1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Benefit of Fences

(Part 14)


Benefit of Fences

The fences by which farms are generally enclosed and subdivided form another part of what may be termed their fixtures, and may therefore be suitable noticed here. When lands are let to a tenant, the buildings and fences are usually put into sufficient repair, and he is taken bound to keep and leave them so at the issue of his occupancy. Although there are some persons who advocate the total removal of subdivision, it is admitted on all hands that e farm as a whole, and the sides of public through-fares which may intersect it, should be guarded by sufficient fences of some kind. The general belief has hitherto been, that there is a farther advantage in having the land subdivided by permanent fences into enclosures of moderate size. The use of such partition fences is not only to confine the live stock to particular fields, or restrain them from trespassing on the other crops,. But to afford shelter from cutting should never be turned to pasture at all, but kept on roots and green forage the whole year round, and the sheep can be managed satisfactorily by means of movable hurdles. It is highly probable that the practice of soiling will become more general, as it undoubtedly deserves to do. Still, this does not necessary call for the total removal of subdivision fences, which we cannot but regard as an imprudent proceeding. It is probable that those who have adopted it have done so very much owing to the prevalence of the opposite extreme. There are large portions of the finest land in England so encumbered with hedges and hedgerow trees, as to be utterly incapable of profitable cultivation. In may cases the fields are so small and the trees so large that their roots actually meet from the opposite sides, and pervade the entire surface soil of the area enclosed by them. When manure is applied to such field, it is monopolized by these freebooters from the hedges,. And the crops of grain or hay, such as they are, are so screened from the sun and wind that there is great risk of their being spoiled in the harvesting. If drains are made in such fields, they are speedily filled up by the rootlets, and thus rendered useless. It has been computed that not less than one and quarter million acres are occupied by hedgerows in England and Wales, and that if the land overshaded and plundered by roots be included, the amount is three millions. In Devonshire one-fourth of the enclosures in many parishes are under two acres; more than one-third under three acres; and nearly two-thirds under four-acres. Two million, at least, of these acres might be redeemed, and what a margin is here available for increased production! The land thus wasted would probably yield a sum equal to county and poor rates, and perhaps malt-tax too. [Footnote 310-1] In such circumstances, it is no wonder that zealous agricultural improvers should look upon hedgerows much as American settlers do upon their forest, and, like them, be sometimes indiscriminate in their clearings. We believe that there is an advantage in having land, whether for pasture or tillage, subdivided into parallel-sided fields of from ten to forty acres each , according to the size of the farm, by means of permanent fences of a kind adapted to the locality.


310-1 See Farmer's Magazine for March 1862, p. 253.

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