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Wisconsin bankers' farm bulletin
(1913-1919)

Weir, W. W.
Wisconsin bankers' farm bulletin. Bulletin no. 21: feeding the soil PDF (1.1 MB)



    Is Fertility Maintained When All Crops Raised are Fed on Farm? All
crops remove fertility from the soil, even clover and alfalfa which are heavy
feeders on the mineral elements. Legumes, like clover, can gather nitrogen
from the air by means of organisms in nodules on their roots; but this fixed
nitrogen is removed in the hay, and no increase, therefore, is made in the
soil.
When the hay is fed and the manure is well cared for and returned to the
soil,
the nitrogen gathered from the air is brought back, but only about 60% of
it;
the rest is lost in the feeding transaction. Feeding large amounts of clover
and alfalfa hay, therefore, will increase the nitrogen content of the soil
on the
farm. The phosphorus content can never be increased or maintained by grow-
ing crops, feeding them, and returning the manure. In the feeding transaction
there is approximately 20% loss of this element. Little potassium is lost
when
best of care is given the manure and all straw is used for bedding.
                    A SOIL PROBLEM PARTLY SOLVED.
Liming Is the frst step In the Improvement of a poor, aced soil. Good clover
means
                          better sod and more humus.
    The soil may be given its nitrogen and humus through the' growing and
feeding of legumes. Any feeds purchased will also help. T1he phosphorus that
is lost must be replaced by purchase, either through commercial fertilizer
or
feeds like bran or. cotton seed meal. Approximately twenty-seven pounds of
phosphorus is removed by a 50-bushel corn, a 30-bushel oat, and a two-ton
clover crop in a three-year rotation. Ten tons of manure will return approxi-
mately twenty pounds. The deficiency may be made up by adding about fifty
pounds of rock phosphate or one hundred pounds of acid phosphate, or by
feeding about one-third of a ton of bran or cotton seed meal during the produc-
tion of these ten tons of manure.
    It is good business to keep accounts, and it is good farming to consider-
the
losses and gains of fertility on the farm. The basis of good crops is fertile
soil, and a fertile soil is dependent largely upon good stock of humus and
a
good supply of available plant-food elements it contains.


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