[From General View of Agriculture, 1794]
THE arable land is laid out, in general, in inclosures from four to ten acres each. The ridges of various sizes, those of wheat, pease, or oats, are narrow, between four and nine feet wide, and barley from 12 to 20: due attention is not paid generally to drawing them straight, or to regular breadths, except on those farms where the two horse teams have been introduced high ridges are not at all used, few lands having so deep a soil as to admit of them; but the ridges are alternately cloven and gathered, or more commonly, only cloven at every stirring
MOST lands in this country fiend in need of this improvement, which is practised with spirit by a few individuals, who have found their account in it. The covered drains are usually two feet nine inches deep, nine inches wide at bottom, and two feet at top; they are filled up, one half with stones, and on them a layer of straw, or pared surface of the sward of grass land, which the labourers here have a particular neat way of paring. This prevents the mould from running down between the stones, which would destroy the effect required. This can be compleated, exclusive of the stones and their cartage, for four-pence the rod, of five yards and a half. On stiff lands, hollow drains have been tried without stones, narrow at the bottom, and covered half way up with sods, or square spits of the surface sward relying on ledges cut for that purpose on suitable soils. This is an ingenious and valuable improvement, but it is not proper where the bottom is inclined to fend The drains or ditches by the Ides of the fences, are in most situations too shallow, and not kept cleaned; which causing surface water to lodge during the winter season, chills the land, and robs it of great part of the benefit of the manure laid on, besides protracting the proper feed times. Water furrowing, if more practised, would in a great measure assist in remedying this evil.
A track of 2000 acres has received immense and valuable benefit from a drain cut through the lowest places, ten feet wide and six deep; its length nearly six miles, by which a considerable quantity of arable land, as well as meadow and pasture, has been improved. The soil is peat moss and clay, with abundance of marl.
There are several other large open drains, from low laying meadows and pastures, which have benefitted the proprietors, but require a little more of their attention to keep them clean than they seem to give.
A REGULAR rotation is little understood or practised, it being almoft the universal custom to crop the lands after manuring, as long as they are able to bear corn; then either to surrender them to grass, or renew them by a fresh dressing. The lands, especially near the towns, complain of this mode, but manure is there at command.
Few farms are so uniformly of the same sort of land, as to admit of a general system of cropping. On good land, the most approved rotation is, first, potatoes or turnips well dunged; second, barley; third, clover; fourth, wheat; fifth,oats or pease. The clover is sometimes manured according to the condition of the soil or ability of the farmer.
On inferior land wheat is never sown, and oats take its place: the rotation is also shortened, and forced grasses occupy it till the farm can again afford it a dunging. On poor soil, two or three crops of oats are taken off lay land of this description, and then it is suffered to stock itself with natural grasses, and requires several years before the land is sufficiently covered: it is then surrendered to pasture, till it is supposed it can again bear another course of such like cropping. There are many fields, especially those at a distance from the farmhouses, that never have any other course of management. On the marled land of the north end of the island, twelve crops of pease, and barley alternately, are often taken, and sometimes fifteen, without any other assistance than the dressing of marl, or even throwing in grass seeds. But on many farms, crops of sown grads are interspersed, and wheat obtained. If the land gets stiff or foul, a fallow followed by wheat is used. The crops produced from this land are observed to be of a far superior quality to any other, howsoever managed. Heathy land is improved mosty with thorough fallowing and liming, and after a few crops, is sown down with grass seeds; but there soils require frequent dressings and tillage, or they return to their original state. Summer fallowing is not practised by many in this island.