1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Agriculture

(Part 30)


Weighing Machines. Concluding Remarks on Implements.

Weighing Machines

It is of course indispensable for every farm to be provided with beam and scales, or other apparatus, for ascertaining the weight of grain, wool, and other commodities, in quantities varying from 1 lb. to 3cwt. But, besides this, it is very desirable to have a machine by which not only turnips, hay, manures, &c. can be weighed in cart-loads, but by which also the live weight of pigs, sheep, and bullocks can be ascertained. Such a machine, conveniently placed in the homestead, enables the farmer to check the weighing of purchased manure linseed-cake, coal, and similar commodities, with great facility. It affords the means of conducting various experiments for ascertaining the comparative productiveness of crops, the quantities of food consumed by cattle, and their periodic progress, with readiness and precision. To persons unable to estimate the weight of cattle by the eye readily and accurately, such a machine is invaluable.

Concluding Remarks on Implements

We have thus enumerated, and briefly described, those machines and implements of agriculture which may be held to be indispensable, if the soil is to be cultivated to the best advantage. The list does not profess to be complete; but enough is given to indicate the progress which has recently taken place in this department, We have already referred to this department of the proceedings of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, and would earnestly recommended to all engaged in agriculture the careful study of the reports on implements contained in the ninth and subsequent volumes of their Journal. The care with which they have selected their judges, and the skilful manner in which those entrusted with the difficult and responsible office have discharges their duties, are truly admirable. A few extracts from these reports will serve to show the extent and value of this department of the Society’s labours. In the report for 1849, Mr. Thomson of Moat-Hall says --- "The Society’s early shows of implements must be viewed chiefly in the light of bazaars or expositions. Neither stewards nor judges had yet acquired the experience requisite for the adequate discharge of their office, so that such men as Messrs Garrett, Hornsby, Ransome, and a few others, would have laughed in their sleeves had they been told that they could learn anything in the Society’s show-yard. In spite, however, of a creditable display on the part of a few leading firms, the majority of the implements exhibited at these early shows were of inferior construction and workship, and the general appearance of the exhibitions meager and unsatisfactory.

"The attention of some of the leading members of the Society (especially of the late lamented Mr. Handley) was earnestly directed to the improvement of this department of this department, and they soon perceived that little was gained by collecting implements in a show-yard for people to gaze at, unless an adequate trial could be made of their respective merits. To attain this end great exertions were made, and every improvement in the mode of trail was followed by so marked an increase in the number and merit of the implements brought forward at subsequent shows, as to prove the strongest incentive to further effort.

"At the Cambrigde and Liverpool meeting, when these trials were in their infancy, their main attraction consisted of ploughing-matches on a large scale, which gratified sight-seers, but gave no results that could be depended upon, and therefore disappointed all practical men. It would occupy time unnecessarily to trace the gradual changes which have led to the discontinuance of these showy exhibitions, and the substitution in their place of quiet, business-like trials, in the presence of stewards and judges alone. Suffice it to say, that what they have lost in display, they have gained in efficiency, and consequently in favour with those classes for whose benefit they were designed. At the York meeting, the improved mode by trying the thrashing-machines supplied a deficiency which, until that time, had been much felt, viz., the absence of any means of ascertaining the amount of power expended in working the machines under trial; and it may now be asserted, with some confidence, that, with the exception of an occasional error or accident, the nest implements are uniformly selected for prizes.

"It now remains to answer the question proposed for consideration, viz., to what extent the great improvement made of late in agricultural implements is due to the exertions of this Society; and with this view a tabular statement is subjoined, which shows the relative extent and importance of the Society’s two first and two last shows of implements: ---

== TABLE ==

"From this it will seen that at Cambridge, where the trail of implements was confined to one day, and was, in other respects, so immature as to be of little practical value, the number of exhibitors was only thirty-six, and the judges, in whom a certain discretionary power was vested, awarded no money and but seven medals, in consequence of the scarcity of objects deserving of reward; whilst at York, eight years after, when trials lasted several days, and had attained a considerable degree of perfection, the number of exhibitors had increased four-fold, The additional amount offered in prizes at the later meeting has undoubtedly assisted in creating this great increase of competition, but it cannot be considered the principal cause, since the implement-makers are unanimous in declaring that, even when most successful, the prizes they receive do not reimburse them for their expenses and loss of time. How, then, are the increased exertions of the machine-makers to be accounted for? Simply by the fact that the trails of implements have gradually won the confidence of the farmer, so that, when selecting implements for purchase, he gives the preference to those which have received the Society’s mark of approval. This inference is corroborated by the makers themselves, who readily admit that the winner of a prize, for any implements of general utility, is sure to receive an ample amount of orders, and that the award of a medal is worth on an average £50.

