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Injurious moisture in land arises often from springs in the bowels of the earth. The person who first published the method of draining laud in these circumstances, was Doctor John Anderson, of Aberdeen, while Mr. Elkington was actually practising upon the same principle, in various parts of England, with complete success; and, at length obtained from the British parliament a thousand pounds, as the discoverer of so valuable an improvement. In Italy and in Germany, however, it is stated upon respectable authority, that the art has been long known and practised. Some of the strata of which the earth is composed, will admit the free passage of water through them, while others effectually resist it. Gravel is obviously characterised by the former quality, and clay by the latter. The upper part of mountains is frequently composed of gravel, which extends far into their depth, and conveys with it the water received upon their surface from the clouds. Meeting with layers of clay or rock, however, the water is unable to permeate them, and flows upon the upper part of them obliquely, according to that general direction of the layers or laminae, which form the earth towards the plain or valley. After descending for some way, the layer of gravel along which the water had passed, and from which it could not penetrate the clay, flowing only on its surface, often passes, in consequence of the obliquity just mentioned, under new strata of materials, consisting of clay, or some substance equally difficult to be penetrated by moisture. The water is thus confined between impervious beds. If the layer of gravel suddenly stops, in such circumstances, as it often does, the water which it had conveyed between these two beds deriving fresh accumulation perpetually from its original source, will at length permeate the superior layer, ascending through its weaker parts, and arriving at last at the surface, will there stagnate. The art of draining lands in this situation, (the principle of which, in whatever research or casualty its discovery originated, is of such happy application) consists merely of digging or boring with an auger into the earth, so as to reach the layer of gravel; the water in which, finding an easy and rapid access upwards by this vent, no longer presses in its former diffused manner, to the injury of the superior clay, which will consequently cease to nourish moss and weeds, through redundant moisture, and be fitted for the purposes of useful cultivation.
The application of this principle to the purposes of improved husbandry may be considered at present as in its infancy. It may be presumed that, in future periods, it may be carried to an extent of incalculable utility, and be connected with the supply of navigable canals, and the movement of machinery adapted to various objects of art and commerce. The manner in which the various strata are intermingled with each other, must, it is obvious, as nearly as possible, be ascertained before this practice can be applied with certainty of success; and the surest way of discovering their direction consists in examining the beds of the nearest rivers, and the appearance of their steep and broken banks. The examination of pits, wells, and quarries, in the vicinity, will also contribute information on the subject. Rushes and other plants, which grow only in moisture injurious to other vegetables, will likewise often indicate where a collection of water is impeded in its course below, and consequently
presses upward, to the destruction of use
ful vegetation. In draining a large bog it will be generally proper to dig a trench from one end of it to the other, with cross trenches at considerable distances, to allow the water a free discharge, by frequently piercing the bottom, at which the springs are to be found, with an auger. A single perforation will frequently, indeed, complete the object. Instances have occurred in which water thus raised has been made to ascend, by erecting round the perforation a building of brick, lined on both sides with clay, above the level of the bog, applicable to a variety of purposes, and conveyed by pipes, or otherwise, to a considerable distance. Detailed regulations for the application of this important principle, so productive a source of improved cultivation, are precluded by the assigned limits of this article. on Fences.
Without firm and close fences, the husbandman might as well cultivate open fields as inclosures, which in these circumstances, indeed, are only nominally such. He is under perpetual and well-founded apprehensions lest cattle of his own or his neighbours should break into his corn or hayfields. To prevent these painful apprehensions and irreparable mischiefs, every attention must be bestowed on the fences of a farm. Large and rich pastures may most easily be divided into fields of ten acres each, by which the land is less liable to be injured through the restlessness and wild and perpetual movements of cattle, which occur in extensive grounds, where they are collected in considerable numbers. Dividing banks being raised, they may be connected with the system of draining by a ditch on each side, about three feet wide at top, and four deep. The bank or border should be about the width of six feet at the bottom, lessening gradually to three at the top, at which the height from the ground should be five or six feet. On each side of the bank should be planted a single row of quick-thorn. If the thorn be of the bullace or damson kind, it will be productive and profitable. On the top of the border filbert nuts may be planted, at distances of three feet; and, in the middle, appletrees, at the distance of five feet. This fence would occupy about 13 feet, and, in the neighbourhood of London, particularly, would be found not only effectual for its main purpose, but a source of income as well as the means of defence. The hawthorn, the black thorm, and the holly, the willow, the black alder, and the birch, have all been recommended by observant and experienced men, as admirably calculated to secure fields from the irruptions of cattle, and will be employed for the purpose, according as particular circumstances of dryness or moisture, or other considerations recommend their application. Where there is an abundance of flat stones, fences are frequently composed of them; and, though not so agreeable to the eye as the others, and re
quiring frequent repair, from the stones be
ing displaced by cattle, when kept in order they are the most effectual defence that can be procured. With respect to hedges, (which in this country are more usual as well as more pleasing than walls, and which, perhaps, cannot in general be formed of any thing preferable to the thorn, considering the quickness of its growth in congenial soil, in which it shoots six or seven feet in a single season, and that it is more disposed to lateral shoots than all other trees, and by its prickles is especially calculated for the object in view, in the construction of hedges,) the proper method of repairing them is unquestionably by plashing. This has been defined a wattling made of living wood. The old wood must, in the first instance, be all cleared from the hedge, together with brambles and irregularly growing stuff, and along the top of the bank should be left standing the straightest and best grown stems of thorn, hazel, elm, oak, or ash, VOL. I.
