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phosphoric acid with little or no nitrogen ; Sulphate of Ammonia.—Another source of and bone, bat-guano, and Peruvian guano, nitrogen is found in ammonia salts, particuwhich contain considerable nitrogen with their larly the sulphate of ammonia, which is now phosphoric acid.
chiefly obtained as a by-product in the gasPotash.-The chief supply of potash in fer- manufacture. When of fair quality it should tilizers is found in the German potash-salts, of contain from 16.5 to 20 per cent of nitrogen, which there are several grades, the most import- or from 77.7 to 94 per cent of the pure salt. ant being the sulphates, muriates, and kainite. Formerly our supply came mostly from Eng.
PRESENT SOURCES, CHARACTER, AND Pros- land, but of late it is being manufactured PECTIVE SUPPLY OF COMMERCIAL FERTILIZERS. largely in this country. It is stated that low-A few facts concerning the mode of occur- grade sulphate of ammonia, with only 7 to 84 rence, character, and prospects of future sup: per cent of nitrogen, is being imported here. ply of some of the more important commercial Such ammonia salts are apt to contain sulphofertilizers may not be out of place. For a num- cyanide of ammonia, a substance rich in ni. ber of statements here given we are indebt- trogen but poisonous to plants. ed to an article on “ Commercial Fertilizers : Animal Refuse: Dried Blood, Meat-Scrap, Sources of Supply and History of the Trade," etc.-Another very important source of nitroby Dr. E. H. Jenkins, in the Report of the gen for fertilizers is the offal of slaughterConnecticut Board of Agriculture for 1881. houses, which comes into the market under a
Nitrogenous Fertilizers : Nitrate of Soda.- variety of forms and names: as, dried blood, In Northern Chili, formerly Southern Peru, in meat-scrap, azotin, ammonite, tankage, etc. In the province of Tarapacá, between the Andes the smaller slaughter-houses, the old way of and the ocean, is a vast arid plain of table- letting the offal run to waste still prevails, but land, three thousand feet above sea-level, in the large establishments of both the East stretching north and south for eighty miles. and West, scarcely a pound of the solid matter The winds that blow steadily from the Andes of the animals is left unutilized. make an absolutely dry climate. The soil is The blood is drawn into tanks, the albumen destitute of vegetation, and the territory is un- is coagulated and separated, the remaining solid inhabited. On this plain occur vast deposits residue is dried by various inethods, and sold as of nitrate of soda. It lies in strata five hun- dried blood, with from 9 to 12 per cent of nitrodred yards wide and seven or eight feet thick, gen. It is a cheap, efficient, and valuable source and in hollows looking like dried-up lakes, of this costly element. Tankage and meat-scrap whose sides are coated and bottoms covered are names applied to the refuse flesh and viscera, with the nitrate underlying common salt. The with often more or less bone, prepared by procorigin of the deposits is undetermined. It is esses similar to those used for dried blood. They conjectured that the nitrogen first came from are rich in nitrogen, and contain considerable guano deposits on the shores of an inland salt phosphoric acid also. Ammonite or azotin is lake or sea, that through atmospheric agency prepared from beef and pork"cracklings,” the it was oxidized to nitric acid and then replaced refuse from tallow and lard melting, by extractchlorine in the salt of the lake, and on evapo- ing them with benzine. ration was left in its present shape. The crude Fish-Scrap-Fish-Guano.-One of the most nitrate of soda is purified at tho coast by solu- important sources of nitrogen for fertilizers in tion, separation from sand, and recrystalliza- this country is the refuse left after the extraction, and shipped to Europe and the United tion of oil from fish, especially the menbaden. States. “In 1820 the first cargo was sent to The early settlers of Massachusetts and Virginia England, but was thrown overboard in harbor learned from the Indians to manure their corn because the duty was so high that it would not with fish, and it has long been the practice of pay to pass it through the custom-house. In farmers on the Atlantic coast to spread men1830 a cargo came to the United States, but haden on their land for a fertilizer. Since the found no sale. In that year 18,700 tons were menhaden began to be utilized for the extracexported from Iquique'; in 1840, 227,300 tons; tion of oil
, a cognate industry has been develin 1850, 511,800 tons; in 1860, 1,370,200 oped in the manufacture of a concentrated fertons; in 1870, 2,743,400 tons. In 1872 the tilizer from the residual “pomace" or "scrap." amount had risen to 4,000,000 tons, and in The first successful attempt to manufacture a the following year the Peruvian Government fertilizer from fish-scrap is credited to a Mr. took the matter into its own hands and decided Lewis, of New Haven, Connecticut, in 1849. to export only 4,500,000 tons annually, so as to The fish were steamed or boiled until disintekeep the price constant. At present the re- grated, pressed to remove the oil, and the pressgion is in the hands of the Chilian Govern- cake dried and ground. This is essentially the ment, and is likely to remain there.
