RUAKUBA EXPERIMENTAIi FARM, A iVISIT TO THE STATION. One of the most successful gatherings of its kind yet held was certainly the annual visit, paid yesterday, of fanners to the Ruakura Experimental Farm, about two miles from Hamilton. Magnificent weather resulted in quite 400 visitors putting in an appearance, and these, far from representing the particular neighbourhood of the station, came from all parts of the Thames, Waikato, and King Country. By train, brake and vehicles of all descriptions they landed at the gates in a continuous stream throughout the forenoon and early afternoon, and the extensive yards of the station soon presented quite an animated appearance. The visitors were received by Messrs. E. Clifton, Director of Experimental Stations, T. Kirk, Government Biologist, and Duncan, stock-inspector-in-charge, and were afterwards conducted over the grounds by the officers in charge of the various departments. Amongst those present were the Hon. D. Buddo, Minister for Public Health, and Messrs. F. Lavrry, and H. J. Greenslade, M.P.'s. Over three hours were spent by the party in inspecting th e various branches of the work embraced in the station, and it was to all, undoubtedly, a most interesting and profitable occasion. Brakes and traps were utilised to convey the visitors to the more distant portions of the estate, including the apiary, poultry yards and nurseries, and one and all were quite eager in availing themselves of the opportunities offered to thorn in the demonstration of multitudinous matters' appertaining to life and work on the land.
During the afternoon a sumptuous luncheon was provided by the Department of Agriculture, tbe Hon. D. Buddo presiding. PROGRESSIVE DAIRYING. The land for the station was purchased in 1901, but it was not until the following year that work commenced in earnest. Previously only a portion of the land had been under any kind of cultivation at all, th<s rest having been wholly unoccupied. As the district generally is devoted the farm was the development of <^- cr y thing relating to this industry. The herd has been improved greatly, and is being continued on the Shorthorn type of the milking strain. There is also a small herd of Ayrshire*, and it is expected later to establish the Jersey breed on the farm, some specimens of the latter having already been purchased in the Taranaki district. While it is agreed that it is necessary to keep a certain portion of each breed absolutely pure, it is also the intention of the management, as soon as the number of the herd and the development of the farm allows of it, to cross these cattle, and thus demonstrate the value of the cross-breed. This will, of course, be purely a utility herd, it is obvious that such an institution as a Government experimental station should be prepared to supply the settlers of the district with purebred sires, as it is so fully recognised that the purity of breeding must be definite on the side of the male.
A portion of the form is devoted to the production of fodder craps—something to take the place oi grass during the drier months of the year. A cursory examination of the crops grown for the purpose— certain varieties of millet, sorghum and maize—afford ample proof of the value of green feeding at this time of the year. The grass and clover ensilage stack is very much to be recommended to the attention of the farmers, as it probably contains 120 tons of grass and clover which are usually allowed to run to waste.
The erection of the milk shed and its adjacent buildings, the boiler house, milk room, separator room, and can cleaning room, is being carried out more with the intention of providing for futuro requirements when it is expected that numbers of young men will be attracted with the object of securing the latest practice in dairying. The provision of a plentiful supply of water has not been overlooked, and the milkhouse has immediate connection with a deep bore. At some 200 ft. down, the supply appears to be inexhaustible. THE GRASS CROPS. Tlie provision of the necessary grass paddocks has been followed with gratifying results. There is, however, a point worthy of the consideration of the fawners of the district •whether the establishment of permanent grasses (which are assumed to last for a series of years) might not be better replaced with grosses such as Italian rye and the better clovers, by the use of which more profitable and richer results are obtained than on the grasses so-called permanent. They must recognise that with the increased price of land, it is imperative that the soil must be used to its utmost capacity. That may be better obtained by the use of the grass indicated—the kind with a comparatively short period of life. The expenses of cultivation are no doubt increased, but so also are the returns from this same "intensive" culture.
The extensive collection of grasses at Ruakura is unique in the Dominion, and probably in Australasia. Grasses have been brought here from Europe, America, Australia, and also cultivated from the little recognised indigenous plants of New Zealand. THE SHEEP INDUSTRY. As yet, large areas of this province are devoted to the rearing and pasturage of sheep, and the production of the lamb for freezing, especially as root crops I flourish, in tbe Waikato to such a prolific I extent, and not only in one but in practically every season. The climatic conditions allow of this being done, and many farmers have devoted their whole interests to raising sheep. One need only take for proof the large number of lambs frozen at Southdown (Farmers' Co-operative Works) last year. With the object of assisting in this direction, the management at Ruakura are establishing three registered flocks of stud sheep—English Leicesters, Southdowns, and Dorset Horned. The Southdowns are in great demand throughout the Waikato, and so also are the English Leicesters. The Dorset Homed is the latest importation, and has the reputation of providing the earliest and most quickly maturing lamb of our English breeds. It remains, however, to the station and the farmers to test its suitability for the district.
A MODEL POULTRY FARM. There is also at the Ruakura station a large poultry run, under the care of Mr. Cussen, and it is found that the demand for the eggs and for fowls for breeding is yearly increasing. A walk round these roomy, carefully-tended, and scrupulously clean runs will convince the visitor that he has seen the ideal to be aimed at by the poultry farmer in caring for his feathered stock. The apinry is always a place of interest, and is courteously shown to visitors by the lady in charge—Miss Livesay.
INNOVA.TIONB IN HORTICULTURE. ' The horticultural branch of the sta-'j tion attracts the widest, interest. - It ls! in charge of Mr. Green, a graduate of. the New Zealand University, who makes '• as his special study the subject'of bot-| any. It is obvious to the most casual observer that his labours are multifarious and extensive. One of the most instructive sections is that of tlie nuraery, where: are to be seen varieties of utility root crops, and innovations as shown in the production of the fodder plants, such as "chou moellier," almost the antithesis of the "kohl rliabi." In the latter the stalk is elongated and edible. In the other the stalk is bulgy at one part, almost like a turnip in the air, this providing the edible part. A work of great promise is that of the selection of cereals, especially the oat, the principal crop of the district. The potatoes grown are of many kinds, some being from strains alleged to be disease-resistant. The latter are now under test with a view to ascertaining how far this is the case.
Large numbers of peach trees are being prepared at Ruakura for planting at the •Waerenga Fruit Settlement, as the land appears to be eminently suited for young trees of this variety. The orchard, which comprises some 16 acres, has "been established, not with, a view to competing with fruitgrowers, (but to afford a practical demonstration of the varieties suitable for the Waikato.
On the whole, it will be agreed on every hand that the work effected at the station reflects great credit to the manager Mr. Dibble) and the capable staff associated with him, while its value to every farmer, largo or small, in the provinco, can scarcely bo too highly estimated.
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