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THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 89, 20 April 1880
NSW ZEALAND AGRICULTURE AS COMPARED WITH. ENGLISH.
W * ——r (by a PX.AINS PABMER.)
It is not my intention to give a historical account of agriculture, or to trace the stages of progress through which it has passed during many centuries, but to confine my remarks to a few of its leading features at the present time. Let us look at some of the advantages in connection with English agriculture. The very superior practical experience which has been handed down from generations past, is of very great value in reference to the general management of the soil, the breeds of cattle, the utility of implements, and so on. I think it was Dean Swift who advised every farmer, at least once a year, to take his horse and ride over the country, and thoroughly improve and increase his own knowledge and experience from seeing what other people where doing. Then science has offered great help in various ways. Scientific men, like Professors Way and Leibig, have rendered good service by analyzing and discovering the difference between the component parts of rich and barren soils, and enabling the farmer to supply the latter’s deficiencies by the aid of chemistry and artificial manures. Literature, too, is not among the least of the advantages, as its contributions of useful books enable us to derive much valuable information when sitting by the fireside. Then come institutions, such as model farms, farmer’s clubs, and agricultural societies, with their attendant exhibitions. These are calculated to take the- prejudice and the conceit out of a man, and put him in possession of practical knowledge. Another advantage is found in the convenience and economy of good farm buildings that enable one man to do as much worK as three would in buildings that are: scattered and ill-contrived. I know an instance where one man did everything for over 100 head of cattle, all stall - fed. The English agriculturist has a further advantage in the abundance and cheapness of implements for every description of. work, and a still further advantage in the low price of labor and the suitableness of the laborers to their work. _ But, to crown all, he has the best market in the world, for nearly every rural district consumes its own produce, while the great centres of population are supplied by foreigners. Meat, vegetables, and dairy produce cannot be so easily imported as breadstuffs, therefore the former are much dearer. What may be developed out of the recent Strathlcven experiment, we cannot yet speak of definitely, though the success of the first trial points to one advantage less that the English farmer will sooner or later enjoy. Let us now look at some of the disadvantages agriculture in England labors * under. There has hitherto been a great competition for farms, and this demand left little chance for any but those who had large capital, or whose fathers had the farm before them, the majority of farms being held on lease. Rents, rates, and taxes are high, and though a great deal of money is made from the , produce of an English farm, yet it has all to be paid away . again, and last year there were too many in'Ances in which the farmer had to pay all. Disease among cattle, sheep, and horses is very prevalent and fatal. The land, having been generally so long under cultivation, nothing can be got out of it without expensive manure. Many of the farmers calculate their manure bill as being equal to their rent. Then the climate—the long and severe winter requires so much preparation to he made for it, in providing shelter and food for all kinds of live stock ; and the labor and expense in raising green crops are enormous, while a considerable loss of time is suffered in consequence of the ■ verity of the weather. Now, let us look at New Zealand agriculture by way of comparison with that of England. The practical experience of those engaged in agriculture here will not bear comparison with that possessed by the English farmer. In the ranks of agriculture here, we find representatives of all the different trades and professions, who have adopted farming as a means of livelihood. This is so in every young coun-
try, because in every young country the first thing to be attended to is the cultivation of the soil. We cannot, therefore, expect that carpenters, blacksmiths, shoemakers, tailors, or even clergymen should turn out as good farmers as those who have been engaged in farming all their - days. Neither has science done much as yet for agriculture in New Zealand : theattention of scientificmenhas been directed more to mineral and geological discoveries. But a few of our mechanics have done good service in making improvements upon imported implements and machinery by way of adapting them to the requirements of this country. As to literature, nothing has yet been done adapted to the wants of the colony. Of all the books published in England and elsewhere none of them are suitable for this colony. Even those treating of the management, breed, or diseases of animals are very little use here—the treatment in all three cases having to be very different. Then, as to institutions. Most of those we have are yet elementary, but they are steps in the right direction, seeing that the efficiency in the higher class institutions will very much depend on the nature of the elementary. I should very much like to see—and I hope the time will very soon come when I shall see—schools instituted particularly adapted for preparing the youth for that kind of industry for which he. is intended: such as model farms for those who are intended to become farmers, and the same kind of provision for all kinds of mechanics and merchants. Then, as to farm buildings. Considerable improvements have been made in this respect from the old sod whare in the corner of the paddock, with a stock-yard and shed just in front of it. Now we have respectable and well-built farm houses, with the stockyards and stables in the rear —as they should be, for the sake of health and convenience, as well as for appearance —and the garden well sheltered with trees, which could be raised with very little trouble in a short time. We come short, too, to a great extent in farm implements, although perhaps the improvement in this direction is more marked than in anything connected