AGRICULTURAL PAPERS. No. m. By J ames Gammack, Esq. “ The Influence of Trees on Climate.” On Tuesday, 15th February, 1872, Mr. Gammock read his paper as follows on the above to the Lincoln Farmer’s Club ' Two months ago we were congratulating ourselves on the prospect of an abundant harvest, from one end of the province to the other all accounts agreed that the crops never looked better ; that feed was plentiful, and that the high price of wheat in England would cause a good demand for ours at a remunerative price, but the long continued drought with continual nor’-westers so witheredup the grain, especially on the light land, that a great part of both oats and wheat was scarcely worth cutting; and the violent winds on the 18th and 23rd ultimo shook so much of the standing crop that I consider myself under the mark when I estimate our loss from both these causes at 20 per cent, of the total crop. Now, when we consider that owing to the low price of wool, cattle, and dairy produce last year a great deal of English grass land was broken up and put under grain crops, we may safely estimate the land under crop as larger than in any former year. According to the statistics of the harvest of 1870 our produce was estimated at 3i millions of bushels and valued at half a million of money. Now 20 per cent, deducted from that would amount to one hundred thousand pounds as the loss sustained by the farmers in grain alone, to which must be added the loss on stock through scarcity of feed and water on both farms and runs, also the damage sustained by bush and grass fires, probably the loss would amount to as much as that sustained on grain crops. Now this severe drought, though worse than we have had for several years, is not unusual ; nearly every year we have a long spell of dry scorching weather, sometimes in the spring, sometimes in summer, and at other times after harvest checking vegetation, the young grass and clover, and rendering the calling of both farmers and graziers very uncertain.
A great deal of discussion has been going on lately in Australia, India, and America, regarding the clearing of large tracts of forest land. It is alleged that where the hill-sides have been cleared of timber, the springs have dried up, and less rain has fallen than formerly, and that the country is more subject to long droughts and heavy floods ; that the rain, instead of falling among the trees and being there partly absorbed, now falls on the parched hill sides and runs off at once, thereby causing heavy floods. Humboldt says that “trees exhale fluid from their leaves, in the first place for their own benefit, but various important secondary effects follow from this process ; one of them is, maintaining a suitable portion of humidity in the air, not only do they attach and condense the moisture suspended in the air, and borne by the wind over the earth’s surface which, falling from their leaves, keeps the ground below moist and cool, but they can by means of their roots, pump it up from a very considerable depth, and raising it into the atmosphere diffuse it over the face of the country. Trees, by their perspiration from their leaves, surround themselves with an atmosphere constantly cool and moist.” Dr. Schomburgh says “ trees exhale humidity on a large scale. As a rule, humidity surrounds them. In the same manner, the lightning conductor attracts the electric fluid, the forests attract and draw down the rain clouds, which benefit themselves and likewise the neighbouring agricultural land.” I could give hundreds of facts in support of the foreging opinions, but will confine myself to a few. Egypt, well known for its dry climate, had formerly about six rainy days on an average per year, but since the last and present Viceroy planted many millions of trees there are now on an average twenty four rainy days recorded.
