Information on soil



Clayey soils, when sufficiently enriched with manures, are naturally well qualified for carrying crops of wheat, oats, beans, and clover; but are not fitted for barley, turnips, potatoes, etc., or even for being kept under for grass longer than one year. Such soils ought to be regularly summer-fallowed once in six, or at least once in eight years, even when they are comparatively in a clean state, as they contract a sourness and adhesion from wet ploughing, only to be removed by exposure to the sun and wind during the dry months of summer. Soils of this kind receive little benefit from winter ploughing, unless so far as their surface is thereby presented to the frost, which mellows and reduces them in a manner infinitely superior to what could be accomplished by all the operations of man. Still they are not cleaned or made free of weeds by winter ploughing; and therefore this operation can only be considered as a good means for producing a seed-bed, in which the seeds of the future crop may be safely deposited. Hence the necessity of cleansing clay soils during the summer months, and of having always a large part of every clay farm under summer fallow. All clayey soils require great industry and care, as well as a considerable portion of knowledge in dressing or management to keep them in good condition; yet when their natural toughness is got the better of, they always yield the heaviest and most abundant crops. One thing requisite for a clayey soil, is to keep it rich and full of manure; a poor clay being the most ungrateful of all soils, and hardly capable of repaying the expense of labor, after being worn out and exhausted. A clayey soil also receives, comparatively, smell benefit from grass; and when once allowed to get into a sterile condition, the most active endeavors will with difficulty restore fertility to it after the lapse of many years.

Upon light soils the case is very different. These flourish under the grass husbandry; and bare summer fallow is rarely required, because they may be cleaned and cropped in the same year with that valuable esculent, turnip. Upon light soils, however, wheat can seldom be extensively cultivated; nor can a crop be obtained of equal value, either in respect to quantity or quality, as on clay sand loams. The best method of procuring wheat on light lands, is to sow upon a clover stubble, when the soil has got an artificial solidity of body and is thereby rendered capable of sustaining the grain till it arrives at maturity. The same observation applies to soils of a gravelly nature; and upon both barley is generally found of as great benefit as wheat.

Thin clays and peat earths are more friendly to the growth of oats than of other grains, though in favorable seasons a heavy crop of wheat may be obtained from a thin clayey soil, when it has been completely summer-fallowed and enriched with dung. A first application of calcareous manure is generally accompanied with great advantage upon these soils; but when once the effect of this application is over, it can hardly be repeated a second time, unless the land has been very cautiously managed after the first dressing. Neither of these soils is friendly to grass, yet there is a necessity of exercising this husbandry with them, because they are incapable of standing the plough more than a year or two in the course of a rotation.

Wheat ought to be the predominant crop upon all the rich clays and strong loams, and light soils of every kind are well qualified for turnips, barley, etc. Upon the thin and moorish soils, oats must necessarily preserve a prominent rank, and grass seeds may be cultivated upon every one of them, though with different degrees of advantage, according to the natural and artificial richness of each soil, or to the qualities which it possesses for encouraging the growth of clover, in the first instance, and preserving the roots of the plant afterwards.





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