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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/929

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Rain When the Farmer Wants It

What an overhead irrigating system has done for a New Jersey farm

��MOST people think farming is a gamble. They ha^•e good reason to believe this, because the farmer is dependent on the weather and nothing is more fickle than that. But just the same, one shrewd Jerse>man has found a thor- oughly effective way to make his fruitful acres ripen on schedule time and with an amazing bounty — let the rains fall or the sun shine as they will.

Charles F. Seabrook has a farm at Bridgeton, New Jersey, of 273 acres, and nearly half of this area is irrigated so that the thirsty plants may be satisfied in keep- ing with their lusty growth. Xo, Mr. Sea- brook is not a rainmaker, as the term is ordinarily understood, but he is able to produce beneficent showers at will over an expanse of no acres. It is a pipe dream come true. This is literally correct, for he employs an extensive installation of over- head conduits from <v:"' ich the necessar>' water is sprayed so that it falls like a gentle rain upon the soil. In this he imitates Nature at her best and avoids some of her mistakes.

A heaw rain beating down upon the earth packs the surface. Instead of soak- ing into the ground much of the water remains upon the surface. The sun comes out and dries it up, and at the same time bakes the earth and leaves a hardened

��crust. Unless this is broken up, but little of the next rain can filter into the earth beneath. The gentle rain artificially pro- duced by the overhead piping does not injure the soil's texture, and wellnigh every drop works its way into the ground and does its share towards stimulating plant growth.

Most of us know little of the part that water plays in the cycle of vegetation, nor do we realize how much water is needed in plant life. For even,- ton of hay that is cut from the field, five hundred tons of water have been required to bring the grass to matu- rity! The water works down through the soil dissolving the plant food so that the roots can thus absorb nourishment. From the roots the water passes up through the stalk to the leaves, by which it is exposed to the air, and evaporates. The more vigorous the plant the greater its thirst, and the more abundant the leafing the bigger the demand for moisture lest the circulation fail and the foliage wither in the sun.

In order to promote active growth, Mr. Seabrook fertilizes his soil \er\- richly, and then in order that his growing crops may be nourished abundantly he sees to it that his acres are commensurately irrigated. When Nature is disposed to help he lets her do so, but when she lags he comes to the rescue. Thus his growing crops never lack rain.

�� ��Overhead conduits are installed in such a way that practically none of the growing space is in- terfered with. The water falls in a gentle spray imitating Nature's method at its best

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