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617
MANURES


phosphate” being reduced thereby. For this reason many of the older supplies have been replaced by newer and better ones. Florida rock phosphate of high grade contains 75 to 78% of phosphate of lime, and Florida land pebble phosphate about 70%. Algerian and Tunisian phosphates have from 55 to 65% of phosphate of lime, and are very free from iron and alumina, this fitting them especially for superphosphate making. Tennessee phosphate has about 70% of phosphate, Somme and Belgian phosphates 40 to 50%, while Ocean Island and Christmas Island phosphates are of very high grade and yield over 80 and up to 86% of phosphate of lime. Superphosphate is made by finely grinding the raw phosphate and mixing it with oil of vitriol (chamber acid); what actual product is formed is a matter of some uncertainty, but it is a phosphate soluble in water, and believed to be mono-calcic phosphate. This is the true “soluble phosphate,” but in commercial transactions it is universal to express the amount in terms of the original tribasic phosphate which has been rendered soluble. Ordinary grades of mineral superphosphate give from 25 to 27% of soluble phosphate and higher grades 30 to 35%. On reaching the soil, the soluble phosphate becomes precipitated by the calcium and iron compounds in the soil. But it is precipitated in a very fine form of division, in which it is readily attacked by the plant roots. Superphosphate is used practically for all crops, including cereals, clover and other leguminous crops. Its use tends to early maturity in a crop. Its value for giving a start to root crops is particularly recognized, and root crops generally are dependent on it, as they have little power of utilizing the phosphoric acid in the soil itself. On land poor in lime superphosphate must be used with caution owing to its acid nature, and in such cases an undissolved phosphate is preferable. The quantity in which it is applied ranges from 2 and 3 cwt. per acre to 5 cwt. It suffers but little loss through drainage, and will exercise an influence on crops beyond the year of application.

Basic Slag.—This other principal phosphatic manure is of more recent origin, and is an undissolved phosphate. It is the waste product of steel-making where the Thomas-Gilchrist or “basic” process of manufacture has been employed. This process is used with ores containing much phosphorus, the removal of which is necessary in steel-manufacture. The “converters” which hold the molten iron are lined with lime and magnesia, and the impurities of the iron form a “slag” with these materials. For a long time the slag was regarded as a waste product, but ultimately it was found that, by grinding it very finely, it had distinct agricultural value, and now its use is universal. Basic slag is of various grades, containing 12 to 20% of phosphoric acid, which is believed to exist in the form of a tetracalcic phosphate. This phosphate is found to be readily attacked by a weak solution of citric acid, and this probably accounts for the comparative ease with which plants can utilize the phosphate. With it is also a good deal of lime, and the presence of this undoubtedly, in many cases, accounts partly for the benefits that follow the use of basic slag. It should be very finely ground; a common standard is that 80 to 90% should pass through a sieve having 10,000 meshes to the square inch.

The principal use of basic slag is on grass-land, especially where the soil is heavy or clayey. Its effect on such land in causing white clover to appear is in many cases most remarkable, and without doubt, much poor, cold grass-land has been immensely benefited by its use. It is also employed for root crops; but its effect on these, as on cereals, is not so marked as on grass-land. On light land its benefit is not nearly so great or universal as on heavier land.

III.—Manures containing Nitrogen and Phosphates

These may be classified as follows: (a) Natural manures—bones, fish and meat guanos, Peruvian guano, bats’ guano; (b) Manufactured manures—dissolved bones, compound manures.

a. Natural Manures

Bones..—The value and use of these in agriculture has long been known, as also the comparative slowness of their action, which latter induced Liebig to suggest their treatment with sulphuric acid. Natural bones will contain from 45 to 50% of phosphate of lime with 4 to 4½% of nitrogen. It is usual to boil bones lightly after collection, in order to remove the adhering particles of flesh and the fat. If steamed under pressure the nitrogenous matter is to a great extent extracted, yielding glue, size, gelatine, &c., and the bones—known then in agriculture as “steamed bones”—will contain from 55 to 60% of phosphate of lime with 1 to 1½% of nitrogen. Bones are also imported from India, and these are of a very hard and dry nature. Bones are principally used for root crops, and to some extent on grass-land. The more finely they are ground the quicker is their action, but they are a slow-acting manure, which remains some years in the land. Mixed with superphosphate, bone meal forms an excellent manure for roots, and obviates the difficulty of using superphosphate on land poor in lime. Steamed bones, sometimes ground into flour, are much used in dairy pastures.

