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My first impression was that of surprise and admiration at the e xuberance of the crops, at the seeming richness of the soil, and at its unexampled freedom from weeds. The first crops which at. tracted our notice were some extensive ones, both of wheat and barley. I had never before seen such. Mr. Coke estimated the wheat from ten to twelve coombs per acre, and said nearly twenty coombs per acre of barley, had grown upon it, which is at least double the average crop in the county of Norfolk, and nearly treble that of many counties in the kingdom ;' and yet so sterile was this part of the estate considered, when he came into possession of it, that a large tract of it had been let, tithe free, on a long lease, at three shillings per acre ; and Mr. Coke offered another lease, of twentyone years, at five shillings per acre, but the tenant had not courage to take it, and Mr. Coke procured him a farm under another landlord. At that time wheat was not cultivated in this district : in the whole tract, between Holkham and Lynn, not an ear was to be seen, nor was it believed that one would
The system of farming was wretched, and the produce of the soil of little value. What a change has been effected by capital, skill, and industry!
Notwithstanding the rain of that summer had been, on other farms, so productive of weeds, and had rendered crops, in general, more than usually foul, I cannot help repeating that there was scarcely a weed to be seen here. In several places the harvest had commenced, and the ground which was exposed on cutting the wheat, was as clean as a barn floor. The day being, fine, it was pleasing to see the reapers at work—they were divided into parties, who seemed to have certain quantities allotted to them to cut; among the rest I observed, with some interest, a man, and two girls about twelve or fourteen years of age, who had also a certain share ; he proved to be a widower, and these were his children.
On the second morning Mr. Coke accompanied me to an extensive farm of his at Warham, a neighbouring parish, in the occupation of Mr. Blomfield, cultivated on the Holkham system, and exhibiting the same weedless surface, and the same rich produce as Mr. Coke's. On one piece of seventy acres, very near the sea, I think the wheat exceeded Mr. Coke's in luxuriance and quantity : we rode under the hedge of this large piece, and found every part of it equally good; but I observed one single plant of Charlock, Sinapis Arvensis.
i It has been doubted whether so large a crop of barley could have been produced upon such land: but the fact is well ascertained'; a statute acre of it was accurately measured, when the barley was cut and in a state to be carried; there were four waggon loads and a half of it. It was taken to the barn and immediately threshed by a machine, and the produce was nineteen coombs two bushels, of merchants barley, and one bushel of light barley.
I pointed it out to a young German, who resided with Mr. Blomfield, to learn the Holkham system : 'he rode hastily to the spot, and indignantly plucked it up.
Mr. Blomfield has the merit of having made a discovery, and adopted a practice which must be of singular benefit to Norfolk. This county is deficient in old pasture, and the attempt to lay down land, as it is called, for a permanence, so as to 'procure this kind of valuable pasture, has hitherto been attended with great expense, and has not always been successful. He effects it by what he has, rather ludicrously, called inoculating the land, and literally in one summer, produces a rich, and, strange as it may sound, an old pas
Without describing the process in detail, it will give a sufficient idea of it, to say that the immediate operation on the land consists in placing pieces of grass, turf, or flag, of about three inches and a half square, at certain distances, leaving an interval uncovered equal to that which is covered by the pieces of flag : these are well rammed down, and in doing this, Mr. Blomfield jocularly said, it was inoculating the land, which gave it its name : this process takes place in a winter month, and in the spring some grass seeds are sown on the uncovered spots; but before the end of the summer, the pieces of flag extend themselves, and, uniting, the whole not only appears to be, but really is the same as old pasture. I saw thirty acres near Mr. Blomfield's house, a most ordinary soil, light and gravelly, and not worth five shillings an acre, under this process, become an excellent pasture, worth, at least, thirty shillings
Mr. Coke was preparing a large piece, within view of the house at Holkham, to be thus improved.
I asked Mr. Blomfield how the thought occurred to him ; he said, from observing pieces of flag laid on the hedge-row banks, and beaten firmly on with a spade, when these banks are dressed, and which, he added, soon extended themselves and covered the banks, if free from weeds, with a similar flag.
This extraordinary improvement may, at this time, 1818, be considered as perfected : considerable breadths of excellent pasture
'I have been lavored by Mr. Blaikie with one of the first printed copies of his Observations on the Conversion of Arable Land into Pasture, and on other rural Subjects, in which he has given a detailed account of the process of inoculating land, or, as he suggests its being, in future, called transplanting Turf; with ample instructions to those who may wish to adopt the practice.
It contains, also, much useful and practical information on other important subjects in agriculture, written in a well adapted style of plain perspicuity.
I observe, too, that it is neatly printed by Dawson, of Burnham.
being formed by it, both at Holkham, in its neighbourhood, and even in some distant parts of the county. The process by which it is effected is also much facilitated, and the expense of it diminished : it may now be done for thirty shillings an acre, and even this expense is more than met by the crops of wheat or oats which are grown with it the first year. A considerable piece, which was inoculated last winter, excited the admiration of the numerous attendants on the late Sheep-shearing, (1818,) and at a little distance appeared to be a fair crop of wheat.
Mr. Coke's system of husbandry is the drill system, which he adopted at a very early period, and his extraordinary success in it is owing to the progressive improvement he has effected in the process, so as effectually to answer the purpose of loosening the soil, at different seasons, and of completely extirpating weeds...
The advantage of deep and repeated ploughings and harrowings, to clean, loosen and pulverize the soil, preparatory to its receiving the different seeds, every one knows, and, to a certain degree, this is practised on every farm; but the importance of stirring the soil, destroying weeds, and earthing up the young plants in the summer months, was not ascertained until effected in the drill:system by horse-hoeing, &c. and Mr. Coke's great improvement in it, derived from his long experience, consists in his having gradually drilled at wider distances.
