XIII. CULTIVATED CROPS - HERBAGE AND FORAGE CROPS (cont.)
The common field bean has not hitherto been recognized as an available forage plant. Mr Mechi has, we believe, the merit of first showing its great value for this purpose. In the hot dry summer of 1868, when pastures utterly failed, and men were at their wits end how to keep their stock in life, he recourse to his bean crop, then at its full growth, and its green pods filled with soft pulse. His plan of using it was, to mow the needed quantity daily, pass it through a chaff-cutter, and then send it out in troughs to his sheep in their pastures, and to his cattle in their stalls. The quantity of green food per acre yielded by a full crop of beans when used in this way is very great, and probably exceeds that of any other crop we grow. As Mr Mechi observed, on first announcing his practice, "no farmer need to be at a loss for food for his live stock who has a crop of beans at command." We know that many farmers availed themselves of this seasonable hint with the very best results. That pre-eminently successful grazier, Mr William MCombie, M.P., Tillyfour, has, in his instructive pamphlet, shown how useful it is to have a few acres of mixed beans, peas, and tares ready to give to cattle in forward condition in the month of August, by laying down to them daily on their pastures a supply of this very palatable and nourishing forage. By this expedient they make rapid progress at a season when they would lose the condition they had already gained if left dependent on the then failing pasturage. We can testify from experience that we never have our cattle make such rapid progress on any kind of food as when thus supplied with green pulse on autumn pastures.
After a crop of vetches has been consumed, if the season is too far advanced to admit of turnips being sown, it is not unusual to take a crop of white mustard or crimson clover.
By means of the crops now enumerated, the practice of soiling can be carried out in all cases where it is practicable.
There are other valuable crops of this kind, several of which we shall now describe; but their culture is either limited by their requirements in regard to soil and climate, or attended with too great expense to admit of their competing with those already described.
Read the rest of this article:
Agriculture - Table of Contents