AGRICULTURAL AND PASTORAL ASSOCIATION.
A meeting of the committee of the Agricultural and Pastoral Association was held yesterday afternoon—Mr. John Carter in the chair.
The Secretary said that he had seen several members of the committee on the subject of the date of the horse parade, some complaints having been made regarding the day fixed. The committee had agreed to the alteration, and the show would now be held on the 2nd October, which was not a sale day. Mr. Gundry moved that tenders foxprinting the catalogues be invited from the local printing offices, the Secretary to select the most suitable tender.
The Chairman said the most important duty this meeting would have to perform, would be the selection of judges for the show. The hoped the best men possible would be obtained.
The following were to be asked to act ; —For Merino Sheep—Messrs. Stitt, Pierson, Neil M'Lean, and John Chalmers. For Long Wooled Sheep—Messrs. H. J. Hall, Turnbull, Donald Oliver, John M'Farlane. For Cattle—Messrs. Threlkeld, Kelland, Marcroft, Tabart. For Blood .and Light Horses —Messrs, M‘llwraith, Wilken, Hirst, and Lockhart, For Cart Horses—Messrs. Campbell, Thomas, Ede, and Boag.—For Swine—Messrs. Green, Deering, Hartnell, and Hunt. For Implements—Messrs. Grigg, Wright, Passmore, Johnston, and Blyth. For Poultry—Messrs. G. A. Reid, Wood, and W. G. Walker. For Sheep and Cattle Dogs—Messrs. Jeff, H. T. Smith, and Manson, For Agricultural Produce —Messrs. R. Millar, Robertson, and Moffatt. For Dairy Produce—Messrs. J. Orr, Green, and Williamson. For New Zealand Manufactures— Messrs. Jameson, sen., Coster, Grigg, and Cox.
The following gentlemen were requested to act as Marshals For Merino sheep— Mr. Donald M'Lean.. For Longwools— Mr. Robert Jeffs. For Cattle—Mr. Lewis. For Light Horses—Mr. John Hunt and Mi’. Raine. For Draught Horses—Mr. Leathara and Mr. Mayo. For Pigs—Mr. Rose. For Implements— Messrs. Tucker and Black.. For Poultry —Mr. Silcock. For Dogs—Mr, Gundry. For Agricultural and Dairy Produce —Mr. Rudolf Friedlander. For New Zealand Manufactures —Messrs. E. F. Wright and Thomas Bullock. For the Leaping Match —Messrs Carter and Scott.
The Chairman lioped that now the Borough Council’s by-laws were in force, which prevented the driving of cattle through the town between the hours of twelve midnight and seven a.m., some steps would be taken to have the railway yards moved along to the new yards of the Association. The'moving of the railway yards to a site near the saleyards would prevent the new by-law interfering with the trucking of cattle. Mr. Passmore moved that the Secretary be instructed to write to the railway authorities with a view to having the trucking yards moved along beside the show, as stock could only be trucked at present at night, and that was impossible. The motion was carried.
It was decided that Messrs. Matson, Cox and Co. be empowered to put the privileges of the show up to auction, and that the engaging of a hand for the show he loft with tho Secretary ; as also the negotiations with the railway authorities for such special trains, fares, and arrangements as may be necessary ; and getting the day proclaimed a general holiday. Mr. Passmore moved that first prices be the money fixed by the Association! or a silver medal, tho second the money or a bronze medal, and that a certificate hearing the name of the winner, his class, arid the prize he has won accompany each prize, even if only a “commended.” The motion was carried. It was resolved that the annual dinner of .the Association be held in the Somerset Hotel on the evening of the show day. The Secretary was empowered to, engage the attendance of a veterinary surgeon for the show day, and also to procure tents for the dairy produce exhibition. The following sub-committee were appointed to arrange details of the show— Messrs. Cox, Hunt, Mayo, Smith, and R. Millar.
The Secretary read a letter from the Ashburton County Council enclosing a copy of the charges to be levied at the cattle yards, and asking the Society to consider them. The question was referred to the Yards Committee. .
Mr. Quill was duly elected a member of the Association, and his name was added to the list of members.
After a vote of thanks had been passed to the Chairman, the meeting adjourned.
Tho monthly meeting of the Association was held in tho evening, in the upper room of the Town Hall. There were about thirty members present, and much interest was manifested in the proceedings. Mr. John Carter occupied the chair, and in opening the meeting expressed himself as highly pleased with the very favorable attendance. He was a man of few words, and would not take up the time with any further remarks,, as a paper was to be read by Mr. Passmore, the contents of which would doubtless be as interesting as was anticipated. He would call on that gentleman to read the paper, of which notice had been given. ; AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENTS.
