A Treatise of Practical Information for Farmers;
PLAIN DIRECTIONS HOW TO APPLY PERUVIAN GUANO
TO THE VARIOUS
CROPS AND SOILS OF AMERICA,
BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF ITS HISTORY, LOCALITY, QUANTITY, METHOD OF PROCURING, PROSPECT OF CONTINUED SUPPLY, AND PRICE; ANALYSIS OF ITS COMPOSITION, AND VALUE AS A FERTILIZER, OVER ALL OTHER MANURES.
"If the experience of the last few years has taught us one thing more certainly than another, it is the unfailing excellence of Guano for every kind of crop which requires manure."
PREPARED AND PUBLISHED
BY SOLON ROBINSON,
MESSRS. F. BARREDA & BROTHER,
AGENTS FOR THE PERUVIAN GOVERNMENT AT BALTIMORE;
THEODORE W. RILEY, ESQ., THEIR AGENT IN NEW YORK.
NEW YORK: 1853.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1852, by
in the Clerks Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.
The rapidly increasing use of guano, in the United States, and the growing conviction upon the public mind, that it is the cheapest and best purchasable manure in the world, together with the fact of a great want of information among American farmers, as to the best mode of applying it to the soil, has induced the agents of the Peruvian Government for the sale of guano in the United States, to employ the author of this pamphlet to collect and publish such information.
It is hoped the favorably and well known name of the author, as an agricultural writer and traveller, together with his extended opportunities of witnessing the application and effect of guano upon the various soils and climates of this country, will give this work such a character, as to induce every improving farmer, gardener, or horticulturist, in America to give it a careful perusal. The author believes it will be found to contain all and much more than its title imports, and be of great value to every person using or dealing in guano; as the analysis, not only of the pure article is given, but that of several specimens of adulterated samples, so as to enable the farmer to avoid being cheated by base counterfeits.
The author will be much obliged to any gentleman who will furnish him for publication in future editions of this work, or in the columns of THE AGRICULTOR, any details of experiments in the use of Peruvian guano, which will be useful to the farmers of this country, as it is his desire, as well as the guano agents, to give them useful facts; not only to increase the sale, but the fertility of the land, and wealth of the owners.
With assurances to my friends that I have no other interest in the increased consumption of guano, I am most sincerely and respectfully
Your old Friend,
New York, October 1852.
A TREATISE ON GUANO.
PERUVIAN GUANO—ITS USES AND BENEFITS.
Of all manures procurable by the American Farmer, guano from the rainless islands of Peru, is perhaps not only the most concentrated—the most economical to the purchaser—but by its composition, as we will show by analysis, the best adapted to all the crops cultivated in this country requiring manure. For wheat, especially, it is the one thing needful. The mineral constituents of cultivated plants, as will also be shown by analysis, are chiefly lime, magnesia, potash, soda, chlorine, sulphuric and phosphoric acid; all of which will be found in Peruvian guano. Nitrogen, the most valuable constituent of stable or compost manures, exists in great abundance in guano, in the exact condition required by plants to promote rapid vegetation. The concentration of all these valuable properties in the small bulk of guano, renders it particularly valuable to farms situated in districts unprovided with facilities of cheap transportation. In some hilly regions, it would be utterly impossible to make any ordinary manure pay for transportation. With guano the case is very different—one wagon will carry enough with a single pair of horses to dress 12 or 16 acres; while of stable manure it would require as many or more loads to each acre to produce the same effect.
But this is not the greatest advantage in the use of this fertilizer; the first application puts the land in such condition, that judicious after cultivation renders it continuously fertile by its own action of productiveness and reproductiveness of wheat, clover and wheat, by turning in the clover of one year for the wheat of the next, and by returning the straw back to the ground where it grew, spread open the surface to shade the plants of clover and manure its roots, which in turn manure the corn or wheat.
As a source of profit alone, we should recommend the continuous application of Guano; knowing as we do, from our extensive means of observation, that no outlay of capital ever made by the farmer, is so sure and certain to bring him back good returns for his money, as when he invests it in this invaluable fertilizer for his impoverished soil. In proof of this, we shall give the reader of this little work a number of experiments made by some of the most improving farmers in Virginia and other States.
EFFECTS PRODUCED BY THE USE OF GUANO IN VIRGINIA.
In no other part of the world, perhaps, can the beneficial effects of Guano be more plainly seen than in the tide-water region of Virginia. In the counties of King George, Westmoreland, Richmond, Northumberland, Lancaster, in the northern neck, as the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahanock is termed; thousands of acres of land so poor and worthless a few years ago, it was barely rated as property, are now annually producing beautiful crops of wheat, corn and clover, solely by the application of Guano. In the meantime, the discovery of such an easy means of improving a worn out and barren soil, has increased the money value of land three or four hundred per cent. This is not all. Heretofore, the only part of this district considered worth cultivation was the bottom land bordering the rivers and creeks; the forest land yielding scanty crops for two or three years after being cleared, scarcely paying for the labor, while its value was rated at from $1 to $4 per acre, and unsaleable at that. Since the introduction of Guano, it is found these forest lands, which are of a sandy, loamy character, and much more pleasant than the bottom lands to till, can be cultivated with equal or greater profit than the stiff lands upon the bottoms. The writer has seen repeatedly in the counties mentioned, luxuriant fields of wheat, corn and clover, while directly alongside of such crops, the ground was almost as bare of vegetation as the sea-shore sands, too poor, as the common expression is there, to bear poverty grass. And what produced this change? Simply a dressing of 200 lbs. of Guano to the acre.
DR. FAIRFAX'S EXPERIMENTS WITH GUANO.
In April 1850 the writer was on the farm of Dr. Fairfax of King George county, who was one of the first, if not quite the first person in that part of the State who ever made use of this substance as a manure; and his wheat was then so large that a good sized dog was hidden from view in running through the field; while upon a neighboring piece of land of exactly the same quality, sowed at the same time, the ground scarcely looked green; in fact, it was remarked at the time by way of contrast to the one field hiding a dog, that the other would not hide a chicken—indeed, an egg might have been seen as far as though no wheat was growing upon the ground. Both fields were just alike, both plowed and sowed alike, without manure, except 200 lbs of Peruvian guano upon one, and that sure to bring fifteen or twenty bushels to the acre, while the other would not exceed three bushels.
One of his first trials was with the African, of which he applied 400 lbs. to the acre upon 27 acres, which would not produce three bushels of wheat to the acre, in its natural condition, but with this application, notwithstanding it was 32 per cent. water, and, consequently, had lost much of it ammonia, he made an average of 12-3/4 bushels to the acre on the whole field. Upon another, he increased the usual average yield from 8 to 18 bushels, while, in his opinion, the permanent improvement of the land was of greater value than the increased yield of the first crop; for now clover will grow where none would grow before; another advantage arising from guano is, the wheat ripens so much earlier (15th of June) it escapes the rust, so apt to blight that which is late coming to maturity. He now sows wheat in the fore part of September, three pecks to the acre, after having previously plowed in 200 lbs. of Peruvian guano to the acre, and after the first harrowing sows the clover seed. The land is a yellow clay loam, uneven surface, very much worn; in fact, without the guano, and with all the manure that could be made upon the farm—for no straw no manure—not worth cultivating. Dr. F. had been using guano three years, at the date of our visit, and thought his prospect good for a thousand bushels of wheat upon the same ground, which, without guano would not produce one hundred and fifty.
MR. NEWTON'S EXPERIMENTS.
The Hon. Willoughby Newton, of Westmoreland County, was one of the earliest and most successful experimenters in the use of guano in Virginia. He owns large and productive farms on the Potomac, but on account of the forest land being more healthy for a residence, he bought a tract of it for that purpose; not having any design of ever putting it into cultivation. In fact, it was so poor he could not. The manure of the farm, if it had not been wanted there, was several miles distant—too far to haul; and so the land lay an uncultivated, unprofitable barren waste around his fine mansion; but it did not lay so very long after he discovered the renovating power of guano. It is now annually covered with broad fields of wheat, from which he has realized upwards of twenty bushels to the acre; and the most luxuriant growths of clover upon which he can pasture any amount of stock he pleases, where three years previous a goat would have found difficulty in sustaining life. Mr. Newton's first experiment—what was then an experiment is now a certainty—was made with African guano. But we will give the account of his operations in his own straight-forward, easily understood, farmer-like language.
