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THE WAERENGA EXPERIMENTAL FARM.

(By E. ALLAN.)

Some recent criticism regarding thi9 farm has appeared in the Press, and we think in simple justice to the officials in charge of the work, the facts, in so far as they have come under our observation, should be made public. We visited the place a year ago, and paid a second visit on Wednesday last. We were disappointed on our first visit with ttie nursery, wliieh was then in a very weed}' condition. Young trees were overgrown tJirongh neglect to trans plant, and generally this part of the. farm was not in a condition one expects to find in a State Department. On our second visit a vast improvement had been effected. The land was decidedly cleaner, the young trees doing well, and the whole place bore evidence of having been overhauled, while the <rreenhouses and their contents were bein" thoroughly renovated at the time of our visit. As regards the vineyard, we can only say the land was practically free from weeds, the soil in good tilth, and a very good crop of grapes. We were informed that the product would yield same SOOO gallons of wine. Takmg into account the land on which these vines are planted and which a few years ago was considered practically worthless, we are of opinion splendid results have been obtained, but it is very doubtful if this district or its lands will ever be suitable for growing the best wine grapes, the district being too cold and the soil too moist. The orchard, so far as we could see (and one cannot do very much dose inspection in one day) is not making headway. The ground under the tree 9 has been sown down in clover, which appears to have been cut and the trees mulched with it: the clover is strong and health}', and we expect that this season it will be turned under and the ground thoroughly cultivated, a process which -we know will be of great benefit. But apart altogether from this, one cannot get away from the fact that, in so far as apples especially arc concerned, the trees in many instances have a stunted appearance, and it is a question whether such land will ever grow good payable crops of apples, Sharp's late, for instance, was doing well, and the fruit good and quite clean, but American, Gblden Rlussett was doing badly and the fruit almost flavourless. Several trees were covered with American blight, and others were in a dying condition, evidently from spraying with too strong spray. Of course, it must be expected that in experimenting with arsenate of lead or other poisons, some trees may be destroyed in the process, but we think the experiments should be tested on some trees not placed in their permanent positions. The crop of potatoes we were shown were a good sample and Mr Rawson, the manager, stated that some 7J tons per acTe was the yield. These were the 'Up-to-Date variety, and if only some 5 cwt. of fertilizer was used, we consider the return very satisfactory from this class of land. The experimental grass plots of about one acre each were a ci - edTt to all concerned, the grass was of a beautiful healthy green, thick and growing luxuriantly. Here the use of lime was demonstrated to be of vast benefit to such lands, half of each plot having' received a small dressing at the rate of 5 cwt. per acre of lime in addition to the fertilizer, the other halves receiving the fertilizer only, the result in each case being in favour of liming. Two other plots, one in prairie grass, the other in clover and paspahim dilitatum were very promising, especially the latter. Whien criticising! the work already accomplished at Waerenga it should be remembered that the large area of land is of poor quality, and that it is very '"patchy" and also that the Government iiad to grope in the dark to a large extent. From the experience gained, they should now be in a position to launch, out on a much, larger scale, breaking in the big block of land now lying waste and putting it in grass, giving to the public the details of expenditure in so doing. It is not enough to show that grass can be grown on such, lands, the fanners must needs know the various details. In the successful working of such farms, it appears to us the Government - would be well advised were they to appoint a committee or board of advisers, who would recommend the lines on which these farms should be run. The farmers, fruitgrowers and nurserymen could each have their representatives—say two from eacli .profession, and possibly another two to be appointed by the Government. The positions should he honorary, and the farm manager should also have a seat. Such a board would not require to meet often, and we feel sure it /would \je of great service in the working of this large block of land. There can be 310 doubt that large sums have teen spent on this farm, but there is a good deal to show for it. The buildings, for instance, are substantial and nunnerous, although in the event of cutting up the estate, they are built too close together. Some fine shelter belts and hedges have been planted and are making good progress. There is a considerable aeerage in wattles, 19 acres planted with grapes, a considerable acreage in fruit tveea, there are thousands of fine healthy .young fruit trees grafted and budded, miles of fences have ■been erected, there is the wine-making plant, and the many and varied implements which alone would cost a considerable smn. The farm 'has already been of considerable value to farmers and others, and we sincerely trust that some such board of advice as we have indicated may be appointed, when we feel assured its value as an educational institution will Mβ very largely inI creased.

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THE WAERENGA EXPERIMENTAL FARM. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 0, 17 April 1909

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