Fertilizers





On certain soils low in fertility and much deficient in

humus, it may be necessary to apply fertilizers in some form before

clovers will grow vigorously. Such are sandy soils that have been much

worn by cropping, and also stiff clays in which the humus has become

practically exhausted. In such instances green crops that can be grown

on such lands, as rye, for instance, plowed under when the ear begins to

shoot, will be found helpful. If this can be followed on the sandy soil

with some crop to be fed off upon the land, as corn, for instance, and

the clover is sown, successful growth is likely to follow. On clays in

the condition named it may not be necessary to grow a second crop before

sowing clover, since in these soils the lack is more one of humus than

of plant food. The application of farmyard manure will answer the same

purpose, if it can be spared for such a use.



Other soils are so acid that clovers will not grow on them until the

acidity is corrected, notwithstanding that plant food may be present in

sufficient quantities. Such are soils, in some instances at least, that

have been newly drained, also soils that grow such plants as sorrels.

This condition will be improved if not entirely corrected by the

application of lime. On such soils this is most cheaply applied in the

air-slaked form, such as is used in plastering and in quantities to

effect the end sought. These will vary, and can only be ascertained

positively by experiment.



Usually it is not necessary to apply much farmyard manure in order to

induce growth in nearly all varieties of clover, and after free growth

is obtained, it is not usually necessary to supply any subsequently for

the specific purpose named. In some soils, however, alfalfa is an

exception. It may be necessary to enrich these with a liberal dressing

of farmyard manure to insure a sufficiently strong growth in the plants

when they are young. Having passed the first winter, further dressings

are not absolutely essential, though they may prove helpful.



Farmyard manure applied on the surface will always stimulate the growth

of clovers, but it is not common to apply manure thus, as the need for

it is greater in growing the other crops of the farm. When thus applied,

it should be in a form somewhat reduced, otherwise the coarse parts may

rake up in the hay. It is better applied in the autumn or early winter

than in the spring, as then more of the plant food in it has reached the

roots of the clover plants, and they have also received benefit from the

protection which it has furnished them in winter.



In a great majority of instances, soils are sufficiently well supplied

with the more essential elements of fertility to grow reasonably good

crops of clover, hence it has not usually been found necessary to apply

commercial fertilizers to stimulate growth, as in the growing of

grasses. In some instances, however, these are not sufficiently

available, especially is this true of potash. Gypsum or land plaster has

been often used to correct this condition, and frequently with excellent

results. It also aids in fixing volatile and escaping carbonates of

ammonia, and conveys them to the roots of the clover plants. It is

applied in the ground form by sowing it over the land, and more commonly

just when the clover is beginning to grow. The application of 50 to 200

pounds per acre has in many instances greatly increased the growth,

whether as pasture, hay or seed. The following indications almost

certainly point to the need of dressings of land plaster: 1. When the

plants assume a bluish-green tint, rather than a pea-green, while they

are growing. 2. When the plants fail to yield as they once did. 3. When

young plants die after they have begun to grow in the presence of

sufficient moisture. 4. When good crops can only be grown at long

intervals, as, say, 5 to 8 years. It has also been noticed that on some

soils where gypsum has long been used in growing clover the response to

applications of the plaster is a waning one, due doubtless to the too

rapid depletion of the potash in the soil.



Potassic fertilizers give the best results when applied to clovers, but

dressings of phosphoric acid may also be helpful. Applications of

muriate or sulphate of potash or kainit may prove profitable, but on

many soils they are not necessary in growing clover. Wood ashes are also

excellent. They furnish potash finely divided and soluble, especially

when applied in the unleached form. When applied unleached at the rate

of 50 bushels per acre and leached at the rate of 200 bushels, the

results are usually very marked in stimulating growth in clover.





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