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Soils, Fertilizers and Irrigation

- If Your Land Needs It At All
Alfalfa Over Hardpan
Alkali Gypsum And Shade Trees
Almond Hulls And Sawdust
An Abuse Of Grape Pomace
Application Of Manure Ashes
Applying Thomas Phosphate
Artesian Water
Ashes And Poultry Manure
Barnyard Manure And Alkali
Blasting Or Tiling
Bones For Grape Vines
California That I Am Very Much Puzzled Which Kind To Select
Caustic Lime Not A Good Absorbent
Charcoal Is A Medicine Not A Food

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Dry Plowing For Soil And Weed Growth

Is there any scientific reason to support the belief that it is
injurious to the soil to dry-plow it for seeding to grain this fall and
winter? Will dry-plowing now cause a worse growth of filth after the
rains than the customary fallowing in the spring? Should the stubble be
burned, or plowed under!

The points against dry-plowing to which you allude may arise from two
claims or beliefs: first, that turning up land to the sun has a tendency
to "burn out the humus"; second, that dry-plowing may leave the land so
rough and cloddy that a small rainfall is currently lost by evaporation
and leaves less moisture available for a crop than if it is plowed in
the usual way after the rains. The first claim is probably largely
fanciful, so far as an upturning in the reduced sunshine of the autumn
goes. Whatever there may be in it would occur in vastly increased degree
in a properly worked summer-fallow, and even that is negligible, because
of the greater advantage which the summer-fallow yields. There may be
cases in which one will get less growth on dry-plowing than on winter
plowing, if the land is rough and the rain scant, and yet dry-plowing
before the rains is a foundation for moisture reception and retention -
if the land is not only plowed, but is also harrowed or otherwise worked
down out of its large cloddy condition. When that is done, dry-plowing
may be a great help toward early sowing and large growth afterward. As
for weeds, dry-plowing may help their starting, but that is an advantage
and not otherwise, because they can be destroyed by cultivation before
sowing. If the land is full of weed seed, the best thing to do is to
start it and kill it. The trouble with dry-plowing probably arises, not
from the plowing, but from lack of work enough between the plowing and
the sowing. Stubble should often be burned: it depends upon the soil and
the rainfall. On a heavy soil with a good rainfall, plowing-in stubble
is an addition to the humus of the soil, because conditions favor its
reduction to that form, and there is moisture enough to accomplish that
and promote also a satisfactory growth of the new crop.

Next: Treatment Of Dry-plowed Land

Previous: Defects In Soil Moisture

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