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quantity of ashes, which he calculates will weigh 172,900 lbs., will contain
The second specimen of ashes was from a soil at Coleorton, in Leicestershire, composed of three-fourths sand, one-fourth clay, and about four per cent of chalk.
100 grains of the ashes yielded
6 grains charcoal,
of vegetable alkali,
The third variety of ashes was produced by paring and burning a stiff clay soil at Mount's Bay, in Cornwall.
100 grains of the ashes were found to contain
8 grains of charcoal,
clay and sand.
Such are the products of paring and burning. The cultivator of the soil will judge whether any of these products are required by his land, and whether all the good results of paring and burning might not be generally obtained by other means, without destroying that large portion of the vegetable matters of the turf destroyed during combustion.
In those cases where it is practicable to transfer the ashes produced by paring and burning a chalk soil to a clay, or, vice versa, the ashes of a clay soil to a chalk, the result must, in general, be highly and permanently beneficial to both.
THE ASHES OF BURNT CLAY,
The composition of the ashes of burnt clay, although varying according to the earthy proportions of the soil, will be found pretty generally to accord with the analysis of the ashes from the clay soil, from Mount's Bay, given in the last section, under the head paring and burning ashes.
Clay burning is practised with decided success in many districts of England, and, in every point of view, is, by far, the most eligible mode of producing ashes for manure ; for the soil of the field is not thereby impoverished of its vegetable remains, the clay which is burnt being generally procured from ditches, banks, hedgerows, &c.
The account of clay burning, given several years since by General Vavasour, of Melbourne Hall, in Yorkshire, is so practical and satisfactory, that we cannot do better than quote his own words :
“I would recommend to a beginner, that the kiln should be made small, about three yards wide, and six inches long in the inside ; as he becomes more skilful, they may be made larger.
“The walls of the kiln are to be made of sods, two feet thick at the bottom, and one foot thick at the top, leaving two flues on each side, and one at each end, about one foot square ;
these walls may be built at first four feet high.
“We then put in the wood, beginning with the larger pieces at the bottom, particularly near the flues, supported by sods to keep them open, adding tops of firs, or any brush wood, until the kiln is nearly filled. It might be burnt with coal or peat, if more convenient.
“Cover the wood with a layer of clay taken from some bank or ditch in the field, and which has been digged some time before to dry; it is not necessary that it should be very dry. The fire is then to be lighted at the flue, by means of straw previously placed there. The greatest care is required, that the fire shall not escape at the top; but fresh clay constantly thrown on, wherever it seems likely to burn out, at the same time not overloading the kiln, so as to put out the fire.
“As the quantity of clay is increased, the walls should be raised, keeping them a foot higher than the clay. About six feet will be as high as can be conveniently burned.
“The chief art seems to be, to procure a great mass of fire at first, and to let the fire rise through the clay as you go on, to let
NEW SERIES, VOL. I, NO, I.
it smoke in every part at the top, but not to burn out. My men, who burn by contract, watch the kilns by night and day.
“I have applied the ashes almost exclusively for wheat, upon a clay soil, spreading them on a fallow after the last ploughing, and harrowing them in with the seed, at the rate of 30 tons per acre, on 80 acres. The longer the ashes remain upon the land, before harrowing, the better, that the lumps may fall, and mix with the soil.
“ If the walls are well made, one end may be taken down, and, after the kiln is emptied, rebuilt for a second burning ; if not likely to stand, they may be entirely burned in a succeeding kiln.
“If the weather should be moist, the kilns will burn for some weeks, as the clay will continue hot long after the wood is consumed.”
THE ASHES FROM SOAP BOILERS.
Soap boilers' ashes are a mixture of a peculiar description ; they are principally the insoluble portion of the barilla, pot ashes, or kelp, employed in soap making, mixed with cinders, lime, salt, and other occasional additions ; and also with muriate of pot ash, common salt, and other saline matters. The insoluble portion of barilla consists principally of lime, charcoal, sand, and oxide of iron.