about the number of six in a yard. The next step is to repair the ditch, which, in the driest soils, should never be less than three feet wide at top, by two and a half deep, and six inches wide at bottom; and in all very moist ones, should be at least four feet by three, and one at bottom. The earth removed from the ditch should be thrown upon the bank, after which the repair of the hedge commences, and those of the stems above mentioned, left in cutting the old hedge, which grow in the direction in which the new hedge is to run, are cut off to serve as hedge-stakes for it, which, being chosen as much as possible of sallow and willow, readily grow, and effectually preserve the new part from falling or leaning. The remainder of the wood left standing is then plashed down. One stroke is given to the stick near the ground, and another about ten or twelve inches higher, just deep enough to slit out a part of the wood between the two, leaving the stem supported by about a quarter of its original size; it is then laid along the top of the bank, and weaved among the hedge-stakes. Dead thorns are sometimes woven among them where there happens to be a scarcity of living wood. After this operation the hedge is eddered in the usual manner. The greatest part of the hedge thus consists of living materials, and the importance of this circumstance cannot be too strongly insisted upon, as a compact and lasting fence is thus formed, while those hedges which are constructed of dead materials speedily decay, and crumble into the ditch. It would be endless to detail all the varieties of fence which peculiar circumstances may have rendered expedient, or human ingenuity may have invented. The most usual and most generally applicable are those which have been mentioned.
Watering of meadows was used in England even in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and was carried on upon a large scale by Rowland Vaughan, in the golden valley of Herefordshire. He likewise published a treatise on the subject. After this period, and about a century since, it was introduced by Mr. Welladvise into Gloucestershire with abundant proofs of its efficacy and importance. So slow, however, is the progress of improvement, that it is only of late years that this overflowing of grounds, in nearly all other situations as well as in level ones, has been brought considerably inte nse. It is a practice by which, in mild seasons, grass is produced in extreme abundance, even so early as in March; grass, too, particularly nutritious as well as plentiful, on which cattle which have wintered hardly thrive with great rapidity, and on which young lambs feed with surprizing advantage. Between March and May, the feed of meadows, in consequence of this practice, is estimated at worth one guinea per acre; after which an acre will yield two tons of hay in June, while the after-math may be valued at twenty shillings. In consequence of this management, moreover, the land is continually improving in quality, its herbage advancing in fineness, the soil becoming more firm and sound, and the depth of its mould being augmented. It may be estimated, that in each county of England and Wales two thousand acres may be increased in value one pound per acre, by means of irrigation; a national advantage of serious moment, and drawing after it the great improvement of other lands, and the employment of many honest and industrious poor. The principles on which the practice depends have no portion of difficulty and complexity whatever. Water will always rise to the level of the receptacle from which it is derived. All streams descending in a greater or less degree, which is indicated by their smooth and slow, or their agitated and noisy progress, it is obvious that a main or trench may be taken from a river, which will convey water over the land by the side of that river to a considerable distance below the head of the main, where the river from which it is taken flows greatly below it. As water, however, if left to stagnate upon land, does it very considerable injury, instead of benefiting it, by cherishing flags, rushes, and other weeds, it is requisite to ascertain, before it be introduced upon any spot, that it can be easily and effectually drained off.