The Emperor Napoleon convinced of the great benefit the barren and swampy districts of France would derive if planted with trees commanded many millions of them to be planted in these portions of the empire. He also planted thousands of acres of the desert in Algiers with suitable forest trees, and three years ago some of these plantations, especially the Australian species, had reached a growth of 12 and 15 feet, and already a great change of the climate is observed, and twice as much rain falls about these plantations than formerly. The Island of Mauritius has been settled by Europeans for the last 250 years, and being in the heart of the Indian Ocean, and the centre of the island covered with forests such a thing as drought was unknown, but during the last forty years a great change has been going on, the greater portion of the timber has been cut down, and the land appropriated to sugar plantations, and since then they have had several seasons of excessive drought. Belts of trees across our bare and naked plains would cause many a passing shower to fall on them, which now draws away to the hills. Trees act as regulators and distributors of moisture ; they stop and retain much that would pass over a bare country. A belt of trees ten chains wide, from Templeton to the Rangitata along the lino of railway would do an immense deal of good, by attracting passing showers, and in some measure breaking the force of the wind driving over the plains. If the contemplated irrigation of the plains is carried out, it will no doubt exercise a very beneficial effect on this part of the country. The hot nor’-westers blowing over the hot and parched plains, collecting heat as it comes along, arrives here like the breath of a furnace, spreading destruction and death to vegetation wherever it goes, would, if those works were carried out, strike on a wide expanse of water and rich vegetation, promoting a large amount of evaporation, and arriving here cool and loaded with moisture. It is well known that the cold of Canada would be unbearable if the winds were usually high ; but the days and nights are generally calm for months in winter, thereby rendering the cold out of doors, in spite of the temperature, far from being disagreei.bJo. bo it is with the nor’-westcrs. Though only showing on the thermometer £0 or 90 degrees, the force of the wind
renders them more disagreeable and hurtful to animal and vegetable life than if the heat were 15 or 20 degrees higher, with only a moderate breeze. Now if these plains were irrigated or interspersed with large baits of forest trees, the leaves and vegetables would , absorb part of the heat, and thereby deprive it of its disagreeable qualities. I tliink we are greatly indebted to the Hon. John Hall for the introduction of the “ Planting of Forest Trees Act,” which I think will exercise a very beneficial effect in this province. There is no part of the Australian colonies where so much has been done in the planting of trees and hedges in so short a time as there has been done in Canterbury, and in no country is it more wanted. Already it is saiil to have affected the climate round Christchurch, and more rain falls there now than formerly. I will now' say a few words on trees as a means of shelter. It is astonishing to what extent a good gorse hedge will give shelter on these plains. Last month I saw stooks of corn a chain off from a low fence standing without a sheaf displaced by the wind, while elsewhere every one was levelled and tossed about. Now, a belt of trees, say a chain wide, would in a very few years reach a height of thirty or forty feet, and afford shelter the width of an ordinary sized paddock. It would also be of great advantage to the grain crops, as the sheltered side of a fence is always earlier and better than the rest of the field. In winter and early spring it would be of much advantage to stock of all kinds, and a great saving would be effected in the lambing season of the lives of both ewes and lambs, and all kinds of stock would thrive better in well sheltered fields, though bare of feed, than in good feed in badly exposed situations. Good shelter is both meat and drink, and a well-sheltered paddock will yield more grass in summer, because protected to some extent from the burning sun and the scorching winds, and will also grow more feed in winter, being defended from the cold blasts so prevalent that season. I would therefore strongly urge on every member of the club to plant as many trees as possible during the coming winter. A great many in this district have now passed through the struggle for existence, which all settlers must experience for the first few years, and any farmer with a large balance at his banker’s cannot invest his money to better advantage than by planting a few acres with forest trees. Hitherto we have been too anxious for an immediate return, but I am confident that what I recommend, though slow, will give a far surer return than any kind of grain crop. On nearly every farm there are a few nooks and corners which, at very little expense, might be fenced off and planted with such kind of trees as are suitable to the locality, and at the end of a few years the fence might be removed and the stock allowed to feed among the trees, which would afford them splendid shade from the heat of the summer and the cold of winter.
The Government might also do a great deal more than they have done. We are paying upwards of £SOOO a year for charitable aid, a great part of which is to ablebodied men out of work. Now, instead of keeping them loafing about the Christchurch plantations, let them be sent up to plant trees along thepresentlire of railway, where a belt of trees is much more required than round Christchurch. The Government is also erecting a reformatory at Burnham, where the boys will bo educated and taught different trades ; I hope they will also make it a rule that the boys be compelled to plant trees a certain number of hours every day and convert the country around into a large forest, which will not only be a profitable speculation to the Government, but largely assist to ameliorate the climate of the country. It is highly probable that the present year will commence a new era in the planting of trees in Canterbury, and with the experience of the past to guide us, and a bonus of £4 per acre, it is to be hoped that there will be application for thousands of acres of land under the “ Planting of Forest Trees Act,” and that the growth of the trees so planted will so improve the climate, that in a few years drought and hot winds will be things of the past.
