A CHEMICAL STUDY OF SOME TYPICAL SOILS
By A. A. PERSONS.
The Bulletins of this Station will be sent free to any address in
Florida upon application to the Director of the Experiment
Station, Lake City, Florida.
VANCE PRINTING COMPANY.
Bulletin No. 43.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES.
HON. S. STRINGER, President . . . Brooksville
HON. F. E. HARRIS, Chairman Executive Committee Ocala
HON. A. B. HAGEN, Secretary . . .. Lake City
HON. H. W. GELSTON .. ..... . DeLand
HON. WM. FISHER . . . . Pensacola
HON. H. S. REES ... . . . Live Oak
HON. S. C. CALDWELL . . . . Tallahassee
O. CLUTE, M. S., LL. D. ........ . Director
P. H. ROLFS, M. S. . .. Horticulturist and Biologist
A. A. PERSONS, M. S. .. . . . . Chemist
A. L. QUAINTANCE, M. S. .. . .Assistant in Biology
J. P. DAVIES, B. S. . . . Assistant in Chemistry
W. P. JERNIGAN . . . Auditor and Book-keeper
JOHN F. MITCHELL . . Foreman of Lake City Farm
J. T. STUBBS . . Supt. Sub-Station, DeFuniak Springs
W. A. MARSH . . .. Supt. Sub-Station, Myers
LIBRARIAN . . . . . ... .Lake City
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
The Development of Scientific Agriculture .......................... 605
The Value of a Chemical Analysis........................................ 607
The Origin of Soils................................... ....... .......... .... 610
The Composition of Soils......................... ................ 611
The Inorganic Soil Constituents ......................................... 612
Description of the Organic Soil Elements .... ..................613-618
Distinction Between Nitrogen and Ammonia....................... 618
Sea-Weed as a Source of Nitrogen............... ....................... 617
The Inorganic Soil Elements....................................... 618-628
The Effect of Lime on Soils............................................... 621
Explanation of the Different Forms of Phosphoric Acid........ 628
The Home Manufacture of Acid Phosphate.......................... 629
The Classification of Soils .................................................... 629
Influence of Mechanical Condition on Soil Fertility.............. 630
Average Weight of Different Types of Soil.......................... 632
Humus and Its Influence on Soil Fertility........................... 632
Peninsular Soils Deficient in Humus..................................... 635
Leguminous Crops, (a) Beggar Weed, or Florida Clover,
(b) Velvet Bean ............................ ........................636-638
Nitrification and Rotation of Crops........... ........................ 639
Irrigation and Drainage................................. ...... ........ 641
Effects of Subsoiling .......................6..... ... .................. 644
Interpretation of Chemical Analyses ................................... 645
Soil Analyses....... .................................................. 652
Analysis of Dade County Soils............................................. 653
Analysis of Lee County Soils ...................... ...................... 657
TABLE OF CONTENTS-Continued.
Analysis of DeSoto County Soils ........................................ 659
Analysis of Manatee County Soils.................... ................ 662
Analysis of Brevard County Soils...................................... 664
Analysis of Osceola County Soils ..................................... 666
Analysis of Polk County Soils........... ........... ........668-669
Analysis of Hillsboro County Soils ...................................... 672
Analysis of Pasco County Soils...................... .................. 673
Analysis of Orange County Soils ......................, .............. 675
Analysis of Volusia County Soils ...................................... 677
Analysis of Marion County Soils.......................................... 678
Table Showing the Average Per Cent. of the More Important
Soil Constituents in the Soil Samples of the Various
Counties and the Total Average of All Samples............ 680
The Muck Soils of the Peninsula ........................................ 681
Occurrence of Vast Muck Deposits ...................................... 681
Drainage of Muck Lands ....................................... .......... 684
Origin of Muck Formations ........................................ ........ 686
Table of Muck Analyses from Various Counties ............ p. 689
Cultivation of Muck Soils .................................. ............ 693
How to Conduct Field Tests with Fertilizers......................... 697
How to Mix Fertilizers ........................................... ............. 703
Harmful Effects of Muriate of Potash when Used Continuously 708
Precautions in Using Lime................................................... 706
How to Ascertain Soil Acidity...................................... 709
Acknowledgm ents ....................... ... ......... .... ...... ........ .... 711
Tables Showing the Average Composition of Various Fertil-
izing M materials ............................ ............................712-713
I. A chemical analysis can indicate with accuracy the total
amounts of the different soil constituents occurring in a soil, but cannot
state exactly what proportion of any constituent is in an available
2. The soils of the central and southern portions of the Florida
Peninsula are popularly included in four divisions: Pine Land, Hammock,
Sand, and Muck Soils.
3. The Pine, Hammock, and Sand lands are essentially of a sandy
character, the average of thirty-six analyses from various and widely
separated localities in the peninsula showing them to be composed of
slightly more than ninety-six per cent. of insoluble residue (sand and
4. Chemical analyses show them to be most deficient in potash and
least in phosphoric acid. The average amounts of the three so-called
essential elements are as follows: Nitrogen, .0409 per cent.; potash,
.0094 per cent., and phosphoric acid, .0687 per cent. In addition, it is
shown that, in numerous instances, these soils are deficient in humus as
well as in lime.
5. When soils are in a fertile state, the most effective method for
maintaining their fertility involves intelligent fertilization, a judicious
system of crop rotation, and proper cultivation.
6. The most reliable method for ascertaining the deficiency of any
element in a soil is by conducting upon it practical fertilizer tests
according to the directions described herein. Where practicable, and
when it can be intelligently accomplished, farmers should purchase only
the raw fertilizing material and do their own mixing. By exercising
reasonable economy and prudent methods, several dollars can be saved
in this way on each ton of fertilizer mixed. Explicit directions for
mixing fertilizers are given in this bulletin.
7. Where soils are deficient in humus and nitrogen, these materials
can usually be most economically provided by growing upon such soils
certain leguminous crops, (i. e., cow-peas, Florida clover, or beggar
weed, and the velvet bean), which have the power of appropriating
8. The muck soils of the peninsula are uniformly of a fertile
character. The purest muck beds, occupying vast areas in the central and
southern peninsula, extending from Osceola County southward into the
Everglades, are unusually rich in nitrogen, but, in most cases, are deficient
in potash, phosphoric acid and lime. Vast tracts of this land in Csceola
and Dade counties have already been drained by cutting canals through
the muck beds and are now in a high state of productiveness. Other
rich muck areas lie along either bank of the Kissimmee River, which
connects Lake Okeechobee with Lake Kissimmee. In order to drain
these lands artificial drainage will have to be resorted to, since, even at
low water, the river is almost on a level with the contiguous muck areas.
In this case the water can be most effectively drained by constructing
levees and employing pumps. Still other vast muck deposits occur south
of Lake Okeechobee and extend into the Everglades. In addition to the
above, muck deposits of varying areas occur all over Florida.
9. As a rule, the purest muck deposits contain the smallest stores
of mineral plant food, but are richest in nitrogen. Many samples are
reported in this bulletin, however, which are very pure mucks and which,
in addition to nitrogen, contain noticeably large supplies of both phos-
phoric acid and lime. Only in potash do they appear to be very deficient.
10. The average amounts of the several so-called essential plant
foods occurring in all muck analyses reported herein are as follows:
Nitrogen, 1.9411 per cent.; potash, .0443 per cent.; phosphoric acid,
.0897 per cent.
II. In some instances, the muck soils contain excessive amounts of
chlorin in the form of common salt. In all such instances this chlorin
is highly injurious to growing vegetation and should, therefore, be
removed. Usually its removal can best be accomplished by thorough
drainage according to some of the methods herein given.
