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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

Might Possibly Grow Wattles

Might Possibly Grow Wattles

Just beyond Wairangi station, now re-named Te Kawhata there was a block of Crown land of 2000 or 3000 acres, stretching as far as Lake Waikare, a portion of which had been roughly turned over and planted with the Australian tanning-bark, black wattle (acacia decurrens) and golden wattle (acacia pyncnantha) as an experiment, the idea being that if useless for any other purpose the land might possibly grow wattles, and trees give some return in bark for tanning purposes. This wattle plantation grew, slowly of course, the young trees gradually showing up over the scrub and fern between the rows. Later sowings were made from time to time, and at last the plantation came under the care of the Agricultural Department, and Mr Clifton, at that time District Inspector of Stock, took it in hand. He made an experiment with two areas sown with wattles. On one area he ploughed the land and sowed the seed without any manure. On the adjoining area, ploughed in the same way, about lewt of fertiliser to the acre was sown with the wattle seed in the rows. This small dressing was, of course, only sufficient to give the young trees a start, but the result was striking. In a few years the trees that had received the manurial stimulant were three or four times as large as those on the adjoining unmanured area, and they continued to grow and keep ahead of the latter permanently. What had happened was that the young trees which had been given the small fillip of manure had been made vigorous enough at the start to get a good hold of the soil and to forage for the plant food needful to their rapid growth fat more successfully than the unassisted trees. This initial advantage continued to tell after the stimulant itself had become exhausted, and year after year the stronger trees outstripped the others more and more, though after the first year entirely dependent upon the natural fertility of the soil.