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SHEEP FEEDING.

THE LAWS OF GRAZING.—HI. ON FORAGE PLANTS. [By E. Wilkinson, School of Agriculture, Lincoln.] A suitable appendix to "Laws of Grazing" will be a paper on Forage Plants treated m a more botanical manner than was done m papers I aud 11. The science of forage pla/its may be treated under two heads, first—How plants grow, and second- a description of the more important species. Plants obtain the whole of their food through eithor their roots or their leaves. That which is absorbed by the roots is wholly liquid, and consists of water holding m solution various inor?nmc salts. That which ia absorbed by the leaves is wholly gaseous and consists of carbonic acid gas and probably m leguminous plants such as clovers, peas, beans, etc., of the free nitrogen of the atmosphere as well. Experiments have been made by Hellriegal, a German chemist, which go to prove that leguminous plants obtain the most of their nitrogen m this way, and confirmatory results have been arrived afc by Sir John Lawes at Rothamsted. The food supply of plants being thus wholly inorganic, it follows that it must he assimilated or digested, before it can be of use m building up the plant, became the plant itself consists of very complicated organic materials. This assimilation consists m th« removal of a great part of the oxygen, since the food supply of the plant is very rioh m this element and .the plant itself is not so. Oxygen is only given off by those parts of the plant which contain chlorophyll—the green colouring matter —hence assimilation can only go on m those parts, and therefore the leaves or blades are the most important part of the plant m this respect. There are many other grasses than the common ryegrass and cocksfoot, and it would bo very- desirable for farmers to experiment with some of those species that are recommended m other countries. " The best forage plants " is the title of a recent work by Dr Stehler and Dr Schroler translated by Professor McAlpine and published by Davd Nutt, Strand, London —price about ten shillings. To quote from the introduction, "The object of this book is to place before the Agriculturist those points which are of the greatest practical importance for the production of fodder." The book is profusely and most excellently illustrated and should be obtained by every scientific farmer. A list of the best forage plants is given below, and, m the case of the grasses, descriptions are given, for the purpose of identification, obtained from the new book on. "Grasses ' by Professor McAlpine. These distinctive features are all obtained from peculiarities m the leaves only, and are thus available m any season. A small lens costing two or three shillings is the only magnifying power required. To understand the descriptions a glossary of terms ia here prefixed ; — * ' Sheath ' is the part of the leaf below the blade surrounding the younger leaves. * Sig'ile ' is a continuation of the sheath ■just where it joins the blade—it is colorless. ' Ribs' are the raised lines running down the blade. The ' keel' is the midrib on the under aide of the leaf. ' Veinß' are the fiberous part of the leaf—there is a vein beneath oach rib — Home veins show as white lines when the leaf is held up between the eye and the light—that is when viewed by ' transmitted ' light. Ryegrass (folium, pemnne): —Sheath I red and 'flattened,' Ligule very short, b3ade*shining on the lower surface, and the margins at the base are smooth and ' eared' —that is they have small pointed outgrowths just at the top of the sheath —ribs prominent and rounded, widrib ' round ' also. Italian Ryegrass (Lolium per'niw var it'licum): —Sheath red and 'round,' lijule very short, blade shining on the lower surface, margins at the base ' smooth ' and eared. The veinß are ' indistinct ' by transmitted light, the midrib is quite flat and the sheath is * not' split to the base. Meadow Fescue (Festnca pratensU), and TaU Fescue (F e'atior) :—Sheath red and round and split to the base, ligule very short, blade shining on the lower surface, margins at the base ' rough' (best felt ivith the tongue), ribs prominent .and rounded, but the midrib is ' flat.' Veins appear as pure white lines by transmitted light. Sheep's Fescue (Festuca o««a)and hard Fescue (F. durivtcuh) :—Blades 'bristlelike,'usually with the margins 'folded' together. Ligule and meeting inconspicuous. Cocksfoot { Da iylh qlomerata): —Sheath . i rery 'flat,' both edges 'acute/ blade *ribless,' and 'without' median lines. Median lines are formed by a furrow on . each aide, of the midrib. They show as white lines by transmitted light. Keel prominent, the blade does not start to toper to form «, point till beyond the middle. Ligule very distinct. Rough stalked meadow grass (Poa trimaliß) :—Sheath very flat but much narrower than m Cocksfoot, blade ribless ]b»t 'with median lines,' and tapering from the very base to the acute point, shining on the lower surface. Meadow Foxtail (Alopecurus praPnsis) : -—Sheath J dark brown' or with a tinge of 'violet,' ribs 'low' and'flat,'ligule shorter than broad, ' thick,' usually colored, ' not' toothed, ' hairy' on the back. Timothy (Phteum pratensc) :—Sheath not; colored ' nor keeled,' basal margin of blade 'rough ' from below 'upwards,' but the upper margin is rough from above ' downwards,' Ligule longer than broad, ' thin' and ' toothed,' ' not' hairy on the back. Base of stem more or less bulbous. , False oat or oatlike soft grass (A vena efiaiior or A rrhenatherurn nwwicnmi: — Sheath 'keeled,' blade 'often hairy,' margin 'never' rough from below upwards, ligule ' hairy' on the back. Base of stem more or less bulbous. Smooth stalked meadow grass (Po-> protends): —SHeath flat with rounded edges, blades with ' parallel edges'—end tapering from close to tire end and forming a ' round point'- without ribs but ' with ' median lines. A " Twitch " grass #!iat is here commonly considered a very foad weed, but m Kentucky, where it is <cal!e<l "June " grass it is considered one of tlw. most valuable grasses. In the same w»y the Redtop (Agrostis vulgans is sometimes spoken very favorably of, and the Yorkshire Fog (Holms ianatus) is not always condemned. It thus seems that graces, as well as other plants, may alter their mode of growth according to climate,etc, and only experiment will decide the suitability or otherwise of finy particular species. The remaining best forage plants are practically all Leguminous, that is plants ' whose fruit is a pod. fiie^e plants mno way resemble grasses.. The more important are :—White clover {Tiifolium repens); red clover (T, prafens); cowgrass (t. praiense var permm); alsike (T.\ h^bridum); zig mg clover {T, medium); lesser clover (/. minus) ■ hop trefoil ( • procumbens) ; trefoil or black meriick ( Medkago s>ti>a hipnliva) ; birds' foot trefoil (Lohm rornidnhtm and Oinithqyms safiva); lucerne (Medimno satlva) ; sainfoin (pnabrychis safiffl) ; kidney vetch ( a nthylh* vulneria) —and -at|iprs. It is believed that the true.oo,w,g«ws<j seed Ib not imported here, but that namp is fiven by seed growers &«4 fuerclymts to a! ne sample of ordinary red cjoyer.. This