"In the effect of guano, especially the Peruvian, I have never been disappointed. I have used it now for four years, with entire satisfaction having each year been induced to enlarge my expenditure, until last year it reached eight hundred dollars, and for the crop of wheat this fall it exceeds one thousand. I have observed with astonishment its effect in numerous instance on the poor "forest lands" alluded to in a former part of this address. What the turnip and sheep husbandry have done for the light lands of Great Britain, the general use of guano promises to do for ours. Lands a few years ago deemed entirely incapable of producing wheat, now produce the most luxuriant crops. From 15 to 20 bushels for one sowed, is the ordinary product on our poorest lands, from the application of 200 lbs. of Peruvian guano. I may remark, it is not usual, in Eastern Virginia, to sow more than a bushel of wheat to the acre, and that I deem amply sufficient. Upon this subject I hope a few details may not be considered tedious or uninteresting. I applied last fall $350 worth of guano, partly Peruvian and partly Patagonian, on a poor farm "in the forest," which cost a few years ago four dollars an acre, and reaped 1089 bushels of beautiful wheat from 78 sowed. Forty-six bushels were sowed on fallow, (both guano and wheat put in with the cultivator, followed by a heavy harrow,) and yielded 790 bushels or over 17-1/4 for one. A considerable part of this was dressed with Patagonian guano, and was much inferior to the other portion. A lot on which 15 bushels was sowed, and dressed with Peruvian guano, was threshed separately, and yielded 301 bushels, or over 20 for one. The whole cost of the farm was $1520, and I have good reason to expect with a favorable season from the crop now sowed and dressed with guano, a bushel of wheat for every dollar of the prime cost of the farm. Many other instances of profit from the use of guano, equally striking have occurred among my neighbors and friends, but I confine myself to those stated, because having come under my immediate observation, I can vouch for their entire accuracy. It has been frequently objected to the use of guano, that it is not permanent. It would be unreasonable to expect great permanent improvement from a manure so active, and which yielded go large a profit on the first crop. Yet I have seen some striking evidences of its permanency in heavy crops of clover, succeeding wheat, and in the increase of the crop of wheat on a second application. As an instance, I may mention that two years ago I sowed upon a single detached acre of "forest land," one bushel of wheat and dressed it with a barrel of African guano, costing $4, and the yield was seventeen bushels. Last fall the same land, after remaining one year in clover, was again sowed with one bushel of wheat and dressed with 140 lbs. of Peruvian guano, costing $3, and the product was 22 bushels. Yet I would advise no one to rely upon guano exclusively. Its analysis shows that it contains salts of ammonia, alkaline phosphates and the other mineral elements necessary to produce the grain of wheat, but is deficient in most of the elements of the straw and roots of the plants. Hence, (says Liebig) 'a rational agriculturist, in using guano, cannot dispense with stable dung.' We should, therefore, be careful not to exhaust the soil of organic manures, but by retaining the straw of the wheat, and occasionally a crop of clover, which plant contains a large percentage of the alkaline carbonates, which are entirely wanting in Guano, furnish all the elements necessary to the entire wheat plant. In this view of the subject, and for many other reasons that I cannot stop to enumerate, there cannot be, when guano is extensively used, a more judicious rotation than the Pamunky five field system, in which clover occupies a prominent place. I have now enumerated some of the most prominent means by which you may "keep your land rich." I would not discourage the use of others. Science is daily making discoveries in the art of enriching the earth, and we should discard nothing, without a trial, which promises to be useful; always bearing in mind that the wisest economy is entirely consistent with the most liberal expenditure, in the purchase of manures, provided we take care, by judicious experiments and observation, to ascertain their efficacy, and that we get back our capital, with an actual net profit in cash, on all our investments. This latter caution is indispensable, in our country, where new lands are so abundant and cheap, that highly improved farms can never be rated in the market at their true value."
"The various manures compounded by chemists and manufacturers, should also engage your careful attention. They should not be recklessly thrown aside as humbugs, without trial or investigation, nor adopted and extensively used with blind confidence in their efficacy. I have used many of these manures by way of experiment, and the profit realized upon them has not justified me in enlarging my operations. Poudrette, manufactured in Baltimore; Bommers manure, Chappel's fertilizer and Kentish & Co.'s prepared guano, (used, it is true, upon a small scale,) have not realized the promises made in their behalf. Yet I would by no means discourage the praiseworthy efforts of the manufacturers, and hope they will persevere until, by lessening the bulk and increasing the power of their compounds, they may be able to prepare an article that for cheapness, convenience of application and efficacy, shall equal or surpass the best Peruvian guano."
That desideratum, Professor Mapes believes he has already attained by the addition of superphosphate of lime to the Guano, making a compound of two-thirds of the latter to one of the former, more valuable by weight than the pure article. That being the case will greatly increase the consumption of Guano, and greatly improve the condition of all that class of farmers who desire to make their poor lands rich.
Of the use of lime, Mr. Newton has the following testimony, which we embody here for its great practical value.
"Calcareous matter is the great want of most of our lands, and in some form is essential to permanent improvement. It should be regarded as the basis of all our operations, and never to be dispensed with for any substitute. From long experience in the use of lime, I am satisfied that the French plan, of light and frequent dressings, is not only much more economical, but much safer, in our climate, than the heavy dressings common in Great Britain. Fifty bushels of slaked lime to the acre, I have found amply sufficient for any of our lands, and a greater quantity often attended with injury to the soil and crops, whilst twenty-five bushels will answer every purpose on thin lands, deficient in vegetable matter. Ashes, bone dust, and the various marine manures that abound on the shores of the Chesapeake and its tributaries, will be found important auxiliaries in the work of 'keeping your lands rich,' whilst the necessity of clover and the proper grasses, to any system of permanent improvement, is too obvious to require comment."
Although caustic lime should never be used in connection, or so as to come in contact with the Guano, there is no doubt of its being a valuable auxiliary. Upon land limed this year, Guano may be used next, and if mixed with charcoal or plaster, or plowed in and thoroughly incorporated with the soil, especially if it contains a considerable portion of clay, no loss of ammonia will occur, in consequence of the action of the lime. On the contrary, the effect will be to make the action of the Guano more active, and the immediate benefit greater; though, of course the succeeding crops would not receive as great a share. But, as Mr. Newton says, ought we to ask for great advantages to succeeding crops, from a manure which gives us such great profits from the present one.
From our notes taken upon the spot, we give a few items more in detail of Mr. Newton's operations, than he has done in the preceding quotations. The tract of land he speaks of is gently undulating; of a sandy loam, with a greater amount of clay in the subsoil; had been literally worn out in former years by the shallow plowing, skinning system of farming, until it would produce no more, when it was abandoned and suffered to grow up again in forest timber, principally pine of the "old field" species. No land could offer less inducements to the cultivator or give smaller hope of renovation, than these old fields of Virginia. Such was the conviction of impossibility to raise a crop upon this kind of land, that Mr. Newton's first essay was looked upon by his neighbors with a conviction that the fool and his money would soon part company. One sensible old servant told us he thought his master "for sartain was done gone crazy, cause he nebber seed no nothing grow on dat land, no how could fix him." The negroes, wherever guano has been introduced, have been violently opposed to using it; not alone from its disagreeable odor and effect upon the throat and nostrils while handling it in a dry state; but because they could not be persuaded that such a small measure of stuff—200 lbs. measures about three bushels—could possibly produce any effect upon the crop. Their astonishment and consequent extravagant laudation of the effect produced, has often afforded us hours of amusement while listening to their recital of "massa's big crop," of perhaps ten bushels to the acre, which was at least double that of any one ever seen upon the same field, "fore he put dem little pinch of snuff on him."
The increase of wheat from guano may be safely calculated upon at five bushels for each hundred weight of guano used, one year with another, and up to what may be considered a fair judicious amount to be applied, which may be set down at an average of 200 lbs to the acre, upon all light soils, similar to those of that part of the country we are writing about.
GUANO vs. MANURE—EFFECTS UPON HEAVY LAND.
Mr. Newton related to us an anecdote of some value upon this point. On one of his Potomac farms, a portion of the land is exceedingly heavy—pewtery land, as it is termed from its tendency when wet to run together, presenting a glistening appearance somewhat resembling that metal. His overseer was about as unbelieving as the negroes, and declared he could beat the guano by expending the same value in manure upon a given quantity of surface. To test this and also to try its effect upon the stiff land, he applied a little short of one ton of Peruvian, which cost $50 upon ten acres, and promised a premium to the overseer if he could make a greater crop by the use of all the manure, men and teams he saw fit to apply to another ten acres lying right along side, and of the same quality of soil. Of course he spared no labor, using both lime and manure freely, but in the spring finding the appearance of his crop unequal to that guanoed, he gave it a top dressing of fine manure and a good working with the harrow. At harvest the guanoed portion was ready for the sickle several days earlier than the other, and yielded 135 bushels of a quality so very superior, it was all reserved for seed for himself and neighbors.
The product of the other was 55 bushels; difference in favor of the guano, 80 bushels—8 bushels to the acre—while the value of extra manuring, probably exceeded the cost of guano, without any material advantage in the effect upon succeeding crops. In fact, it is probable, that the additional growth of straw and clover would be worth more to the next crop on the guanoed portion, than the undecomposed manure and lime would be in the other. It is needless to say both overseer and servants, were fully convinced of the virtue of guano after this experiment.
According to our notes, Mr. Newton first used guano in 1846—one ton of Ichaboe at $30, on 8 acres, with 8 bushels of seed, upon land so deadly poor, that an old negro we conversed with said; "him so done gone massa, wouldn't grow poverty grass nuff to make hen's nest for dis nigger." No attempt had been made for years to grow any crop, not even oats or rye, the last effort of expiring nature to yield sustenance to man upon one of those old worn out Virginia farms. Think of the astonishment of the poor negro, who thought his master crazy to sow wheat there without manure, to see 88 bushels harvested from the 8 acres.
In 1847, he used $100 worth of Patagonian upon same kind of land and reaped 330 bushels. In 1848, $200 worth of Patagonian and Chilian at $40 and $30 a ton, gave 540 bushels, which sold at $1 25, mostly for seed, on account of its superior quality. In each case the advantage to the land of equal value as to the crop. In 1849, he applied 10 tons Peruvian at $47, and 11 tons Patagonian at $30, upon 260 acres, from 75 to 250 lbs. to the acre. When we saw this crop the next spring, the appearance in favor of the Peruvian, was fully 50 per cent. upon the same cost of each kind per acre.