12. Even after this defect has been remedied, it will frequently
occur that muck soils will not be at once productive on account of not
being in proper tilth. Effective methods for overcoming this difficulty
are thorough plowing and subsoiling, followed by a growth of some forage
crop with deeply penetrating roots. It will also be found necessary in
many instances to administer applications of lime to correct acidity and
improve the mechanical condition of the material. With these precau-
tions observed, muck soils should soon be brought into a condition for
13. MUCH IS CONTAINED IN THIS BULLETIN THAT PROPERLY
WOULD NOT COME WITHIN THE PURVIEW OF A TECHNICAL PUB-
LICATION. IT WAS DEEMED DESIRABLE TO INCLUDE SUCH INFOR-
MATION IN ORDER TO MAKE THEMBULLETIN AS USEFUL AS POS-
SIBLE TO THE AGRICULTURAL CLASSES AND TO PROSPECTIVE
Probably no other question has afforded a subject
for so much discussion among farmers, and in the public
press of Florida, as that of the composition of the soils of
the State and their capacity for producing successful
yields. The frequent inquiries that have come to this
department from time to time since the establishment of
the Experiment Station, have long ago made it apparent
that both a chemical and a physical study of the soils of
this State would be highly desirable to those engaged in
agricultural pursuits. The Station authorities have
always realized the necessity of undertaking these especial
lines of work, and, so long ago as 1888, my predecessor
here, Dr. Pickell, planned to carry out a line of chemical
investigations, but, owing to the limited chemical force at
his disposal for carrying on the necessary work, he was
forced to abandon such investigation for the time, in
order to take up other lines of analytical work which
seemed more urgent. Since assuming charge of this
department in September, 1892, although the necessity
for such a soil study has been constantly apparent, the
writer, too, has found it impossible to publish anything
along this special line until the present time. In the
near future it is earnestly hoped that it will be found
practicable to undertake a physical study of the soils of the
State, along with the chemical, for such a study is now
recognized to be, at least, of equal importance with the
latter, in arriving at a correct understanding of the needs
and requirements of soils. It is to be noted that data,
concerning the chemical composition of the different
types of Florida soil, up to this time, has been very
meagre. Just prior to, and during the World's Fair, Pro-
fessor Norman Robinson, at that time the State Chemist
of Florida, made a few analyses of some typical Florida
soils to be used in connection with the Florida exhibit
on that occasion. The Department of Agriculture at
Washington has also given some attention, both chemi-
cal and physical, to certain types of Florida soils, par-
ticularly muck, and the results of these investigations
have already been of much importance to practical agri-
culture. But, aside from these instances, nothing of con-
sequence, so far as the writer is aware, has ever been done
along this special line. The demand for such informa-
tion as the chemical analysis of a soil will afford, has
been so urgent during the past year as to render it
imperative that such work be carried out in this labora-
tory, and the present bulletin, including practically a
complete preliminary study of the typical soils of the
counties of the Southern and Central Florida peninsula
is indicative of the progress that has thus far been made.
It is to be regretted that it has not been practicable
to include the soils of the entire State in this bulletin,
but, owing to the lack of available force for carrying on
the necessary work, it has been impossible to accomplish
more at the present time than is published herein. It is
our purpose to continue this work without intermission,
until our researches include all of the different types of
soil to be found in the State. It is hoped that a subse-
quent bulletin, including the remainder of the counties,
will be issued from this laboratory about a year hence.
It is but proper acknowledgment to state that all
the analyses reported herein, except when otherwise men-
tioned, were ably performed by Mr. J. P. Davies, the
assistant chemist of the Station, and the methods pur-
sued by him in carrying out all analytical work, were
essentially those adopted by the Association of Official
Agricultural Chemists at their session in 1895.
How the Soils Were Collected for Analysis.
Before considering individually the analyses reported
herein, it would seem desirable that mention be made of
the plan that was pursued in collecting the soil samples
which are included in this bulletin. In order to make
the work as uniform and accurate as possible, the follow-
ing course was pursued in collecting all samples for
analysis: Several collectors were appointed in each
county (where practicable) and accurate instructions were
issued to each collector, fully-setting forth the plan to be
followed in collecting samples and requesting such infor-
mation as to the normal vegetation, i. e., trees, herbs, grass,
etc., growing upon each soil, as might be of assistance in
studying soil-characteristics and interpreting analyses.
In addition, all possible information that would serve to
throw light upon the physical characteristics of each soil
was invariably solicited. The method for taking the
sample from the field was that recommended by the As-
sociation of Official Agricultural Chemists.
It was our belief that, in thus studying the typical
soils of each county separately, no opportunity would be
afforded for the omission of any prominent soil, and our
investigation, therefore, would be sure to include every
soil that could possibly be of any importance to agricul-
ture. It is to be regretted that it was found impossible
to procure samples from every county, and the desired
number from several counties included in this bulletin,
still it is believed that the analyses that are published
are fairly representative of the typical soils of the Central
and Southern peninsula. As soon as possible, after being
received, each sample, after proper preliminary treat-
ment, was bottled, labeled and carefully placed aside for
analysis and, in due time, was taken in its regular turn
to be analyzed by the chemist.
The Development of Scientific Agriculture.
Agriculture, though one of the oldest of pursuits, as a
science, it is of comparatively recent origin. This results
from the fact that it is dependent on so many other
sciences which are themselves of such recent origin.
These latter sciences had first to be developed before
agricultural science could rest upon a permanent basis.
The sciences of chemistry, of biol )gy, of mechanics,
of geology, of meteorology and of botany, had first to
be worked out. For chemistry teaches the farmer the
composition of his soil and of the plants growing upon
it; of the atmosphere surrounding him and the water he
drinks, and employs otherwise for various purposes in
his profession. Biology acquaints him, not only with the
selection and care of the live-stock at his command, but
also with the insect friends and enemies that he will be
called upon either to foster or combat. Mechanics in-
forms him regarding the proper construction of his farm
houses, farm implements, etc. Geology tells him of the
original structure of the rocks out of which his soils were
made and this knowledge is often of much value to him
in his practical farming operations. Meteorology instructs
him in studying the seasons, etc., and the benefits to be
gained from a proper observance of the same. Botany
acquaints him with the laws that govern the selection,
propagation, habits and care of the several forms of
vegetation that he is called upon to grow.
It is not claimed that the farmer must have an ac-
curate knowledge of each of these sciences in order to
practice his profession to the best advantage, but he must
be, at least, somewhat acquainted with each. Every suc-
cessful farmer is, to some extent, a scientific man and
every farmer, whether he is conscious of it, or not, if he
is a successful one, is practicing, in some measure, the
principles underlying the sciences which have been cited.
As recently as 1830, it was an unsolved problem as
to whether mineral matter was necessary to the life of a
growing plant. Since that time, there have been many
theories and conflicting ideas concerning the relation
between the plant and the soil in which it grows and the
theories applicable to the discussion have been modified
and governed by the times in which they were promul-
gated. Indeed, it is true that only about thirty-five
years have elapsed since agriculture came to rest on a
truly scientific basis, for it was about that time that
Liebig first discovered the true philosophy of plant nutri-
tion. His discovery was not made until a bitter experi-
ence had told him that theories, however plausible, were
often disproven by practical tests. Before this great
investigator discovered the true philosophy of plant
nutrition, he examined plants from every portion of the
world. He found that all plants contained the same ash
constituents, although they occurred in varying propor-
tions in different plants. From this fact, he concluded
that all plants took from the soil certain mineral sub-
stances and that, unless these substances were returned
to the soil, the time would inevitably come when the
fertility of the soil from which they were removed would
be seriously impaired. It was upon this theory that the
manufacture of artificial fertilizers was founded. At first,
the employment of these fertilizers was not satisfactory
because, as was afterward learned, they were then pre-
pared in the most insoluble form possible and necessarily,
therefore, when applied to soils, they ;could not yield
beneficial results. It was not until later investigators
discovered that plant-food must be in a soluble form
before it can be appropriated by growing crops, that
methods were devised for effecting this change, and then
the manufacture of artificial or commercial fertilizers be-
came a pronounced success. After it was known that the
ashes of plants and soils were alike in their composition,
it was at once assumed that a close relation existed be-
tween them and that a chemical analysis would reveal
that relation. It was naturally inferred that where a
particular soil failed to produce a profitable crop, a
chemical analysis of its ash would show what the plant
lacked. But when the operation was carried out, it was
soon discovered that a soil analysis frequently would fail
to show a deficiency in any plant-food essential and still
a crop would fail to grow upon it. Hence, for a chemist
to have stated that a given soil was necessarily produc-
tive because he had found present in it all of the ele-
ments that plants required in growth, would have been
a great mistake, for a practical test would often have
proven his statement false. This is probably the chief
reason why so many are today skeptical concerning the
ability of the chemist to render much practical assistance
to the agriculturist in studying the needs of his soil.
The Value of a Chemical Analysis.
There is probably no one subject in connection
with their profession, that is so little understood by
farmers generally, as that of the real value to be attached
to a chemical analysis of a soil. Indeed, I may say,
that there is scarcely a question that is the subject of so
much discussion and disagreement, even among the agri-
cultural chemists of the country, as that of the real im-
portance to be attached to such an analysis.
One line of authorities, headed by Dr. Hilgard, the
Director of the California Experiment Station, relies most
strongly upon such an analysis, while others, of perhaps
equal prominence, at least in other lines, do not place so
much reliance upon it. All agree, however, that some-
thing is to be gained by a careful chemical study of a
soil. Even those who do not agree wholly with Hilgard,
concede that, whilst a chemical analysis fails to indicate
the exact degree of availability of soil constituents, it will
at least reveal the approximate total quantity of the
several constituents present therein, and in thus indicating
either the sufficiency or deficiency of the several soil
essentials, it proves itself very helpful to the agriculturist,
even though it does fail to show the exact degree of
availability of a single soil constituent. It must be con-
ceded that, if it does this only, a chemical analysis is of
sufficient importance to warrant its being undertaken,
for, if it can tell a farmer that his soil contains a suffi-
cient quantity of one element, and is probably entirely
lacking in another, it at least affords him a rational basis
for inaugurating a series of practical soil-test experiments
with fertilizers that will enable him to answer the ques-
tion definitely and thus save himself the risk of purchas-
ing and applying certain fertilizers on a particular soil
that are not needed by it and that would prove a useless
expenditure if applied.