From the Pall Mall Gazette
The great States which once filled the valley of the Euphrates have ceased to exist, and extinction is a fate which has for centuries been threatening some modern States. Spain, for instance. Man has stripped the soil of trees, the absence of trees has brought droughts, droughts have slowly diminished the productive powers of the ground, and finally destroyed them, the population in the meantime dwindling in numbers and vitality. Spain had forty millions of people in time of the Romans, and flowed with milk and honey ; it is now an arid region, only half of it is under cultivation, with only sixteen millions of inhabitants, and if modern science had not come to its aid, would probably go the way of Babylon. Persia was one of the most powerful States of antiquity, and even in the fourteenth century was able to support the army of Tamerlane, who marched without commissariat or baggage during the bloody contest. It is now almost a wilderness, with a population of two millions—about half of them nomads—who are rapidly perishing from famine brought on by three years’ drought. The worst of it is that, owing to the absence of either common roads or railroads, it seems to be impossible for the charity of the rest of the world to reach the sufferers, so that there is really a strong prospect of the depopulation of the country. The motto of this horrible story is—look after your trees. The “ Nation ” hopes that before long some organised attempt will be made in America to deal with this momentous question of forest preservation, which is daily becoming more pressing. Zoroaster, the great Persian legislator, was wiser than he knew when he put planting a tree among the most meritorious of acts.
The Shorthorn. By dint of vigorous writing in agricultural journals, a concert of vigorous talking by breeders, and by some rather questionable practices at public sales (says an American paper), the fancy prices of shorthorns were kept up considerably longer than many shrewd men expected that it could be done ; but the days of yo,ooodol. cows and 15,000d01. bulls, are at last numbered in this country, for the present generation at least. And this is
nothing against the brood as such. It is too late in the century to say aught against these as beef-producers. Their record is a long and most honorable one. Shorthorns have simply got down to prices to which intrinsic merit entitles them. And now is the time for farmers to invest in them for the purpose of improving their herds of ordinary cattle. When good youna bulls can be purchased at from 50 dols. to ISOdols. no better investment can be made.
Breeding Farm Horses. Healthy, vigorous, well-shaped parents usually have healthy, well-shaped offsprings, and in the same manner the imperfections and diseases of the parents are prone to appeal 1 in the progeny. A cart stallion, himself symmetrical and sound, leaves a largo proportion of shapely, sound, and serviceable stock. A draught stallion with round, gummy legs and coarse hair (a type of too many of the ordinary horses travelling) as he advances in years, is pretty certain to become affected with infiannnation of the lymphatic glands and vessels of his hind limbs, or weed, and of congestion of the sebaceous glands of his heels, or grease, and with equal certainty his faulty conformation and consequent tendency to disease re-appear in his progeny. Equally hereditary are those ring and side bones which so materially lessen the value for work of so many big, and otherwise good cart horses. How constantly the weak narrow hocks, which predispose to spavin, and the straight small hocks that are subject to curb, continue unsatisfactorily to mar each successive generation. Some thoroughbred sires are roarers ; in other words they have wasting of the muscles of the larynx, and this serious shortcoming diminishes the value of a large proportion of their progeny. Habits, longevity, temper, and vices, are all transmissible, and so in a marked degree are the imperfections and weaknesses which constitute disease or predispose to it. The practical deduction from this inexorable law of like producing like is, to use for breeding purposes only serviceable sound materials, to eschew starved, narrow, ill-favoured, weakly subjects, and to realise that it is about as fruitless to endeavour to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear as to produce superior from inferior animals. Some breeders believe, or act as if they believed, that the sire has the chief influence in determining the health and usefulness of the offspring, and that the dam might be regarded merely as a kind of passive instrument, or a sort of hatching machine. This is a mistake. Parents impress their physical and other qualities tolerably equally on the offspring. Virtually, the progeny should be the mean of the two parents; but they are not always so. Much uncertainty of result occurs when dissimilar parents are mated. Other modifying circumstances also intervene to render the offspring more like the sire than the dam, or vice versa. The best bred parent, that is, the parent whose family has been longest bred from similar sti’ains, perpetuates most strongly its characteristics. Thus a well-bred Shorthorn bull leaves very prominently his mark on ordinary dairy cows. His calves, even from mongrels of endless variety, are often tolerably like himself in shape, style, and even in colour. The parent which at the period of copulation happens to he in the highest state of health and vigor often makes the greatest mark upon the progeny, and this forms a strong argument for maintaining all breeding stock in a sound and vigorous state. Observation, extending over all descriptions of stock, demonstrates that the male parent contributes more notably the size and external farm, the bony skeleton, and the skin and its appendages ; whilst the internal organs, and hence the constitution, more especially follow the female parent. A horse with a tendency to splints, spavins, ring bones, and other diseases of the bones, transmits these defects with greater certainty than the female parent, who on her part is more likely to perpetuate a tuberculous or weakly constitution, or a sluggish or vicious temper, qualities which mainly result from the internal organisation. Reversion, atavism, or calling back frequently intervenes to modify the progeny and makes them resemble their grand-parents, or even their more remote ancestors, rather than their immediate forebears. From this law good and bad points alike crop up unexpectedly in all animals. A remote cross of a soft or nonstaying sort has sometimes marred the prospects of many of the progeny of a Derby winner, himself above the average in speed and endurance. Professor Williams, in his work on veterinary medicine, records the case of a cart stallion which, although sound and serviceable himself, left many rick or jiuked-back colts, the explanation being that his dam had suffered from this serious hereditary malady. Those accustomed to look carefully at animals will frequently trace the lineaments of a famous sire in Iris progeny three or four generations removed. Something Like Raspberries.