In 1850 he applied 30 tons, of course, all Peruvian, with equal success to former years.
Mr. Newton says, the second application of guano to the same land produces the best result—that notwithstanding the profit of the first application in the increased crop, the profit to the land is always greater.
Before leaving Mr. Newton, we will place on record one expression highly creditable to him, and convincing in its palpable truth of the value put upon this fertilizer, by a gentlemen of sound judgment and candor of speech, equal to any other within the circle of our acquaintance.
"I look upon the introduction of guano and the success attending its application to our barren lands, in the light of a special interposition of Divine Providence, to save the northern neck of Virginia from reverting entirely into its former state of wilderness and utter desolation. Until the discovery of guano—more valuable to us than the mines of California—I looked upon the possibility of renovating our soil, of ever bringing it up to a point capable of producing remunerating crops as utterly hopeless. Our up-lands were all worn out, and our bottom lands fast failing, and if it had not been for guano, to revive our last hope, a few years more and the whole country must have been deserted by all who desired to increase their own wealth, or advance the cause of civilization by a profitable cultivation of the earth."
We are satisfied that the above opinion will be considered of more value—more conclusive in favor of guano, by all who are acquainted with the character of Willoughby Newton, than all else contained in the pages of this pamphlet.
OTHER WITNESSES IN VIRGINIA IN FAVOR OF GUANO.
As our principal object is to convince the skeptical, or induce unbelievers in its efficacy and value, to try experiments themselves by which they will be convinced and enriched, we offer the names of a few more gentlemen of high standing, who have been very fortunate in the use of this essential element of successful cultivation in Virginia, as witnesses, whose testimony ought to be, and will be, where they are known entirely conclusive.
Col. Robert W. Carter, of Sabine Hall, on the Rappahanock, whose land is principally of that kind of clayey loam common upon that river, once rich but badly worn by cultivation, is so well satisfied that it is profitable to make rich lands still more rich, he buys annually 30 or 40 tons of the best in market. He says he cannot afford to sow wheat without guano—it is foolish and unprofitable. He sows it broad cast, 200 lbs. to the acre, with no other preparation than breaking the lumps; plows it in; sows wheat and harrows that; in some cases has sown clover, and in others, followed wheat after wheat with increasing productiveness every year; clearly proving the effect of one application, to be beneficial to the succeeding crop. Without guano, or very high manuring, wheat will deteriorate year after year, if sown upon the same soil, until the product would not pay for the labor of sowing and harvesting.
Upon one upland field, which without manure would not pay for cultivation, he sowed one bushel of wheat and 200 lbs. Peruvian guano and made fifteen bushels. Plowed down the stubble with same application, and when we saw the crop, should have been willing to insure it at twenty-five bushels. Col. C. has nearly 2,000 acres in cultivation, which within his recollection was cultivated entirely with hoes—his grandfather would not use a plow—was as much set against that great land improver as some modern, but no more wise farmers, are against guano. Col. C. uses the best of plows; sows 200 lbs. guano to the acre and plows it in six inches deep, and sows one bushel of wheat and harrows thoroughly, but not deep enough to disturb the guano. His gain has been eight bushels average upon 210 lbs. guano. Thinks Peruvian at $50 a ton preferable to any other at current prices. His land is mostly clayey loam and was so much exhausted by a hundred years hard usage, it was barely able to support the servants, until the Colonel commenced his system of improvements by draining, deep plowing, rotation of crops, lime, plaster, clover, and guano; the latter of which he looks upon as the salvation of lower Virginia; while his large sales of eight or ten hundred acres of corn and wheat, sufficiently attest its value upon that location. His actual annual profits upon the use of guano, cannot be less than two thousand dollars.
Doctor Brockenborough, Doctor Gordon, Messrs. Dobyn, Micou, Garnett and others of Tappahannock and vicinity, have all found the application even upon the bottom lands, profitable, though not to so great an extent as upon the poor old field-pine lands of Mr. Newton; but simply from the reason that his land was utterly worthless before, but after the application of the guano, was increased in value more than its whole cost, besides the profit derived from the crop.
Wm. D. Nelson, a neighbor of Mr. Newton, bought a tract of land for a residence, at $4 an acre, which in its natural condition was not worth cultivating; but with guano will pay all expenses of that and the cultivation and the cost of the land the first crop.
Upon a portion of this land, a poor sandy loam, he applied 200 lbs. Peruvian guano and one bushel of wheat per acre, and made 12 bushels, while a strip through the field, purposely left without guano, did not produce the seed, and remained as destitute of clover as though it never had been sown, forming a very striking contrast to the luxuriant growth upon each side. In another trial he made 10 bushels from one sowed, with 200 lbs. of Patagonian guano, of a very good quality. This is about in proportion to the current price of the two kinds, though the latter cannot be so certainly depended upon for good quality as the Peruvian. Another trial was made with 1,100 lbs. Peruvian and 1,100 lbs. Patagonian, and 11 bushels of seed upon 11 acres which made 160 bushels of wheat of very fine quality, and large growth of straw. Upon 36 acres, same kind of soil, well manured in the previous crop of corn, sowed 36 bushels and made 162. The first had not been manured. The evidence in favor of guano in this case, needs no comment. By an outlay of $40, a much more valuable crop was made from the 11 acres than from the 36; the permanent improvement to the land from guano was much greater than from the manure. In this case the guano was plowed in about four inches deep.
Mr. Nelson thinks the yield of wheat will average in that neighborhood, an increase of 16 bushels for 200 lbs. of Peruvian guano.
H. Chandler, Westmoreland Court House, bought a farm at a price for the whole below the cost of the mansion house alone, because the land was so utterly and hopelessly worn out, as to be past the ability of supporting those engaged in its tillage. When we saw it, we should have been willing to insure the growing crop of wheat at 20 bushels, the result of 210 lbs. of Peruvian guano to the acre; while the clover upon the stubble of the previous year could not be excelled in point of luxuriousness upon the richest field in the State of New York, where the land was valued at $100 an acre.
Mr. Chandler first commenced with 250 lbs. African guano, measuring 3-1/2 bushels, to the acre, upon which he sowed one bushel of wheat. The result 17 bushels to the acre upon land which only gave 5-1/2 bushels in any previous crop. Cost of guano $5; profit, $6 50. The next year he gained an increase of 12 bushels to the acre over previous years, by the use of 250 lbs of Patagonian guano; while the clover, Mr. Chandler thinks, worth more than the whole cost of the application. A still better result was produced last year from 210 lbs. of Peruvian. The soil is a yellow clayey loam, which in its unimproved condition looks about as unpromising for a crop, as the middle of a hard beaten road.
Mr. C. tried guano upon river bottom land, but the improvement was not so remarkable.
We were assured by Mr. C., that many persons who had long been accustomed to look upon the hopeless barrenness of this land, were wont to stop as they rode past this field of clover, and look at it with utter astonishment. Some could not be satisfied with looking, but would drive to the house to inquire what magical power had been used to produce such a strange metamorphosis in the appearance of the place. When assured it was all effected by guano, they went away—not satisfied—but unbelieving.
What tends much to increase the effect of this improvement, is the fact, that directly opposite lies another tract, still in its barren condition, lately purchased by Dr. Spence, a very enterprising gentleman, imbued with the spirit of improvement, which will soon be brought into the same condition, notwithstanding its unforbidding appearance.
Mr. S. B. Atwell who owns an adjoining farm, has been equally successful in the use of guano. Before using it, his wheat upon 20 acres was hardly sufficient to pay for harvesting. The first crop after using it, 400 bushels. He has also increased the crop of corn from 20 to 260 barrels by lime, guano and clover. In the meantime, the land has increased in value in about the same ratio.
In Lancaster County, we saw a field of wheat on the farm of Dr. Leland, sown upon corn ground, one part with 200 lbs. of Peruvian guano to the acre, the other with a full dressing of hog-pen manure, by the side of which the ground was seen in its natural barrenness, scarcely making a show of greenness; while the rank growth of the guanoed portion made as great a contrast with that manured upon the opposite side.
Guanoed wheat upon the farm of Col. Downing in the same county showed as great a contrast with land both limed and manured; while directly alongside of this luxuriant growth, the land was as destitute of vegetation as a brick pavement.
The effect of guano upon strawberries, Col. D. found to excel anything else ever tried.
A neighbor of Col. Downing had a fine show for a wheat crop on exceedingly poor land from the application of only 90 lbs. Peruvian Guano to the acre.
Capt Wm. Harding, Northumberland, C. H., assured us he made 27 bushels per acre upon only tolerably fair land, by the use of 200 lbs. Peruvian guano, plowed in and followed by clover, worth more than the guano cost.
Col. Richard A. Claybrook, in the same neighborhood, made 15 bushels—the land along side almost as bare as the surface of the guano islands.
We might mention a dozen others in the same place, in fact in most of the places mentioned, whose testimony would be as strong as those we have named.
Col. Edward Tayloe of King George Co., having been very successful in the use of guano, induced his neighbor, Wm. Roy Mason, Esq. to test its powers by the most severe experiment we have ever known it subjected to. He selected a point of a hill, from which every particle of soil had been washed away, until nothing in the world would grow there. It would not produce, said he, a peck of wheat to the acre, but with a dressing of 300 lbs. African guano, it gave me thirteen bushels, and now while that is covered with clover, other, so called, rich parts of the field are almost bare. A field which had never produced for years, over four bushels of wheat to the acre, was dressed with 250 lbs. of guano and one bushel of plaster at a cost of $7 to the acre, which gave thirteen bushels of a quality greatly improved, and a very large growth of straw, which he esteems highly as a top dressing for the clover, which far exceeded upon the guanoed land that which was highly manured. The success of Mr. Mason was so flattering, he immediately purchased six tons for the next experiment.