It will be seen that the weak point in an analysis is
that, while it reveals what a soil actually contains and in
what proportions the several constituents are present, it
does not statelwith absolute accuracy just how much of
that plant-food is in an available form, i. e., in a form
suited for plant assimilation. This is an important mat-
ter, for, other things being equal, the actual productive-
ness of any soil will depend, not so much upon the total
amount of plant-food it contains, as upon the proportion
of that food which is in an available form. And, until
it is possible for an analysis to reveal, with much accu-
racy, the degree of availability of any plant-food essen-
tial, it cannot be said that chemical methods are entirely
perfected and capable of furnishing information in all
respects satisfactory. It is encouraging to note that many
chemists are, at the present time, engaged in perfecting
methods with this object in view, and the encouragement
that they are meeting with is all that could be desired.
There is strong reason for hoping that, in the very near
future, methods will be devised that will place a chemi-
cal soil analysis beyond the point where its practical
utility can be questioned, even by the most prejudiced.
It frequently happens that when soils are barren their
failure to produce is due to the presence of certain
poisonous substances, such as sulphate or sulphid of iron.
When such is the case, a chemical analysis will reveal the
fact and chemistry will provide a remedy.
Sometimes a soil contains an excessive amount of
certain soluble salts, such as sodium chlorid (common
salt), and where they occur in excessive amounts it is
known that they seriously interfere with its productive
capacity. A chemical analysis will readily detect this
defect and it can be quickly remedied by drainage and
irrigation. And if a soil is deficient in any important
element of plant-food, a chemical analysis, as has been
said, will reveal the fact, and chemistry will prescribe the
form of fertilizer to be applied in supplying the defi-
All of this information is directly in line with that
the prospective settler and intelligent farmer invariably
desires, and it helps to answer such queries as the follow-
ing that are constantly coming to this laboratory:
(1) Is this soil sample capable of producing a good
crop without fertilizer?
(2) How long can I continue to cultivate it without
(3) In what element does it appear to be most defi-
cient and what kind of fertilizer is it likely to require
(4) To what kind of crops does it seem best adapted ?
While a chemical analysis cannot definitely answer
everything in connection with the above queries, still it
can aid very much in solving all such problems, and,
together with a physical analysis, can contribute much
valuable information along all such lines.
Origin of Soils.
The term "soil" is used to designate that mixture of
mineral matter and decayed vegetable matter that is
found on the surface of the earth, and in which plants
grow, and from which they derive a large portion of
their food. Soils, therefore, consist chiefly of mineral
substances, together with organic remains, and they
also contain certain living organisms whose activity
may either favorably influence, or else retard, vegetable
growth. In addition to this, soils also hold varying
quantities of gaseous matter and water, both of which
are highly important factors in influencing the proper
performance of their several functions. From an agricul-
tural standpoint, the soil proper is the older, and more
thoroughly disintegrated, exterior layer of the earth. It
is that portion that has longest been exposed to weather-
ing and the influences of organic life. It is usually from
six to twelve inches deep, but occasionally extends to a
depth of several feet.
The sub-soil is found immediately underneath the
soil. As a rule, it is not so thoroughly disintegrated as
the soil, due to the fact that it is protected, in a measure,
from the several disintegrating agencies by the overlying
soil. The sub-soil is usually less fertile, and contains less
organic matter than the soil proper. Air circulates more
freely in the soil than in the sub-soil, and the metallic ele-
ments (such as iron) often exist in the former as higher
oxids. It is generally possible to observe a difference in
color between the soil and the sub-soil, and frequently
there appears a very sharp color-line separating them-
the soil being usually darker.
While the sub-soil is an important factor in the econ-
omy of plant growth, it is the surface soil which concerns
us most. Since, as has been stated, soil results from disin-
tegrated rock masses, its character and composition, if
formed in situ, should generally be the same as the gen-
eral mass of earth underlying it-except that this debris
has been subjected to the solvent action of water and, per-
haps, of certain chemicals, as well as the influence of
vegetable growth, and these agencies, naturally, have
served to modify, somewhat, the chemical properties of the
soil thus acted upon. When a soil is heated to low red-
ness it is found that a portion of it volatilizes and a por-
tion of it remains behind in the form of ash. That por-
tion which disappears as a result of heating is commonly
designated the "organic" portion, and'that which remains
behind, the "inorganic" portion of the soil.
Composition of Soils.
The organic portion of a soil is very complex and
consists of products of decomposition-products varying
between woody-fibre and the gases into which vegetable
matter is ultimately converted when completely decom-
This organic matter is composed almost wholly of
the four elements, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen,
in varying proportions. All fertile soils must have pres-
ent more or less of this organic substance. While all fer-
tile soils must contain this material, it is not essential to
fertility that any definite portion of it should be present.
In soils known to be fertile, it is found to vary in quan-
tity, all the way from one-half per cent, in the case of thin,
sandy soils, to as high as seventy per cent in peaty, or
A portion of the organic matter present in soils
exists in a form called "humus," which is a mixture of
several of the intermediate stages of decay. In a large
majority of instances it is to the presence of this humus
that the dark color of the soil is due. It is an exceedingly
important constituent of soils because it furnishes, in a
large measure, the nitrogen necessary for most growing
crops. Formerly it was supposed to be an absolutely nec-
essary factor in the productivity of soils. It is now known
that this is not true, still, the value of this substance is
recognized at the present time, not only as a source of ni-
trogen, but because it exercises a powerful solvent influ-
ence on the inactive phosphoric acid, potash and silica in
the soil, and also on account of the excellent influence it
exerts on its physical properties. Much more will be said
in the course of this bulletin in regard to this substance.
Inorganic Soil Constituents.
The inorganic (mineral) portion of the soil consists
principally of the following metals:
Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and
Aluminum, and the following non-metals: Silicon,
Chlorin, Sulphur and Phosphorus. All of these substances
remain in the ash when either a soil or plant is burned.
The mineral portion constitutes the greater part of the bulk
and weight of all ordinary soils. In the case of muck or
peaty soils, the organic portion frequently predominates.
The mineral portion of any soil is of a complex charac-
ter, but a knowledge of the intricate chemical composi-
tion of the several components would be of little value to
the practical agriculturist, and a discussion of this point
is unnecessary at this time. A brief description of the
several elements that enter into the compositions of all
soils will now be given in order to familiarize farmers
with the several terms that will be employed in reporting
soil analyses that are to follow.
It has been mentioned that the organic portion of
soils and plants consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and
nitrogen, and a description of these will now be in order:
Description of the Organic Soil Elements.
Carbon is an elementary substance and it occurs in
crystalline form in Nature, both as diamond and graph-
ite, and also in amorphous form as coal. Carbon is a
large constituent of peats and mucks. It is contained in
the organic matter of all soils. The relation of the car-
bon to the nitrogen of the soil often throws important
light upon the character of nitrogenous matter. In com-
bination with oxygen, carbon constitutes the chief food of
growing plants. In the form of carbon dioxid (CO) car-
bon is taken in through the minute breathing pores
(stomata)l on the under-surface of the leaves of plants in
the presence of sunlight. In due time the carbon is
assimilated in the growth of the plant, whilst the
oxygen is liberated and escapes into the air. In
the atmosphere, carbon exists in the form of carbon
dioxid gas, in the proportion of three to five parts,
per thousand parts of air, by volume. In the form
of carbonates, this element enters into the composition of
many of the most important deposits occurring in the
earth, such as marble, dolomite and limestone, and, in or-
ganic form, it also occurs in the shells of the crustaceans.
The calcareous limyy) matter of the soil of which carbon
is a chief component, is often of the highest importance
from an agricultural standpoint. These carbonates not
only facilitate the conversion of nitrogenous bodies into
forms suitable for plant-food, but they also exercise much
influence on the physical characteristics of the soil, in
this way influencing its capacity for holding water and
permitting its flow through the soil, etc.
Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It
is the lightest substance known. It readily burns in the
air, forming water, but it will not support combustion.
It occurs in a free state in very limited quantities.
Small quantities of it are found in certain volcanic gases
and in so-called "natural gas," but most commonly it ex-
ists in combination with oxygen as water (HO0) of which
it constitutes more than eleven per cent. by weight. Hy-
drogen also occurs in combination with carbon in a series
of volatile substances known as hydrocarbons, and in-
cluding such products as petroleum, gasoline, kerosene,
naphtha, etc. From an agricultural standpoint, in its
free or elementary state, hydrogen is of no importance,
but when it is combined with oxygen to form water, it is
one of the most important of all plant-foods.
Oxygen is a colorless, odorless gas, without taste, and
it exists in abundant quantities in a free state in the at-
mosphere of which it constitutes one-fifth of its volume.
