The text is taken from my copy of FIELDS, FACTORIES AND WORKSHOPS: or Industry Combined
with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work, Thomas Nelson & Sons, London, Edinburgh, Dublin and New York, 1912.
M.-IRRIGATED MEADOWS IN ITALY . . . Page 444.
In the Journal de lAgriculture (2nd Feb., 1889) the following was said about the marcites of Milan:-
On part of these meadows water runs constantly, on others it is left running for ten hours every week. The former give six crops every year; since February, eighty to 100 tons of grass, equivalent to twenty and twenty-five tons of dry hay, being obtained from the hectare (eight to ten tons per acres). Lower down, thirteen tons of dry hay per acre is the regular crop. Taking eighty acres placed in average conditions, they will yield fifty-six tons of green grass per hectare that is, fourteen tons of dry hay, or the food of three milch cows to the hectare (two and a half acres). The rent of such meadows is from £8 to £9, 12s. per acre.
For Indian corn, the advantages of irrigation are equally apparent. On irrigated lands, crops of from seventy-eight to eighty-nine bushels per acre are obtained, as against from fifty-six to sixty-seven bushels on unirrigated lands, also in Italy, and twenty-eight to thirty-three bushels in France (Garola, Les Cereales).
N.-PLANTED WHEAT . . . . Page 444.
The Rothamsted Challenge.
Sir A. Cotton delivered, in 1893, before the Balloon Society, a lecture on agriculture, in which lecture he warmly advocated deep cultivation and planting the seeds of wheat wide apart. He published it later on as a pamphlet (Lecture on Agriculture, 2nd edition, with Appendix. Dorking, 1893). He obtained, for the best of his sort of wheat, an average of fifty-five ears per plant, with three oz. of grain of fair quality perhaps sixty-three lbs. per bushel (p. 10). This corresponded to ninety bushels per acre that is, his result was very similar to those obtained at the Tomblaine and Capelle agricultural stations by Grandeau and F. Dessprez, whose work seems not to have been known to Sir A. Cotton. True, Sir A. Cottons experiments were not conducted, or rather were not reported, in a thoroughly scientific way. But the more desirable it would have been, either to contradict or to confirm his statements by experiments carefully conducted at some experimental agricultural station. Unfortunately, so far as I know, no such experiments have yet been made, and the possibility of profitably increasing the wheat crop by the means indicated by Sir A. Cotton has still to be tested in a scientific spirit.
A few words on this method which now claims the attention of the experimental stations may perhaps not be useless.
In Japan, rice is always treated in this way. It is treated as our gardeners treat lettuce and cabbage that is, it is let first to germinate; then it is sown in special warm corners, well inundated with water and protected from the birds by strings drawn over the ground. Thirty-five to fifty-five days later, the young plants, now fully developed and possessed of a thick network of rootlets, are replanted in the open ground. In this way the Japanese obtain from twenty to thirty-two bushels of dressed rice to the acre in the poor provinces, forty bushels in the better ones, and from sixty to sixty-seven bushels on the best lands. The average, in six rice-growing states of North America, is at the same time only nine and a half bushels.*
* Dr. M. Fesca, Beitrage zur Kenntniss der Japanesischen Landwirthschaft, Part ii., p. 33 (Berlin, 1893). The economy in seeds is also considerable. While in Italy 250 kilogrammes to the hectare are sown, and 160 kilogrammes in South Carolina, the Japanese use only sixty kilogrammes for the same area, (Semler, Tropische Agrikultur, Bd. Iii., pp. 20-28.)
In China, replanting is also in general use, and consequently the idea has been circulated in France by M. Eugene Simon and the late M. Toubeau, that replanted wheat could be made a powerful means of increasing the crops in Western Europe.#
# Eugene Simon, La cite chinoise (translated into English); Toubeau, La repartition metrique des impots, 2 vols., Paris (Guillaumin), 1880.
So far as I know, the idea has not yet been submitted to a practical test; but when one thinks of the remarkable results obtained by Hallets method of planting; of what the market-gardeners obtain by replanting once and even twice; and of how rapidly the work of planting is done by market-gardeners in Jersey, one must agree that in replanted wheat we have a new opening worthy of the most careful consideration. Experiments have not yet been made in this direction; but Prof. Grandeau, whose opinion I have asked on this subject, wrote to me that he believes the method must have a great future. Practical market-gardeners (Paris maraicher) whose opinion I have asked, see, of course, nothing extravagant in that idea.
With plants yielding 1,000 grains each and in the Capelle experiment they yielded and average of 600 grains the yearly wheat-food of one individual man (5*65 bushels, or 265 lbs.), which is represented by from 5,000,000 to 5,500,000 grains, could be grown on a space of 250 square yards; while for an experienced hand replanting would represent no more than ten to twelve hours work. With a proper machine-tool, the work could probably be very much reduced. In Japan, two men and two women plant with rice three-quarters of an acre in one day (Ronna, Les Irrigations, vol. iii., 1890, p. 67 seq.). That means (Fesca, Japanesische Landwirthschaft, p. 33) from 33,000 to 66,000 plants, or, let us say, a minimum of 8,250 plants a day for one person. The Jersey gardeners plant from 600 (inexperienced) to 1,000 plants per hour (experienced).