Mr. Passmore read his paper, as follows :
I have been asked by the Chairman to read a paper before you. At first I objected, thinking that it would be presumptuous on the part of one who has so little experience of. agriculture to address men who have 'made that subject a life study. On second thoughts, however, 1 decided to comply with the request, feeling that it is the duty of each of us to try and advance the interests with which we are so closely bound together. In this paper, therefore, I shall merely state my views on matters as they have occurred to me, and endeavor to point out how we may all work better and more economically. ' We will first consider the use or abuse of implements. Some of you may be surprised to hear that a machine suffers far less when in actual work than when left exposed to the weather; but such is really the case. Take, for example, a reaper and bindei. In the hands of a careful man this suffers but little during the season’s cutting. If the machine were at once cleaned and put into thorough order, the cost would be on an average about 14. But what do we find ? As a rule, as soon as the work is done, the machine is left in the paddock, and there it remains until it is wanted for the nexterop. The result is that everything is russy, many of the delicate parts are permanently injured, and the ; woodwork has been so affected by the constant variations of temperature and weather that it is impossible ever to make a good machine of it again. When it is required to cut the next season’s crop it is hurried to the smithy, where a bill for Lio is soon run up, and the machine is, after all, not nearly so good as it would have been had it been properly treated. A machine costs, say, L 75, and, with the illusage described, will probably not last more than three years ; whereas, if properly treated and protected from the weather by a rough shed, costing not more than Lxo, the life of such a machine, can, without doubt, be extended to six or seven years. There is another very important matter that we are apt to overlook. When ploughing and other work is finished, tlie ploughs and other implements are left where last used until required, again, and are then rushed to the smithy and wanted in a great hurry. Now, this is most unreasonable. The smith has at times but little to do, and then suddenly he gets a rush of work, all wanted at Once, arid the result is that, however well intentioned the man may be, the work, is not done as well as it would be if more time were allowed. The plan I have adopted, and find'to work admirably, is to get all implements cleaned and put in order as soon as they are done with for the season. By doing this the smith can do the repairs whenever he has any spare time, and the implements are always ready for use when required. Smiths will tell you that this plan, if generally adopted, would suit them far better than the system now so universal. Instances could be cited of threshing machines when, taken to work that have been completely choked- up with growing grain, which has had to be dug out; and of other machinery left witn dirt and grease to harden to such an extent as to necessitate several days’ work before it could be employed, I think we are all too apt to fall into an old groove, and to do as we have seen others do, without bringing our judgment to bear on the matter in hand. .It is usual with us to use five horses with a three-furrow plough ; but the mode of attaching these horses to the plough by means of a five-horse bar is .very faulty, as well as being damaging to the crop through the constant treading of two horses on the ploughed lapel. Besides this, it is evidently very trying on the horses, having to walk on ploughed land all day, and their working power is considerably diminished. For ploughing, more than three hosers should never be driven abreast, and thus no horse treads on the ploughed land. When using five horses, two should be next the plough and three in the lead. Instead, therefore, of using a five-horse bar, weighing 1201 b., we should use a two-horse and a three-horse bar, weighing Sylb. To the head of the plough is attached a block, through which a chain runs, and each set of horses is attached, to one end of (he chain, so that the draught is equalised. This system is not a new one, but it is surprising that it should be so little used. As the result of my own experience, I can say that since using this tandem, the same teams have greatly improved in appearance, although working every day, and doing acres of cross ploughing. '1 he question has been asked whether the American gang ploughs are a success. If the matter is carefully studied, I think there would not be the'slightest hesitation in saying that they are, especially for stubble. If we take a three-furrow plough and five horse-tree, and merely drag it along the ground, we find that it is nearly as much as two horses would do as a day’s work. Now it follows that when ploughing, the force required to move the plough must be exerted before any useful labor can be expended on ploughing, or to put it more clearly, it will take, say—two horses to; drag the implement, leaving three horses to do the ploughing. Now, a man can easily drag a three-furrow gang plough, and the line of draught is better, so that I think three good horses could do nearly as much work as five with an ordinary heavy plough. • The objection is often made that American work is flimsy ; but all of us have seen the good useful work that light reapers and binders have done, and I doubt whether any of us would condemn them as being weak and worthless. A great want felt in the agricultural district of Canterbury is a really good' cultivator. The land seems to be ploughed year: : after year, say five or six inches deep ; but the subsoil remains untouched.