is to be regretted. The leaser clover Ol' trefoil (T. minus) is by some considered worthless, but it seems to have a certain value on dry lands, though it is said not to be able to resist drought. It is only an annual. The same may perhaps be said of black medick. Within the last few years, colonial grown clover seeds have been upon the market here, and mistakes have occurred between the seeds of the white clover and lesser clover. The seeds are really quite unlike one another when known, and this matter of purity of seeds is one of considerable interest. Some samples offered for sale are very impure, and, although apparently cheap, may yet be very .dear m the end by filling the ground with noxious weeds. The distinctive features I of these seeds may readily be learnt, and a higher price paid for a clean sample would be money well spent —it should be remembered that a weed takes the place of a useful plant. The germinating power of seeds is another matter of all importance to the farmer. Speaking generally, from eighty to ninety per cenfe of the seeds of all; the more common grasses should grow, and ninety per cent or more of leguminous seeds such as clovers, turnips, rape, etc. Instead of these results it is often found that commercial samples of various seeds have deteriorated to such an extent that from only two or three to say twenty per cent or more will grow ; and it is reasonable to suppose that, when so many seeds are quite killed, many more will be so injured as to give but a weakly plant. The causes of poor vitality are greenness, result of heating, age, etc. As a rule brightness of sample and absence of any musty odour or dust will indicate good seed, but correct results can only be obtained by the actual germination of a sample. This can easily be done by placing 100 seeds between folds of flannel or cloth and keeping moist for a sufficient length of time according to season, etc. A weok or more should be allowed for clovers and a fortnight or more for most grasses. If the weather be cold the experiment should be performed m a somewhat warm position inside—such as the kitchen mantel-piece. To show the importance of the question it may be pointed out that if a sample germinating 90 per cent be worth 9d per lb, then another sample germinating 50 per cent would be worth but sd, and one germinating 20 per cent; would be worth but 2d per pound.

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Permanent link to this item

http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG18900703.2.17

Bibliographic details

SHEEP FEEDING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2457, 3 July 1890

Word Count
1,605

SHEEP FEEDING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 2457, 3 July 1890

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