process now employed, though more or less suc“Till now only one grade of nitrate of soda cessful modifications have been devised, espehas appeared in our market, and that has never cially to secure more complete extraction of shown any fluctuation in composition, running oil, which is a valuable commodity when sepafrom 94 to 96 per cent of pure nitrate of soda, rated, but detrimertal in the fertilizer. The with from 1 to 1} per cent of salt, 25 per cent crude material is known as fish-scrap. When of water, and a very little insoluble matter." dried and pulverized it is called fish-guano.
The present extent of this industry and the Phosphatic Guanos and Rock Phosphates.use made of fish-manures may be gathered from Peruvian guano being little exposed to rain, the fact that, in 1875, the nitrogen derived has retained a large portion of its soluble from fish-manures was equal to that contained constituents. Many of the bird deposits, howin 80,000 tons of Peruvian guano. In 1880 ever, are subject to more or less frequent there were 79 fish-factories on the Atlantic rains, which either wash back into the ocean coast, employing 448 vessels and 3,200 men; the freely soluble materials, or bring them 2,035,000 gallons of fish-oil were produced, and into reaction with the coral limestone by 45,000 tons of scrap. The various kinds of ani- which they are in part retained. As a rule, mal refuse, dried blood, tankings, fish-scrap, the nitrogen and potash are lost, while the etc., are used chiefly for “ammoniating" super- phosphates are retained and become a valuable phosphates.
source of phosphoric acid, forming what are Peruvian Guano.—This wonderful material, called the phosphatic guanos. În former whose use by millions of tons has done so years we received a great deal of this matemuch to restore fertility to the depleted soils rial from some small Pacific islands of coral of Europe and America, has been in the past formation under the name of American guano. the most important of the various commercial In 1856 the United States assumed the protecfertilizing materials. Peruvian guano, as is tion of all the guano islands in the Pacific well known, consists mainly of the excrement which lay within 10° of the equator north and of birds, which has been accumulating for cen- south, and between longitude 150° and 180°. turies on the almost rainless coasts and adja- The islands chiefly worked were Baker's, Howcent islands of Peru and Chili. What makes land's
, and Jarvis's. The guano was brown, the excrement of birds particularly valuable as pulverulent, and coarse-grained, and could be a fertilizer is that the excretion of both kidney shoveled without picks. It contained from and intestines is mixed in the cloaca, and thirty to forty per cent of phosphoric acid, and voided in a comparatively solid condition. by treatment with sulphuric acid made excelWhat makes guano so far superior to any lent superphosphates. For some time past, fresh manure of the kind is that the sole diet however, the whole product has been carried of these birds was fish, which are rich in phos- to Europe. Our main supply of this material phoric acid and nitrogen, and also that all the comes now from the West Indies. Just at the moisture was speedily taken out of the mass mouth of the Gulf of Venezuela, in the Carby the dry, hot winds continually passing over ibbean Sea, lie Great Curaçoa and Little Cuit. It is interesting to note that our lands are racoa Islands. For some years they have surcontinually suffering a loss in nitrogen and nished large quantities of guano to Germany other elements of plant-food which, through and the United States. The Little Curaçoa various channels, finds its way continually to guano from which most of our supply comes the ocean and passes out of our reach; and is poorer in phosphoric acid than the other, that through the agency of these birds many averaging from twenty-five to twenty-eight million tons of these same elements have been per cent. Its mechanical condition, however, recovered from the ocean, and stored up where is better. Great Curaçoa guano goes largely of all places they would keep best for our use, to Germany. It is hard and rocky, but has long before we felt the loss and desired its re- from thirty-eight to forty-two per cent of placement. The use of gnano as a fertilizer phosphoric acid. Another phosphatic guano, dates back at least to the time of the Incas in which has been used to considerable extent in the twelfth century. The old Peruvians had this country, is the Orchilla, which has a somea proverb to this effect:
what similar composition, though it is of rather * Guano can work miracles,
inferior value and importance. Another rock Though it is not numbered with the saints."
