpr seen, especially on that portion where the Mexican guano had been sown the previous season. Mr E. B. Walker felt that there was very little left to him to say. It was of the utmost importance that the land should be made as line as possible as well as solid. Regarding manure, he might say that however just the principles of homoeopathy might be, the turnips most decidedly did not believe in it. H e believed, nevertheless, that half a hundredweight of manure drilled was better than three hundredweight sown broadcast. It was important to get the crop on for the first three weeks, so as to put it beyond the reach of the fly. This could only be done by using manure He drilled his Swedes, mixing lib. of seed with 2cwt. of Victorian bones to the acre. Treated thus, this season's crop was looking splendid. The I drill he used was that exhibited at the Cambridge Show. It might, of course, be advantageous to how turnips broadcast if grass was sown with them. Mr E. Maclean, after remarking on the importance of the .subject, proceeded to say that he had been in the habit of sowing lib. of .seed to the acre, most of the crop being drilled. He had found, however, that the work of weeding was very costly, when men had to be paid 5s I per day for what was done better in the old country for Dd per day. He had used the Northumberland drill, and found it did the work very well. He referred to the success which had attended the experiment tried by Mr J. C. FirMi, of putting in grass with the turnips. They were making experiments in the same direction at Fen Court, and hoped for equally good results. Last year, although their turnip crops were small, they would have been very badly oil" without them. This year the season was more favourable, and the crops •were looking well. He did not mind a little fern in the crop, as the cattle would eat it all down. Last year, even the rushes growing in a gully in the turnip field were all consumed. But after all the question remained: What should they do with their turnips v. hen they got them Was it more profitable to feed sheep than cattle, or vice verm I They were an expensive crop, and farmers ought to see some means of putting the money expended back in their pockets. In regard to the Devonshire greystones, he would say, before sitting down, that he could not see they were of any use except for early feeding, as one ton of Swedes was worth half-a-dozen tons of them. The President quite agreed with what had fallen from the lips of the last speaker regarding the expense attendant upon drilling Swedes. But it paid, he felt sure, from his own experience of ridge-sowing last season, notwithstanding that the labour, as Mr Maclean had said, was bad. Mr Maclean interposed to say that he had not complained of the labour being bad so much as inexperienced and therefore expensive. The President maintained that inexperienced labour was bad labour. He 'repeated that after all drilling paid best. When the crop was sown broadcast, one sometimes got half a crop, sometimes a quarter, and sometimes less. Manure should, of course, be used, and the proportion of seed should be Swedes, |-lb. yellow turnips, fib., with about 3 cwt. of bones to the acre. Oalifornian boneflour was simply trash at least he had found it to be such. In regard to the preparation of the soil, he would recommend the use of the Norwegian harrow, a splendid implement. It might not be so good as the disc harrow, but it was the best implement next to the plough which he had se^i For dividing the paddocks, Up would recommend something more portable than that referred to by Mr Clark in the case.of sheep he would suggest sheepnetting. $Jr John Fisher said he had put in a crop of Swedes the previous season on the 11th November. They came on very well till about the t 'middle or end of January, when the cricTfets^TriSdred r the leaves and l: stopped ibheir" growth. f The, leaves ii grPH-'4gwW:fewfcitli6 roots did not do pittchu Still theyincrfased until the
pillars got amongst and went right through them. In June he put on cattle and kept them there till September thriving remarkably well. The crop was manured with 1 cwt, of Victorian bonedust. Mr Maclean Did the crop pay Mr Fisher Mr Fisher Unfortunately I cannot say with exactness, as I have the cattle by me now but if I had sold them in September, I believe they would have paid well. After a few remarks from Oapt. Runciman, in favour of putting cattle on turnips, Mr Fantham considered that turnip-growing was too expensive to be profitable, The manure alone would cost something like £1 10s. Mr Maclean thought it would not be so much as that. Mr Fantham thought the total cost per acre of putting in the crop would be about £2 4s. He related a few of his own experiences, which were not very favourable. He attributed the failure of one crop to overmanuring. After some further discussion, Mr Clark briefly replied, recapitulating many of the arguments used in his essay. He strongly approved of the drill, but believed that good crops of turnips could be got by sowing broadcast. In reference to the remarks made by Mr Maclean about the profitableness of growing turnips, he would say this If stock raising could not be successfully carried out with the aid of turnips, could they expect to do so without 1 Greystones sown in October or November could be fed off in January, or they could be sown in March and eaten in August. To sow this variety now would simply be to waste money. It would be seen, however, that it had its uses'. With reference to division fences, he might add that that recommended in his essay was extremely portable. A cordial vote of thanks was, on the motion of Mr Maclean, passed to Mr Clark for his valuable essay. Several notices of motion were tabled, and the President having consented to read a paper at the next meeting, the Club rose.