When the drilling of wheat was first practised, the lines were four and six inches distant. Mr. Coke now drills it at nine inches distance, which admits ample room for horse-hoeing, in the spring and early summer months, obviously, much more effectual in loosening the soil, destroying weeds, and moulding up the plants, than hand-hoeing, particularly as usually practised by women and girls; who, in most instances, by a partial stirring of the earth, and an incomplete destruction of weeds, promote the more vigorous growth of those which remain.
I should however observe, that I have since learned from Mr. Blaikie, that he does not think it advisable to earth
whitestraw crops, and therefore, in horse-hoeing wheat, he does not recommend moulding up the plants.
The true estimate of every process in agriculture, must indeed be obtained from experience; but the drawing earth round the stems would seem to promote their tillering, or the production of new stems by suckers or pullulations ; and this was
one of the great advaạtages which Tull, who has, unquestionably, the merit of having been the first to suggest the drill system, expected from · Pullulat ab radice aliis densissima sylva.
horse-hoeing wheat. And it is worthy of remark to what an extent the stems may be multiplied under favorable circumstances, an indispensable one being the supplying the lower part of the plant with fresh earth to work in.
The most perfect way in which this can be effected is, obviously, by transplanting. Dr. Darwin, in his Phytologia, gives a drawing of a plant of wheat taken from a corn field in the spring, which then consisted of two stems; it was replanted in his garden, and purposely buried so deep as to cover the two or three first joints of both the stems beneath the soil. On taking up the plant on the 24th of September, it had assumed the form delineated, and consisted of six stems. Page 278. And a much more extraordinary fact is recorded in the Philosophical Transactions, vol. lviii. p. 203. Mr. Charles Miller, of Cambridge, sowed some wheat on the 2d of June, 1766, and on the 8th of August one plant was taken up, separated into eighteen parts,' and replanted; these plants were again taken up, and divided between the middle of September and the middle of October, and again planted separately to stand the winter; and this second division produced sixty-seven plants; they were again taken up and divided between the middle of March and the middle of April, and produced five hundred plants. The number of ears thus produced from one grain of wheat was 21,109, which measured three pecks and three quarters of corn, weighed forty-seven pounds, seven ounces, and were estimated at 576,840 grains.
Another way of effecting a multiplication of the stems, is by drawing fresh earth round the lower part of the plant, without removing it, and which, though inferior in degree, is evidently similar, in principle, to transplanting it, for in both cases Dr. Darwin explains the process to be effected by accumulating earth above the first few joints of the stems, from whence new buds spring, generated and nourished by the caudex of the leaf, which surrounds the joint, as the original stem was generated and nourished from the grain itself, and which, like the seed, withers away, when sufficient roots have been formed for the future support of the plant.
Sir Humphry Davy also entertains a similar opinion on this
Eighteen stems from a single grain of wheat are so much more than, in the first instance, are produced under common circumstances, that it is probable extraordinary means were used to multiply them, and these, it inay be supposed, were the repeatedly surrounding the original stems with fresh loose earth; and it is most likely the experiment was made in a garden, the rich mould of which was well adapted to it. It may also be observed, that this occurred at a season most favorable to quick and vigorous vegetation, and which might have been still more promoted by occasional watering.
subject, and considers the tillering of corn, or the multiplication of stems, as favored by the drill husbandry,--for, he says, loose tarth is thrown, by hoeing, round the stalks. Elements of Agricultural Chemistry, page 204.
In drilling turnips Mr. Coke has gradually extended his lines, on ridges, in what is called the Northumberland method, from twelve to fifteen, to eighteen, and even to twenty-seven inches. These wide drills allow the horse-hoe of the largest dimensions, and of various forms, adapted to the different purposes of turning up the soil and earthing up the plants, to pass most readily; as a proof of this, I observed a boy hoeing with the horse briskly trotting, by which means he could readily hoe twelve acres a day. Mr. Coke's present steward, Mr. Blaikie, is a good mechanic, and has invented some implements, which are well adapted, in the best way, to effect these purposes.
This was the first year, 1816, in which the turnips were drilled so widely, and Mr. Coke expected that the twenty-seven inch drilled Swedish turnips would exceed, in weight, those of eighteen inches, by ten tons an acre. I saw a large piece of these, about sixty acres, in which half were at eighteen inches distance, and half at twenty-seven inches; the latter were evidently the largest, in the most vigorous growth, and certainly promised to meet Mr. Coke's expectations. Drilled turnips, however, obviously require cross-hoeing, which must necessarily be done by hand, but as this is merely to destroy the supernumerary plants, it is easily effected by women and young persons,
The Swedish turnips form his principal and most valuable crop, and are sown, upon the best soils, from the middle of May to the middle of June ; but Mr. Coke continues to cultivate, on his lightest soils, the common and the Scotch yellow turnip, both which are sown from the middle of June to the middle of July.
In 1814, Mr. Blaikie published some Observations on preserving Swedish turnips, by placing them, as he terms it, and this has been successfully adopted at Holkham.
They are taken up about the middle of November, or as soon as they have attained their full growth; the tails or bulb roots only are cut off, and they are placed in an orchard, or on old turf land, close to and touching each other, with the tops uppermost, and only one turnip deep. An acre of good turnips from the field, will occupy much less space when placed than could be imagined. In
very severe weather a slight covering of litter is thrown over them. In this way they will keep very well, and be sound and firm in June. Those taken up in the spring, when the bulb or fibrous roots begin to shoot, and which, if suffered to remain on the ground, would greatly deteriorate the soil, may be placed in the same way; and at this time, if under the shade of trees the better