phosphate from the West Indies, the Navassa, Humboldt brought samples to Europe, the is now extensively used in this country as maanalyses of which were published in 1806. terial for the superphosphate manufacture. A more complete investigation was made by The phosphatic deposits of Navassa Island were Liebig and Wöhler in 1837. In 1840 a ship- formed under water and thrown up by volload was brought to England, and since then canic action. The phosphate is inferior to the many million tons have been taken to Europe phosphatic gnano mentioned, especially beand to this country. Of late the supplies of cause of a large content of iron and alumina, Peruvian guano have been curtailed and unre- which causes superphosphates made from it to liable, partly because of the exhaustion of some "revert” badly. of the deposits, and partly because of the mis South Carolina Phosphates.-Dr. Jenkins, in government and war in Peru. The future of the article already referred to, speaks of this as the Peruvian guano supply it is impossible to follows: "The South Carolina phosphate beds I forecast. The supply for the coming year is believe are, and for some time will be, the chief said to be assured, and it is the opinion of source of raw material for our domestic superthose in position to judge, that, with a stable phosphate manufacture. and enlightened government, Peru may supply "For most of the facts given in this connecEurope and America with guano for years to tion I am indebted to an interesting printed come.
report by Professor 0. U. Shepard, Jr., of
Charleston, who has had a more extensive ex- acts quickly, but coarsely ground bone, espeperience in the matter than any one else, and cially if greasy, is one of the slowest of fertilizers to verbal information received from him. As to decompose in the soil and furnish its mateto the real extent of the deposits which can be rial to the plant. Adulterations of bone with worked to advantage, we at present are not intent to defraud are not frequent. A great fully informed, for the industry is still in its quantity of very coarse bone is used, but boilinfancy. The existence of vast beds of phos- ing and steaming, which remove the fat and phorite was known before the war, but they make the bone friable and easily ground, is were not worked till after its close. This becoming very general, and the result is a great material is found in many places on and near improvement in the quality of bone-manures. the sea-coast, but the larger part hitherto mar. The spent bone-black from sugar-refineries keted has come from the region lying to the furnishes a small but constant supply of matenorth and northwest of Charleston between rial, not suited for direct application to land, the Cooper and Stono Rivers, and from the but much prized as a basis for superphosphate region at the head of St. Helena Sound on the because of its fineness and convenience for Bull and Coosaw Rivers northeast of Beaufort. treatment with sulphuric acid. Even when
“It is essentially a phosphate of lime soft genuine bone-black is out of the market, manuenough to be got out with shovel and pick facturers bent on satisfying their customers conThe land deposits occur in a stratum from six tinue to turn out this popular superphosphate to fifteen inches thick, though averaging not by a judicious mixing of mineral superphosmore than eight inches, and where worked do phates and lamp-black. Bone-ash from South not lie more than six feet below the surface. America is occasionally found in the markets.