In combination with other elements, it forms nearly one-
half of the weight of the solid crust of the earth, and
eight-ninths by weight of all water is oxygen. There is only
one element with which it refuses to combine, viz.: fluorin.
In such combinations it forms what are known as "oxide,"
and with some of the elements, it unites in several pro-
portions forming oxids containing varying proportions
of the element. When combined with silicon, phospho-
rus, carbon, sulphur, etc., oxygen is an essential compon-
ent of the silicates, phosphates, carbonates and sulphates
that occur more or less extensively in the earth. In these
forms it is very stable and is rarely set free. Barring
several instances (notably the oxids of silicon and iron)
these oxids seldom occur uncombined with other elements
where they exist as constituents of rocks and soils.
The oxids of iron occur very frequently as
such in rocks and soils and they play a very
important part in organic life. These oxids fre-
quently determine the color of soils, for, as the iron in
the soil is converted from higher to lower oxids by being
exposed to more or less air, the color of its oxid changes
and this change causes the soil to present a different ap-
pearance. The iron oxids are also known to play an im-
portant part in influencing the absorptive capacities of
soils for moisture, and they likewise affect their physical
condition and, in addition, they materially influence the
oxidation of organic matter in the soil. Experiments
have shown that in many substances, including the roots
of growing plants, when a free excess of air is prevented,
they can readily obtain such oxygen as may be needed, from
the iron oxid of the soil, the latter, in turn, being reduced
to a lower oxid. The lower oxid of iron thus formed, in
turn, soon acquires additional oxygen, again resolving
itself into the higher sesquioxid (Fe2 Os). Under proper
conditions this change can go on indefinitely.
Nitrogen is a colorless gas without taste or smell.
It exists in a free state in great quantities in the atmos-
phere. Four-fifths of the volume of the air is nitrogen.
Although it occurs in such great abundance in an un-
combined state in the atmosphere, there is only one
family of plants (viz.: the leguminosioe) that is capable of
utilizing any of it. To this fact is due the great promi-
nence this family of plants has achieved in recent years
as soil enrichers. There is no method so effective and
so economical for restoring soils that are unproductive as
planting upon them some member of this family of
plants and, through this agency, remove from the air
and restore to the soil for the use of future crops, the
costly element nitrogen (in the absence of which, it is
impossible for any form of vegetation to survive) and, at
the same time, increase its supply of humus by plow-
ing under vines, stubble, etc., to undergo decay. Com-
bined with hydrogen, nitrogen forms ammonia (NH8)
This is the form in which nitrogen is usually reported in
fertilizer analyses. Fourteen pounds of nitrogen, combine
with three pounds of hydrogen to form seventeen pounds
of ammonia. Probably in this fact is found the reason
why fertilizer manufacturers habitually report the amount
of nitrogen occurring in a sample as "ammonia."
Larger figures are used to express the nitrogen equiva-
lent in the form of the latter gas, and the farmer, not
being familiar with the distinction between the two,
when he is called upon to choose between two brands
of fertilizer, in one of which the nitrogen is reported as
such, and in the other as ammonia," he is naturally
inclined to purchase the one in which larger figures are
employed in 'stating the quantity present. Two brands
of fertilizer might contain exactly the same amounts of
nitrogen, and if in one sample the nitrogen were reported
as sach and, in the other as ammonia, to one not familiar
with the relation between the two, other things being
equal, the latter would appear to be the better fertilizer.
As a mineral constituent of soils, nitrogen is found
chiefly in the form of nitrates, but, owing to the fact that
nitrates are exceedingly soluble in water, it is impossible
for them to accumulate in soils that are exposed to heavy
rains. Free, atmospheric nitrogen exists naturally in the
pores of the soil, and when so situated, it is of some
agricultural importance since it is in the soil that the
anaerobic organisms are accumulating on the rootlets
of some plants where they, doubtless, are engaged in a
process of fixation of the nitrogen of the atmosphere and
putting it in assimilable form. It is not believed that
nitrogen, in a free state, can be absorbed by the tissues
of plants. It must be first oxidized into nitric acid
before it is capable of being utilized.
Sea-Weed as a Source of Nitrogen.
It is now known that some varieties of sea-weed, in a
green state, are valuable sources of nitrogen. Jenkins has
shown, from the analysis of several varieties, that they are
fully equal in fertilizing value to stall manure and still
they are sold at a rate of five cents per bushel. This inves-
tigator has been fully corroborated in his statements by
other eminent scientists, such as Goessman, Hartwell and
Wheeler. All are aware that sea-weed has long been
esteemed as a fertilizer. As early as the fourth century,
its value was clearly recognized andit has come to be more
and more appreciated in later days, since a chemical inves-
tigation has corroborated the views held in those early
times, that it possessed great value for fertilizing purposes.
To illustrate the commercial importance of this material, it
is only necessary to state that in 1885 its value as a fer-
tilizer in the State of Rhode Island, alone, was $65,044,
while the value for all other fertilizers for the
same year was only $164,133. In Florida sea-weed
ought to be an article of great agricultural import-
ance since it occurs in great abundance in various
sections of the State and adjacent to lands that would be
highly benefited by its application. When applied to
soils in warm climates like that of Florida it, doubtless,
would be safer to allow the weeds, after cutting, to die
and enter upon decay before applying them to the soil,
in order to avoid the risk of souring the latter by apply-
ing them in the green state and allowing them to under-
go rapid decomposition.
The elements that we have thus far described con-
stitute what are usually called the "organic elements of
the soil. It now remains to describe those elements that
compose the mineral portion of the soil, and which are
left behind in the form of ash when the soil is burned.
The Inorganic Soil Elements.
These are Potassium, Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium,
Iron, Aluminum, Silicon, Sulphur and Phosphorus. In
addition to the foregoing, Manganese and Barium (metals)
and Fluorin and Boron (non metals) are frequently found
in small quantities in soils, but, for general agricultural
purposes, they are of such inferior importance as to ren-
der only mention of them necessary. To the farmer, the
two most important of this latter division are Potassium
and Phosphorus, since these are the only ones that are
likely to be deficient in a soil, but a brief description of
all the principal ones will now be given.
Potassium is never found in a free state in Nature.
Combined with silica, it is an important component of
many mineral silicates such, for example, as orthoclase.
Granite rock also contains considerable quantities of
potassium in complex forms, and when these rocks
disintegrate, their potassium slowly becomes available as
plant-food. Potassium also occurs in small quantities as
chlorid in sea-water, and it is found in great abundance
in certain rainless, tropical countries naturally formed in
the soil, and in this form is known as potassium-nitrate,
or "saltpeter." To the farmer, this element is of great
importance, since it is one of the three that are usually
deficient in soils and which must be applied in the form
of fertilizer before a soil deficient in either can become
productive. An important home source of potassium is
hard-wood ashes. Ashes that result from the burning of
hard woods, such as oak, hickory, etc., consist largely of
potassium in the form of carbonate. Ashes are simply
the mineral substances that are removed from the soil by
plants during growth. Potassium is universally distrib-
uted in soils, and many virgin soils are apt to con-
tain enough of this element in an available form to
last for some years in a system of cropping, before it
becomes necessary to replenish its supply in the form of
a fertilizer application. In the form of kainite, etc., large
quantities of potassium are used, not only for fertilizing,
but also for the manufacture of pure salts for pharma-
ceutical and other purposes. The ordinary salts of potas-
sium are very soluble, and hence cannot accumulate in
large quantities in soils exposed to heavy rains. The
most extensive potash deposits in the world occur in the
vicinity of Stassfurt, in Germany. It would be inter-
esting briefly to refer to the theory of the formation of
these deposits, but this can hardly be done at the present
time. Suffice it to say that these vast salt mines are, at
present, the chief source of the potash that is used in
manufacturing commercial fertilizers throughout the
entire civilized world.
Sodium is never found free in Nature, but occurs
most commonly combined with chlorin to form sodium
chlorid (NaC1). Combined with silica, it is an important
element in many silicates. Although this element is
closely related chemically to potassium, it cannot, in any
case, be substituted for it in plant nutrition. It closely
resembles potassium, both in its chemical and physical
properties. In combination with nitrogen, it forms
sodium-nitrate commonly called ," Chile-saltpeter." This
latter name is derived from the fact that it occurs as an
incrustation on the surface of the soil in Chili. On ac-
count of its content of nitrogen, Chile-saltpeter is a valu-
ble fertilizer, and large quantities of it are shipped
annually into this country, and into other countries, as
a commercial source of nitrogen in manufactured fertili-
zers. Sodium is of little agricultural importance, as yet,
because soils at present are not likely to be deficient in it,
as is the case with their stores of potassium, phosphorus
and nitrogen, and the farmer, therefore, never finds it
necessary to purchase it for fertilizing purposes. Nitrate
of soda is employed, not because it contains sodium, but
on account of its nitrogen. A good quality of nitrate of
soda contains about sixteen per cent. of nitrogen.
