Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 45.djvu/80

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to be unanswerable, and it will seem still stranger in view of the fact that the fishermen of Lofoden, one of the Norwegian Islands, should readily get forty-five dollars per ton for dry scrap made by them from cod refuse. These apparently anomalous conditions can, however, be partially accounted for from the facts that the Peruvian guano is sold in a finely powdered state, and perfectly dry, and the Lofoden islanders grind their scrap after drying it upon the rocks by the sun's heat. In this condition the nitrogen is more quickly assimilated, and the effects more speedily appreciated by the growing crops. But this process could easily be applied to the American product, and I have no doubt but that ground or machine desiccated fish guano will form one of the chief features of our manufacturers as soon as favorable or rather just legislation will enable the manufacturers to calculate upon more certain supplies.

Mr. William Bowker, of the Massachusetts Board of Agriculture, estimates that the 135,000 tons of plant food, referred to earlier, contained more than sufficient phosphoric acid and enough nitrogen for "3,200,000 acres of corn, of fifty bushels each, or 7,000,000 acres of potatoes of one hundred bushels each."

Let us now glance at the figures of the menhaden oil production. From 1874 to 1892, inclusive, the quantity of oil expressed from menhaden amounted to over 46,000,000 gallons—about 165,000 tons. This was sold for prices varying according to the abundance of the fish, from fifteen to twenty-one cents per gallon in the seasons of 1885, 1886, and 1887, to thirty-five cents in 1879, and forty in 1881; the price being thirty-two to thirty-three cents during the past year (1893); so that the average price was about thirty cents for these 46,000,000 gallons, or $13,800,000 for the oil product of the menhaden fisheries for nineteen years—equivalent to $725,000 per annum. Add to this the average yearly value of the acid and dry guano, as computed by Mr. Bowker, and we find that the menhaden industry has enriched the country by $2,360,000 annually since 1873.

The oil has been used largely in tanning leather, and as the basis for many oil paints and varnishes, while a great deal of it is consumed for lighting purposes in our mines and elsewhere. The quantity of oil annually exported is also very large, and the demand for it is so great that markets could readily be obtained for ten times the quantity. These are startling facts, and facts that deserve most studious consideration. We have been reaping over two million dollars' worth of products from menhaden and other non-edible fish annually, despite repressive legislation in three of the States in whose waters those fishes abound most plentifully; we pay millions of dollars annually for imported fertilizers; we have agricultural and industrial demands for ten times the