THE PLAINS FARMER ON MR, GRIGG’S PAPER.
TO THE EdITOK.
Sin, —Having read Mr. Grigg’s paper on the question whether farming can be made to pay at present prices, I have thought the subject over, and compared his imaginary scheme with my own' experience of nearly twenty years in New Zealand, and about ns many years in England. I cannot reconcile the two together in that comparison. Air. Grigg says the only absolute proof can be obtained by trying the experiment, and it is very evident Mr. Grigg has not done so yet—only in imagination. But he wants the large number of nearly ruined farmers to try it as a forlorn hope. 1 think it would be much better if Mr. Grigg or some other large farmer were to lay out 200 acres and go on cropping it for seven years in the manner proposed by him, and then bring the result before the public. This result of actual practical experiment would be something reliable ; but Air. Grigg’s figures are to my seeming Utopian, and not to be found worked out in actual experience anywhere in New Zealand. I will venture to assert that there is no such system carried out—not even by his pet farmer, Air. Cochrane, who, I have no doubt, would condemn it as being likely to impoverish his land instead of keeping it in good heart. To prove that it would not be beneficial, I will refer to my own experience partly, having farmed just such land as Mr. Grigg ,
refers to—good heavy wheat soil—which produced from <lO to 50 bushels of wheat to the acre, and from 60 to 70 bushels of oats, and was then laid down in grass two years, and stocked only with mil;h cows and their young cattle. When I broke it up again the crops were fair, but the land became overrun with sorrel. I then sold off the cows, and stocked with sheep, when the sorrel gradually disappeared. Now, 1 conclude that a farm cropped as proposed in Mr. Grigg’s paper, and stocked only with milking cows would shave tho same fate. It is well known that one milch cow will take as much from tho land as two grazing cattle. The milk and butter drawn from the land every day by ten cows are far more exhausting than most fanners are aware. This, with the sorrel which cattle propagate so largely, will soon exhaust the land if kept in a succession of crops. lam quite aware it is done in England ; but there is something else done there—manure is applied freely, so much so that many farmers calculate the manure bill to be equal to the rent. Mine was for yeai's. Every 7 acre of green crops would cost from L2 to L 3 in artificial manure, and the wheat crop L 3 per acre. Although turnips can be grown hero, and good crops, without manure, you cannot continue to do so on the land for many 7 years without manure —nor with grass or clover either. I fancy the next generation will have to farm differently from the present one, and if Mr. Grigg s proposed system were earned out, it would soon require a large outlay in manure for which he has made no provision. Then he has omitted the coat of the second twenty-five sheep required for the year, and allowed nothing for the interest on capital or the work of the farmer and his wife. He say 7 s nothing about children, or the expense of providing for them, and I cannot see how so much work can be done as 100 acres of crop (Mr. Grigg told “ Country Subscriber” it was 75 acres, but 50 wheat, 25 peas, and 25 barley are 100) and 55 acres of green crop, potatoes, etc., would require, together with 10 cows to be milked, pigs and cal ves to be fed, and I fail to see how so much stock can be kept on 15 acres grass and 25 of clover, with only one man and L 5 exti'a labor at harvest. If it is supposed there are some children grown up to help, then these have to be provided for ; and then there are incidental expenses which will always occur, for which nothing is allowed. Now, the conclusion I come to is, when all these things I have referred to are valued and added to the expenses, the balance will be on the other side.
My own opinion is that the most profitable way to farm such land as Mr. Grigg supposes, is the five course system—two grain crops and three years to grass and clover or turnips between, and two years to grass, then keep a good flock of sheep, which, with the aid of as much manure as can be gol, properly applied to the land, will keep it in as good heart or better than when it was first taken in hand. — Yours, Ac., A Plains Farmer.
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