. The muddiness of the water applied is stated by some to be of little consequence, and several writers have even laid it down as a maxim, that the purer or clearer the water is, the more beneficial are its effects. These opinions, however, appear to be directly contradicted by experience; and it may be affirmed, that the mud of water, particularly in some situations, is nearly of as much consequence in winter watering, as dung is in the improvement of a poor upland field. Every meadow will be found productive, proportionally to the quantity of mud collected from the water. Those
meadows which lie next below any village or town, are uniformly most rapid and plentiful in their growth. So well known is this truth, that disputes are perpetually arising concerning the first application of water to lands; and when mud is supposed to be collected at the bottom of a river, or iu ditches, many persons will employ labourers with rakes, for several days together, to disturb it, that it may be carried down by the water, and spread upon the meadows. The more turbid and feculent the water, the more beneficially it acts. Hasty and violent rains, producing floods, dissolve the salts of the circumjacent lands, and wash from them considerable portions of the manure which naturally or factitiously had been deposited on them. Water from a spring depends in no small degree for the quantity of nutriment it affords to vegetables on the nature of the strata over which it passes. If these be metallic, or consisting of earth partaking of the sulphuric acid, it may be really injurious. But that which passes over fossil chalks, or any thing of a calcareous nature, will highly promote the process of vegetation. That which has run a long way, is almost always preferable to what flows over land immediately from the spring. In mid winter great attention should be applied to keeping watered land sheltered by the water from the rigour of night frosts: but during the whole winter it should be withdrawn once in every twelve days, to prevent its rotting and destroying the roots of the grass. Every meadow should also be attentively inspected, to preserve the equal distribution of the water over it, and to remove obstacles arising from the influx of weeds and sticks, and other similar causes. In the month of February particular caution is requisite. If the water be suffered to remain many days together upon the land, a white scum, extremely pernicious, is the consequence; and if the land be exposed, without drying during the course of the day, to one severe night frost, the herbage will often be completely cut off. Both these causes of injury must be carefully avoided. About the middle of February half the quantity of water previously used will be better than more, all that is requisite now being to keep the ground moist and warm, and to hasten the progress of vegetation; and in proportion as the weather becomes warmer, the quantity introduced should proportionally be diminished. An important maxim in the application of water is to bring it on as plentifully as possible, but to let it pass off by a brisk and nimble course, as not only its stagmation is injurious, but by indolently creeping over the land it is of much less advantage than when passing off quickly. The spring feeding ought never to be done by heavier cattle than sheep or calves, as others would do extreme injury, by poaching the ground with their feet, and spoiling the trenches. The barer the meadows are fed towards the close of April, the better. After clearing, they should have a week's watering, with a careful attention to every sluice or drain. With respect to the application of floods, a general rule of no slight importance is, that the farmer should avail himself of them whenever the grass cannot be used, as the sand and mud brought down by them increase and enrich the soil; but that he should avoid them when the grass is long or
soon to be cut, as in flat countries it is .
frequently spoiled by them, and much of the matter which they bring down sticking to the grass, renders it peculiarly unpleasant to cattle, which have been known in some instances rather to starve than use it. So great is the importance of irrigation, that governments would be fully justified in giving facility to undertakings for conducting it on an extensive plan. The fertility, or, in other words, the national wealth capable of being derived from the application of cold water, which is at present allowed to flow uselessly away, to the purposes of agriculture, is well worthy the attention of the enlightened and benevolent statesman. In the neighbourhood of the cities of Milan and Lodi, Mr. Young observes, that the exertions in irrigation are truly great, and even astonishing. “Canals are not only numerous and uninterrupted, but conducted with great skill and expense. Along the public roads, almost every where, there is one canal on the side of the road, and sometimes there are two. Cross ones are thrown over these on arches, and pass in trunks of brick or stone, under the road. A very considerable one, after passing for several miles by the side of the highway, sinks under it, and also under two other canals, carried in stone troughs a foot wide. The variety of directions in which the water is carried, the ease with which it is made to flow in opposite directions, and the obstacles which are overcome, are objects of admiration. The expense thus employed in the twenty miles from Milan to Lodi is im
mense; and meritorious as many undertakings in England are, they sink to nothing in comparison with these truly great and noble works. So well understood is the value of water in this country, that it is brought by the farmer (who has the power of conducting it through his neighbour's ground for a stipulated sum, and under certain regulations, to any distance that may suit him,) from a canal of a certain size, at so much an hour per week, and even from an hour down to a quarter. The usual price for an hour per week in perpetuity is fifteen hundred livres.” MANU Res, &c.