Calcium occurs very abundantly as one of the con-
stituents of the earth's crust, of which it is supposed to
compose about one-sixteenth. It does not occur free in
Nature and it is a metal exceedingly difficult to separate
from its compounds. Its most common form of combi-
nation is with carbon dioxide, forming the minerals
marble, calcite, and the very abundant lime-stone rocks.
All of these substances are chiefly combinations of cal-
cium with carbon dioxide. As it exists in limestone
rock, calcium is slightly soluble in water containing car-
bon dioxide, and hence, it lias become a universal com-
ponent of soils and is also of general occurence in natural
waters. In such waters, it is the chief ingredient that is
employed in the formation of the shells and skeletons of
the several tribes of mollusca and corals. Calcium also
exists in combination with sulphuric acid in Nature, and
when occurring thus, it forms the well-known substance,
gypsum. Lime is a combination of calcium and oxygen
(CaO) and is formed by burning lime-stone or calcium
carbonate. Calcium is sometimes applied to soils in the
form of lime, but, more frequently, the lime is slaked with
water before applying it, in order to modify, somewhat,
its active caustic effects. Calcium is not only an essen-
tial plant-food but it influences, in a marked degree, both
the progress of nitrification in the soil and its physical
condition. Frequently, stiff, clay soils, which on account
of their toughness and compactness do not admit of cul-
tivation, are rendered porous and pulverulent by the ap-
plication of lime and are thus brought into a suitable
state for cultivation and become quite productive. Not
only is it an essential ingredient of soils and plant-food,
but it is the chief component of the bones of all animals.
Referring to the presence of lime in soils, Professor Hil-
gard says: "Other things being equal, the thriftiness of
the soil is immeasurably dependent on a certain mini-
mum percentage of lime." Where lime occurs in proper
proportion in a soil, Professor Fulmer (Bulletin 13 Wash-
ington Experiment Station) thus summarizes the benefi-
cial effects resulting from its presence:
(1) A more rapid transformation of vegetable matter
(2) The retention of humus against the oxidizing
effects of hot climates.
(3) Whether through the medium of this humus, or
in a more direct manner, it renders adequate for profit-
able culture percentages of phosphoric acid and potash
so small that, in case of a deficiency of lime, or its
absence, the soil would be directly sterile.
(4) It tends to secure the proper maintenance of the
conditions of nitrification, whereby the inert nitrogen of
the soil is rendered available.
These, in connection with other physical influences
it is known to exert, make lime an exceedingly important
constituent of soils and one, which, on account of its
cheapness, can be very easily supplied. It is one of the
most available soil constituents, existing in some soils in
mere traces, while in others it occurs in proportions
approximating 30 per cent. of the total weight of the soil.
Combined with phosphoric acid, it constitutes the well-
known phosphate deposits that occur extensively in Florida
and other sections of the country. When present in soils
in relatively small proportions, it has been found that
they will respond more readily to applications of potash
fertilizers, but this does not mean that it should not occur
in all soils in sufficient quantities to supply all agricul-
Magnesium is found in Nature chiefly in combina-
tion with carbon dioxid, or with lime and carbon dioxid,
in the mineral, dolomite. Its oxid (MgO) resembles lime
in many of its properties and it is generally found as-
sociated with it in rocks. It is found in all cultivated
soils and seems to be essential to the perfect development
of many plants. Evidence is constantly accumulating to
prove that its presence in the soil is necessary for the full
development of many cereals, such as wheat, barley, etc.
Magnesium is an essential constituent of such rocks as
talc, serpentine and soap-stone. This element is not so
important a factor in agriculture as are those we have
already described, and as are others to be described here-
after. Still, as has been stated, it seems to be indispen-
sable to certain varieties of vegetation. Although it is
an important ingredient of certain forms of plant ash, yet
it is well known that soils resulting from the disintegra-
tion of magnesium lime-stone are inferior to those that
are derived from pure lime-stone. There are a great
many scientists who do not regard magesium as of very
great consequence, either as a plant-food or as a fertiliz-
If the lime is applied as gypsum, in addition to
other beneficial effects, it is unusually effective in reliev-
ing the inert potash of the soil.
Iron is the most abundant, and, in the arts, the most
useful of the heavy metals, and it occurs in Nature usu-
ally combined with other elements. Small quantities of
it exist in a free state in basaltic rocks and meteorites. In
combination with oxygen it is one of the most widely
diffused elements and a large number of rocks and min-
erals owe their coloring matter to the presence of this
metal. In the form of oxids, iron also exists in the val-
uable ores commonly called "hematite" and "magnetite."
In combination with sulphur it forms the mineral "sul-
phur pyrites," (FeS2), commonly called "Fool's Gold."
Nearly all red or yellow soils owe their color to the pres-
ence of iron oxids. In addition to its wide and varied
uses in the arts, iron is also an important plant-food, al-
though it is not taken up in very large quantities by the
tissues of plants. It occurs in different soils, varying in
quantity, usually from one to twenty per cent. Although
the red color of soils is usually due to the presence of
iron, still it frequently happens that soils distinctly red
contain less iron than others of a much darker color.
The color apparently is due to the mode of distribution
of the iron, rather than to the quantity of it present.
Usually it is the case that the more iron a soil contains,
the less will be the quantity of organic matter present,
but this does not mean that the supply of organic mat-
ter will be sufficiently small to render a soil unproduct-
ive. It is believed that the influence iron exerts on the
productivity of soils is chiefly mechanical in that it is be-
lieved to be capable of increasing the power of the soil to
absorb and retain heat and moisture, and, in the case of
clay lands, of rendering tillage easier. Iron is also
known to improve the green color of plants and it prob-
ably exerts other beneficial chemical effects. But these
latter are, at present, not well understood.
Aluminum, next to oxygen, is probably the most
abundant element of the earth's crust, of which it is be-
lieved to form about one-twelfth. Aluminum does not
exist in Nature in a free state. Its most common form of
occurrence is in combination with silicon and oxygen,
and when so combined, it is an important constituent of
kaolin, slate, clay, feldspar and mica, and it also enters
into the combination of various other rocks and miner-
als. In the process of "weathering," feldspar, mica and
other minerals containing aluminum, in chemical com-
binations, undergo partial disintegration and kaolin (true
clay) is formed as a result. This is of very great impor-
tance to the soil. Aluminum is not regarded as of very
much importance as a plant-food, still in the form above
referred to, it is an exceedingly important constituent of
the soil, for its presence, or absence from it, modifies very
greatly its physical properties. While this metal is not
considered of very great importance as a plant-food, still
the fertility of the soil, as has been stated, is very large-
ly dependent on the quantity of clay which it contains,
for it is this clay that influences, very largely, its ability
to absorb and retain moisture, and that puts it in a desir-
able condition for cultivation.
Silicon occurs abundantly in Nature in combination
with oxygen,' and in this form is known as silica (sand).
As such, it constitutes a large portion of various rocks
and soils. It forms about one-fourth of the solid crust of
the earth. Silica is seen in its purest form in quartz
crystals. The sand that glass blowers employ is also
nearly pure quartz. As has been previously mentioned,
silicon is an essential component of many minerals, such
as the feldspars, mica, etc. Silica is only very slightly
affected by the ordinary forces concerned in the decay of
rocks (rain, frost, freezing, etc.,) and even after the crys-
tals of feldspar, mica and other minerals occurring in
rocks, have been disintegrated, the silica remains as hard
grains of sand, forming the larger portion of most soils.
In the form of sand, it is believed to be chemicatly inert
as regards plant growth, but in such form it plays an
important part both in the physical structure of soils and
in their physical relation to plant growth. Some chem-
ists doubt whether silicon is a necessary constituent of
plants, but all agree that it is found in the stems of grass,
wheat, corn and various varieties of vegetation. It is
probably true that most fertile soils contain some silica
in a soluble form and, in this form, it is a source of
Sulphur occurs both in a free and combined state in
Nature. In a free state, it occurs in volcanic regions such
as Sicily, Iceland, and the Western United States. We
are quite familiar with this substance in the form of
"flowers of sulphur" found in every drug-house, or as
"brimstone," which is simply sulphur molded into sticks.
Sulphur possesses a well-known yellow color and burns
with a pale, blue flame and very suffocating odor. In
combination with oxygen and hydrogen, this element
forms sulphuric acid, or "oil of vitriol," which is the
strongest of the ordinary mineral acids. Sulphuric acid
is very extensively used in the manufacture of fertilizers.
The usual form of occurrence of sulphur in soils is in
combination with metals to form sulphids, or with oxygen
and metals to form sulphates. It combines with iron to
form iron pyrites (FeS2), while with oxygen and calcium
it constitutes the well-known mineral, gypsum (calcium
sulphate), which is an important fertilizing compound.
Sulphur is an important nourishing constituent of plants
and is found occurring in them both in organic com-
pounds and as sulphuric acid.
