1902 Encyclopedia > Agriculture > Manures - Guano

(Part 42)

X. MANURES (cont.)


Next to farm-yard manure, which must ever be looked to as the chief means of maintaining the fertility of a farm, guano claims out notice. This substances is the dung of seafowl, and is found on rocky islets in parts of the world where rain seldom falls. The dropping of the myriads of birds by which such places are frequented have in many vases been permitted to accumulate during untold ages, and are now found in enormous deposits. The principal supply, both for quantity and quality, has hitherto come from the Chincha Islands, on the coast of Peru. The introduction of this powerful and exceedingly portable manure gave a prodigious impetus to agricultural improvement. It is about thirty years since a few casks of this article were brought to Liverpool from Peru, where it has been known and prized as a valuable manure from the remotest periods. No sooner had its value been discovered by our British agriculturist than the demand for it became so keep, that the quantity imported rose from 2881 tons in 1841 to 283,200 tons in 1845. The price at which it was sold at first was £20 per ton, from which increased supplies, it fell to £11, when the discovery in 1844 of a considerable deposit on the island of Ichaboe, on the coast of Africa, at once reduced the price to £9.

Discoveries have from time to time been made of other deposits on the African coast and in Australia. The quality of both is much inferior to that from Peru. It is in a more advanced state of decay, and contains more moisture and sand. Great as was the deposit of this valuable fertilizer on the Chincha Islands, it rapidly diminished under the excessive demand for it from Great Britain and other countries. Gradually the quality became very inferior, and in 1871 it was announced that this deposit was entirely exhausted. Considerable supplies are still obtained from other parts of the Peruvian coast; but unfortunately the quality is very inferior to that formerly obtained from the Chinchas. This circumstance would not be of much consequence if the guano was offered for sale on fair terms; but as the agents of the Peruvian Government sell it only at one uniform price per ton, although different cargoes, and even different portions of any one cargo, vary excessively in quality, it is now unsafe article for farmers to purchase.

We give here, from the Board of Trade returns, a table of the quantities of guano imported yearly, with the computed real value from 1854 to 1872.

TABLE showing the Imports of Guano from 1854 to 1872.

== TABLE ==

The dung of birds, from its including both liquid and solid excrements, is superior as manure to that of quadrupeds, Pigeons’ dung has long been in high repute as an excellent fertilizer, and brought a high price in days when portable manures were scarcely to be had. It is now little heard of, guano, the excrement of fowls which feed upon fish, being superior, weight for weight. The dung of domestic poultry is usually mixed with the general dung-heap, but it could be turned to better account if kept by itself. It has been recommended to strew the floors of poultry-houses daily with sawdust or sand, and to rake this with the droppings into a heap to be kept under cover and used like guano.

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