Farming by Motor. , Make-believe v. Reality.
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The President of the Board of Agridulture Mr. Prothero, sent a letter to Mr. Hobhouse, about a fortnight ago, in the course of which letter certain views were explained in connection with the campaign for increased food production. Mr. Prothero adumbrates the agricultural programme for 1978 as one which will result in the addition of‘4,250,000 acres of new land under cereals and potatoes, of which new area he suggests that wheat must claim 2,000,000 acres. We are obliged to regard these estimates as a further instance of political make-believe. • How and by whom is it imagined that the extra 471 million acres can be broken up 1 Practical men tell us that the addition of anything between 1,000,000 and 1,250,000 acres will be as much as can be expected, having regard to limitations upon possible achievements which are known to exist. It will clearly be unduly sanguine to rely upon more than a 60 per cent. crop for the first year from most of the newly-tilled land, and this point calls for additional comment.
Mr. Prothero, we fear in deference to political dictates, has allowed himself to be persuaded that an additional 194 million quarters of graiaawilI be produced in 1918. This shows an estimated average yield of nearly 4?,quarters per acre which, on the face of it, in the words of 'Euclid, is absurd. What is the object of all this continued make-believe? We wish we were able to find out. One possible explanation alone presents itself.: that there is the knowledge within the Cabinet that the war'will be over before the end of this year, and that both materials and men will be released for work on the land, early in 1918, to a very great extent, and in large• force, respectively. The figures can be explained on no other hypothesis, and accepted on no other premise. We hope that the apparent make-believe by which the estimates of-the Board of Agriculture are still characterized may be proved realities before the end of next year. If they are, it can only mean that at the moment we are nearly through with the war. There are, of course, other signs of easing, such as reversion to the six-weeks period of notice to motor-vehicle manufacturers.
Coal and Coke Rations: A Parallel to Petrol.
We wish to draw the attention of all owners of steam wagons and tractors to the imminence of coalrationing. Coke is to be similarly treated. We quote on page 411 from certain Official documents which have reached us from the office of the Coal Controller, and we urge all owners who are readers of this journal to apply forthwith for copies of the indicated forms, in order that they may not hereafter suffer the penalty of failing to register.
We may recall the difficulties of not a few owners of motor vehicles, in the month of August of last year, which difficulties were directly attributable to the fact that they had ignored the basic requirement of registering themselves with the Petrol Contra)]. Gorninittee, in conjunction with an initial application for supplies of petrol. We very, much fear that, as from an early date in the winter of 1917-1918, any negligent owners of steam wagons or tractors will be placing themselves awkwardly, if not in a really-serious position, should., they be guilty of a comparable net of omission.
We feel entitled to allay any fears or apprehensions, in so far as they might approximate the assumption that there will be insufficient supplies,Of solid fuel to meet the requirements of every owner of a steam wagon or tractor in the United Kingdom. There will be sufficient supplies, but they will have to be drawn from the available classes. of coal within a certain radius of the points of consumption. Smoky coal will become the rule in many areas, for hard coal, let alone anthracite, will not be atthe disposal of owners of steam wagons.and tractors who happen to conduct their businesses beyond the limits of delivery which will be in force for the collieries in whiCh hard coals are mined. Every colliery will be under control, and, every gas works. All coals will be rationed,
• There will, happily, be one difference between the rationing of solid fuel and the rationing of liquid 'fuel, in thatthere will be a sufficiency, of the former. Users will, of course, enjoy the benefit of the.doubt, to a. greater extent than hitherto, in respect of the tem. porary emission of smoke: from the chimneys of their boilers : the Users' 'Association was successful, nearly a year ago, in obtaining this concession from the Home Office. It will no doubt be on tbe alert to secure the issue of a further circular letter to the chief constables of the country, if necessary.
Britain's War-time Production "
of Minerals and -Metals.
An interesting feature of an extraordinarily interesting speech, dealing With the whole question of the supply of munitions, Made to the House of Comrnoni, by the Minister of Munitions a fortnight ago, concerns the supply, distribution, working-up and control of various minerals and metals. Dr. Addison showed that, before the war, the output of steel in this country bad been more or less stationary for some time, and it only just exceeded 7,000,000 tons per annum. The output now, 1)r. Addison assures us, is about 10,000,000 tons, and he says that he will be disappointed if we have not reached a 12,000,000-ton output before the end of 1918. Under his direction, a comprehensive servey has been carried gut with a view to the utmost use being made of home ores in case the submarine menace should prove effective in restricting the importation of steel. The increased production of basic steel from home ores, which, of caaraca will involve the adaptation of old fOrnaces and the bringing in of new Ones, should provide us with the capacity for the production in this country by the spring of next year of an additional ii million tons of basic steel above our previous home production.
In addition to this, a greatly-extended use of the hematite ore from Cumberland for the production of acid steel is proposed, the only difficulty here being the provision of the necessary labonr. It is very interesting to learn from the Minister that, nottilthstanding the cost of material and labour, we are obtaining steel plates in this country at less than half their cost in the United States,
Two very satisfactory items in Dr. Addison's speech to the House are, first, the statement that the works which have been established in this country for the productiOn of tungsten enable us fully to meet our own requirements, and, moreover, to supply much besides to our Allies ; and second, that steps are in hand which will increase the home production of aluminium by 45 per cent. as compared with pre-war days. He also fore-shadowed a larger output Of aeroengines and aeroplanes.