“ There are also submarine deposits consist Potash and the German Potash Salts.ing both of loose material brought down by the The question whence the potash for the decurrent, and of fine regular strata. This is pleted soils of the world was to come, was for known in the market as river rock.'
years a serious one with chemists and agri“The rock is always washed, drained, and culturists. Wood-ashes were a very limited dried somewhat before shipment, and some and withal costly source, and did not supply firms dry their material thorouglily by piling enough for use in manufactures and other than it up under cover around tnbes which are sup- agricultural arts. The extraction of potash plied with hot air. Hot-air dried cargoes at from orthoclase feldspar and from sea-water, present make up more than half the total though feasible, was too costly. The solution amount shipped.
of the difficulty was found a few years ago in “The extent of the industry is indicated by the discovery of the potash deposits in the rethe following figures :
gion of Stassfurt, in Germany. This accumu“There were shipped from Beaufort and lation of salts has come from the evaporation Charleston the following amounts of crude of sea-water in past geologic time. The procphosphate : In 1875, 122,790 pounds; 1876, ess of evaporation, whose cost, when carried 132,626 ; 1877, 163,220; 1878, 210,323 ; 1879, on by artificial means, would be so great, has 199,365; 1880, 190,763; 1881, 266,734." been provided for by nature on an enormous
Apatite.- Very large deposits of the mineral scale, and we have the products in the deposapatite have been opened in Canada, and are its referred to. Commencing near there but a being utilized for the manufacture of super- few years ago, the use of potash salts as fertilphosphate. It is said, however, that the bulk izers has already become almost universal in goes to England, the market rates being at Germany, has extended largely into other parts present such as to make other materials, as of Europe, has reached to the impoverished South Carolina phosphates, cheaper for our fields of our own country, and even to the cofhome use. The apatite, however, makes an fee-plantations of Brazil and Ceylon. The excellent fertilizer, and the supplies are, for- amount used has increased from a few hundred tunately, very extensive.
to many thousand tons per year. The StassBone-Manures.-Of these, the most impor- furt fertilizers have excited an interest and tant are bone, raw, boiled, and steamed, bone- reached an importance comparable with that black, and bone-ash. Bone is offered to the to which Peruvian guano attained years ago. farmer almost everywhere and in a great va- The results of a great deal of experimenting riety of forms, and is, perhaps, more widely and experience indicate that the usefulness of used than any other concentrated manure. these salts as fertilizers depends not only upon Raw bones contain from 33 to 4 per cent of the character of the salts themselves, of which nitrogen, and from 20 to 25 per cent of phos- there are various grades, but also on the kind phoric acid. Steamed bone is generally a little of soil, the mode of application, and the kind poorer in nitrogen and richer in phosphoric of crop. Properly used on svils deficient in acid, while bone which has passed through the potash, they are extremely beneficial and profglue-factories contains often but a small frac- itable. A singular fact in connection with the tion of one per cent of nitrogen, and may run Stassfurt mines is that the potash compounds as high as 30 per cent of phosphoric acid. Bone- were at first thrown away. The mines had manures vary in mechanical condition as well been opened for the sake of the salt, of which as in composition. Very fine-ground bone they supply immense quantities. On the layer
of salt there rested enormous beds of saline reached 106,809 tons. Besides these highcompounds knowu to contain a great deal of grade materials, very large quantities of infemaynesia and some potasb. To get at the salt rior grades are sold. The bulk of the potash below, these magnesia and potash salts had to salts in our markets belong to three classes be dug out and dumped on waste land at the -Sulphates, Muriates, and Kainite. The sul. mouth of the mine. In 1860 the chemist phates are difficult of preparation, costly, and Rose called attention to the waste, and the sometimes contain less sulphate of potash than government encouraged fertilizing experiments represented. The muriates are rarely below with a view of utilizing this material, and also grade, and are for general uses the cheapest offered premiums to manufacturers who should and most desirable. The kainite is a lowdevise methods of producing high-grade pot- grade salt containing a small percentage of ash salts from them. In both directions there potash, and a large amount of common salt was complete success. The extent to which and magnesium compounds. the industry has grown may be illustrated A most useful and satisfactory exhibit of the by a few figures. The amount of high-grade composition of the commercial fertilizers in salts produced has been, according to the best our markets is given in a tabular statement, data at hand, in 1862 about 3,000 tons; in compiled from the most reliable analyses, by 1863, 9,000 tons; 1864, 21,500; 1865, 14,700; Dr. Jenkins, in “The Farmer's Annual Hand1866, 26,782; 1867, 25,991, while from this Book for 1882," * from which we condense the time the production increased until in 1877 it following: The Composition of Various Sorts of Commercial Fertilizers, Farm Manures, and other
16 15 14 13 12
in medium bone...
in fine medium bone..
