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little water could get into the land; the dish-pan was shallow, and the early rains made mud-puddles or passed off over the surface. Upon such lands, deep plowing is necessary, in order to break up the hard-pan and to increase the storage capacity of the soil. If the land is open and leachy, shallow plowing may be necessary, else the soil may be loosened too much. And the water-storage capacity of most soils may be increased by putting humusdecaying organic matter-into them. It will thus be seen that the methods of conserving or saving moisture must be worked out- or rather thought out-by each farmer for his own farm.
The water of rains and snows is held upon the surface for the time, and allowed to percolate into the soil, if the land is rough and open from recent plowing, if there is a cover of herbage upon the land, or if the surface is soft and mellow. Fall plowing may be advisable in order to catch the water of the inactive season, and also to expose hard soils to weathering, and it may hasten the work of spring. But clay lands with little humus in them may puddle or cement if fall-plowed, and if harrowed and fitted in the fall ; and in the south all rolling lands are exposed to serious gullying by fall plowing. As a general thing, it is not advisable to plow fruit plantations in the fall, however, not only because it may too greatly expose the roots to the weather, but because it prevents the ameliorating of such lands by the use of some incidental or catch crop which may be sown after the
Tools with which to Save Moisture.
summer tilling is done. The winter covering of plants is quite as efficient in holding the precipitated water as fall plowing is, and the other advantages of it are invaluable (as explained in Chapter IV.).
Any body or substance which is interposed between the air and the moist soil will prevent the evaporation of the moisture. The ground is moist underneath a board. So is it underneath a layer of sawdust or of ashes; and so is it underneath a layer of two or three inches of dry earth. is expensive and difficult to haul this dry earth onto the land, and, moreover, it soon becomes hard and dense, and is no longer a mulch. It is better to make the mulch on the spot by shallow cultivation, and to repair the mulch as soon as it becomes hard and crusted. The orchardist will, therefore, till as often as the land needs it, however frequent that may be; but as a general statement it may be said that fruit-lands ought to be tilled every ten days and after every rain.
USE OF THE VARIOUS TOOLS IN RELATION TO
Plowing to save moisture.-The first step in the conservation of moisture must be the preparation of the land so that the rain will sink down, and not be carried off by surface drainage. In many sec
* Adapted from L. A. Clinton, Bull. 120, Cornell Exp. Sta. For a fuller discussion of the subject, consult Roberts' "The Fertility of the Land."
tions of the country, especially in the southern states, the great bane to agriculture is the surface washing of the soil. Owing to shallow plowing and shallow cultivation, the water is unable to settle into the hard soil with sufficient rapidity, and is carried along the surface, producing those gullies which are there so destructive to farm lands.
The improvements in the plow have done much towards remedying these defects, but there is still much ignorance as to the proper use of this implement. As an implement to be used in the preparation of the soil for the reception of moisture, it stands pre-eminent. Good plowing does not consist as ordinarily supposed-in merely inverting a portion of the earth, but in pulverizing and fining it and burying the sod or refuse which may be on the surface. The amount of water which a soil is capable of holding depends directly upon the fineness of its particles. Then that plow which will break and pulverize the soil most thoroughly is the one best adapted to fit the soil for holding moisture. This point is well illustrated by King in
NOTE.-Figs. 13 and 14 (pages 147 and 148) are designed to illustrate some of the leading types of tools which are used for tilling fruit-lands. It is not the purpose to recommend these particular tools over any others, or, in fact, to recommend them at all; but simply to show the reader the range of forms which are in common use.
Fig. 13. No. 1, An ideal plow (from Roberts' "The Fertility of the Land "); 2, Syracuse vineyard and garden plow; 3, Syracuse swivel plow; 4, Mapes subsoil plow; 5, Deere subsoil plow; 6, 8, Spike-tooth cultivators; 7, Gang-plow: 9, Spring-tooth cultivator, with side guards; 10, Pearce's orchard gangplow; 11, Sherwood harness.
Fig. 14. No. 1, Disc harrow; 2, Spike-tooth harrow; 3, Acme harrow; 4, Spring-tooth harrow, with side frames; 5, Sulky cultivator; 6, Spring-tooth harrow; 7, Springfield grape-hoe; 8, Morgan grape-hoe (handle a is a rudder).