« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
will first plant Indian corn for a couple of years, then winter-barley, after which oats. Thus, without caring much about a fixed order of crops, a majority of the farmers will husband and grow rich within a short time, without considering, however, that a proper succession of crops would considerably increase and enhance their wealth.
Little as on most farms a fixed succession of crops, that would necessitate a division of the entire farming lands into certain fields, is observed, a manuring of the soil is never thought of. It is true, as we have already mentioned, that the rich soil of Illinois produces without any manure at all; yet how much larger would its produce be, were that which by annual cultivation is withdrawn from the soil, restored to it by manuring the same.
The average produce of an acre of Indian corn has been stated by us at 56 bushels; we now cite an instance to show how enormously this amount may be swelled by cultivation and by manure.
Two years ago, three men in Ogle County vied with each other to see who would raise the best acre of corn, and obtain the premium to be awarded at the County Fair. Each manured his land slightly, and cultivated it well with the hoe; and the result was that they obtained respectively 127, 131, and 134 bushels from the acre.
But if such results can be attained, would it not amply compensate a farmer for his trouble in directing his undivided attention to this subject, the more since, by being manured, the land would not become exhausted, but on the contrary be rendered more valuable and productive ?
We cannot abstain from quoting, what in regard of the succession of
crops, and general cultivation of farms, is said in his letter to Browman Murray, by Mr. Jas. N. Brown, of Island Grove, the former President of the Illinois State Agricultural Society; in which letter, after stating the productiveness of an acre at from 20 to 25 bushels of wheat, 60 to 80 of oats, and 40 to 50 of Indian corn, he proceeds as follows:
“Such poor results should not be, except from an imperfect system of tillage. When the farmer breaks his land from three to four or five inches deep, the plough cutting ten or twelve inches, and covering five or six more, (thus leaving one-third of the ground untouched), covers the corn with a horse, ploughs the crop three times, and twice out of the three times ploughs with two furrows in the row, and this completes the tillage: it is surprising that he
raises any crop at all. And yet the fertility of our soil is such that it yields abundance to such poor cultivation as this, whilst in other parts of our country such results are not obtained except by judicious culture and rotation of crops. Such culture and rotation I warmly recommend. After turning over the prairie sod, cultivate three or four years in corn, then oats or rye, which should be pastured and turned under, then corn again; and then clover and timothy for four or five years. Be careful not to burn any manure that may be on the land, such as corn stalks for stubble, as is the custom of many of our best farmers, who seem to forget that it is as important to feed their land as to feed their stock, and that no labor pays so great a return as the labor expended in manuring their lands intended for the plow. Haul your manure, and feed stock on lands intended for corn, during the autumn and winter; being careful to keep the stock from stubble land, when soft and rainy; the treading of sod in soft weather in winter will not injure the land intended for corn or grass the next year. Our yield by adopting, this or a similar system, (with four workings, the first with a two-horse harrow, and thinning and suckering the corn when about knee high), would be from eighty to one hundred bushels per acre.
“In confirmation of the foregoing views I give the following experiment:Last April I broke thirty-five acres of old pasture land; the first portion has been in grass eighteen years, the second portion fourteen, the third part ten or twelve years. The portion that had been in grass eighteen years I partially manured with dung from the horse and cow yards, and turned under immediately after spreading it. The whole field was prepared in the same manner with the exception of the manure. It was all planted the same week in May, and received the same tillage, to wit: one harrowing and three ploughings, with suckering and thinning out to three and four stalks in a hill. The distance of the rows apart was four feet by three, and the yield was as follows:
– That portion that had been in grass eighteen years, and was partially manured, contained nine and a half acres, yielded a hundred bushels to the acre; the second piece, fourteen years in grass, and manured six or seven years since, produced one hundred and twenty-three bushels per acre-number of acres, five and two-thirds; the third lot, ten years in grass, twenty acres, yielded eighty bushels per acre. It will be seen from the above experiment, that by an imperfect system of rotation in crops, and rather poor farming, I have increased my yield of corn over the common yield of our virgin soil, from twenty to one hundred per cent. My land, after nineteen years cultivation, affords a larger yield of corn and grass than it did when fresh, and is consequently more valuable."
