XIII. CULTIVATED CROPS - HERBAGE AND FORAGE CROPS (cont.)
This very important forage plant would be well entitled to a more prominent place in our list but for the circumstance that is only on dry calcareous soils that its excellences are fully developed; and to these, accordingly, its culture may be said to be confined. In all the chalk districts of England sainfoin occupies an important place in the rotation of crops. Referring to the chalky downs round Ilsley in Berks, Mr Caird says:-- "About a tenth part of the land is kept under sainfoin, in which it remains for four years, being each year cut for ay, of which it gives an excellent crop. A farmer having 40 acres of sainfoin sows out 10 acres and breaks up 10 acres annually. This goes regularly over the whole farm, the sainfoin not returning on the same field for considerable intervals, and when its turn comes round the field receives a rest of four years from the routine of cultivation. It is then ploughed up in spring, and sown with oats on one furrow, the crop of which is generally excellent, as much as 80 bushels an acre not being uncommon."[Footnote 377-1] The seed, at the rate of 4 bushels per acre, is drilled in immediately after barley or oats has been sown, working the drill at right angles to its course when it deposited the grain. It is frequently pastured for one or more years before being mown either for green forage or for hay. It is sometimes allowed to stand for eight or ten years, but the plan described in the above quotation is the more approved one. A variety called giant sainfoin has been introduced by Mr Hart of Ashwell, Herts. As compared with the common sort it is more rapid in its growth in spring, and still more so after the first and second cuttings. Three cuttings for hay, and one of these ripening the seed, have been yielded by it in one year, and a good eddish after all. The yield from it in the first year after sowing is large in comparison with the common sainfoin, from its attaining maturity much sooner; but for the same reason it is thought judicious to break it up after three years, while still in vigour.
377-1 Caird's English Agriculture, p. 114.
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