1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Succession of Crops - Restrictive Clauses in Leases Hurtful

(Part 38)


Restrictive Clauses in Leases Hurtful

It is common enough for landlords, or their agents to tie down the tenantry over large estates to the rigid observance of some pet rotation of their own. In an unimproved state of agriculture, and for a tenantry deficient both in capital and intelligence, such trammels, kindly enforced, may be as beneficial to them as to their landlord. But when the culture of the soil is undertaken by men of good education, who bring to the business ample capital, and skill to use it to the best advantage, such restrictions are much more likely to do harm than good to both parties. In is to be observed in regard to those restrictive clauses usually inserted in farm-leases, --- such as, that two grain-corps shall never be taken in immediate succession; that no hay, straw, or turnips shall be sold from the farm; that only certain limited quantities of potatoes of flax shall be grown; that land shall be two or more years in grass, &c., --- that they all proceed on the supposition that the farm is to maintain its won fertility. They obviously do not contemplate the stated purchase of large quantities of guano, bones, and similar extraneous manures, or the consumption by live stock of linseed-cake, grain, or other auxiliaries to the green crops produced on the farm. Now, not only are such clauses incompatible with such a system of farming as we have just now indicated, but their direct tendency, if enforced, is to hinder a tenant from adopting it even when disposed to do so. We hear now-a-days of tenants who are annual purchases of these extraneous fertilizing substances to the extent of 20s. to 30s. worth for every acre occupied by them. To enforce the same restriction on such men as on others who buy none at all is obviously neither, if he had his choice, would rather be the successor of a liberal manurer, however he may have cropped, than of one who has farmed by rule on the starving system. We are quite aware that, in regard to the first-mentioned of these restrictions (viz, that which forbids taking two grain-crops in immediate succession), the contrary practice is still asserted by agricultural authorities to be necessarily bad farming. Now, we do not concur with this opinion, but believe, on the contrary, that when land is kept clean, and is as highly manured and well tilled as it must be to grow cattle-crops in perfection, the second successive crops of grain will usually be better than the first, its production nowise injurious to the land, and the practice, in such circumstances, not only not faulty, but an evidence of the skill and good management of the farmer. A frequent encomium applied to a particularly well-cultivated farm is, that "it is like a garden/" The practice of market-gardeners is also frequently referred to as a model for farmers. Now, the point with them is to have every inch of their ground under crop of some kind at all season, and to carry everything to market. Under such incessant cropping, the fertility of the soil is maintained only by ample manuring and constant tillage. By these means however it is maintained, and the practice is extolled as the perfection of management. Such a system must therefore be as true in farming as in gardening, when the like conditions are observed. Undoubtedly he is a good farmer, who, while keeping his land clean and in good heart, obtains the greatest produce from it at the least proportion outlay; and it is no valid objection to his practice merely to say that ne is violating orthodox rotations.

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