- AMONG THE FARMERS.
(by our special reporter).
As might be anticipated from the favorable reason wo are being blessed with, the crops are everything that could be wished, and the farms in the neighborhood of Chortsey are perhaps a greater contrast to what they were last 3’ear at this time, than elsewhere. Then, they had suffered for want of rain and from scorching nor’ westers : now, they have had all that could be desired in abundance of rain, alternated by warm sunshine, making the ground like a hot-bed, and sending up the crops like magic ; and should the weather keep as favorable throughout, till harvest operations are complete, the yield of the Ashburton district will be such as to tax all the energies and appliances of ,the railway department to cope with the quantity of grain forshipment. Leaving Chertsey, the first farm on the right-hand side of the Chertsey road is the block being cultivated by Messrs. Miles, Hassal, and Co. In all, 1643 acres have been operated on this season as follows :—560 acres in wheat, 315 in oats, 203 in barley, 300 in turnips and mangels, and 263 sown down in English grass. The land is of a light nature on the surface, with a good clay subsoil, and the season has been remarkably favorable to this description of land. The farm itself is divided into several paddocks, having live fences planted, which are promising well, the other improvements being more in the direction of utility than elegance. A well 230 feet deep, requires some courage even to look down, the water being raised by a windmill and force pump when the gentle zephyr supplies sufficient power, and by a windlass when otherwise ; a cottage and stable are erected for the farm servants anti horses, the whole being one of the estates under the management of. Mr. James Scott. Of the appearance of the crops themselves it is impossible to speak too highly, the wheat and oats doing splendidly, whilst the barley is a wonder, being fully two feet high ; until the shoots come out in earl do not intend to estimate the yield, and I leave -any surmises in that direction till a later date. On the opposite side of the Chertsey road is the farm of Mr. Aitken, who has COO acres of wheat and 100 of oats, looking equally as well as Miles, Hassal, and Co’s. Mr. Aitken has made a comfortable home, where three years ago a wilderness of tussocks was all that could be seen by the most powerful exercise of vision, and his large self-contained house, and extensive stables show that the owner does not intend to neglect the comfort of either himself or his horses. The well herp is about the same depth as on his neighbors—and was the first put down in the locality. A promising plantation is a feature on the place, and altogether Mr. Aitken’s endeavors are likely to meet with the success they deserve, and having, the Chertsey Bail way Station- within a mile of him he possesses a great advantage in being able to get his grain readily transferred into the truck. Adjoining the latter farm is Mr, J. Murphy’s with 150 acres of wheat and 100 barley, and he has certainly no cause to complain of his prospects. Mr. J. Moore’s farm which is intersected by the railway line has 100 acres of oats and 190 of wheat in a very forward state ; Messrs. Conway Bros., on the Beach road, have 200 acres in wheat, 50 of barley and oats, and 50 laid down in permanent pasture, and cannot be said to be behind any of the other crops Mr. P. Grant, near Miles, Hassals’ has 200 in wheat, and 200 in oats and barley, the latter being a remarkably forward crop, and already in ear. Close by, Mr. A. Buckley has 122 acres in wheat, and coming towards Ashburton, Mr. Quigley has 174 in wheat and 100 in oats, all doing first class. Mr. J. Gardiner has between 400 and 500 acres mostly in w.ieat, amongst it some pedigree wheat, which has a rather straggling look just now; but as I saw some on the same farm last year when ripe, I can say that it has a remarkably well filled head andlarge grain with thin husk and spiked like barley. I trust this year’s experiment with it will be successful, as I have great hopes of it. [To be Continued.] Rust in Wheat.