“The average trade-values, or cost in the mar- of the State University at Athens, says: “My kets, per pound, of nitrogen, phosphoric acid, experience and observation, during the past and potash,” for 1881, are given by the Con- five seasons, convince me that we can not necticut Agricultural-Experiment Station as afford to raise crops on upland without the follows. The figures are based upon prices in aid of commercial fertilizers of established Connecticut and New York, but do not differ reputation, and of composts carefully made." materially from those in other large markets: Another experimenter, Mr. E. S. Wellons, of
Cents per Perry, Houston County, says: "My experiTRADE-VALUES FOR 1881. Nitrogen in nitrates...
pound. ence, particularly on my own farm this season, in ammonla salts..
more clearly than ever demonstrates the wisin Peruvian guano, fine steamed bone, dried dom of composting acid phosphate with cot
and fine ground blood, meat, and fish, super-
ton-seed and stable-manure."
cotton-seed, linseed, and castor pomace... in fine ground bone, horn, and wool-dust
ton.-Professor W. C. Stubbs, of the Agricultin fine medium bone..
ural and Mechanical College of Alabama, who
has been conducting extensive series of experiin course medium bone. in coarse bone, horn-shavings, hair, and fish
ments with fertilizers for cotton, arrives at a
number of very interesting conclusions, of Phosphoric acid, soluble in water.
12+ which several may be briefly stated, as fol* reverted" and in Peruvian guano. insoluble, in fine bone and fish guano...
1. The soils upon which the experiments
* were made, and which result from the decomin coarse bone, bone-ash, and position of metamorphic rocks, principally
in fine ground rock phosphate hornblendic and feldspathic, appear to need no Potash, in high-grade sulphate....
potash, little nitrogen, and a great deal of soluin low-grade sulphate and kainite.
ble phosphoric acid. Indeed, one great want in muriate or potassium chloride..
which seems to prevail throughout the older EXPERIMENTS WITH FERTILIZERS.
cotton States (except, perhaps, in individual Perhaps the most interesting phase of the regions, such as the black cretaceous prairie late history of commercial fertilizers is the ex- cotton-belt of Alabama, which has not been perimental study of their action upon the soil tested) is soluble phosphoric acid. On wornand influence upon the growth of plants. A out soils a small quantity of nitrogen is also large number of agricultural colleges, experi- required-three parts of nitrogen to ten of ment stations, bureaus, societies, and private in- phosphoric acid being a good mixture, as shown dividuals have been lately engaged in this work, by experiments. and results of great value are being attained. 2. Phosphoric acid hastens, and nitrogen re
Experiments in Georgia: Composts.—The tards, the maturing of the plant. Department of Agriculture of Georgia, under 3. Cotton-seed or cotton-seed meal is as effidirection of J. T. Henderson, commissioner, cacious as, and a far more economical source of has continued, during the season of 1881, the nitrogen than, the much costlier guano, animal soil-tests of commercial fertilizers, which it refuse, nitrate of soda, and other commercial has been conducting for some years past. In materials. These conclusions are borne out these experiments various brands of super- by carefully conducted experiments as well as phosphates, guanos, etc., alone and composted by large experience. with cotton-seed or stable-manure, have been The doctrine that the Southern States will applied by planters throughout the State to do better to utilize nitrogen in a home product parallel strips of land, on which various crops, than import it at an expense of millions of dolespecially cotton, were grown. The results are, lars every year is certainly an important one. on the whole, very encouraging for the use of Fortunately, it is getting to be understood and high-grade fertilizers, though failures are not followed. infrequent, even with favorable weather. During the past five years several hundred
The very rational plan of composting con- field experiments with fertilizers have been centrated fertilizers, such as acid phosphates conducted in concert in all the States east, and with cotton seed and farm manures, has some west, of the Mississippi, and the provbrought most gratifying results. Thus one of inces of Canada, by farmers, schools, and exthe experimenters, Professor W. M. Brownę, periment stations. The results of a large num