We learn form the “ Tasmanian Mail ” that Mr. Hull, secretary to the Sydney Exhibition Commission in Tasmania, has had presented to him an exhbit in the shape of two-rooted plants of raspberries, the canes of which are upwards of 10ft. long and of proportionate thickness. These plants are from the farm of a Mr. Poole, who resides at the back of the Brighton Ranges, where he cultivates fruit trees extensively. Mr. Poole says that he has twenty acres of raspberries, which produced him 40 tons of fruit, realising in the market £37 10s. a ton. He has also a red currant tree of the enormous height of 26ft., from which he is said to have plucked 10 bushels of fruit. His black currants are reported as being as large as damsons, and his raspberries rival mulberries in size. In Mr. Hull’s Tasmanian experience as a colonist of 60 years and for the last 40 years a practical gardener, he says he has never seen raspberry canes within a yard as tall as those now in his office, and he hopes, when he can get a day’s relaxation, to visit Mr. Poole’s farm, and report on his prolific fruit trees for the information of the “ Gardener’s Chronicle ” in England, where such gigantic growth of otherwise small fruit trees will scarcely bo believed.
Working Eutter. A writer upon butter-making in a leading English Agricultural Journal, strongly
condemns the common practice of working by band in Ihe following words : One fact should over be borne in mind ; the “ human hand ” should never touch the butter in the process of its manufacture. This is the invariable rule in the best batter-producing countries ; indeed, so strictly is it observed in some places, that a dairy-maid would he instantly dismissed if it were known that she touched the butter with her hands. No matter how clean or carefully it may he done, it injuriously affects the butter, and hence the advantage of a machine which renders this unnecessary. One thing is absolutely certain ; some improvement in the manufacture of our butter is imperatively necessary, and must bo made. The present system (or want of system) cannot continue, for it won’t pay. Dining the last season a well-known and respected mouther of our agricultural society, received 7s or 8s more per e\vl. for his hotter than tiny other person in our local market ; but this is not all, he has been offeree 10s per cwt. more than the highest price in the Clonmel market, if he puts his butter into white lirkins each to contain about 4(ilbs.
Tips. We do not care how short a horse’s hack is ; for it is a sure evidence that he can carry or drag a heavy weight a groat distance and not tire ; neither, if he he speedy, will two or three seasons of turf experience break him down, as is the case with so many of our speedy long-hacked horses.
Some authorities state that a plumper grain can be obtained by cutting the wheat in a partially green state, while others hold a different opinion. Farmers seem to forget that a little additional hay and oats, a little more expenditure on the first colt of the mare, £5 for a sire quite good enough to get fine draught or carriage horses—instead of £1 to some wretch of a sire who will begot stock good for -nothing—and a little additional care and attention, will just make the difference of possessing an animal, at four years old, worth from £7O to £IOO instead of one whoso value at the same age will range from £ls to £2O. Save eggs from the best hens for setting, many poultry-keepers do not know which me the boat layers, but this may he discovered by a little attention. Old hens lay larger eggs than pullets, and the chickens hatched from two-year old hens, mated with a vigorous one-year old cock, will be larger, more thrifty, and fledge hotter, than chicks from pullets’ eggs. In selecting eggs to hatch, take those of a fair average size ; reject the small or illshaped ones, or the very large ones. There is no way to determine the sex of a chick by an examination of the size, shape, or other external appearance of the egg.
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THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 7, 11 October 1879
THE FARMER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume I, Issue 7, 11 October 1879
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