« AnteriorContinuar »
tity of fertilizer used. It is perfectly obvious that the amount of fertilizer to be applied, whether zero pounds, one hundred pounds, or a thousand pounds, is an economic and therefore a local question. Experiments have shown clearly that some increase in yield will result when fertilizers are applied in proper ways, at proper times, in proper proportions, and in proper condition, to clay soils such as produce much of the winter wheat east of the Mississippi River. Whether the application of a certain quantity of fertilizer will increase the yield sufficient to pay for the cost of application depends upon many factors, some of which are purely local and some can only be determined by trial.
A great many careful trials have been made by experiment stations on their own ground and upon the farms of the citizens of their own respective States. In some cases, the yields have paid good returns for money invested; perhaps in more cases, the value of the increased yield of wheat has not been equal to the cost of the fertilizers used. The longer the land has been under cultivation the more general has the application of fertilizers to wheat become, so that in all of the States east of Illinois large quantities are annually applied for this crop.
118. Indirect Fertilization.—Two methods of adding plant food to the soil for wheat are practiced, viz., (1) the direct method and (2) the indirect method.
In the indirect method the plant food may be increased in two ways: (1) by growing wheat in a rotation with other crops which will, by the vegetation which they leave in the soil, or by the culture which the soil receives in growing the crop, increase the available plant food, or in other ways physical and biological, increase the wheat producing capacity of the soil; or (2) by adding fertilizers in the production of other crops in the rotation, the residual effect of which is beneficial to the wheat crop. The best results are obtained in the indirect method when both features are combined in the system of rotation.
119. Rotations.—The rotation of crops has been shown to be absolutely essential to the profitable use of commercial fertilizers.' Rotations are greatly modified in different localities both by the crop producing capacity of the soil and by economic causes. Wheat is frequently grown because it cannot well be omitted from certain otherwise successful rotations. In many sections for seeding land to timothy and clover, no other crop combines so many advantages.
The five course rotation of maize, oats and wheat, each one year, and timothy and clover two years, is considered standard in many sections. In this rotation stable or farm yard manure is applied to the land before plowing for maize at the rate of about twenty loads per acre. On what is known as maize land, the residual effect of this manuring is usually sufficient to grow a good crop of wheat, provided other conditions, such as climate, rainfall and insect enemies, are not unfavorable. On the more tenacious light colored clay soils, a light application (say twentyfive pounds) of phosphoric acid (P,0z) is applied at the time of seeding the wheat. A slight modification of the above is the four course rotation of maize, oats, wheat and clover, each one year. A still further modification is the three course rotation of maize, wheat and clover, each one year. This is in regions not well adapted to oats on account of climatic conditions and on soil in which wheat can be successfully raised after maize without plowing. (128) Sometimes mammoth clover is used and treated as a seed crop. One of the most satisfactory rotations in its effect upon the yield of wheat is the three course rotation of potatoes, wheat and clover, each one year. Where stable or farm yard manure is available it is applied to the clover immediately after cutting the second crop in order to stimulate the growth of clover to be plowed under either in the late fall or early spring. In many cases the land is quite heavily fertilized with commercial fertilizers at the time the potatoes are planted.
i Ohio Bul. 110 (1899), p. 68.
The wheat is sown after the removal of the potatoes without plowing. The residual effect of the fertilizers combined with the influence of the tillage given the potatoes usually results in increased wheat production.
120. Carriers of Fertilizing Constituents. — The results of many experiments with various forms of phosphatic fertilizers seem to indicate clearly that when these are applied to wheat, the carrier or source of the phosphoric acid, whether raw bone meal, undissolved rock phosphate, basic slag, acid phosphate, or tankage, does not materially affect the yield provided the material is finely ground. Nitrate of soda has been found to be the most effective carrier of nitrogen, although the difference in the effectiveness of different carriers of nitrogen is not great when applied to wheat.
