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THE FARMER.

IS THE THISTLE A NUISANCE? One of the many things connected with farm management which attracted the attention of the Lincolnshire Delegates, in their tour of inspection throughout New Zealand (says the “ New Zealand Country Journal”), was the undisturbed possession, of the soil in many places permitted to the thistle —a weed against which an incessant crusade is maintained in England. Their astonishment was not lessened, on inquiring the cause, by being informed by some that, so far from being a nuisance, the thistle had come to be regarded as one of the surest and best means of preparing the soil for the luxuriant growth of grasses and corn. On the other hand, farmers are found who will tell you that the thistle is a terrible nuisance, robbing the soil of its nourishment, smothering grasses and clover alike, and completely usurping the ground for the time being. Those who advocate the thistle say that the roots penetrate to a great depth into the subsoil, and bring up large quantities of potash, etc., which is deposited on the surface, in their decaying stems and leaves, and that the vacancy left by the decaying roots opens the way to a great depth for water and air, the mechanical action of -which is to pulverise and render the subsoil more accessible to the roots of other plants ;no doubt this is true. The question naturally suggests itself, what is the cost of this natural mode of tillage? The thistle usually possesses the soil for at least three years, consequently the ground must remain unremunerative for that time ; if the thistle only invaded unreclaimed or exhausted soils much might be said in its favour, but unfortunately such is not always the case—on the contrary, it is partial to rich soils of all descriptions. We fancy that the secret of the impunity with which the thistle has been allowed to spread in this colony, arises more from a want of ability to cope with | the constantly recurring crops of this persistent plant, caused by the want of cheaper labour. That the soil is much improved by thistles is admitted by many who have had to cope with them, and that toleration is cheaper than extermination is also true; so that for the present the thistle must remain master of the position. There is just one comforting reflection, and that is, it leaves something behind it, according to its adcocates, as shown above, whereby the farmers may reap some after benefit.

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THE FARMER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 82, 3 April 1880

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