upon the quantity of water required, but whatever its size its bottom at its origin should be as low as the bed of the river, in order that it may carry down as much as possible of the river mud. Its course should be as straight and as near a true inclined plane as possible. The stuff taken out of the conductor should be employed in making up its banks or correcting inequalities in the meadow.
In bedwork irrigation, which is eminently applicable to level ground, the ground is thrown into beds or ridges. Here the conductor should be led along the highest end or side of the meadow in an inclined plane; should it terminate in the Bedwork. meadow, its end should be made to taper when there are no feeders, or to terminate in a feeder. The main drain to carry off the water from the meadow should next be formed. It should be cut in the lowest part of the ground at the lower end or side of the meadow. Its dimensions should be capable of carrying off the whole water used so quickly as to prevent the least stagnation, and discharge it into the river. The next process is the forming of the ground intended for a water-meadow into beds or ridges. That portion of the ground which is to be watered by one conductor should be made into beds to suit the circumstances of that conductor; that is, instead of the beds over the meadow being all reduced to one common level, they should be formed to suit the different swells in the ground, and, should any of these swells be considerable, it will be necessary to give each side of them its respective conductor. The beds should run at or nearly at right angles to the line of the conductor. The breadth of the beds is regulated by the nature of the soil and the supply of water. Tenacious soils and subsoils, with a small supply of water, require beds as narrow as 30 ft. Porous soils and a large supply of water may have beds of 40 ft. The length of the beds is regulated by the supply of water and the fall from the conductor to the main drain. If the beds fall only in one direction longitudinally, their crowns should be made in the middle; but, should they fall laterally as well as longitudinally, as is usually the case, then the crowns should be made towards the upper sides, more or less according to the lateral slope of the ground. The crowns should rise 1 ft. above the adjoining furrows. The beds thus formed should slope in an inclined plane from the conductor to the main drain, that the water may flow equably over them.
The beds are watered by “feeders,” that is, channels gradually tapering to the lower extremities, and their crowns cut down, wherever these are placed. The depth of the feeders depends on their width, and the width on their length. A bed 200 yds. in length requires a feeder of 20 in. in width at its junction with the conductor, and it should taper gradually to the extremity, which should be 1 ft. in width. The taper retards the motion of the water, which constantly decreases by overflow as it proceeds, whilst it continues to fill the feeder to the brim. The water overflowing from the feeders down the sides of the beds is received into small drains formed in the furrows between the beds. These small drains discharge themselves into the main drain, and are in every respect the reverse of the feeders. The depth of the small drain at the junction is made about as great as that of the main drain, and it gradually lessens towards the taper to 6 in. in tenacious and to less in porous soils. The depth of the feeders is the same in relation to the conductor. For the more equal distribution of the water over the surface of the beds from the conductor and feeders, small masses, such as stones or solid portions of earth or turf fastened with pins, are placed in them, in order to retard the momentum which the water may have acquired. These “stops,” as they are termed, are generally placed at regular intervals, or rather they should be left where any inequality of the current is observed. Heaps of stones answer very well for stops in the conductor, particularly immediately below the points of junction with the feeders. The small or main drains require no stops. The descent of the water in the feeders will no doubt necessarily increase in rapidity, but the inclination of the beds and the tapering of the feeders should be so adjusted as to counteract the increasing rapidity. The distribution of the water over the whole meadow is regulated by the sluices, which should be placed at the origin of every conductor. By means of these sluices any portion of the meadow that is desired can be watered, whilst the rest remains dry; and alternate watering must be adopted when there is a scarcity of water. All the sluices should be substantially built at first with stones and mortar, to prevent the leakage of water; for, should water from a leak be permitted to find its way into the meadow, that portion of it will stagnate and produce coarse grasses. In a well-formed water-meadow it is as necessary to keep it perfectly dry at one time as it is to place it under water at another. A small sluice placed in the side of the conductor opposite to the meadow, and at the upper end of it, will drain away the leakage that may have escaped from the head sluice.
