The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 2 (June 1, 1929.)
Carriage of Artificial Manures — A Marked Increase
Carriage of Artificial Manures
A Marked Increase
A rather remarkable record has been established by the Railway Department in the increased carriage of artificial manures during the last three years. During the financial year ending 31st March, 1926, 306,451 tons of artificial manure were carried. This was quite a substantial quantity of fertilizer to be carried by rail in one year, and was a clear indication that the farming community readily realised the benefits to be obtained from topdressing of pastures. The railway rates then charged were considered to be quite low and had secured for the Department a large business at a rate which, although barely remunerative, was based on a scale that enabled the Department to give good service to the community at a low price.
A change was made in the railway tariff rate upon fertilizers about two years ago, a big reduction being introduced, and this has had a very stimulating effect upon the use of fertilizers by farmers. So great is the change created that the figures deserve special attention in their economic implications. Against the 306,451 tons handled in 1926, during the year ending 31st March, 1928, 586,007 tons were carried, and the quantity at the end of the last financial year, that is, up to 31st March, 1929, had risen to 712,741 tons. To help in securing this great enhancement in traffic, which means more than a doubling in three years (that is from 306,000, in 1926 to 713,000 in 1929) the rates charged for fertilizers were reduced by 40 per cent. This was a handsome concession to the farming community, and one which could only be undertaken by a State concern intent upon giving service for the benefit of the country at large, rather than upon gaining for itself a direct commercial return.
A somewhat similar increase, though not so marked, has occurred in regard to agricultural lime. For 1926 the number of tons of lime carried was 105,410; for 1929, it was 142,213 tons.
The reduced rates came into operation from the 30th August, 1926.
A great deal has been said in recent times upon the question of the community value of services rendered by the Railway Department. It is the publication of many such facts that enable us to say definitely that no other service, if privately owned, could possibly do the work which the Railway Department is now doing at the price. Also it is perfectly clear that the great expansion in the use of artificial manure, that is, of 100 per cent. in less than three years, would hardly have occurred had it not been for this reduction, made possible by the co-operation of State services for the benefit of the country as a whole.
The remarkable increase in the national returns from agriculture during the last season are a clear indication of the beneficial effects secured to the country from the adoption of intensive cultivation on farms. This result could not have been secured had it not been that the Railways were prepared to lend their services for the purpose of supplying a transportation facility which, although not in itself directly remunerative, was of national benefit. The users gained the maximum advantages obtainable from cheap conveyance to enable them to place on their land the required ingredients for ensuring intensive cultivation and maximum production.