The subsoil on the plains is a loamy clay, not stiff enough to prevent the surface water from passing through ; but at the same time too compact to enable ittto retain much moisture or to allow the roots to: penetrate in. search of food. The result is that towards' the end of the season the crops, instead of ripening gradually, come to maturity suddenly, more especially if any north-west winds prevail. Mr. Packer, who owns land on the plains, has, among others, found the want of a good cultivator, and he basset himself to the task of constructing an implement to meet the want. He has a plough frame carrying strong tynes which are shod with an ordinary ploughshare, instead of the usual tips and shares, and I am informed that the work is done very well. The machine was worked on land that had been ploughed fivej or. six inches deep; but it required six horses to drag the cultivator when working to a depth of ten inches, using only three tynes. This implement is not as yet supposed to be perfected ; but I make no doubt, and sincerely hope that Mr. Packer’s enterprise will be crowned with success ; but I fear that the power requiied to do the work will be beyond the capacity of horses, and I am persuaded that we shall have to call in steam power to our assistance to do this work welt, for it is not the mere fact of passing a subsoiler through the land that will do the benefit; but the greater the speed the greater the advantage derived from the operation, as the ground is more thoroughly knocked about by the rapid passage of the implement. This can be seen in work done by steam, either in ploughing or rolling. Deep cultivation allows of the escape of surplus water, and iri addition to this the air is also admitted, which enables the roots to strike deeper, and draw their nourishment from a much greater depth. The increased distance through which the roots penetrate, furnishes them with-additional moisture during a sea-on of drought, thereby securing a luxuriant crop \vi en it might othei - wise be destroyed, and moreover the product is generally cf better quality. A subsoil which is permeable to water is sometimes imperceptibly beneficial to vegetation, not only by allowing the latent moisture to ascend and yield a necessary supply to the plants, but a moisture frequently charged with iime and various saline matters, which the capillary attraction brings from remote depths below the surface. This operation is going forward during the heat of the summer. The water thus charged with salire matter ascends and , evaporates at and below 'the surface, leaving them diffused throughout the soil. After long continue!! droughts, a thin white coating of salts, is frequently discernible on the ground. • Recent experiments have shown that porous soils, which are readily penetrated by water and air, absorb the nutritious gases (oxygen, nitrogen and their compounds, nitric and carbonic acid, ammonia, etc.,) largely from the atmosphere, and that they do this to an appreciable extent, (only while moist. Every inch in depth of ground pulverised means over 100 tons per acre capable of holding water, as does a sponge. The fall of one inch of rain is equal to 3.630 cubic feet on . 22.687 gallons, or say 100 gallons of water per acre. No substance can absorb more than a certain quantity of moisture, consequently when the earth has absorbed as much of the moisture as it is capable of holding the rest is lost, and either runs off on the surface nr sinks through the compact subsoil which is too close to retain any considerable quantity. Schubler has found that during twelve hours in the night, when the air was moist, loolbs ’ of loamy soil gained 2ilbs and clay loam 25lbs. Davy alsofound that looolbs of very fertile and perfectly dry soil gained iSlbs in an hour’s exposure. The power of soils in retaining water, is somewhat proportionate to their power ot absorbing it. , ..,. ; , Quartz sand is saturated when it contains 24 per cent of its own weight; calcareous, when it contains 28 per cent; loamy clay, when it contains 38 per cent ; clay loam, when it ,concontains 47 per cent; peat, when if contains about 80 per cent. Rain-water contains considerable proportions of carbolic acid and ammonia, both highly valuable as plant food, and if these permeate through the soil, the roots, or in their absence, the elements of the soil itself, absorb and form permanent combinations with them. By loosening the earth it admits a larger deposit of water which requires a longer time for evaporation. When the water escapes freely, the use of the subsoiler is attended with the best results. The broken earth, thus pulverised to a much greater depth, and incorporated with the descending particles of vegetable sustenance, affords an enlarged range for the roots of plants, and in proportion to its extent, furnishes them with additional means of growth. Now, as we have a rainfall of twenty-two inches during the year, I think it is self evident that deeper cultivation would render us less dependent on the seasons. I shall now refer to the question of deep Dishallow ploughing in breaking up. lam quite aware that in this matter I hold opinionsjvery different from those, of. clever and experienced farmers ; but I will endeavor to show that my view is the correct one. 1 ■
I certainly incline to breaking up four inches to four and a half inches deep, while many experienced men skim as lightly as possible, so as to kill the roots of weeds, etc. No doubt the object is a good one, but there are reasons against it. If the land is broken up say two inches, and then cross ploughed say six inches deep, it follows that the original surface is four inches deep, the original top-soil is only one and a half inches below the seed soil.