If all the faithless would pursue the course indicated in the following experiment with guano, by Mr. Richard Rouzee of Essex Co. Va., they would probably be as well convinced as he, that the greatest "humbugging" about guano, is in neglecting to profit by its use. He says:—"I must confess that I have been skeptical in relation to the various accounts of the fertilizing properties of guano, especially in these times of humbuggery, and therefore determined to subject it to the most rigid test." In view of this, on the 3d of October last, I selected two acres of land by actual measurement, proverbially poor, never having yielded in a course of ten years cultivation more than three bushels per acre, and in consequence, was called by way of derision, "Old Kentuck." To the two acres 560 lbs. of guano were applied in the most injudicious manner by strewing it on the top of the corn bed—the consequence was, when the wheat was ploughed in, and came up, a small girth was only seen on the top and a space between each row at least one third of its width; in this condition it remained until about the middle of November, when it had so sensibly disappeared, that it attracted the attention of one of my neighbors, who remarked to me, that at least one half of it had been destroyed, in which opinion I concurred; in examining that which remained, we were of opinion that three-fourths of it had from three to ten flies in the maggot state on each stalk; in this state of things I surrendered all hope of any tolerable return, more especially as the rust made its appearance in it a short time before it ripened.—Now for the result—
The 2 acres of land yielded me 32 1/4 bushels of wheat at $1 per bushel, $32 25 Deduct for average yield of the above, 2 acres, 6 bushels at $1 per bushel, $6 00 Deduct for Cost of 560 lbs. Guano, $12 70 ———- $18 70 ———- $13 55 Add for additional straw, 50 ———- Clear profit, $14.05
Here is a clear profit of $14 upon $12.70 invested, and acknowledged to be applied in the most injudicious manner. It is easy to judge what would have been the profit under different circumstances. In the vicinity of this city where straw sells for $5 per hundred little bundles, instead of a credit of 50 cents it would have been at least half the cost of the guano.
GUANO IN NORTH CAROLINA.
Henry K. Burgwyn's first trial with guano. Its effect on grass sown with wheat.—The name and farm of this gentleman is so widely known as a successful renovator of miserably poor worn out fields, that we are delighted to have it in our power to have his testimony to our impregnable array of witnesses in favor of the most valuable substance for the improvement of such land, ever given by an overruling power for the benefit of those who ought to be exceedingly thankful for so good a gift. But hear what this writer has to say upon this interesting subject.
"Having about 150 acres of my wheat, this year sown upon last year's corn ground, and the land being rather light and not too rich, I feared lest I should fail with my grass sown on this wheat, because of the two successive cereal crops; I therefore bought guano, mixed it with its bulk of plaster, then added fine charcoal, the same, and to this mixture double the whole bulk of deposit of the Roanoke river, a rich alluvial earth, and sowed the whole broadcast in February and March, and harrowed it in, on the top of the wheat I sowed at the rate of 200 lbs. of guano to the acre; the value of which, no doubt, was doubled by the mixture with the absorbents of the ammonia, which is so exceedingly volatile even when left for a few hours, is easily dissipated by the March winds. On this land, I had sown in October previous, clover, timothy, Kentucky blue grass, and Italian ray grass. My harvest has now been over, three weeks, and I have never had a finer stand of all these, even on our rich bottoms. The ray grass matured its seed, rather sooner than the wheat was two-thirds as tall, and where very thickly sown, materially injured the product of the wheat, I have reaped an increased product from my wheat, amply sufficient to repay my outlay for the guano, plaster, &c., and have my grass as my profit on the investment; this in turn will shade and improve my land, fatten my stock, increase my crops, and cheer my eye with 'grassy slopes,' in place of 'galled hill sides;' this is profit sufficient for the most greedy if turned to a proper account;—be it remembered, too, this was a light and rather poor soil, but based on a good clay subsoil."
To this we beg leave to add from our own knowledge of this land, which is situated on the Roanoke river 6 or 7 miles below Halifax, that it was before being improved by Mr. Burgwyn, about as unpromising a tract as can be found upon all the "cottoned to death," poor old fields of that sadly abused State. In the condition it was when we first saw it, while undergoing the operation of putting a four horse plow through the broom straw and old field pines, notwithstanding our strong faith in the ability of such men as the Messrs. Burgwyns to redeem such land from its condition of utter and apparently hopeless barrenness, we must own, that if Mr. B. had made the assertion while we were riding over this very tract, that within two years he would reap a remunerating crop of wheat from the barren waste, and coat the ground with a carpet of luxuriant grass, we should have told him the day of miracles had passed away. But we had not then seen as much as we have since of the miraculous power of Peruvian guano.
We might continue to cite hundreds of similar cases but propose to pass over into Maryland, and after showing its application there has produced equally beneficial results, travel northward, calling here and there a witness as we proceed. Among others, we may call to the stand in Maryland, will be the editor of the American Farmer, whose testimony we consider almost invaluable, having devoted much attention to the subject, and to whom, and his able correspondents, we desire to award full credit, in this general manner, to save repetition, for much of the information we shall give the readers of several of the succeeding pages. The testimony of witnesses of such high standing, cannot be too highly estimated by those who are anxious to learn how to renovate their worn out farms, or make the rich ones richer.
EXPERIMENTS IN MARYLAND.
Effects of guano upon the crop to which it is applied.—Edward Stabler, in the American Farmer, thus speaks of an experiment he made in 1845, soon after the introduction of guano to any extent into this country.
"In a field of some 10 acres, one acre was selected near the middle, and extending through the field, so as to embrace any difference of soil, should there be any. On this acre 200 lbs. of Peruvian guano, at a cost of about $5 was sown with the wheat. Adjoining the guano on one side, was manure from the barn yard, at the rate of 25 cart loads to the acre; and on the opposite side (separated by an open drain the whole distance;) ground bones were applied on the balance of the field, at a cost of $6 to the acre; the field equally limed two years preceding. There was no material difference in the time or manner of seeding; except that the manure was lightly cross-ploughed in, and the guano and bones harrowed in with the wheat.
"The yield on the guanoed acre was 35 bushels; the adjoining acre with bone, as near as could be estimated by dozens, and compared with the guano, was about 27 bushels; and the manured, about 24 bushels. The season was unusually dry; and the manured portion suffered more from this cause than either of the others; the land being considerably more elevated, and a south exposure."
In our opinion Mr. S. is in error in regard to the manured land suffering most from drouth. In our experience we have always found the best effects from Guano, in wet seasons, or upon irrigated land. He says also, "This is one of the most active of all manures; and although he thinks the effect evanescent, it might aid materially in renovating worn out lands." Since that time a great many other Maryland farmers have, undoubtedly come to the same conclusion, for notwithstanding the price, which he thinks too high to justify its extensive use, has not been materially reduced, there is more guano sold in Baltimore than any, or perhaps all the ports in the United States; and the benefits derived from its use upon the worn out lands of Maryland, have been of the most satisfactory character.
In speaking of the after crop of grass upon the land above mentioned, he says:
"The field has since been mowed three times; the first crop of grass was evidently in favor of the boned part; the second, and third, were fully two to one over the guano, and also yielding much heavier crops of clover seed. On a part of one land, 18 bushels to the acre of the finest of the bone were used; on this, the wheat was as heavy as on the guanoed, and the grass generally lodges before harvest, as it also does on much of the adjoining land with 12 bushels of bone."
This is all right; it should never be mixed with lime, and it should be plowed in. In his experiments, the lime in the soil had the effect to disengage the ammonia, and not being sufficiently buried or mixed up with the earth to prevent its escape during a very dry season, much of its value went afloat in the atmosphere. If he had given a bushel of plaster as a top dressing, there is no doubt the effect upon the grass crop would have been entirely different. The action of guano is very variable upon different soils, as well as upon the same kinds of soil in different seasons, or from the different manner of applying it; but there is one thing in its favor, it seldom fails to pay for itself, as Mr. Newton remarks, in the first crop; and if properly applied, that is, plowed in with wheat, upon poor, sandy, "worn out land," and followed by clover, and that dressed with plaster, it will pay far better in the succeeding years than the first. This has been fully proved in a hundred cases, since Mr. Stabler tried his experiments; for two years after, in writing upon the same subject, he says "Harrowing in the guano with the wheat will generally produce a better crop; but its fertilizing properties are more evanescent. I prefer plowing it in for all field crops; and when attainable, would always use it in conjunction with ground bones, for the benefit of succeeding grass crops. This is pre-supposing that you determine to improve more land than the resources of the farm will accomplish, and are willing to do it by the aid of foreign manures; and being 'far removed from lime.' If the object is to realize the most in a single crop, and to obtain the quickest return for the outlay, use the guano alone, and harrow it in with the wheat; but the land, according to my experience, will derive but little benefit from the application, unless the amount is large. By plowing it in, particularly if mixed with one third its bulk of plaster, the effect is decidedly more durable; nor is it then necessary that the seeding should so immediately follow its application. If, however, the object is to improve the land at the same time; and surely it should be a primary object with every tiller of the soil—and lime, from your location, or the price, is unattainable, I would advise about half the amount determined on, to be expended for ground bones. This may be harrowed in with the wheat."