121. Relative Importance of Fertilizing Constituents. While field experiments indicate that the relative importance of fertilizing constituents depends upon the soil, throughout the drift area of the United States, phosphoric acid is the only fertilizing ingredient which, when applied singly, has been found generally to increase the yield of wheat. The increase in the yield of straw has usually been greater than the increase in grain. (53) For this reason, the increased appearance of the crop is generally greater than the increased yield of grain. The influence of fertilizers upon the seeding of timothy and clover when it accompanies the seeding of the wheat is often decidedly favorable. Neither nitrogen nor potash when used alone produces generally any marked influence on the yield, but both, and nitrogen especially when applied with phosphoric acid in proper proportions, appear to exert a favorable influence. The Ohio Station has found that a complete fertilizer, containing all three constituents, has produced a much larger total increase than the sum of the increase produced by the constituents used separately. The same idea is expressed in the results obtained
1 Ohio Bul. 110 (1899), p. 68.
in a five year rotation of maize, oats, wheat, each one year, and clover and timothy two years, fertilizer being applied to each of the grain crops :
“When phosphoric acid has been applied alone in superphosphate, 20 per cent of the quantity applied in the fertilizer has been recovered in the crop. When phosphoric acid has been reinforced with potash, there has been a recovery of 27 per cent of the former. When phosphoric acid has been reinforced with nitrogen instead of potash the recovery has reached 38 per cent of the phosphoric acid applied, and when both potash and nitrogen have been added, the recovery of the phosphoric acid has amounted to 46 to 50 per cent.” 1
Wheat does not appear to be benefited directly by the application of lime. If the soil needs liming, it is best applied to the land prior to planting it to maize.
122. Amount of Fertilizers.—A standard application of fertilizer may be said to be one that furnishes from ten to twenty pounds each of ammonia and potash and from thirty to sixty pounds of phosphoric acid. This can be obtained by applying from 250 to 500 pounds of a commercial fertilizer containing four per cent of ammonia, twelve per cent of available phosphoric acid, and four per cent of potash. This is often referred to as a 4-12-4 fertilizer and is a grade that usually can be found on the market.
The ratio of phosphoric acid to nitrogen and potash should be varied somewhat with state of fertility. With soil quite exhausted through continuous culture the proportion of nitrogen and potash to phosphoric acid should be increased, while with land of higher fertility and with favorable rotation, nitrogen and potash may be reduced. The above figures are at best only general averages.
When it is necessary to apply lime to wheat land, an amount equal to 1,000 to 1,500 pounds of quick or freshly burned lime (Cao) may be applied. When it is water-slaked it will have in. creased in weight thirty-two per cent (CaO: Ca(HO),:: 100:132).
1 Ohio Bul. 110 (1899), p. 57.
123. Time and Manner of Applying Commercial Fertilizers.Commercial fertilizers are applied to wheat lands by sowing broadcast just in front of the wheat drill or by applying at the same time the wheat is drilled by a fertilizer attachment. The latter method is much to be preferred. In some cases an additional application of nitrogen is made to winter wheat by sowing nitrate of soda broadcast in the spring. At the experiment stations it has been customary to apply onefourth of the nitrogen in the fall, often in the form of dried blood, and the rest of the nitrogen in the spring in the form of nitrate of soda, on the theory that if all the nitrogen is applied in the fall in a soluble form, much of it would be lost through drainage during the winter. Where nitrogen is applied in the spring, care should be taken to apply it before the wheat plant has made much growth. (113)
In case lime is used, it should be spread upon the plowed land three or four days before seeding, immediately harrowed in and allowed to remain until all lumps which may be present have slaked, when the ground should be 'stirred again, preferably with a spring tooth harrow.
124. Farm Manure.–Farm manure is usually applied to some other crop in the rotation, as maize, rather than directly to the wheat. If applied directly to wheat land, better results will be obtained by applying 200 tons to twenty acres of wheat than by applying the same amount to ten acres. If the preceding crop has been oats, the manure should be spread as soon as possible after the oats are cut and the land plowed. It is desirable that the manure should be well rotted, where rainfall is liable to be deficient. Beginning with a virgin soil, the Central Experiment Farm has found, however, after sixteen years that fresh and well-rotted manure applied in equal weights gave equal yields of grain and straw, while barnyard manure gave considerably higher yields than any form of commercial fertilizers, and about twice the yield of plots not