CHAPTER XVI - TILLAGE.—DRAINAGE.—SPIRAL PRINCIPLE.—CENTRI-FUGAL FORCE  pp. 492-503


By John George Wood

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SEVERAL times, in the course of this work, we have touched upon man's dealings with the earth, such as mining and tunnelling. We will now take another side of the same question, and, in connection with Tillage, consider Drainage, whereby superabundant moisture is removed from the earth, and Manuring, whereby the exhausted soil is renovated.

We will take this subject first.

It has long been known that it is impossible to get more out of the ground than exists in it, and that when the soil has been so worked as to become unproductive, there are only two remedies. The one is to allow the ground to remain uncultivated for a time. It must be ploughed in deeply, as if it Were to be sown with a crop, and must be left to recruit itself from the air. This is the now abandoned “fallow” system, which used to be in full operation when I was a child.

As, however, population increased, and with it the perpetually increasing demand for food, land was found to be too precious to be allowed to lie fallow and idle. Then came the system of rotation of crops, potato following wheat, clover following potato, &c. But, above all, agriculturists learned that in the long-run there is nothing so cheap as manure, i.e. the return to the soil by animals of the elements which these animals took out of it.