It is surprising what an effect a few bushels of ground bones to the acre will produce; reference is made to a single experiment, and not an isolated one either. Some six years since, we applied ten to twelve bushels of coarsely ground bones to the acre, on about half of a twelve acre field; on two lands adjoining, was guano, at the rate of 200 pounds to the acre, (the cost of each about the same,) and extending nearly through the field; both were applied in the spring, on the oat crop—and which was decidedly better, by the eye, on the two lands with guano. In the fall, the field was sown with wheat, manuring heavily from the barn yard, adjoining the guano, but not spread on the two lands, or on the boned portion of the field.
There was but little difference perceived in the wheat, except from the manure, which was the best—the field having been limed for the preceding corn crop, 80 bushels to the acre. The experiment was made to test the comparative durability of the three kinds of manure; the guano, ground bones, and manure from the barn yard; and the ultimate profit to be derived from each, in a full rotation. After the first crop of grass, and perhaps the second, which was in favor of the manured portion, the succeeding crops of hay and clover seed, have been decidedly better on the boned part of the field. At the present time, and also the past season, this being the fourth year in grass, the guanoed lands present about the same appearance, that does a small adjoining space, purposely left without manure of any kind, lime excepted. The manured part affords good pasture, but is quite inferior to the boned, which would give a fair crop of hay, and probably three times as much grass as the two lands with guano. It is believed that the increased crop of clover seed on the boned, over the guanoed portion, paid for the former; and that the two crops of clover since taken from the field, have paid, or nearly so, for the lime or other manures applied.
This evidence corresponds with the opinion of Professor Mapes; that is, that the value of an application of guano is greatly enhanced by the addition of phosphate of lime, in some shape; the guano acting immediately and producing a direct profit, while the slow action, for which some farmers cannot wait, keeps up the fertility for years, or until the owner may find time to profit by another application of guano.
We quote again a few more of the very sensible remarks of friend Stabler. "I am an advocate for the liberal use of all kinds of manure, guano included, if the price will justify it. A farmer had better buy manure than to buy grain, if compelled to do either; for we cannot expect much from nothing, or reasonably calculate upon improving very poor land without manure of some description, unless plaster will act with effect; nor is this generally the case without the land possesses naturally, some particular source of fertility, not wholly exhausted by bad or improvident tillage.
"It is probable those will be disappointed who expect to do everything with guano—make fine crops and improve the land, while they take everything off, and dispense almost, if not entirely, with the more permanent manures, all equally within their reach. True, we may exist for a time, only half fed and half clothed; but it is just as reasonable to expect to improve under such a regimen, as to calculate upon continued, not to say increased fertility of the soil, without an ample supply, of the right kind of manure.
"With all its acknowledged advantages, it may be questioned whether there is not one drawback to the introduction of guano. It is used with less profit in direct connexion with lime, than with most kinds of manure; and its facility of application, and quick return, has induced many to give up the lime entirely, if not also to some extent, to neglect the resources of the farm. Others again, in improving poor land, advise the guano first, and the lime afterwards. This may do very well; but is often better in theory than in practice, for the lime is omitted altogether, and perhaps at some risk of loss, in both time and money, as regards permanent improvement. To use a figure of speech—the prudent architect will first secure a solid foundation to build upon, and with materials of known durability; this accomplished, he need have no fears of the stability of the structure, and may, at pleasure add thereto, either for ornament or utility."
"That thin lands may be brought to a very productive state, by the liberal and repeated applications of guano, there is no doubt; but at what cost and how durable the improvements might be, I am not prepared to say. In two instances, from 700 to 800 lbs. were applied at one time to an acre; but in neither did the results correspond with the expense, or induce a repetition of the experiment. My own experience so far, is in favor of more limited applications, say 100 to 200 lbs. to the acre, (taking in consideration the price of both grain and guano,) and also used in connection with other manures, which is found to be the most profitable, and probably more durable in its effect; in two experiments, with from 50 to 150 lbs. of guano to the acre applied three years since with barnyard manure, for wheat, the effect on the grass crop at this time, is quite marked; applied in this way, it hastens maturity—thus, in a degree, guarding against rust—renders the grain more perfect, and is believed to be one of the most profitable modes of using guano."
Nothing could be more sensible than the advice of this gentleman, not to rely upon guano alone. To waste or neglect stable and home made manures, or throw away bones or other valuable fertilizers, because we could buy guano, would be as insensible as it would for a man to throw away a handful of bank bills, because he happened to have just then a pocket full of gold and silver coin.
We never have, nor shall we recommend guano to the exclusion of everything else; but we do recommend every farmer in America, to whom an additional quantity of manure would be an object, to buy guano; because he will be almost sure to derive a certain and immediate profit from the investment. It will make poor lands rich, and rich lands richer.
EVIDENCE OF THE DURABLE EFFECTS OF GUANO.
Upon this point, we have the following testimony of Thomas P. Stabler, of Montgomery County, Md., a gentleman of the highest degree of intelligence and integrity; one of the society of Friends, who are rather noted for not being extravagant in their expressions or encomiums of an article, without good grounds therefor. We make these remarks, because, as every good lawyer will tell you, the character and standing of your witnesses is of more importance than their language, to make a strong impression in your favor.
In speaking of the means within reach of farmers, by which they can renovate their worn out lands, of which Maryland has an ample share, friend Stabler says, "In some districts the distance from lime is so great, that the man with small means can scarcely be expected to use it upon a large scale—but in regions of country where bone, guano and poudrette act favorably, none need be without important aid from their use. Under a judicious system of cultivation and correct management, either of these will make bountiful returns the first year, and the strongest and most conclusive evidence exists of their durability as manures. Proofs of this abound in my neighborhood. Reference to the 'facts' in a single case in point may suffice for an example. In the summer of 1845, I prepared seventeen acres and a few perches of land for wheat About five sixths of this was extremely poor—upon a portion of the field, was put 112 ox-cart loads of manure from the barn yard and stable, on what I considered about an average quality of the land. On the 12th of the 9th month, (September,) I sowed seven bushels of wheat on this part of the ground and plowed the manure and wheat in together with the double shovel plow—very soon after the balance was sowed with 270 pounds of good African guano per acre, for which I paid $40 per ton, and plowed this in with the wheat, immediately after sowing, in the same manner as the other. During the succeeding winter and spring, the appearance of my wheat field became the subject of much notice and remark on the part of my neighbors, as well as others from several adjoining counties who saw it, many of whom supposed that this application of guano could not possibly produce such a crop as its then present appearance indicated—in this, however, they were disappointed—there were two small pieces left without manure of any kind. One of these upon the best part of the field, and the other upon a part of medium quality.
"It may be recollected that the crop of wheat that season was generally most inferior, both in quality and quantity. Upon the parts left without manure, it was scarcely worth cutting, and men of integrity and good judgment, were of the opinion that without the aid of the guano, I could not have saved more than 60 or 70 bushels of wheat from the field. The product was 320 bushels, that weighed 64 lbs. to the bushel. The guanoed portion continued at harvest to be decidedly better than that manured from the barn yard and stable. This field was sown with clover in the spring of 1846, and to this time its appearance affords as strong evidence of great improvement in the land, as it did during the growth of wheat. It has now been pastured freely during two summers, and been exposed to the action of the frosts of two winters, and upon the guanoed portion I have not yet seen a single clover root thrown out of the ground, while from the part manured from the barn yard, it has almost entirely disappeared. Good farmers have frequently remarked during the present summer that the appearance of this field warrants the conclusion that it is now capable of producing largely of any crop common to our country.
"Thus 'worn out land' is renovated, and ample means produced for increasing its fertility. Similar instances of improvement exist in very many examples that can be seen in this portion of our country, resulting from the application of lime, bone and poudrette, as well as from guano."
Guano prevents clover from being thrown out by frost.—We wish to call back the attention of the reader to this reliable statement of Mr. Stabler, not only for its importance to farmers, but because the same thing has been remarked by other gentlemen who have used guano. It can only be accounted for from the fact, that guano seems to be peculiarly adapted, more than any other manure, to give the young clover a vigorous start, so that in its early stages it acquires a growth too strong to be affected by the usual course of freezing and thawing, by which less vigorous plants are thrown out. For this reason alone, if guano had no other value, farmers in some sections of the country where the soil is peculiarly affected by this difficulty, would find their account in the use of an article which would enable them to grow clover, for clover is manure, and it should be a sine qua non with every farmer to avail himself of all the means within his reach to increase the supply of manure from the products of his farm. Let him not depend alone upon the purchase of guano, but rather upon the means which that brings within his reach of increasing his home supply by the growth of clover, and largely increased production of straw. Those who are interested pecuniarily, which the writer is not, in the increased sale of guano in the United States, have no fears that our recommendations to make manure at home—to use lime, plaster, bones, clover, and every other source of fertility within their reach, will decrease the sale of guano. On the contrary, those who are most disposed to use all these sources of fertility, are the very men most disposed to use a substance which all experience has proved superior to all others. Besides, there is, and probably always will be, enough "worn out lands" which can be profitably renovated, to use up all the guano which will ever find its way into this country. So our earnest recommendation is, where lime is available, let no man claiming the honorable title of farmer, fail to make the application. Let him also gather up all the fragments—let nothing be lost—make all the manure at home he possibly can, and then he will not only have the means, but a disposition also to buy that which a beneficent Providence sends him from the coast of Peru; of the good effect of which we will prove by further testimony—that of the Hon. James A. Pearce, Senator from Maryland, and a farmer of no small note in that State. He says—"In April 1845, I applied 350 lbs., probably of African or Patagonian guano to an acre of growing wheat, the land being entirely unimproved and very poor. It was applied as a top dressing, of course, but mixed with plaster." (In what proportion he does not say, but we will by and bye; but he does say)—"The wheat was doubled in quantity at least—fine clover succeeded it—and in two crops, one of corn and one of small grain, three and four years afterwards, the effects are still apparent." Now this effect was produced by the use of the guano as a top dressing; a method universally acknowledged to be the most unfavorable to the development of the full value of the application.