To obtain a complete water-meadow, the ground will often require to be broken up and remodelled. This will no doubt be attended with cost; but it should be considered that the first cost is the least, and remodelling the only way of having a complete water-meadow which will continue for years to give satisfaction. To effect a remodelling when the ground is in stubble, let it be ploughed up, harrowed, and cleaned as in a summer fallow, the levelling-box employed when required, the stuff from the conductors and main drains spread abroad, and the beds ploughed into shape—all operations that can be performed at little expense. The meadow should be ready by August for sowing with one of the mixtures of grass-seeds already given. But though this plan is ultimately better, it is attended with the one great disadvantage that the soft ground cannot be irrigated for two or three years after it is sown with grass-seeds. This can only be avoided where the ground is covered with old turf which will bear to be lifted. On ground in that state a water-meadow may be most perfectly formed. Let the turf be taken off with the spade, and laid carefully aside for relaying. Let the stript ground then be neatly formed with the spade and barrow, into beds varying in breadth and shape according to the nature of the soil and the dip of the ground—the feeders from the conductor and the small drains to the main drain being formed at the same time. Then let the turf be laid down again and beaten firm, when the meadow will be complete at once, and ready for irrigation. This is the most beautiful and most expeditious method of making a complete water-meadow where the ground is not naturally sufficiently level to begin with.
The water should be let on, and trial made of the work, whenever it is finished, and the motion of the water regulated by the introduction of a stop in the conductors and feeders where a change in the motion of the current is observed, beginning at the upper end of the meadow. Should the work be finished as directed by August, a good crop of hay may be reaped in the succeeding summer. There are few pieces of land where the natural descent of the ground will not admit of the water being collected a second time, and applied to the irrigation of a second and lower meadow. In such a case the main drain of a watered meadow may form the conductor of the one to be watered, or a new conductor may be formed by a prolongation of the main drain; but either expedient is only advisable where water is scarce. Where it is plentiful, it is better to supply the second meadow directly from the river, or by a continuation of the first main conductor.
In the ordinary catch work water-meadow, the water is used over and over again. On the steep sides of valleys the plan is easily and cheaply carried out, and where the whole course of the water is not long the peculiar properties which give it Catchwork. value, though lessened, are not exhausted when it reaches that part of the meadow which it irrigates last. The design of any piece of catchwork will vary with local conditions, but generally it may be stated that it consists in putting each conduit save the first to the double use of a feeder or distributor and of a drain or collector.
In upward or subterranean irrigation the water used rises upward through the soil, and is that which under ordinary circumstances would be carried off by the drains. The system has received considerable development in Germany, where the Upward or subter-ranean. elaborate method invented by Petersen is recommended by many agricultural authorities. In this system the well-fitting earthenware drain-pipes are furnished at intervals with vertical shafts terminating at the surface of the ground in movable caps. Beneath each cap, and near the upper end of the shaft, are a number of vertical slits through which the drainage water which rises passes out into the conduit or trench from which the irrigating streams originate. In the vertical shaft there is first of all a grating which intercepts solid matters, and then, lower down, a central valve which can be opened and closed at pleasure from the top of the shaft. In the ordinary English system of upward or drainage irrigation, ditches are dug all round the field. They act the part of conductors when the land is to be flooded, and of main drains when it is to be laid dry. The water flows from the ditches as conductors into built conduits formed at right angles to them in parallel lines through the fields; it rises upwards in them as high as the surface of the ground, and again subsides through the soil and the conduits into the ditches as main drains, and thence it passes at a lower level either into a stream or other suitable outfall. The ditches may be filled in one or other of several different ways. The water may be drainage-water from lands at a higher level; or it may be water from a neighbouring river; or it may be drainage-water accumulated from a farm and pumped up to the necessary level. But it may also be the drainage-water of the field itself. In this case the mouths of the underground main pipe-drains are stopped up, and the water in them and the secondary drains thus caused to stand back until it has risen sufficiently near the surface. Of course it is necessary to build the mouths of such main drains of very solid masonry, and to construct efficient sluices for the retention of the water in the drains. Irrigation of the kind now under discussion may be practised wherever a command of water can be secured, but the ground must be level. It has been successfully employed in recently drained morasses, which are apt to become too dry in summer. It is suitable for stiffish soils where the subsoil is fairly open, but is less successful in sand. The water used may be turbid or clear, and it acts, not only for moistening the soil, but as manure. For if, as is commonly the case, the water employed be drainage-water from cultivated lands, it is sure to contain a considerable quantity of nitrates, which, not being subject to retention by the soil, would otherwise escape. These coming into contact with the roots of plants during their season of active growth, are utilized as direct nourishment for the vegetation. It is necessary