Quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture Volume 21

9781130410396: Quarterly bulletin of the Department of Agriculture Volume 21
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This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1911 Excerpt: ...process as the chemist calls it, goes on, however, just as certainly as if it were in the chemist's laboratory. The vegetable matter in the soil, as mere vegetable matter, is of no value'to us, nor is the vegetable matter of much concern or value to us after it has reached its ultimate reduction and has returned again to soil. It is on its transition from the vegetable matter towards earthy matter that it is of greatest importance to us from an agricultural standpoint. In this transition period, that is, after the vegetable matter has been thoroughly broken down and no longer has any semblance to the plants from which it was derived, and before it has taken on the condition of earthy matter, this once organic material is what we call humus. A soil abundantly supplied with humus has a very largely increased water-holding power. The humus in the soil might be likened to myriads of small sponges distributed through the soil. These small sponges will soak up the water and hold it and give it up slowly to the soil. Our chemist in his laboratory has found that soil rich in humus has a capacity for holding at least a hundred per cent more moisture than soil which is devoid of humus. When soil is completely made up of humus and vegetable matter it is usually spoken of as muck soil. Where the vegetable matter is not fully disintegrated and is still of a fibrous character it is usually spoken of as peat. Where the peat or muck is pure the water-holding capacity of the soil is many hundred per cent greater than that of soil entirely devoid of humus. Any condition of the soil which enables it to hold moisture also increases the fertilizer-holding power. Sandy soil has so little water-holding capacity that we usually speak of it as leachy soil. When fertilizer is placed...

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