In reporting upon the agricultural implement department of the Great Exhibition, Mr. Pusey says --- "The yearly shows and trial of the Royal Agricultural Society have certainly done more in England for agricultural machines within the last ten years, than had been attempted anywhere in all former time … It seems proved that since annual country shows were established by Lord Spencer, Mr. Handley, and others yet living, old implements have been improved., and new ones devised , whose performances stand the necessary inquiry as to the amount of saving they can effect. To ascertain that amount precisely in difficult; but looking through the successive stages of management, and seeing that the owner of a stock-far, is enabled, in the preparation of his land, by using lighter-ploughs, to cast off one horse in three, and by adopting other simple tools to dispense altogether with a great part of his ploughing, --- that in the culture of crops by the various drills, horse labour can be partly reduced, and seed otherwise wanted partly saved, or the use of manures greatly economized, while the horse-hoe replaces the hoe at one-half the expenses, --- that in harvest the American reapers can effect men’s work, whilst the Scotch cart replaced the Old English wagon with exactly had number of horses --- that in preparing corn for man’s food expense. --- and in preparing food for stock the turnip-cutter, at an outlay of Is., adds 8s. a-head in one winter to the value of sheep; that in the indispensable nut costly operation of draining, the materials have been reduced form, 80’s to 15’s. --- one-fifth, namely of their former cost, --- it seems to be proved that the efforts of agricultural machinists have been so far successful, as in all these main branches of farming labour, taken together, to effect a saving, on outgoing, of little less than one-half."

Since these reports were made, the demand for improved agricultural implements and machinery has increased enormously, so much so that the manufacture of them is now a most important and a rapidly increasing branch of our national industry, and we quite anticipate that in a short time there will be such a general appreciation of the benefits of cultivation by steam power, and such a demand for engines and tackle to carry it our, as the makers and manufacturers will find it difficult to satisfy.

Scottish agriculturists, in reading there reports, will probably note with self-gratulation, that some of the improvements referred to as of recent introduction in England, viz., two-horse ploughs and one-horse carts, have long been established among themselves. Indeed, they will find graceful acknowledgment of the fact in these reports. Unless altogether blinded by prejudice, they will, however, see that our brethren south of the Tweed have already outstripped us in many judgment and zeal, we must henceforth be fain to follow, where we at least fancy that we have hitherto been leading. But we have more important motives and encouragements to exertion than mere national emulation. The extent to which the cost of production of farm produce has been lessened by recent improvements in the implements of husbandry, and in the details of farm management, is greater than many are aware of. It seems to be in this direction mainly that the farmer must look for a set-off against the steadily increasing cost of land and labour. If by further improvements in his machinery and implements he is enabled to keep fewer horses, to get his deep tillage performed by steam-power, and his moving and reaping accomplished by the ordinary forces which he requires throughout the year, the reduction upon the prime cost of his produce will be really important. A hopeful element in this anticipated progress is that it tends directly to elevate the condition of the rural labourer. Every addition to the steam power and labour-saving machines used upon the farm implies an increasing demand for cultured minds to guide them, a lessening of the druggery heretofore imposed upon human threws and sinews, an equalizing of employment throughout the year, and a better and steadier rate of wages. Believing as we do, that on every farm, enormous waste of motive power- mechanical, animal, and manual --- is continuously going on through the imperfection of the implements and machines now in use, we would urge upon all concerned to look well to this; for, with all our improvements, there is undoubtedly yet a large margin for retrenchment here.

Besides the bulky and costly implements now enumerated, every farm must be provided with a considerable assortment of hand-implements and tools, all of which it is of consequence to have good of their kind. Although not individually costly, they absorb a considerable capital in the aggregate. When not in use, they require to be kept under lock, and at all times need to be well looked after. Without waiting to describe these in detail, let us now see how the work of the farm is conducted.

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