Ingenious theories have too often, in agricultural treatises, usurped the place of recitals of attentive and patient experience. To the latter, the judicious reader will ever bend his attention with pleasure and advantage, rejoicing that while the systems of men are seen to vanish, one after another, in rapid succession, like the waves of the ocean, the course of nature is constant, and may be depended upon through all generations and ages. Of all the expenses incurred by the husbandman, none so rarely disappoints its object as that which he employs in manures. The use of lime in this connection has been long decidedly established. It reduces to mould all the dead roots of vegetables, with which the soil abounds. Its useful operation depends upon its intimate mixture with the land; and the proper time therefore to apply it is, when both are in that pulverized state in which this union can be best completed. If left to be slaked by humid air, or casual rain, it is seldom perfectly reduced to powder. The proper method is to place it in heaps on the ground on which it is intended to be spread, to slake it there with a due quantity of water, and afterwards to cover it with sod, to preserve it from the rain. If long slaked, however, before it is spread, it runs into clots, and becomes less operative for its purpose; besides which, it loses in such circumstances its caustic quality, on which account it should be brought home as short
a time as possible before its intended ap
plication. Lime should not be permitted to lie all winter on the surface of the ground after being spread, for a similar reason, as also because it is washed down into the furrows; and on the sides of hills the whole is apt to be carried off by the winter torrents. It should be spread, and mixed with the soil immediately before sowing. The quantity to be laid on depends upon the nature of the lands, which, if strong, will easily bear a hundred bolls per acre, while thin and gravelly ones will require only thirty or forty, and upon meadow ones fifty or sixty will be found sufficient.
Marl is valuable as a manure in proportion to the quantity of calcareous earth which it contains, which in some instances amounts to one half. When of this quality it may be regarded as the most substantial of all manures, converting the weakest ground nearly into the most productive. It is the best of manure for clay soils, in which all agricultural writers are perfectly agreed. Before its application, the land should be cleared of weeds, and smoothed, that it may be evenly spread; after which it should remain all winter on the surface. Its usefulness depends on its pulverization and close union with the soil to which it is applied. Frost, and a frequent alternation of dryness and humidity, contribute greatly to reduce it to powder,
on which account it should, as much and
as long as possible, be exposed to their influence. The proper season for marling land is summer. The best grain for the first crop after marl is oats. But, whatever be the crop, the furrow should be always
ebbed, as otherwise the marl, which is a
heavy body, sinks to the bottom of it. Gypsum, or plaister of Paris, is commonly used in Switzerland and North America as a manure, and has been tried in this country with stated results of a very different description. Experiments, however, respecting its efficacy and advantages do not appear yet to have been made with sufficient accuracy to justify a final opinion respecting it. In Cornwall, and other counties, sea sand is laid upon the land in considerable quantities, and found extremely useful in softening stiff clays, and rendering them pervious to the roots of plants. Chalk, or powdered limestone, will also answer this important cnd; and sand, together with line perfectly extinguished, will more effectually than any thing else open its texture, and prepare it for whatever is intended to be sown on it. The true nourishment of vegetables consists of water, coal, salts, and different kinds of earths, which are ascertained to be the only substances common to vegetables, and the soils in which they grow. In favour. able weather, grasses and corn absorb and perspire nearly half their weight of water
every day. The great problem with respect’
to manuring or fertilizing a soil, appears to be, how to render coal soluble in water for
the purposes of vegetation, and to discover that composition of the different earths which is best adapted to detain the due proportion of moisture. With respect to the former, the fermentation of dung appears to be the best method hitherto discovered; and as to the different kinds of earths to be applied for the improvement of particular soils, the experiments of Mr. Kirwan, to whom the world is indebted for much elaborate and ingenious analysis on the subject, have led him to several conclusions, which will be briefly noticed. Clay soils being defective in constitution and texture, want the calcareous ingredient, and coarse sand. The former is supplied by calcareous marl, and both are furnished by limestone gravel. Marl and dung are still more beneficial, as dung supplies the carbonaceous principle. Sand, chalk, or powdered limestone will either of them answer this purpose, though less advantageously. Coal ashes, chips of wood, burnt clay, brick-dust, and even pebbles, may be applied with this view. For clayey loam, if deficient in the calcareous ingredient, chalk is an excellent manure; if in the sandy ingredient, sand is the obvious and easy remedy: a deficiency in both will be best supplied by siliceous marl, limestone gravel, or effete hime with sand. The most effectual application for the chalky soils, which want both the argillaceous and the sandy ingredients, is clayey or sandy loams. For chalky loam, the best manure is clay, because this soil is chiefly defective in the argillaceous ingredient. Calcareous marl is the best manure for sandy soils. For sandy loams, chalk should be followed by clay; and for vitriolic soils, lime, or limestone gravel, or calcareous clay, is peculiarly applicable. Not only sea-sand, but sea-weeds also may be employed to considerable advantage as manure. For lands on the coast it may be procured, not only in any quantities, but at a trifling expense. The weeds of rivers are also extremely useful for the same purpose. The refuse of slaughter-houses and oil cakes are well adapted to fertilize the soil, but in most situations not easily to be obtained at areasonable rate. In almost all circumstances the industry and ingenuity of the occupier must be depended upon for raising on the spot an adequate quantity of dung for its manure, and for this purpose it is expedient that, in such
circumstances, as little as possible of the .
hay and straw raised upon the premises should be sold from them. This tenaciousness on the part of the farmer will