I will now quote from a good authority on these matters, so as to strengthen my case ; “ Chemical analysis has shown that the few inches of top-soil contain most of the money in our agricultural purse, each inch from the top containing less plant food from the one above it. This is because the> surface soil has the power of arresting and fixing a large quantity of plant food, especially ammonia (some of which it gets, from the atmosphere), phosphate of lime, and potash. The first inch gets the best chance of appropriation and then comes the next and lower ones, and as plants multiply their side fibres near the surface, we may comprehend why surface manuring is often found so beneficial.”
By bi-eaking up deep, the ,roots of the plants are able to get the full benefit of the plant food contained in the surface soil, and the experience of the past season; quite confirms my' opinions on the subject. Another point is that breaking up should be done earlier than is at present the piactice. As a rule but little breaking up is done until the crop is in, but my experience teaches me that the earliest breaking up gives the best results. Last year I had some land broken up early, and put in turnips in August, and the result fully justified an extension of the practice. The turnips did well where not taken by the fly, and were fit to eat off long before those sown in November, consequently there was land ready for cross ploughing early in the season.
There is a subject, and in my opinion a very important one, that has not received the consideration it deserves at our hands. I refer to the question of manures. It is a matter that will force itself on our attention before long, for no land is capable of bearing the heavy: cropping that much of the Canterbury land has been subjected to of late years .without the application of manure, A friend in England once gave me the advice “Always consider your land poor, and keep it in good heart,” and I am convinced this advice was the best he could give, and it is advice we can all follow with benefit to ourselves; but we are liable to fall into serious and costly mistakes if'we-go in for indiscriminate manuring. 1 have lately been reading the results of some experiments with a set of different: manures as tried on land in various places and of dissimilar qualities. In each case an identical set of manures was used, but the results varied exceedingly. In one case the application of 15oibs. of nitrate of soda, costing Li 3s. 5d., brought no increase of corn ; 3oolb. of dissolved bone black (charred bones super phosphated) added nealy twenty-nine bushels, at a cost of Li is. ios. ; while the two together added thirty-three bushels, at a cost of L2 4s. 3d. ; and 1501 b. of muriate of potash with these, increased the yield by thirty-eight bushels, at a cost of L 3 4s. id. In one expel intent this last manure increased the yield by 72 bushels. Nov- this is a very important matter, and one which deserves our most serious consideration.
In America great pains are taken and great expense is incurred annually in trying experiments with manures, seeds, etc., so as to enable the farming commnnity to make the most of their land, and thus with their prosperity to add to the revenue of the state.
Having been in the Government myself I am fully alive to the numberless applications from all sources that the Government has made upon it for assistance. In fact the general public appear to look upon the’Government asa milch cow, and seem astonished that she should ever run dry.
'tl think such ideas cannot be too strongly deprecated on every ground. They certainly are not calculated to make men self reliant, and I think it is in a great mexsure due to indiscriminite assistance given by Governments that so many are now walking about as members of the society of unemployed, who like their brethren, “ The Sundowners,” in New South Wales, are looking for work and praying to God they will not find it. ■ The Government has, however, lately started a school of agriculture, showing that this most important branch of industry has received their serious attention, and I think it would come within the province of this Associaiion to represent to the Government the advantage that would accrue from d series pf. experiments with different manures on various' crops’and in different districts. This isa matter that can only be done by a Government. The experiments, to be of any value, must be uniform in' cveiy respect, and this end can never be attained if carried out by private individuals, each one in his own way. If .taken in hand by the'.Govevnment they would place the experiments in the hands of such men only, as would undertake to abide strictly by the rules laid down for their guidance. I am afraid I have already trespassed too far on your patience to prolong this paper. It is only by mutual assistance and interchange, of opinion that we can hope, to arrive at anything like perfection in our calling. It how only "remains for me to thank you for the patient hearing you have given me, and to express the hope that the remarks I have made my.leadl to discussion, and cause us to feel that we-have gained some benefit from attendance at these monthly meetings, at which every farmer in the district should strl ve to be present.,,., . A protracted but animated conversation . followed the reading of Mr. Passmore’s paper, which, through pressure of other matter, we regret is crowded out. Mr. Bullock proposed, and Mr; Joseph Hunt seconded, a vote of. thajaks: to :Mr. Passmore for the very valuable and instructive paper with which he had favored them—a motion which, it is needless to observe, was carried unanimously. Mr. Passmore briefly responded, thanking the meeting for the : compliment that had been paid him, and concluded by moving a vote of thanks to the Chairman, the same being carried by acclamation. Mr. Garter said that the next paper would be one on a subject somewhat of a different' character to its ■ ■ predecessors, i : Mr. Oliver, of Westerfield, had promised , to read a paper on “ Sheepfarming” at the next meeting of the Association; and - Mr. Carter trusted that’; on that occasion a large number of farmers would be present. The proceedings wer® then, brpught -to a . close. : - i
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