The insoluble portion of pot ash, or ashes, as they are denominated by the trade, will consist of a considerable portion of the same ingredients, added to a varying portion of phosphate of lime.
Much difference of opinion has subsisted among farmers, with regard to the advantages of soap makers' ashes. .
It has been recommended as very useful upon strong, cold soils, on peat moss, and on cold, wet pastures. The quantity recommended to be applied per acre, by Arthur Young, was 60 bushels for turnips ; to be harrowed in with the seed. For wet grass lands, six loads per acre. For wet arable soils, seven loads per acre.
He describes the immediate effects as very great. For poor loamy land, ten loads per acre : the effect very satisfactory
Dr. Cogan, who has written a paper on the uses of soap ashes, has given the letter of one of his correspondents, whom he describes as a plain, sensible farmer :
“My experience of soapers' ashes is confined to the applica
tion of it as a top dressing on pasture land. About 12 years ago, I agreed with a soap boiler for 1500 tons of soapers' ashes. I used to apply about 20 wagon loads per acre, and a single bushing would let the whole in. I was laughed at, and abused by every body, for my folly : these wiseacres alleging that my land would be burned up for years, and totally ruined ; all which I disregarded, and applied my soapers' ashes every day in the year, reeking from the vat, without any mixture whatever.
“I tried a small quantity, (say six acres), mixed up with earth; but I found it was only doing things by halves.
“My land never burned, but, from the time of the application, became of a dark green colour, bordering upon black, and has given me more, but never less than two tons per acre, ever since, upon being hayned, forty-two days, viz., from May 31, to July 11.
The ground I so dressed was twenty-four acres ; and I have had 120 sheep, (hogs of the new Leicester breed), on the ground, from last August to this day, (March 2d) ; but I allowed them plenty of hay; and, although they were called, in August last, as the worst I had out of 700 lambs, and selected for this ground, on purpose to push them, they are now as good as the best I have.",
By far the most considerable portion of soap ashes is lime and chalk. Wherever lime or calcareous matter is a fertilizer to the soil, soap-maker's ashes will generally, if not invariably, succeed, but they must be applied in quantities nearly as large as if lime was employed.
Such are the chief agricultural properties of the various ashes hitherto employed in agriculture. The research is, however, by no means nearly exhausted, for these fertilizers have showed the fate generally attendant upon all agricultural or horticultural investigations : they have been lauded as equally beneficial to every description of soil, and in all situations; or they have been condemned, with equal folly, by the results of blundering trials—begun in ignorance, continued without care, and perhaps nearly forgotten in the hurry of a conclusion.
They furnish ingredients, such as the carbonate of lime, carbonate of pot ash, charcoal, phosphate of lime, sulphate of lime, &c. &c., which, in limited quantities, enter into the composition of all plants, as an absolute constituent part ; and for these they must, according to the natural deficiency of the soil in these ingredients, be extremely useful.
They absorb moisture from the atmosphere, too, in quantities
much superior to what is generally believed, and in this pro-
temperature of 212', absorbed in three hours,
14 1000 lime, recently burnt
.11 1000 sediment from marine salt pans
..10 1000 crushed rock salt of Cheshire.
.10 1000 gypsum from Derbyshire.
9 1000 chalk of Kent ....
Some very valuable comparative experiments upon the influence of ashes, and upon the growth of potatoes, were made by the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, of Hollenden House, in Kent. 4th vol. Communications to the Board of Agriculture, p. 370.
“ The soil on which these experiments were made, was previously analysed—400 grains gave “ Siliceous sand, of different degrees of fineness ....280 grains “ Finally divided matter
.104 “ Loss in water
“ The finally divided matter contained “ Carbonate of lime...
18 grains “Oxide of iron ....
7 “ Loss by incineration (probably vegetable decomposing matter).
17 “ Silex, alumina,&c.
“It will appear, says Mr. Cartwright, from the above analysis, that these experiments could not have been tried upon a soil better adapted to give impartial results; for of its component