The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 1880.
The result of this year’s harvest is not so satisfactory as we had hoped—not that the yield has been disappointing on the whole, but that many prudent farmers, who farmed their land in proper style, and according to well estab'ished rides for its cultivation by a rotation of crops, will not reap the advantage from a monetary point of view that the abundant yield of everything they have raised should have led them to expect. This year a far greater extent of land has been under cultivation than ever before, and as a consequence aH cereals were raised in correspondingly larger quantity. The greatest increase, however, on the acreage under any particular grain is that which this year bore oats. Had oats been an exportable article the great quantity raised would not have mattered so much, but as the crop is one that is almost wholly disposed of in colonial markets, it naturally follows that an overplus means a very great loss to the farmers who have been unfortunate enough to be growers of a large quantity of that grain. Of course, many and unexpected changes may take place between the reaping of two harvests, and there is no saying what vicissitudes the value of oats may go through before next harvest is reaped, but meanwhile the prospects are that oats will be very low-priced during the winter. There is every chance that wheat will realise a good figure, and that barley will be worth money, but supposing that every grain growing centre had been as fortunate as New Zealand has been this year, in reaping an abundant, or even a fair average harvest, there can be little doubt chat our abundance would have been of very little value to us. Is it wise, then, for the colony to keep on, in the face of a possibly universal good harvest, putting all its eggs in one basket, end trusting wholly and solely, as the Canterbury plains seem to do, to the results of the plough? We know that we cannot be wiped out as a grain-producing country, but when grain ceases, as it some years must, to be a profitable industry, is it not better that some attention should be given by every farmer to the rearing of stock. In these columns practical correspondents who know this county well, have now and again pointed 00 1 the mistake of trusting wholly to g am growing for a return from the land in farmers’ hands, and urged the advisalYeness of making it do its share in raising a proportion of stock. Hitherto the great objection to stock raising has been that which is now raised against over-cropping in oats —that beyond the colonial market there is no outlet. Farmers, as a rule, are slow to adopt new things, and are certainly not the class from which agitators and reformers are drawn, but we "micy they ought to look to this question of stock - raising, and in their Farmers Clubs and Agricultural and Pastoral Associations give it full consideral ion. The fact that the millions of beef and mutton catei’s in Great Britain and the Continent can now be reached from Australia by the new meat-freezing process is certainly worth a thought, and the stock raising powers of tins colony, and these plains especially, are undeniable. The question, we say, is woi ih thinking over and agitating. It is now believed that the Bell-Coleman sys■em of meat preserving need not be confined to steamers, but will answer equally well in sailing vessels properly fitted for the purpose. The enterprising New Zealand Shipping Company are making inquiries in this direction, and we may expect to hear soon what has been the result of these. In any case, with a line of boats in weekly communication with Melborneaud Sydney, any one, or all, of wlu'ch may easily be fitted up with a BellGoleman freezing apparatus (it only occupies ten feet of space) we could be able to consign large quantities of surplus meat for shipment from either of the Australian ports above-mentioned. The cost of delivering the frozen meat in London (shipped from Australia) is a penny per pound; and it is calculated that New Zealand meat could be conveyed to Australia for a half penny per pound, if regular shipments were to be made, so that the cost to London from the colony would only be three half-pence. We gain the foregoing figures of cost from a contemporary who has evidently been at some pains over the subject, and we have every reason to believe the calculations correct. The whole question is worth agitating, as we look upon it as beingof importance to the farming community especially, and to the whole colony also, inasmuch as the prosperity of the farmers is the mainspring of the colony’s success. But it will be useless to move in the matter unless the whole farmers of New Zealand as one body support a movement in the direction hinted at. We fancy it only requires the Agricultural Associations of the colony, and the Chambers of Commerce, to initiate steps that will place New Zealand in direct communication either with Australia or with England, in the article of frozen meat, and that done, wo will have no fear that the future of our plains will hang upon the one string of a sheaf band. We might add that the freezing system is not alone available for meat, but butter and other perishable produce may also be carried fresh to the Euiopean market, and this in itself ought to be an inducement for all interested in the produce of the land to tarn their attention to bringing the Bell-Coleman process into use for the benefit of 'his colony.