Chlorin never occurs free in Nature, except in limited
amounts in volcanic emissions. Most commonly it is
combined with hydrogen forming hydrochloric acid, and
with metals, forming chloride. Chlorin also occurs in
the ash of plants, as well as in the soil. In the form of
common salt, it is an abundant constituent of sea-water.
It is a poisonous gas, very irritating to the throat and
lungs. In the form of sodium chlorid, it exists as exten-
sive beds of rock salt, and as such, is mined for chemical
purposes. It occurs in varying proportions in all plants
and must be regarded as. an essential constituent of them.
When applied to a soil, sodium chlorid (common salt) in-
creases its power to attract and retain moisture. It is fre-
quently found occurring in too large proportions in soils to
render them adapted to plant growth, but where fresh
water irrigation is practicable and drainage can be accom-
plished, this difficulty can be overcome. Generally, the
occurrence of one part of chlorin per thousand of soil is
regarded as injurious to growing crops.
Phosphorus never occurs in a free state in Nature,
but, in forms of combination, it exists in varying quanti-
ties in all soils. It is also a chief component of the min-
erals, phosphorite and apatite, forms of phosphate rock
occurring widely diffused in Nature. In forms of com-
bination with other elements, phosphorus is one of the
most essential constituents of both animal and plant-
food. In animals, calcium phosphate forms nearly all of
the mineral matter of their bones and in plant-foods it is
the chief constituent of the ash of seeds. The deposits of
pebble phosphate and of some rock phosphates are sup-
posed to be of organic origin, i. e., derived from the re-
mains of terrestrial, marine, and aerial animals. To the
farmer, phosphorus is one of the most important ele-
ments, since it is one of three that are most likely to
be deficient in soils, and thus have to be replaced
by applications of fertilizers. It is the chief com-
ponent of phosphoric acid, the substance which is more
universally deficient in soils than any other plant-food
essential and this is why phosphatic manures are of such
importance. As has been already stated, rock phosphate
occurs in immense quantities in Florida. It is also
found in large quantities in South Carolina, Tennes-
see, and in considerable amounts in North Carolina,
Alabama, California, etc. In Florida, the supply is
practicably inexhaustible. In view of the fact that
the demand for chemical fertilizers is increasing all the
while, it is not improbable that the State of Florida will
yet become immensely wealthy from the development of
this single industry. The quality of the phosphate rock
mine in this State is not inferior to that mine elsewhere
in the United States, and the scientists of the world now
recognize the superiority of our deposits and, accordingly,
they are used very extensively. As the demand for ar-
tificial fertilizers increases, we may expect to see an in-
creased consumption of Florida phosphate until, after a
while, the phosphate industry will become to Florida
what the iron industry has long been to Alabama.
Various explanations by Davidson, Wyatt, and others,
have been offered to explain the origin of the phosphate
deposits of Florida, but the limit of this bulletin will ren-
der it impracticable to attempt a discussion of any of
the several theories in this place.
Cereal crops remove about twenty pounds of phos-
phoric acid, per acre, from the soil annually, and grass
crops about twelve pounds. Wiley estimates (Vol. I Agri.
Analysis) that the total amount of phosphoric acid removed
annually by the cereal and grass crops, in the United States,
is nearly four billion pounds. In a chemical analysis, the
phosphoric acid present is usually reported under two di-
visions, viz., "available" and "insoluble" phosphoric acid.
The former, in turn, is often reported under two divisions
as "water soluble" and "citrate soluble" or "reverted"
phosphoric acid. It will be seen therefore, that when all
of the soluble phosphoric acid in a fertilizer is reported
under the head "available" phosphoric acid, it means
that the "water soluble" and "citrate soluble" forms
have been combined. Or, in other words, the "avail-
able" acid includes both the "water soluble" and
" citrate soluble" acid, and represents the entire amount
of phosphoric acid that exists in a form which will per-
mit of being readily taken up by growing crops.
When the term "phosphoric acid is used in con-
nection with the chemical analysis of a fertilizer, it sig-
nifies a compound which is really not phosphoric acid
but simply one of phosphorus and oxygen (phosphoric
anhydrid or phosphorus pentoxid). True phosphoric
acid could not well exist as such in a fertilizer. So that in
an analysis, the figures under the heading "phosphoric
acid" really state the amount of the phosphoric oxide
(P2 O0 ) above mentioned, which is equivalent to the phos-
phoric acid, in a form of calcium phosphate actually
existing in the fertilizer. True phosphoric acid is a
compound of three elements, viz.: phosphorus, hydrogen
and oxygen, but in the form in which we are accus-
tomed to use the term, the hydrogen of the acid has
been replaced by some other substance, usually lime,
(calcium) and a salt is formed, as a result, which is
known to the chemist as calcium phosphate.
Enough has been said to render it apparent that
"insoluble" phosphoric acid is the form in which
phosphorus exists chiefly in most soils. The same is
true as regards its mode of occurrence in bones and in
the phosphatic rocks which are employed in the manu-
facture of chemical fertilizers. It is necessary, therefore,
for it to be rendered soluble, or available, before it is
in proper form to be applied for the purpose of enriching
The way in which crude phosphate rock is usually
rendered soluble and readily available, is by treating it
with sulphuric acid, thus converting it into what is
known as superphosphate or acid phosphate. This may be
accomplished by mixing the ground rock with half its
weight of sulphuric acid (previously mixed with two or
three times its weight of water). The water should first
be placed in the vessel that is to contain the mixtures of
acid and water, and the acid should be added very
slowly (because a great evolution of heat and steam will
be sure to occur) and should be stirred constantly. Next
slowly pour the acid upon the ground rock, thoroughly
mix, and allow the mixture to stand.
In a couple of hours the reaction will be complete,
and then the mixture is left to dry. As a means of get-
ting rid of any excess of acid, which is likely to be pres-
ent, rich earth, saw-dust or ashes are mixed with the
mass and these serve to neutralize the excess of acid.
The above treatment converts the insoluble phosphoric
acid present in the rock into soluble or available
phosphoric acid, and the acid-treated material is now
known as acid phosphate, or super-phosphate. It is this
form that is generally employed in the manufacture of
Classification of Soils.
Soils have been variously classified by different
writers as regards their differing qualities and composi-
tion. A very practical and convenient method is the
one adopted by Wiley (Vol. 1, page 53, Agricultural
Analysis) which is as follows :
(1) Sand-Soils consisting almost exclusively of sand.
(2) Sandy Loams-Soils containing some humus and
clay, but an excess of sand.
(3) Loams-Soils inclining neither to sand nor clay, and
containing some considerable portions of vegetable
mold, being very pulverulent and easily broken up
into loose and porous masses.
(4) Clays-Stiff soils in which the silicate of alumina and
other fine mineral particles are present in large
(5) Marls-Deposits containing an unusual proportion
of carbonate of lime, with often some potash or phos-
phoric acid resulting from the remains of sea animals
(6) Alkaline-Soils containing carbonate and sulphate
of soda, or an excess of those alkaline and other
soluble mineral substances.
(7) Adobe-A fine grain porous earth of peculiar proper-
(8) Vegetable-Soils containing much vegetable debris in
an advanced state of decomposition. When such
matter predominates, or exists in large proportion
in a soil, the term tule, peat or muck is applied to it.
All of these, save Nos. 6 and 7 are well known and
occur extensively throughout the United States. In
certain arid regions of the West, varieties of No. 6 also
occur in great abundance. In the peninsula of Florida
the only types that .occur in any considerable quantity
are included in divisions Nos. 1 and 8. Probably up-
ward of 90 per cent. of the present arable soils of the
Florida peninsula are included in the first division.
The Growth of Plants Influenced by the Size of Soil
As is well known, the size of soil particles has much
to do with the growth of vegetation. In a general way,
soil particles are ordinarily divided into two classes,
designated the soil "skeleton," which includes all coarse
particles, such as gravel and coarse sand which are
larger than .02 of an inch (.5 millimeter), and "fine
earth" which includes all soil particles smaller than .02
of an inch. The former is valueless as a source of plant
food and is not included in the chemical study made of a
soil. It is the "fine soil only that is ordinary sub-
jected to analysis and all analyses included in this bul-
letin are of those proportions of soils comprised within
this division. Only the percentage of total coarse ma-
terial occurring in each sample is given in the different
analyses. In a physical soil study it is customary to
divide the "fine soil portions into sizes included in six
divisions, as follows:
Medium sand........ .02 to .01 inches, .5 to .25 millimeter.
Fine sand............. .01 to .004 .25 to .1 "
Very fine sand...... .004 to .002 .10 to .05 '
Silt.................... .002 to .0004 .05 to .01 "
Fine silt............... 0004 to .0002 .01 to .005 "
Clay less than ...... .0002 less than .005 "
In order to show the extreme fineness of some of the
smaller particles, Snyder (Bulletin 41 Minn. Exp. Sta.,
page 59) estimates that it would require at least five
thousand clay particles, laid side by side, to measure an
inch. The very fine sand, silt and clay, are only stones
of microscopic size. Much depends upon the form of
these different particles. If they are irregular and an-
gular they fit together more closely and make a more
compact soil than when they are in the form of small
Density of Soils.
