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Wisconsin Dairymen's Association / Fortieth annual report of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association : held at Beloit, Wis., November, 1911. Report of the proceedings, annual address of the president, and interesting essays and discussions relating to the dairy interests
(1912)

McDowell, J. C.
Soil management,   pp. 45-59 PDF (3.5 MB)


Page 58


Fortieth Annual Report of the
time ago, after I had been reading about this work done in Washington,
and he said, "What has been your own experience?" I told him my
own experience showed that we took the acid out of the subsoil within
three months of the time we plowed it on the surface soil. He said,
"I would rather you would take your own figures than the figures we
have in Washington."
A Member: Is it not true that a well drained, loose soil will be
less likely to be acid than one that is more compact?
Mr. MacDowell: I hardly know what to say in answer to that ques-
tion. The soils of southern Wisconsin are comparatively heavy, yet
they are not anywhere near as acid as the sandy soils of central Wis-
consin, where the drainage is most excellent and where the subsoil
is loose and porous. Looking at it from a practical standpoint, and
having been all over this territory, and having examined the soil and
tested for acid all over the state, I find that the sandy soils of cen-
tral Wisconsin are the most acid of any soils in ithe state, except the
heavy clay soils in the northern part of the state.
For those soils I am recommending two or three tons of limestone
per acre, while on my brother's farm near Waukesha last spring I
tested the soil, and the litmus paper absolutely showed no acid, but
I recommended just the same that he put on two tons of ground lime-
stone to the acre. He did so and his alfalfa was easily twice as good
a crop this fall where he used the limestone as where he did not, yet
his soil did not show acid. The limestone cropped out all over the
farm of Mr. Roberts Morey and there was a big limestone quarry, yet
I tested all over that farm and at least half the places were acid, and
for fear that the litmus test was not reliable I sent some samples of
that soil to the chemical laboratory and they reported that the soil
was quite acid. Showing that the litmus paper test was fairly reliable.
There is danger that the organic matter in the soil or even the soil
itself may disturb the blue coloring matter of the litmus paper, but
having experimented a great deal with litmus paper, I feel quite cer-
tain when I see red color coming into the paper without the rest of the
paper losing its blue color, that is, when there is no excess of water
to cause the colors to run, that that soil is acid. I have sent quite
a number of those soils to Washington, and they have always pre-
sented that acid after having been given the laboratory test.
A Member: I have raised vetch and the very rapid growth caused
me to think 6t drew severely on the surface soil.
Mr. MacDowell: Vetch does not really add any element to the soil
that was not there before except nitrogen, but it certainly puts the
soil in better condition.
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