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28th October 1919
Page 19
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Page 19, 28th October 1919 — AGRIMOTOR NOTES.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Suiting the Implement to the Tractor. The Right Implement Will Give a Satisfactory Soil Condition.

THE DEMAND made by the Board of Agriculture for the ploughing up of grass land during the war, in the interests of the production of more foodstuffs in our own country, was very largely responsible for the attitude which farmers took up in regard to the use of the motor tractor.

The farmer was, at that time ready for any contrivance that would enable him to get his work done. Even before the Government brought forward its great ploughing scheme the .farmer was at his wit's end to know how to till the usual acreage of land, because so many of his men and horses had been taken for military purposes. First of all, then, the agriculturist was faced with a grave shortage of labour, both in men and horses. Secondly,. he had an additional burden in the shape of more ploughing thrust upon him. The Government, which had shouldered him with this burden, came to his assistance and through the War Agricultural Committees provided him with the means— motor tractors—for doing the work. The value of the tractor was brought to his notice, and, if he could not purchase one or could not obtain delivery, the Committees would do the Work for him.

Consequently, the farmer was able to watch the work being done faster thax4ever before, and, not only was his usual acreage ploughed and sown, but more also was. planted with crops that in the majority of cases turned out most pro fitably indeed. The Id significant feature was that the speed was wanted—it was essential—and speed was found, and it is doubtful whether the tractor would have found the favour it did at the hands of the farming community had it not been for the Government's "ploughing up" policy so much maligned by many people.

There is, however, another side to the picture. The alarm of the farmers, coupled with the Board of Agriculture's determination that the 2,000,000 acres of additional land should come under the plough, enabled the motor tractor to enter the arena with less criticism from the farmers than any other modern agricultural machine has ever done. Of prejudice against. any innovations in agricultural methods there is always plenty, and the case of the tractor was no ,exception. But grim necessity drove away prejudice and little was heard of it. " Speed," "Get. the work done" were the main outcries. And —here we come to our point—the farmer was then satisfied with speed. It did not matter at the moment how roughly the work was done. It was done, which was what mattered. That was why the tractor escaped a good deal of criticism that in ordinary circumstances would have been its lot.

But this will not satisfy the farmer now. During the war he was prepared to sacrifice good work for speed, but now he.must have good work and speed. The farmer demands it. Except for the ploughs, most of the implements used during the war were horse implements ; ploughing and cultivating was, generally speaking, of the same quality as that done by horses; sometimes not so good. Every experienced farmer recognizes the value of deep ploughing, judiciously performed, and of thorough cultivation. As we saw last week, the power to do it has been lacking, although the farmer has more or less been on the look-out for that ,power. The„.motor tractor is now expected to provide the power, and the motor tractor must. do it.

Taking ploughs first, it may be said that, on the whole, these are more adapted to the tractor than is the case with cultivating implements, although rapid strides are being made in the development of the latter, and the introduction and popularizing of the disc cultivator has been of no small advantage. For many years the gang plough in Canada and the States has met with much popularity, but little at home. Such ploughs offered to the British farmer were, as a rule, unsatisfactory because, through the small frames and consequent close placing of the bodies, sufficient room was not. available for the manure, stubble and loose material to pass through and they blocked. There is less objection to this in the Colonies, as the farming there is more casual, and a more general use is made of the disc harrow. Furthermore, Colonial farmers have, in the past, been better catered for tlian the British. For ploughing land that had already been stirred or land where no manure or loose material abound, these ploughs always worked well and gave satisfaction. It was pointed out long ago in connection with the use of the multiple plough with horses in this country, and to some extent the argument still holds good. It is that, for ploughing our hard soils, the rigid bodies of these ploughs are not well suited, as there is a tendency for one point to run the other .out, and it is thought they should be made with some slight yield to meet this difficulty.

Turning now to implements. During the past 18 months or two years good progress has been noticeable in the development of implements suited for tractor purposes. Though, previous to that time, very little progress had been made. Or, rather, it ought to be said, in deference to the implement makers, that the farmer was very slow to take up any newlyinvented machine until it had been proved beyond the shadow of a doubt to be capable of performing all that was claimed for it.

These remarks apply particularly to farmers in this country. In the Colonies and America farmers had arrived at our present stage in the use of implements and mechanical power ten years ago at least. Take the example of the disc harrow, which would be found in general use many years ago across the Atlantic. Here we have scarcely used it as a horse implement. Why did we not use it? Simply because the British farmer had for generations—nay, ever since he had been a farmer—depended upon the climate to pulverize and mellow the soil. And, just because it had become a habit to plough up the land and leave it through the winter, he never thought of employing mechanical means to do in half the time what he waited for the weather to do (which often it did not do). This, of course, is not denying recognition of the value of good tillage. The advance of agricultural knowledge has helped to prepare the way for improved cultivation and the implements with which to cultivate.

It was left for the motor tractor, fitted with proper implements, to demonstrate the possibilities of deeper and more thorough tillage, and both the makers of tractors and of implements have it in their own hands to develop the proposition to its fullest capacity. The makers have still to be teachers, and they must supply what is needed and demanded.

It is not easy to say that this or that implement is the best, or even what particular developments are required. This much, however, may be said: that, useful though the disc harrow may be, the' British farmer employs for the most part " tined" implements.

Fig. I shows a type of cultivator that has found much favour among English farmers as a horse mac.34 chine and before it had been developed for tractor purposes. It is a type being placed well on order for tractor work at the moment. The machine is quite distinct from the Saunderson type, than which nothing better could be desired for breaking up rough., hard and heavy land and for fallow work for the purpose of " clearing " foul land in the summer.. • The usual type of harrow used in England is seen at Fig. 2. This implement forms part of the essential fiireiture of every farm, large and small, and is employed for the final preparation of the seed bed and for covering the seed after sowing. As farmers are so accustomed to this implement, the probability is that for some time to come it will be in fairly strong demand. The illustration is a photograph of this type of harrow made for tractor work 'by Nicholson's, of Newark.

Fig. 3 shows the disc harrow, and it. is to this implement that we look for the fine tillage already spoken of. A gardening phrase, signifying thcroughly prepared soil, is as fine as an onion bed." Now the seed bed for the majority of farm crops needs to be as fine as the proverbial onion bed if the hest results in crops are to be obtained. The higher the standard of tilth maintained, the more plant foed is rendered available for the crops, which means continuous heavy yields. The disc harrow, when used before and after ploughing, gives a greater depth of well-stirred and well-pulverized soil than does any other cultivating implement. And, in addition,.

when employed to precede the plough, it chops up the stubble and manure, thus preventing the plough. choking. For breaking up pasture land there is really nothing to equal it.

All this has to be borne well in mind in connection with the development of and, particularly, in demon' strating the tractor. As far as possible implements should be so constructed as to provide a one-man outfit in tractor and implement..

By a glance at Fig. 4 one obtains an idea of the kind of hard-baked and cracked stubble land that frequently has to be tackled after a crop is harvested in summer or at the end of summer, whilst Fig. 5 illustrates the ground ploughed by horses, and presunaably harrowed over once or perhaps twice with the spiked-toothed harrow and Ieft for seeding. Fig. 6 is an improvement on Fig. 5, as the land was disced after ploughing. Fig. 7 presents the ideal seed bed disced thoroughly when it is ploughed and the pulverized soil turned over and once more disced and a fine seed bed to the depth of the ploughing ob tained, AGRIMOT.


Organisations: Board of Agriculture
Locations: Newark

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