Fish and Meat Guanos.—The term “guano,” though generally applied to these manures, is wrongly so used, for they are in no sense guano (meaning thereby the droppings of sea birds). They are really fish or meat refuse, being generally the dried fish-offal or the residue from meat-extract manufacture. They vary much in composition, according to their origin, some being highly nitrogenous (11 to 12% nitrogen) and comparatively low in phosphate of lime, and others being more highly phosphatic (30 to 40% phosphate of lime) with lower nitrogen. These materials are to some extent used for root and vegetable crops, and chiefly for hop-growing, but they go largely also to the artificial manure maker.

Peruvian Guano.—This material, though once a name to conjure with, has now not much more than an academic interest, owing to the rapid exhaustion of the supplies. It is true guano, i.e. the deposit of sea birds, and was originally found on islands off the coast of Peru. Peruvian guano was first discovered in 1804 by A. von Humboldt, and the wonderful results attending its use gave an enormous impulse to its exportation. The Chincha Islands yielded the finest qualities of guano, this giving up to 14 and 15% of nitrogen. Gradually the Chincha Islands deposits became worked out, and other sources, such as the Pabellon de Pica, Lobos, Guanape and Huanillos deposits were worked in turn. In many instances the guano had suffered from washing by rain or by decomposition, or in other cases the bare rock was reached and the shipments contained some considerable quantity of this rocky matter, so that the highly nitrogenous guanos were no longer forthcoming and deposits more phosphatic in character took their place. Gradually the shipments fell off, and with them the great reputation of the guano as a manure. On some of the islands the birds, after having been driven off, have returned and fresh deposits are being formed. On the west coast of Africa also some new deposits have been found, and a certain amount of guano comes from Ichaboe Island; but the trade will never be what it once was. Occasional shipments come from the Ballista Islands, giving from 10 to 11% of nitrogen with 11 to 12% of phosphoric acid, and lower-grade guanos (7% of nitrogen and 16% of phosphoric acid) are arriving from Guanape, while from Lobos de Tierra comes a still lower grade.

The particular feature that marked guano was that it contained both its nitrogenous and phosphatic ingredients in forms in which they could be very readily assimilated by plants. Moreover, the occurrence of the nitrogenous and phosphatic matters in different forms of combination gave to them a special value, and one that could not be exactly imitated in artificial manures. The nitrogenous matters, e.g., exist as urates, carbonates, oxalates and phosphates of ammonia, and a particular nitrogenous body termed “guanine” is also found. Guano contains much alkaline salts, and is, from its containing alike phosphates, nitrogen and potash in suitable forms and quantity, an exceedingly well balanced manure. In agriculture it is used for corn crops, and also for root crops, potatoes and hops. It is esteemed for barley, as tending to produce good quality. For vegetable and market-garden crops that require forcing guano is also still in demand. The more phosphatic kinds are sometimes treated with sulphuric acid, and constitute “Dissolved Peruvian Guano.”

Bats’ Guano.—In caves in New Zealand, parts of America, South Africa and elsewhere, are found deposits formed by bats, and these are used to some extent as a manure, though they have no great commercial value.

b. Manufactured Manures

Dissolved Bones.—These are bones treated with oil of vitriol, as in superphosphate manufacture. By this treatment bones become much more readily available, and are used to a considerable extent, more especially for root crops. Their composition varies with the method of manufacture and the extent to which they are dissolved. Speaking generally, they will have from 11 to 19% of soluble phosphate, with 20 to 24% of insoluble phosphates, and if pure should contain 3% of nitrogen. When mixed with superphosphate in varying amount, or if made with steamed and not raw bone, they are generally known under the indefinite name of “bone manure.”

Compound Manures.—To this class belong the manures of every description which it is the aim of the artificial manure manufacturer to compound for particular purposes or to suit particular soils or crops. The base of all these is, as a rule, mineral superphosphate or else dissolved bones, or the two together, and with these are mixed numerous different manurial substances calculated to supply definite amounts of nitrogen, potash, &c. Such manures, the trade in which is a very large one, are variously known as “corn manure,” “turnip manure,” “grass manure” and the like, and much care is bestowed on their compounding and on their preparation in good condition to allow of their ready distribution over the land.

IV.—Potash Manures

These, with few exceptions, are natural products from the potash mines of Stassfurt (Prussia). Until the discovery of these deposits, in 1861, the use of potash as a fertilizing constituent was very limited, being confined practically to the employment of wood ashes. At the present time a small quantity of potash salts—principally carbonate of potash—is obtained from sugar refinery and other manufacturing processes, but the great bulk of the potash supply comes from the German mines. In these the different natural salts occur in different layers and in conjunction with layers of rock-salt, carbonate of lime and