As is well known the various classes of soils possess
different weights, and a soil in good tilth weighs less per
cubic foot, than one which has been packed by tramp-
ing, such as a road, or a well-pastured field. It would
be interesting to discuss here the distinction between the
apparent and real specific gravities of soils, but such a
discussion would come more properly in a physical study
which it is hoped can be undertaken at a later day, and
we have not space for it at this time.
Schubler (Stockbridge Rocks and Soils, page 153)
estimates the weights per cubic foot of different types of
soil to be as follows:
Sand .................. ......... ................... ......1.10 pounds.
Sand and clay........ ................................... .... ... 96 "
Common arable soil ........................................ 80 to 90 "
H eavy clay................................... ... ...... .............. 75
Vegetable mold .............................................. ....... 78
Peat ........ ......................... ......................... 30 to 50 "
It is usually the case that the specific gravity of a
soil decreases inversely as its content of humus.
Humus and Its Influence on the Fertility of the Soil.
It is impossible to assign a definite formula to humus.
It is a combination of several complicated organic com-
pounds, which are found during processes of decay. It
,serves our purpose to regard various forms of humus
bodies as "mixtures of many substances, mostly of acid
nature, undergoing decomposition under conditions
which partially exclude free access of oxygen." Be-
sides the four elements, carbon, hydrogen, oxygen
and nitrogen, which are the chief components of humus,
it also contains certain quanttities of sulphur, phos-
phorus, and iron in organic combination. The amount of
this humus present in soils is influenced largely by the
character of the vegetation growing upon the latter and
the method of cultivation employed. This organic matter
(humus) of soils is of great importance and a supply of it
must be kept up because it takes such an important part
in maintaining fertility. A good way to do this is to
practice a good system of crop rotation and employ well
prepared farm manures. Where it is convenient to
employ such a system, the necessity for purchasing com-
mercial fertilizers will be greatly relieved and, thus, at
least a large portion of the $36,000,000 that are now
annually expended in this direction by the farmers of
the country will be avoided. It sometimes happens that
surface soils are rich in phosphates and nitrogen, while
sub-soils contain larger proportions of potash and lime
than of other constituents. Under such conditions, a
good system of crop rotation will be the most effective
method for bringing the soil and the sub-soil into a con-
dition of equilibrium by uniformly disseminating the
predominating fertilizing ingredients of each, thereby
placing the soil in a desirable state for cultivation.
Something more concerning crop rotation will be said in
a subsequent chapter.
One of the ever present and most substantial com-
ponents of humus is nitrogen, and the importance of this
element, as a plant-food, has been frequently mentioned
in these pages. It is an important constituent of all
animal fluids and tissues, and, in the vegetable kingdom,
it is known to enter into the composition of all plants.
It is found in largest proportions in the leaves, flowers
and seed of the latter. When all plants are deprived of
an adequate supply of nitrogen they exhibit a sickly
yellowish appearance and will fail to produce a satisfac-
tory yield of seed. Now, humus is known to be one of
the chief sources of supply of nitrogen, (since, as has
been stated, this element invariably enters into its com-
position), and this is one reason why this material is so
favorably regarded by the intelligent agriculturist.
A careful observation of the sandy soils of Florida
during the last five years, together with a chemical study
of them as revealed herein, makes it apparent that, in a
large number of instances, they are deficient in humus,
and, with a proper supply of this substance, there appears
to be no doubt that very often their productive capacity
can be largely increased. That they are deficient in
humus is revealed not only by the chemical analysis,
but by the sickly yellowish (instead of dark green)
appearance of green crops growing upon them. Other
indications of an insufficient supply are:
(1) The ease with which certain leguminous crops
thrive upon them because of their ability, indirectly, to
attract nitrogen from the air, whilst other green crops,
not being able thus to appropriate nitrogen, and which
are, therefore, dependent chiefly on humus for their
needed supply of this element, fail to make a satisfactory
(2) The rapidity with which they part with water
after rains and irrigation. Sufficient stores of humus
would enable them to retain moisture much more effectu-
ally, and, as a result, crops growing upon them would
be less likely to suffer from drouth.
Our present knowledge of the value of humus as a
soil renovator and the experience of numerous scientific
investigators, who have devoted much study to the sub-
ject, warrant the assertion that thin sandy soils, contain-
ing an insufficient supply of decomposing organic matter,
can be very greatly improved by supplying to them suf-
ficient quantities of this substance. How best to do this,
under different circumstances, is a question that every
farmer must settle for himself. One admirable source of
supply of this humus to the soil is well-rotted stable
manure, but, unfortunately, it is seldom the case that
this substance is present in sufficient quantities on a farm
to supply all demands. Where it occurs in sufficient
quantities to do this, there is no better source, either of
humus or phosphoric acid, potash and nitrogen. But
because of the insufficiency of it, it nearly always becomes
necessary for the farmer to resort to other means for sup-
plying the needed amount of humhus, and it is now known
that "green manuring" is not only the most economical,
but the most effectual method, as well, for accomplishing
this result. By "green manuring" is meant planting cer-
tain crops upon a soil and subsequently plowing them
under for the purpose of improving both its chemical and
mechanical condition. Any vegetable growth, even green,
or dry stubble, is valuable for this purpose, but accurate
experiments have demonstrated that the legumes (beans,
peas, clover, vetches, lupines, etc.,) are greatly to be prefer-
red for supplying soils with the needed humus, as well as
nitrogen, for it has been already stated that this family
of plants have the ability to utilize atmospheric nitrogen
during growth and furnish it to the soil when they die
and decay. They are enabled thus to employ nitrogen
through the agency of certain bacteria that live and die
in the nodules that occur on the roots of this family of
plants. These bacteria appropriate the free atmospheric
nitrogen, and it is eventually transformed into plant-
food. Not only do these vegetable fertilizers, and stable
manure as well, add new elements of fertility to the
soil, but they change a part of the inert phosphates,
potash and lime already in the soil, into available forms.
Some of the leguminosix are better suited to particu-
lar soils than others. Some will grow upon soils that
others will not thrive upon. Some thrive best under one
climatic condition and some another. Here in Florida,
the aim of the Station authorities has been to ascertain,
by means of practical tests, the particular varieties that
succeed best in our sandy soils and peculiar climate. Of
course, as is well known, varieties of the common field-
pea are usually well adapted to our conditions, but, in
many localities, even this plant has not done as well as
was hoped for. There are certain sections in which it
does not flourish and where other legumes have given
better results. Two, at least, are deserving of mention in
this connection, and brief reference will now be made to
The Beggar Weed (Desmodium molle) as a
Florida clover, or beggar weed, has proven itself to
be admirably adapted to the sandy soils of this State.
Not only does it gather nitrogen fr. m the air and enrich
the soils with it, but, by means of its long roots, it pene-
trates soils, to considerable depths, in search of food and
brings it nearer the surface, where it is placed in reach of
all cultivated crops of ordinary habits or growth. Flori-
da clover grows in various portions of the State and ana-
lyses, in this laboratory, have shown it to possess exceed-
ingly high feeding value. It appears to be equal to the
best meadow hay in this respect and all stock consume it
with great relish. Here, in Florida, it is already highly
prized by some for planting upon worn sandy soils, to
improve their mechanical condition, and the great merit
it possesses for this purpose, and its high feeding
value, are sure to bring it, eventually, into more gen-
eral use. It is a wild, rank grower in many sections,
and can be made to flourish without effort, anywhere,
and will produce several crops of forage in the
course of a single season. It cannot be too highly com-
mended as a renovating agent on the worn sandy soils of
The Velvet Bean (Dolichos multiflorus.).
Another legume that has lately come into prominence
and that promises to be a valuable agent in reclaiming
the worn soils of Florida, and also a most excellent food
for stock, is the velvet bean. During the past two years,
the Station here has been conducting experiments with
this plant and the results have been very promising.
It is now known that the plant will grow luxuriantly
all over the State and stock of all kinds are exceedingly
fond of it. The practical results in feeding it have been
all that could be desired, and the limited study that we
have been able to give to it in this laboratory has indi-
cated that it is fully up to the best of the legumes in
In the near future, it is proposed to make a complete
chemical study of this plant in different stages of growth
and publish the information for the benefit of the farm-
ers. There is scarcely a doubt that it will yet play an
important part, not only in solving the forage problem
in Florida, but in improving both the mechanical condi-
tion and productive capacity of our thin, sandy lands, by
increasing their stores of both nitrogen and humus and
exerting various other beneficial effects.
The limit of this bulletin forbids a more extended
discussion of the beneficial effects of humus, but, briefly,
the more important are:
(1) It renders sandy soils more compact and reten-
tive of moisture, and clay soils more porous, thus insur-
ing better drainage of the latter, and it also increases the
capacity of soils for absorbing the sun's rays.