The editor of the Farmer in answer to an inquiry whether a combination of charcoal, plaster, and guano would make a profitable top dressing in spring for wheat, says, "yes"—but thinks if it had been plowed in with the seed in the fall, the result would have been much better. However, says he, "we entertain not the slightest doubt, that, if his wheat field be top dressed with the mixture next spring, it will greatly increase the yield of his wheat crop, unless the season should prove a very dry one, as the charcoal, and plaster, will each tend to prevent the escape of the ammoniacal gases of the guano, and as it were, offer them up as food to the wheat plants.
"In April 1845, I applied 350 lbs. of guano to an acre of growing wheat, the land being entirely unimproved and very poor. Of course it was applied as a top-dressing, mixed, however, with plaster. The wheat was doubled in quantity at least; fine clover succeeded it; and in two crops, one of corn, and the other of small grain, last year and the present, the effects are still apparent."
If our correspondent would mix, in the proportion of 200 lbs. of guano, one bushel of charcoal, and half a bushel of plaster per acre, and sow the mixture on his wheat field next spring, after the frost is entirely out of the ground, then seed each acre with clover seed, and roll his land, we have no doubt that his wheat crop would be increased five or six bushels to the acre, perhaps more, and that he would have a good stand of clover plants, and a luxuriant crop of the latter next year.
"Our opinion is, that guanoed land should always be sowed to clover, or clover and orchard grass."
In this, particularly the opinion of the last paragraph, we fully concur—to obtain the full value of guano it must either be mixed with plaster or charcoal, or what is better, plowed in and thoroughly incorporated with the soil, and the land always sown with clover, peas or some other plant of equal value for green manure. It is true Col. Carter has been successful with wheat after wheat; while many continue successful, by carefully retaining all the straw; the guano being sufficient to keep up the everlasting ability of the soil to produce an annual crop of grain.
THE FIVE FIELD SYSTEM AND GUANO.
We look upon this as the most preferable of all other systems of farming ever adopted in the South—it is the system of Edmund Ruffin, to whom Virginia owes a debt of gratitude beyond her power to pay. It will be seen from the following extract from a letter of Mr. Newton that that eminent agriculturist is of opinion that improvement of poor land is unlimited, if guano in connection with this system is perseveringly applied. He says—"The "five field System," which is now rapidly extending over all the poor and worn lands that are now under improvement by marl, lime, or guano, originated, or at least was first extensively introduced in lower Virginia, on the Pamunkey, and has there wrought wonders, aided by marl and judicious farming. The rotation is corn,—wheat,—clover—wheat, or clover fallow,—and pasture, and after pasture one year, commencing the round again with corn. This system, if guano be applied to both crops of wheat, on corn land and fallow, or alternately with lime or marl, when calcareous manures are required, will readily increase the crops and permanent improvement of the land. In the commencement of the rotation, lime had better be applied with the putrescent manures to the corn crop, to be followed by guano on wheat. If this system be perseveringly, pursued, I can scarcely see any reasonable limits to the improvement of poor lands and the increase of the profits of agriculture."
Disappointment will result from the application of lime, marl, salt potash, guano, or any special and highly concentrated substance as a fertilizer, to the neglect of organic manures. We lay down this fact as incontrovertible, that no soil, however fertile it may be made for the time being by any of these special manures, can remain permanently so, unless care is used to maintain a healthful supply of organic matter,—rich mould—good soil upon the land cultivated. If this is done, we never shall hear of guano failing to bring increased crops or of the "land running out," where it has been applied. Special manures of any kind may fail to produce crops, where this essential requisite to good farming is neglected. Guano, in our opinion, should always be followed by crops of clover, grass, peas, or some crop that will shade the earth, and can be turned under with the plow, to keep up the necessary supply of nitrogenous food for cereal crops.
The effect of Lime and Salt upon land is to dissolve the inert portions of organic matters in the soil, so that plants can suck up their substance into their own composition. Both are highly beneficial, but insufficient to add permanent fertility.
The effect of guano, is greater than any other highly concentrated manure ever discovered and applied to any soil. Its benefits are immediate continuous, and unlike lime, without exhausting the soil of its organic matter. Yet its benefits will be increased by the addition of organic manures derived from green crops, straw, or the stable, and the value of these will be greatly increased by the addition of lime, salt and plaster, while any deficiency of phosphates must be supplied by powdered bones or another application of guano.
The effect of plaster with guano is to arrest the excursive disposition of the volatile parts of the guano, and imprison them in the earth until called forth by the growing plants to do the State some service. The following question to the Editor of the American Farmer, and his reply, are to the point in this matter:—
A correspondent says—"As to the question of mixing plaster with guano, there is one question I should like to propose to the editor, viz.—'what will be the effect of sowing guano upon land by itself, and then, the seed being in the ground, giving it a heavy top-dressing of plaster, so as to arrest the 'excursion,' of which so much is said?"
Reply by the editor.—"The effect of such application of guano and plaster would be, to prevent the waste of the ammonia of the former, as every rain would decompose more or less of the plaster, separate the sulphuric acid from the lime, and the sulphuric acid when liberated, would unite with the ammonia, form a sulphate of ammonia, and hold the latter in reserve to be taken up by the roots of the plants. The presence of plaster with all organic manures, either directly mixed with them, or broadcasted after they may be applied, tends to prevent the escape of their volatile parts. We prefer them together for two reasons,—first, because, by bringing the two into immediate contact, the action of the plaster is more direct; and secondly, because the time and expense of one sowing is thereby saved. We go for saving every way, as time and labor costs money, and we look upon economy as a virtue, which should be practised by all, and especially by husbandmen."
If the plaster and guano is mixed together, 25 lbs. of the former to 100 lbs. of the latter, will be found a proper proportion, and sufficient to prevent the ammonia from making an "excursion." Unless the soil be very poor, 200 lbs. of good Peruvian guano is as much as we should recommend for wheat. In this we have the concurrence of the editor of the Farmer, and perhaps a hundred gentlemen whom we have conversed with upon this subject. All agree in the opinion, whether mixed with plaster or not, that a judicious application of guano will more certainly restore productiveness to worn out land, or add fertility to that already productive, than any other substance ever applied.
Want of Faith in the efficacy of guano.—Whatever doubts may have existed in the minds of careful men, there is no room for doubts now, that Peruvian guano possesses regenerating properties beyond belief, without evidence, and capacity to increase the productiveness of lands in sound condition, in such an eminent degree, that any farmer who has the power to obtain it, evinces great folly and perverse obstinacy, if he continue to cultivate his land without applying it; either for want of faith, or pretended disbelief in its efficacy; or because he thinks the price fixed upon it by the Peruvian Government, "unjustifiably high;" or because although he has no doubt it will answer in the moist climate of England, is sure it will never answer in this dry climate; or because he is afraid the luxuriant crops produced by the application of guano will exhaust his land; or because his neighbor Jones killed all his seed corn by putting only a handful in the hill; while Mrs. Jones killed all her flowers and fifty kinds of roses with the "pisen stuff;" and therefore he don't want any more to do with it; or because it has failed to give remuneration under the most injudicious application, made contrary to all instructions or experience of those who have used it; or for any and all the other thousand and one objections raised by those who have never used it, and seem determined they never will; probably because when the almost miraculous accounts of its operations were first published, they had cried out "humbug" so loudly they are determined no after evidence shall convince them the only humbug in the case was in their own disbelief. It is for the benefit of these unbelievers we are now writing. Our object is to present such an array of facts guaranteed by such respectable names, they shall have no hook to hang a doubt upon—no reason—no justifiable excuse for any sane man longer to neglect to apply an article of such positive, certain benefit to his hungry soil.
ED. REYNOLDS ESQ., OF BALTIMORE, ON THE VALUE OF GUANO.
Writing on the subject of "bought manures," as everything is termed not produced upon the farm, and how dubiously they are looked upon by some persons calling themselves good farmers, for fear of being humbugged, Mr. Reynolds says, in a letter dated July, 1850, "Since 1843, I have been trying to find out which is the best of all these 'new things,' and have now, after having been very considerably humbugged, settled down upon bones and guano—although, even the last named in a very dry year, has also 'cheated me'; but this is by no means its character, as I am constrained to admit, that after having tried it on all sorts of soil, and perhaps as long if not longer than any other person in the State, it is my opinion that when properly applied, with an average fair season, it is a very powerful fertilizer. My mode of using it is, when applied to tobacco, to mix one and a half bushels of the Peruvian, (which is ordinarily 100 lbs.) with one bushel rich earth, and one bushel of plaster, which admits about the fifth part of a gill of the mixture to each hill for every 5,000 hills—and putting it in the center of the check before being scraped—so that when the hill is made, it lies beneath the plant. On wheat, I apply three bushels of Peruvian guano equal to 200 lbs. mixed with one bushel of plaster, one bushel rich earth to the acre, sowing on the surface and plowing it in as soon and as deep as possible, after it is sowed. The past spring I have put 300 lbs. to the acre, on 30 acres of corn, being half of a field, on a farm in Calvert, mixing with it the same quantity of rich earth and plaster, and sowing on the surface, plowing in at once very deep, using the cultivator only in working it afterwards. I do not intend to use it at all with corn, hereafter, but not because I do not think it also a good fertilizer with this crop, (as my corn on my Calvert farm, upon which it has been used, now shows very fair,) but only because it has never failed to pay me three fold better on wheat, than on anything else. In order to test its virtue, it is essentially necessary to plow it in deeply, and stir it as little as possible afterwards."