At a meeting of the Tasmanian Agricultural and Pastoral Association held at Launceston recently, Mr Thomas Hogarth read a paper on red rust, from : which, we make the following extracts from the “Tasmanian Mail,” —If we refer to the component parts of wheat straw, separated by analysis, we find silicates to the ingredient which gives the hard, lustrous surface desired ; and I think . any means that can be adopted to cause the growing plant to assimilate a full complement of this substance is something attained. Silica is by far the largest constituent part of wheat straw, and is one of the inorganic or incombustible parts. The inorganic substances are all found in the ash of plants after burning ; 10001 b. of wheat straw contains, on an average, 501 b. of ash, and of this 501 b. 65 per cent is silica. The quantity of ash left from wheat straw varies greatly, the extremes of 351 b. and 1551 b. to the 1000 having been met with, and I think this ■ variation is strong presumptive evidence in favor of this proposed preventive of rust. An anatysis of rusted and clean straw would be useful, taken, of course, from crops similarly exposed to rust Influences. Experiments have proved that the lowest portion «f a tall wheat straw contains less ash than the upper portion. When divided into five equal parts the proportion has been found to be about 4,6, 7, 8 and 9 per cent. This also is evidence in our favors as the bottom of the straw is generally found to be the most rusted, and the leaf most of all, the leaf being less lustrous, and containing less silica than the stem. Unripe wheat straw contains less silica than when ripe, the difference being as 40 is to 55—another feature in our favor, as when the rust attacks a partially ripe crop the destruction is well known to be greater. Feeding off in spring, which has been asserted to be partially preventive, I think, can also be passed to the credit of our position, for, when any of the graminacious plants are cut off early, they send up a harder, rougher, wiry stem in the next*, growth. On the other, hand, feeding off' retards maturity, though only slightly, and early maturity has certainly much in its favor, as obviating, the liability; though last year this featuro was in a great mebs&jra. get aaidbi soma bf ihe earlier crops beihgi the Worn lusted.
This supposition <>f a lustrous straw, rich in silica, being admitted as preventive, the question arises how arc we to produce such a straw '! Silica is what hint, quartz, &c., is composed of. Some soils are naturally rich in available silicates no doubt, and comparative analysis of soils from different localities for silica alone, would bo an easy and useful undertaking. We know that the lighter, poorer lands of the colony, such as about Cresay, though they produce the largest wheat crops, yet are less liable to rust than the binds to the eastward and westward, whore the soils are generally considered of a bettor class. It has been shown that 65 per cent, of the ashes of wheat straw is silica, and it has long been mv opinion that the reason Crossy and other light land localities are most free from rust is because the long stubble is invariably burned on the ground, and the silicates thereby returned and evenly distributed. The fact of the wheat being reaped high follows from these localities being unsnited for cattle, therefore the straw is not required. The other districts mentioned combine cattle with agriculture, and cut the stubble as low as possible for fodder, so low that it fails to burn, and though the little left is ploughed under,, it is years before the silica is rendered available for plant food. In February, 1876,1 had occasion to write a few lines for a local journal on reapers ; and the following appears as illustrative of that subject, which I hope you will excuse me repeating here ;—“ But there is another phase to the straw question—the loss to the laud where the grain is cut short to the ground, carried home to the stock-yard, and ultimately burned in a heap, is something of more moment than is generally understood, and is specially important and applicable to the present season, when rust is so prevalent. Every farmer of observation will have noticed that land which produces wheat with a clear, shiny, hard surface of straw is less susceptible to rust than where a soft spongy straw prevails. Silica is the element which gives to the straw the rustresisting surface indicated, and by carting all the straw off a field and consuming it wo deprive the soil of a most important constituent for the production of grain ; whereas by leaving all the stubble where it grows on a field and burning there, the silicates are returned to the soil in the ashes, and so no loss of that ingredient is effected. ”
Salt, when applied to the land, is acted upon by the carbonate of lime contained in the soil, and produces carbonate of soda, although in very small quantity. Carbonate of soda is a solvent of silica, and thus suit indirectly assists the production of the kind of straw desired. The commercial value of carbonate of soda, I presume, is too high to admit of its being used. Salt is a cheap article,, and on some lands is very useful, as it not only has the effect indicated in producing silica, but is also a solvent for other constituents. Its affinity for moisture is also well known and of importance to the agriculturist.
This, then, gentlemen, is the proposal I commend to your judgment as .a preventative of rust to a great extent, that all lands prepared for wheat have a full allowance of silica in a state available for plant food.
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