From the preceding it will appear, that by manuring, a proper cul. tivation, and succession of crops, a much higher product will be attained, than the soil by itself is able to bring forth. On the other hand we shall not omit to point out the fact, that the very largely prevalent opinion that the soil of Illinois is totally inexhaustible, and of indestructible fertility, rests on a slight error. Even the deepest well can at last be emptied, and the most fertile soil, whose productive powers are used without being restored again, must, at last, either partially or wholly lose its fertility. No doubt much time will be required to exhaust the soil of Illinois so far, that even very deep ploughing should be found insufficient to insure good harvests; yet, unless the farmers can be persuaded, that the preservation of the fertility of the soil requires those productive powers, which it has expended in bringing forth a crop, to be restored to it, that time must speedily arrive. And further, but few farmers perceive that by wasting the straw of their wheat, they inflict as great an injury upon themselves, as they would by destroying the very wheat, since the production of wheat depends upon the production of straw; a feeble halm will but rarely bear a stout ear; and if you insist upon being wasteful, you might as well feed the cattle with the wheat, as with the straw upon which it grew. A good field of wheat yields about 2000 pounds of straw per acre, which entire weight, save only the carbonate which it contains, is withdrawn from the soil, thus diminishing its productiveness for the following harvest, by just the same amount; therefore we are right in saying that if the straw is cut close to the ground, by the reaper, as is usually the case, this would be no less a prodigality than to feed the cattle on the wheat altogether. So much of the straw taken from the acre as would be restored to it, would increase the faculty of producing new straw on the part of the soil; on the straw the wheat thrives well, and luxuriant halms bear stout ears.
The soil of the prairies has been stated above to consist generally of clay, which much impedes the further descent of the water trickling down to it from the surface—thus protecting and securing the natural fertility of the soil, and preventing the escape of the powers derived by the soil from being manured; on the other hand, it must be admitted, that this property of the soil is the reason why many level sections of the prairies are frequently wet, and thus unfit for advantageous and immediate cultivation of corn. Such humidity on the part of the soil will in most cases admit of being obviated by deep ploughing and manuring; often deep ploughing will be found sufficient to obviate the difficulty; where, however, deep ploughing or manuring should not prove adequate to accomplishing this object, a few ditches properly dug will not fail to dry the land.
LABOR, WAGES, AND FARM IMPLEMENTS. What Illinois requires is a further increase of her laboring population, the farmers in every section of the State loudly complaining of the want of hands, adding that much more land might be tilled, if a sufficient number of hands could be found for the purpose. We subjoin a review of the wages, which, during 1855, were paid in the various sections of the State:
Monthly wages, (with board.) Daily wages.
1 50 12 00 66 20 00 1 00“ 1 50 12 00 16 00
1 00- 1 00 12 00 6 16 00 10 00 14 00
1 25 “ 1 50 12 00 16 00 1 00“ 1 50 15 00
1 00 66
1 75 15 00 20 00
St. Clair ..........
The higher rates are, of course, only paid during the harvest, but these, in many counties, exceed the above amounts; the remuneration in winter is less than that in summer. Much new land having been broken during 1855, many farmers express their fears that wages will be still higher in 1856.
The many difficulties which a single farmer has to surmount, in the pursuit of his business, render it difficult to determine how much work a man with two horses is able to perform; from thirty to forty acres, it is usually reckoned, can be easily tilled by a single man, provided he procures himself-some hand to assist him during harvest time. Two men with four horses can easily till one hundred acres, and three men with five horses one hundred and sixty acres. We know of a man who, together with a boy of some twelve years, and now and then with an assistant (who, however, did not cause him more than fifteen dollars annual expense), and five horses, tilled a farm of forty acres of Indian corn, ten acres of wheat, ten acres of oats, six acres of flax, ten acres of prairie, besides breaking some twenty acres of new prairie, and sowing it with sod corn.
Two acres are estimated a good day's work for a single team of horses, and one and a half for oxen; on many places, however, more is done. Many farmers prefer horses to oxen, horses always having this advantage, that they go faster; and many farmers also contend that they turn up the land better than oxen. A man walks about twenty-five miles while ploughing a day.
What facilitates the labor of a farmer in the west, and especially in Illinois, is the use of mechanical power, as the same is employed in the Eastern States—excellent agricultural machines being, in fact, turned out in the west. Most of the ploughs are made of steel plates, and are polished on wheels, so as to shine like mirrors, furrowing the soil to a great depth. There are ploughs which furrow the ground for the breadth of forty inches. That such large, smooth, and sharp ploughs, will do their work much faster than others, is self-evident. Very good ploughs are turned out by the manufactory of J. Drew, Moline, Rock Island County.
Wheat and other grain is usually sown with the rotation-sowing machine, by the use of which seed and time are saved, and a successful crop ensured. The machines most frequently used were invented by Piersons and Garling.
The grains are in most cases gathered by harvesting machines, the most excellent of which are those of McCormick and Henry, to which were awarded the highest premiums at the “ World's Fair."
For the cutting of hay on the prairies, reapers are used, and especially those of Scoville, Danforth and McCormick.
Lastly, the threshing is done by threshing machines, either at once, on the fields, or in the barns.
While speaking of agricultural implements, we shall here particularly mention two machines, which, though not yet introduced into Illinois, seem so well adapted and calculated for that State, that it cannot be long ere they are introduced : we refer to the steam plough, and the wind-mills.
With the first, whose inventor, Mr. Obed Hassey, also probably coustructed the first reaping machine, experiments were not long ago made at the exhibition of the Maryland Agricultural Society, that