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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/218

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204
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

passes along, only a slight rippling or undulating motion is observed in the rows of beet-tops, but the roots are loosened and cleared of dirt more perfectly than could be done by hand, and, as no roots are broken or left in the ground, a considerable increase in the crop is obtained. Like the beet-cultivator, the digger is steered by a lever at the hind end of the machine, and can be lifted to pass over obstructions and for convenience of travel to and from the field. The beets being raised out of the soil, and the leaves cut off with sword-like knives about one half to an inch above the root, the harvesting is completed by the removal of the roots to the pits or factory.

These machines are constructed to work with mathematical exactness, and are used in Germany with great success, and accomplish a very important saving of labor. They have also been experimented with at the Massachusetts Agricultural College with the same results. It is obvious that the smoother and more level the land, the better for cultivation; but the beet machinery will do good work on rolling and uneven land. The beet-planter, or any part of it, may pass over stones or mounds without interfering with its operation, ample provision being made to enable each part to adapt itself to the inequalities of the land. Finally, the crop must be kept free from weeds until harvested, otherwise the root-lifter, which on clean land is a model of simplicity and effectiveness, will be clogged and will not work at all. In short, it requires and abundantly rewards careful preparation of the land, punctual performance of the various operations of tillage, and perseverance in destroying weeds. We may say, this machinery is well adapted to the culture of other crops, particularly corn.

The estimated cost of the cultivation of the sugar-beet per acre, without machinery, on the farm in New England, is about the same as for a crop of onions, corn, or potatoes, and, exclusive of fertilizers, may be estimated as follows:

Fall plowing $2.00
Spring plowing 4.00
Harrowing 2.00
Marking and planting 1.00
First weeding and thinning 3.00
Cultivator with horse, three times 4.50
———
Total $16.50

It would be impossible, within the limits of this article, to describe in minute detail all the approved methods for the manufacture of beet-sugar; but an attempt will be made to give a general idea of the different processes, with a description of some of the ingenious mechanical contrivances introduced during the past