with the colony's agriculture. Ten or fifteen years ago the majority of farmers had nothing more than a plough, a common harrow, a reaping machine, and a dray. This was not to be wondered at when we take into consideration the very high price of farm implements, machinery, and the great advance of price upon the English figure. - Farmers, notwithstanding the high prices, have now largely invested in agricultural implements and machinery of the newest kind, but even vet the general adoption has not been so great as one would like to see. And would he successful they Kfist irvest largely in machinery, Wior in every trade the all important thing Sf is good tools. From my own observation I believe that blight is principally caused .by inefficient working of the land. Where "\he land is not worked up sufficiently deep, and the furrows not thoroughly broken, and where spots of land have the gravel near the surface, or in patches of stiff clay, the greatest liability to blight will he apparent, while a deep loamy soil, well worked, will be the least liable. Therefore, to remedy this evil, the scarifier, the drill, and the heavy roller or furrowed press should he used. There is certainly, however, a desire manifested
by farmers to have good implements and machinery, and this desire is a growing one. Then there is also the disadvantages to be contended with of the high price and unsuitableness of the labor available to the farmer, both of which arc great drawbacks to the progress and improvement of agriculture in New Zealand—the one just as much as the other. The high price would not be so much minded if men generally were better up to their work. But for one good man in the labor market there are —thanks to the immigration scheme —ten bad ones, and to pay high wages for work badly done is doubly provoking. Then, the New Zealander is at a disadvantage on the r-'Tket question, owing to his isolation. E.it the opening up of the land by roads and railways has brought nearly every grower within easy reach of the seaboard, and as colonisation increases with population, and we become more and more a considerable item in the world’s commerce, the disadvantage of isolation, which puts us out of the circle of the world’s traffic, will disappear as, we shall be able to make it worth the while of shipping to make us a special trade. So much for the comparison with England’s advantages. Now, let us compare with her disadvantages. We have no competition for farms here in the sense that English farms are run after. Therefore we have the advantage in this way. For instance, a young man about to commence farming in England, with say .LSOO capital, would find the utmost he could do would be to rent 100 acres, and by the time he got all his dead and live stock his money would be spent, and his difficulties and troubles would just begin ; whereas the young New Zealander, owning LSOO, could buy his land,-get all needful stock, and have money left. The high rents and heavy taxes of England are unknown here, and although our incomes are not so great, our outgoings are far less ; but our success will more depend on keeping the expenditure low, following the old maxim that “a penny saved is a penny gained.” Then, in disease. All who farm in England have had more or less acquaintance with the murrain, or quarter-ill in young cattle, and also the ravages made by scour in young sheep. 1 have seen nothing of these here, and beyond a few trifling ailments quite within the control of an experienced farmer, we have practically no disease in New Zealand. Of expensive manure we know nothing. Our fine native soil is one of the greatest legacies we receive when we come to this colony', and like youthful strength and vigor it is capable of enduring a large amount of work with the proper management and timely rests ; but no doubt the time will come when it will be necessary to supply the soil with some of those elements essential to the production of grain by the application of fertilising manures. The climate of New Zealand is also one of the pieces of good fortune enjoyed by all her sons. In this we have a great advantage over the English farmer. A good gorse fence will answer nearly all our requirements for shelter, nor do wc need so many root crops, our winters being so much shorter, less rigorous, and what root crops we do require can be grown quite weil enough without the aid or artificial manure, animals of all kinds arriving at a much earlier maturity than they do in England. We have very little loss of time in consequence of severe weather and short days, and both seed time and harvest may be safely extended over a much longer period of time than it could be in England. A man and a pair of horses will plough and get under crop in one season nearly double what they would do at Home. And now, to sum up the whole, looking fairly at all sides, I come to the conclusion that with all drawbacks there is still a great advantage on the side of New Zealand. For instance, I have sold two-year-old bullocks, each weighing 8001bs, which would be a very rare thing in England, with all their expensive stall feeding. The various branches of agriculture are so numerous, and the subject altogether of such magnitude, it would be impossible to do it justice within the circumscribed limits of an article like this, but I hope I have made plain my reasons for giving preference to New Zealand as a farming ground.
BROKE® DOWN LEGS. It is a generally accepted theory (says the Marong correspondent of the “ Bendigo Advertiser ”) that when the leg of a horse has been broken there is no cure, and that the only plan is to shoot him. I have, however, had practical proof to the contrary. Some weeks ago a valuable animal, well known for his trotting capabilities, and bearing the name of Tommy Dodd, the property of Mr. Henry Wilson, of Marong, was found to have had his off fore leg broken, and now, by judicious treatment, as simple as it proved efficacious, Mr. Wilson has caused the bone to re-unite and become as strong as ever. The only remedy applied to the injured limb w r as a many-folded tight ligature, and a frequent libation of cold water. This hint may prove of service to others whose animals chance to meet with, similar accidents.
THE FARMER., Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 89, 20 April 1880
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