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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Enormous Cost for Manure a Delusion

Enormous Cost for Manure a Delusion.

Many sceptical people who see the results at Waerenga cannot believe that they have been attained except at an enormous cost for manure. But the writer was assured by Mr Clifton and by Mr Shepherd, the capable farm manager, that this is not the case. The fact is that, on soil of this description, thorough, deep tillage and frequent working has more permanent effect than heavy dressings of fertilisers. Indeed, without the tillage, and, of course drainage, the manure would do little or no good, however much was used. This necessarily means labour, and labour, our readers may say, is a very expensive kind of manure in this country. This is of course, true, and must be taken into account when considering the profitable cultivation of this kind of land. It means, no doubt, a larger initial outlay in capital, and a longer period to wait for returns than most small farmers can afford. For this reason we do not contend that land of this description, in its original unimproved state, is land upon which a man without capital, or resources to enable him to wait for returns, ought to settle. But the value of the Waerenga scheme of preparing orchards and farms for occupation consists in the fact that it has proved it is worth while for a syndicate, with command of sufficient capital, to take up such land, at a small initial cost for the freehold, and under good practical management bring it into a profitable condition for occupation by small industrious holders, under Glasgow leases, or other acceptable arrangement, to working settlers with little capital. We believe that if such an enterprise were taken up on a sufficiently largo scale, the first dead work of improvement could be effected at a low comparative cost per acre. "What has been done at Waerenga by the Agricultural Department would be an invaluable guide in connection with a scheme of improvement for soil of this character whether such work were taken up by private capitalists or by the Government. Such a scheme, properly conducted, would mean the utilisation of large areas of hitherto waste and unprofitable land, and would, we believe, handsomely recoup the outlay of the needful capital in rents and sales of land to working settlers.