Bones.—Of these I have used both ground and crushed, and always to advantage at ten to twelve bushels per acre; bought from manufacturers here, and agents of houses in New York; but I am using the crushed dissolved by oil of vitriol, as prepared by myself on my farm in Calvert in the following way: The bones, (which we buy in the neighborhood at 50 cents per 112 lbs.) after breaking them with a small sledge hammer on an old anvil, we put at the rate of three bushels in half a hogshead, and apply to that quantity 75 lbs. oil of vitriol, filling up the half hogshead to within eight inches of the top with water, letting them remain, (but stir the contents occasionally with a stick,) say two to five weeks, according to the quality and strength of the vitriol; then start the contents of the half hogshead into a large iron kettle, apply a slight fire and the whole contents will in less than an hour be reduced to a perfect jelly. We use two half hogsheads at once, to prepare it expeditiously. We then mix the contents of each kettle, with a horse cart load of rich earth, or ashes, throwing in a half barrel of plaster, mix or compost it handsomely, and use at pleasure, on an acre of land with any crop you choose, and you will have permanently improved two acres at the following cost, viz: Bones, $1.50, vitriol, $3.75, plaster, $1.12, making $6.37, or $3.18 per acre, and this may be repeated so as with proper attention, as much lasting improvement may be made each year as many farmers derive from their barn yards. Bones in any form never fails to show their striking effects on clover and other grasses—but either bones or guano will scarcely ever fail to produce a better crop of clover, which, with the increased quantity of straw, (particularly when guano is used,) will enable and encourage the saving of larger quantities of barn yard manure, and which must inevitably cause a lasting improvement.
This coincides with our views exactly, as we have in all these pages endeavored to impress upon our readers, that the increased growth of straw from the use of guano, will increase the manure pile, and "inevitably cause a lasting improvement."
Poudrette.—"I have used also, to good advantage, particularly on clayey lands, at the rate of six to eight barrels per acre. It is a first rate top dressing on young clover in spring, at two to three barrels per acre; this article has been prepared so badly heretofore, that a great quantity of it was really worthless."
We also concede to poudrette as much credit as Mr. Reynolds but as will be seen, it will cost more to improve land with it than with guano.
Prepared Guano—Agricultural Salts—Generators and Regenerators.—Of these, the testimony of Mr. Reynolds is exactly to the point, concise and strong, and exactly in accordance with all the facts we have been able to collect upon the same subject. He says, "I have tried them on corn, wheat, oats, clover and tobacco; but have yet to discover that they ever generated anything for me, though I have heard them sometimes well spoken of."
Want of room in this pamphlet alone prevents us from inserting the names and operations of many other gentlemen in this rapidly improving State—a State now undergoing the process of renovation by the use of guano, to a greater extent, perhaps, than any other in the Union.
GUANO IN DELAWARE.
Hon. John M. Clayton's Farm.—No one who looks upon this highly improved farm now, with its most luxuriant crops, can be made to believe it was a barren waste seven years ago—hardly worth fencing or cultivating. This great change, so far beyond the power of human belief, has been effected by lime, plaster and guano. The railroad from Frenchtown to New Castle, passes through this farm, four miles from the latter place. It is well worthy a visit from any one anxious to make personal observations of the effects of "bought manures," upon a soil too poor to support a goose per acre.
Effect of Guano on Oats.—During a visit to Mr. Clayton, in 1851, we saw the most luxuriant growth of oats upon one of the fields of this farm, which we have ever witnessed, and it has been our fortune to see some tall specimens of this crop on the bottom lands of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. The seed he had obtained from England, and the means of making it grow, from Peru. The guano was plowed in with the oats, at the rate of 350 lbs. to the acre. The soil is a yellow clayey loam. The effect upon other crops had been equally beneficial. The growth of clover was so great he had purchased thirty bullocks to fatten, for the purpose of trying to consume some of his surplus feed. The effect upon wheat, corn, potatoes, turnips, garden vegetables and fruit trees, was almost as astonishing as upon the oats and grass.
C. P. Holcomb, Esq., one of the most improving farmers of one of the most improving counties in the U.S., has met with great success in the use of lime, plaster, and guano. His beautiful highly improved home farm is near Newcastle; but that upon which he has met with great success in the use of guano, lies about four miles from Dover. Before he purchased it had become celebrated for its miserable poverty. It is now equally celebrated for its productiveness. The use of guano in that part of the State has now reached a point far beyond what the most sanguine would have dared to predict four years ago; and the benefits are of the most flattering kind. Lands have been increased in value to a far greater extent than all the money paid for guano; while the increased profit from the annual crops, has produced corresponding improvements in the condition and happiness of the people.
No greater blessing, said an intelligent gentleman to me, ever was bestowed upon the people of Delaware.
Extensive use of Guano by a Delaware farmer. Maj. Jones, whose name is extensively known as a very enterprising farmer, purchased in the summer of 1851, of Messrs. A.B. Allen & Co. New York, sixty tons of Peruvian guano, for his own use. With this he dressed 300 acres of wheat, upon the farm at his residence on the Bohemia manor; plowing in part of it and putting in part of it by a drilling machine at the rate of 200 lbs. to the acre, sowing the wheat all in drills. Part of the ground was clover, part corn, and perhaps one half wheat and oat stubble. The earth at the time of sowing was so dry, doubts were entertained whether it would ever vegetate; and that and other causes extended the work so late, upon a portion of the ground, there was scarcely any appearance of greenness when it froze up. With all these disadvantages, the crop was estimated at harvest at twenty bushels to the acre. Without guano no one acquainted with the farm would have estimated the crop at an average of ten bushels. This gives an undoubted increase of five bushels for each hundred weight of guano; and as the soil contains a good deal of clay with which the guano was well mixed, it will retain much of the value of the application, for the next crop. Maj. Jones has heretofore derived very great benefits from the use of guano, as might safely be adjudged from the fact of his risking $3,000 in one purchase of the same article.
Lasting effects of Guano.—Maj. Jones is well satisfied upon this point. In 1847, he used 16 tons, half Peruvian and half Patagonian, sowed with a lime-spreading machine and plowed in deep, say eight inches on clayey loam—planted corn and made 60 bushels per acre on 100 acres; which was an increase of 12 bushels per acre over any former year. Next spring the weeds grew as high as his head on horseback. Rolled them down and plowed under and sowed wheat, five pecks to the acre, and made a heavier crop than ever before made on same land, which he attributes entirely to the guano. Thinks the third crop of wheat is benefitted from guano plowed in three years previous.
The extent to which guano is used in the State of Delaware may be inferred from the fact that it is not at all unusual for merchants in small country villages to purchase from 50 to 200 tons at a time for their retail trade.
Among other successful users of guano in that State, we may mention Governor Ross, who, if as good a ruler as he is farmer, ought to be continued in office to the end of life.
The soil to which guano has been mostly applied in this State is a sandy loam, and the process of applying it, by sowing broadcast from 200 to 350 lbs. per acre, and plowing in from four to six inches deep, previous to sowing wheat, which is always followed by clover, by every one who understands his own true interest; for wherever that course has been pursued, there has been a certain profit derived from the application, even when the wheat has failed.
The improvements in farming in Delaware within the last ten years, will probably exceed in proportion to acres and people, any other State in the Union. Nearly all the northern part of the State has been whitened with lime, and the southern part is rapidly following the same path; while the sale of guano in all parts will exceed any other section of the country, if not in quantity, certainly in numbers of persons making use of this sure means of restoring the lands of an almost ruined State, to their pristine fertility.
GUANO IN PENSYLVANIA.
There has probably been less guano used in this great State, than in her little sister, of which we have just been speaking. This may be owing to the fact that great improvements have been made by the use of lime, and that Pensylvania farmers generally are not much inclined to leave the path their fathers trod before them; or that they are skeptical as to what they hear of the miraculous powers of guano; hence, its use has been in a great measure confined to market gardeners, or experiments in a small way; the sales at Philadelphia, for home consumption, so far as we have noticed, are mostly in small lots of one to ten bags. Among all with whom we have conversed, however, who have used Peruvian guano in that State, we have never heard a doubt expressed of its value, though the idea, strangely enough seems to prevail, that it will only be profitable for gardners and small farmers, and that it is of no benefit to succeeding crops. No doubt the progress of improvement by the use of guano in that vicinity has been greatly retarded, in consequence of the sale of considerable quantities of "cheap guano," which however low in the scale of prices, is still lower in the scale of values. In fact, there is but one thing connected with the spurious stuff, lower in any scale, and that is the honesty of those who manufacture or knowingly sell such a villainous compound to farmers, who are utterly ignorant upon the subject, under solemn assurances, that it "is equal to any guano in market, and only a little more than half price."
Mr. Landreth, the celebrated seedsman of Philadelphia, applied $500 worth of Peruvian guano last spring, principally on the bean crop—he thinks guano admirably adapted to all the Brassica tribe, including turnips, cabbages, rutubaga, radishes and all cruciform plants. Upon a lawn which appeared to be running out, he applied guano, and the grass is now green and vigorous. The character of his soil may be judged from its location; it is on the Delaware river above Bristol, and had been awfully skinned before he came in possession. Now, with a liberal expenditure for manures, he gets two crops a year.
Guano for grass lands.—The Germantown Telegraph says: "The application of guano broadcast to grass lands has been found to produce a decided difference in the crop. In several instances this season, where Peruvian guano has been applied at the rate of 200 lbs. per acre, about the middle of April, the yield of hay has been double in quantity, over the intermediate lands not so treated; and in every instance noticed, it is believed that the difference in quantity produced will amply repay the cost of the guano."
GUANO IN NEW JERSEY.
Guano has not been extensively used in New Jersey, owing to the abundance of green sand marl, which is a very valuable fertilizer, abounding in that part of the State most in need of artificial manures. Guano has, wherever used, produced the most astonishing results. One of these we witnessed upon the farm of Mr. Edward Harris, a gentleman well known for his enterprising spirit of improvement and intelligence in agriculture, who resides at Moorestown, which lies in the sandy region east of Philadelphia. He sowed 400 lbs. to the acre, plowed in with double plow, sowed oats and seeded with timothy, which upon similar soil often "burns out" for want of shade, after the oats are harvested. Not so in this case. The shattered oats from a remarkably fine crop, vegetated and grew with such a dark green luxuriance, there was more danger of the young grass being smothered out; so he had to put the mowers at work, who cut heavy swaths of this second crop of oats, for hay. If it had been situated so it could have been fed off, the amount of pasture would have been almost incalculable. It is needless to say the effect of guano upon this land, was not evanescent. Other trials made by Mr. Harris, have convinced him of its value to Jersey farmers, and that good as "Squankum marl" undoubtedly is, farmers would do better to expend part, at least, of their money in guano.
The name of James Buckalew is known, perhaps, more extensively than any other in New Jersey, as one of her most enterprising, rapidly improving, money making farmers, whose testimony in favor of guano may be easily obtained by any one who will take the trouble to go and see what beautiful farms he has made out of the barren sands near the Jamestown station, on the Camden & Amboy railroad, by the use of lime, plaster, marl, manure and guano. It is a pity that every one who doubts the feasibility of profitably improving the worst land in that State, by the power of such an agent as Peruvian guano, could not see what has been done by Mr. Buckalew. Let them also look at what were once bare sand hills around the residence of Commodore Stevens, at South Amboy, a gentleman who ought to be more renowned for his improvements on land than water, notwithstanding his world wide reputation, in connection with the yacht America. Go ask how it is that these drifted sand hills have been covered with rank grass, clover, corn, turnips and other luxuriant crops; the very echo of the question will be, guano.
Look at the astonishing crops of Professor Mapes, at Newark. Peruvian guano, in combination with his improved superphosphate of lime, hath wrought the miracle, aided as it has been, by the deepest plowing ever done in that State.
Mr. Samuel Allen, at Morristown, has now growing upon a poor barren, gravelly knoll, a crop of corn which might put to blush the owner of a rich and well manured field, and which ought to put to blush some of the unbelievers in the power of guano to produce such a growth upon such a soil; rather where there was no soil, hardly enough to grow a respectable crop of mullen stalks. Mr. Allen has tried guano for several years upon every kind of garden vegetable, with the most wonderful success. A crop of Lima beans now growing exhibit its wonderful power in the strongest manner. The application has been made by a small dose at planting and two sprinklings hoed in during their growth.
A great many other persons in this State have produced most wonderful effects upon land almost utterly worthless, while in the immediate benefits, those who have applied it to lands in good condition, have profited more than with double the cost of manure.
Guano for Peach Trees.—A New Jersey nurseryman assured us of his firm conviction in the power of guano to cure the yellows in peach trees—that no grub or worm can be found alive in the roots of a tree where guano is applied—that young trees can be brought into bearing by the use of guano, a year earlier than by any other forcing process with which he is acquainted.
GUANO ON LONG ISLAND.
One gentleman assures us he tried an experiment very carefully, and found an application of guano at two and a half cents a pound, 300 lbs. to the acre, more economical than hauling his own manure one mile. The fair value of team work and cost of labor hired, was more to the acre than the guano, and the first crop quite inferior, the second no difference, and the third slightly in favor of the manure. He thinks buying city manure, particularly street sweepings, about the poorest use to which he could put his money, as he certainly could make 50 per ct. more upon the same amount expended in Peruvian guano. Professor Mapes entertains the same opinion, about hauling manure, where guano, or rather with him, guano improved by the addition of his "improved superphosphate of lime," can be procured.
Dr. Peck, a gentleman well known for his philanthropic motives in settling and improving the "Long Island barrens," has proved that every acre of that long neglected, and until quite recently considered worthless portion of the Island, can be rendered fertile, so as to be cultivated with great profit, either in farms or market gardens, by the aid of this greatest blessing ever bestowed by Providence upon an unfertile land.
Several of the Messrs. Smith, of Smithtown, could show any Long Island farmer who still has doubts upon the subject, that guano is the greatest worker of miracles in this age—that it is just as capable of producing great crops on the barren sands of the Island, as it is on the tide water shores of Virginia, upon soil of the same character.
A great deal has been said in deprecation of the waste of fertilizing matters in the city of New York, in which the writer of this pamphlet has conscientiously joined; because, he thought it wicked to commit such waste, while we were surrounded by lands lying idle, for the want of these very substances. Precious, however, as they would be to the farmer, he cannot afford to use them. That is, it would be poor economy for a Long Island farmer, no matter how near the city, to expend money in the hire of men, vessels and teams, to save, carry, haul and apply to his farm, the immense amount of fertilizing substances now wasted; because the same capital expended in purchasing and applying guano, will produce a much greater profit. The difference in cartage is enough to astonish one who has never thought upon the subject. One man with a pair of horses can easily carry guano enough in one day, thirty miles into the country, to manure ten acres of ground. To carry an equivalent of city manure, in the same time, would require 300 pair of horses and 350 men. Who can wonder that barren lands have remained barren? Who will not wonder if they still continue so, with such fertilizers as their owners might possess to render them otherwise? But few of the residents in the interior of Long Island, if the manure was given to them, can afford the time and team work to haul 300 loads for ten acres, while all can afford the time for one load; and they may be morally certain the capital invested in that load will be returned in the first crop. The great advantage of guano over all other manures is, the concentration of immense fertilizing power in such small bulk.
Guano in New York and Connecticut, generally, has been less used than any sound reason will justify. A comparatively small portion of the market gardeners—a few gentlemen in the improvement of rural homes, and here and there a nurseryman, have derived immense benefits; but the bulk of the farmers are still either faithless, or ignorant; in most cases the latter, of the benefits they might derive from a liberal expenditure in the means, and the only means within their reach, of rendering their lands productive.
Effect of Guano on Garden Seeds.—From the society of Shakers, at Lebanon, so justly celebrated for growing garden seeds, we receive the most positive assurance that no manure ever applied by them, has had such an effect as guano. The production of seeds of all descriptions, is not only increased, but the quality is improved to an astonishing degree. The same effect has been noted upon wheat, particularly in our account of Mr. Newton's operations. So also has it in England. This view of the case should give an additional value to guano to the farmer, as not only an improver of the quantity of his products, but by the gradual improvement in the quality of the seed, calculated to be of vast benefit to him in that respect. Garden seeds raised by guano, as soon as their superiority becomes known, will be in such demand that no other can be sold. Another advantage will arise from the fact that such seeds will be found entirely free from weeds, as none grow after a few years upon land manured only with guano.
The beautiful residence of Mr. Edwin Bartlett, near Tarrytown, exhibits strong evidence of the fertilizing power of guano upon the poor, unproductive hill sides of Westchester Co. That place, now so luxuriant, was noted a few years ago, as too poor to support grasshoppers. It was the poverty stricken joke of the neighborhood.
[Footnote 1: For interesting letters from Long Island, see appendix.]
GUANO IN MASSACHUSETTS.
We have heard a good many assertions that guano, however valuable it might be upon the warm sandy soils of the south, would not answer in the cold land and climate of the New England States. To refute this fallacy, we have some strong testimony. Seven years ago, while the very name of guano, and much more its virtues were unknown to half the farmers of America, Mr. S. S. Teschemacher, of Boston, a gentleman of science and practical skill in gardening, became so fully convinced of its value to the cultivators of American soil, he published a pamphlet for the purpose of inducing others to profit by its use. From that pamphlet we make a few extracts. He says—"One of the numerous objections to this manure is, that, although it may answer well in the humid atmosphere of England, it cannot produce equal benefit in the hot, sandy soils of this country. In reply to this, it may be observed, that the sandy soils of South America are more hot than they are here; and, on the coast of Peru, where it is most used, it scarcely ever rains at all. The truth is, that it certainly requires moisture to decompose it, and enable it to enter into the juices of the plant; by no means, however, so much as is usually supposed; but, once absorbed by the roots and plants, it imparts that strength and solidity which enable them to resist both drought and cold.