(2) It prevents over-heating of soils and contributes
to a uniformity of temperature during summer and
(3) It enables all soils better to withstand drouth by
retaining in them large quantities of moisture. Its
action on sandy soils in this respect, appears to be simi-
lar to the action of fine clay in stiff soils. In illustration
of this, an instance in point is as follows: In bulletin
No. 41, of the Minnesota Experiment Station, is given the
result of an experiment to ascertain the value of humus
as a retainer of moisture. Two soils (new and old) were
selected from near Crookston, in the Red River valley,
for conducting the experiment, and the following were
the results obtained by Professor Snyder, who had charge
of the work:
NEW SOIL. OLD SOIL.
CULTIVATED TWO YEARS. CULTIVATED TWENTY-ONE YEARS.
Humus, 3.75 per cent. Humus, 2.50 per cent.
Water, 16.48 per cent. Water, 12.14 per cent.
It will be noted that there is a difference of 4.34 per
cent. of water in the above example, in favor of the soil
with the larger amount of humus, and this is equivalent
to three pints of water to a cubic foot of soil, quite a large
(4) By converting the inert phosphoric acid, potash
and lime of. the soil into soluble humates, etc., humus
renders a large proportion of each of these constituents
available, and thus materially increases the quantity of
of assimilable plant-food in soils.
(5.) Nitrogen, being a constituent of humus, a large
quantity of this element is contributed to soils through
(6.) Fallowing materially increases the supply of
humus, and consequently of available plant-food, in a
soil, but at the expense of a considerable loss of the lat-
ter. When this method of increasing the store of humus
is resorted to, it is usually the case that the inert plant-
food of the followed land is rendered available more rap-
idly than it can be appropriated by subsequent crops,
and thus a great deal of it leaches out and is wasted. It
will depend upon circumstances, and must be settled by
every farmer for himself, whether it is desirable to adopt
this method for increasing the supply of humus in his
Nitrification and Rotation of Crops.
The term "nitrification" has reference to that pro-
cess occurring in the soil, whereby its inert or unavail-
able organic nitrogen is converted into soluble nitrates
and ammonia salts. These changes must always occur
before soil nitrogen can be assimilated. The conditions
which influence favorably this nitrification are as follows:
(1) Porosity, which facilitates the circulation of air
through the soil, and this, of course, insures
the presence, of oxygen, one of the essentials
(2) Moisture, but either an excess or great deficiency
must be avoided, for both conditions greatly
retard the nitrifying process.
(3) Temperature. This, too, is a matter of great con-
sequence, The preferable temperature is about
36.60 C or 980 F. The nitrification may pro-
ceedin a measure, however, within limits
ranging from 4.4 C (400 F) to 54.4 C
Under proper management, all soils may be brought
into conditions favorable for nitrification. Where the pro-
cess is interfered with, or the conditions are unfavorable,
all farming operations should be conducted with a view to
remedying all retarding influences.
Referring to the principles to be observed in prac-
ticing crop rotation, Dr. Oemler, in his Truck Farming
at the South," has this to say:
"Neither the areas nor the varieties of crops of the truck
farmer are sufficient to enable him always to practice regular
courses of rotation; nor should a lack of manure ever compel
their strict observance, but he should aim:
"First-To have a crop which succeeds another as dissimi-
lar in composition and the demand it makes upon the soil as
Second-Never to have plants of the same family succeed
each other. For instance, melons should not follow cucumbers,
tomatoes should not follow eggplants or Irish potatoes; beans
should not succeed peas, or vice versa.
"Third-Tuberous plants should not be allowed to follow
plants of the same character.
"Fourth-Roots should not succeed root crops, as turnips,
"Fifth-Deep or tap-rooted plants should succeed others of
"Sixth-To make the heaviest application of manure to
such crops as require most, as cabbage, onions, etc., and have
other crops succeed these requiring less, as tomatoes, egg-plant,
etc., so that the whole farm may be gradually brought to the
same degree of fertility."
Other benefits of rotation are the destruction of noxious
weeds and parasitic fungi and insects.
Writing upon the subject of rotation in gardening,
Newman (Bulletin No. 44 Ark. Exp. Station) has this to
Rotation should be practiced with system in every garden;
not alone for the soil's recuperation, but also to lessen the attacks
of insects and fungous diseases.
The various vegetables, whether grown for market or home
use, occupy the soil different lengths of time, making it possible
to produce half a dozen or more crops on the same plot of soil
within the space of twelve months. As an illustration of this rapid
rotation, the following schedule gives the crops grown at the
Southern Branch Station in 1894 on a plot of ground 10x45
feet: (1) Radishes were planted in the early spring in rows 2
feet apart; later, (2) lettuce was transplanted into rows marked off
between the radishes; the radishes came off in six weeks, and their
rows were prepared and planted in (3) snap beans; every other
row of lettuce was planted in (4) corn when the lettuce was cut;
the beans were followed by (5) lettuce, and the corn and lettuce
by (6) onions and (7) radishes. In 1885 another plot, 15x45
feet, was occupied by (1) onions in January and part of Febru-
ary. The onions were used for bunching, and the plot planted
in (2) Irish potatoes on the 25th of February. Early in March,
(3) English peas and (4) corn were planted in every alternate
potato middle. (5) Beans were planted in corn rows late in
April-two hills of beans between each hill of corn. In the
latter part of June, the corn and beans were followed by (6) cow-
peas, broadcast. (7) Spinach was planted early in October after
the peas, and (8) radishes and (9) lettuce alternated in the
spinach middles. This rapid change of crops will, to some ex-
tent, have a tendency to decrease the attacks of both fungi and
insects, if only such plants are used as are not of close Botanic
relation. The majority of the plants will have been removed
before the insects or fungi attacking them have reached the
degree of development necessary for propagation.
When a plant ceases to fruit or there is no further use for
it, it should be at once removed, if diseased, and destroyed. The
plot should then be manured, prepared and planted again. No
garden spot should remain idle. If there is no particular use to
which it can be put after the removal of a crop, nothing is better
than planting in cowpeas if vacant in spring or summer, and rye
or crimson clover in fall. The rye and clover plowed under
green will enrich the soil after affording winter protection. No
matter in how quick succession one crop follows another, the
soil, as a rule, should be manured before each planting, using
fermented and well decomposed manures. Fresh or unfermented
manures often act disastrously to growing crops. No manure is
better than well rotted stable manure, and results from it fre-
quently are better the second than the first year. Its bulk mate-
rially affects the physical properties of the soil, and the quality
of many vegetables is dependent more upon the physical condi-
tion of the soil in which they are grown than upon its fertility.
Some Points on Irrigation and Drainage.
The questions of irrigation and drainage are demand-
ing more and more every year the attention of eastern
and southern truckers and fruit growers. Under many
circumstances the economy of both can be no longer ques-
tioned and the pecuniary benefits tobe derived from their
practice in all cases where drouths or excess of water are
likely is no longer a matter of conjecture. In this
connection, the following comments, taken from Far-
mers Bulletin No. 56, of the United States Department of
Agriculture, upon certain experiments conducted by King,
(Wisconsin Station) and Raine, (New Hampshire Station)
are very interesting and possess much practical value.
Says the aforesaid bulletin:
King has found that even in favorable seasons in Wisconsin,
which is in the so-called humid region, the rainfall does not sup-
ply sufficient moisture to produce maximum crops. During the
season of 1896, in which the rainfall was normal in that State, a
variety of crops was irrigated with profit, notwithstanding the
fact that the irrigation plant employed was not used to its full
capacity and thus the cost of irrigating was higher than it need
be. The profit from irrigation was on corn, $2.16 per acre;
potatoes, $11.70; clover hay (irrigating second crop only,) $1.72 ;
cabbages, planted thin, $2.43, planted thick, $29. "The great
lesson," says King, "to be learned from these results is that we
must have an abundance of water in order that our crops may
avail themselves of the plant food stored in our soils, not that
water is everything, but the fertility of the soil counts for naught
The above statements give us some idea of the great and
increasing importance of irrigation to the American farmer.
Recent investigations on this important subject have given some
results of considerable practical value, and it is the purpose of
this article to briefly summarize these results.
The greatest profit is derived from irrigation where inten-
sive farming is practiced, In fact, the practice of irrigation
naturally leads to intensive farming. In such farming the aim
should be to economize all the elements of fertility, to utilize
water, fertilizer, labor, etc, to the best possible advantage. If
fertilizers are used they will give the best returns if kept in the
upper layers of the soil, where they can be fully utilized by the
plant. If irrigation is practiced, also, the amount of water
applied should not be excessive, otherwise the fertilizing mate-
ria!s are either washed into the lower layers of the soil where
they cannot be utilized by the plant, or are entirely removed in
the drainage. It thus keeps the valuable fertilizing constituents
of the soil within easy reach of the crop. On "alkali" soils,
however, under the above conditions the corrosive poisonous alka-
line salts would accumulate at the surface to the destruction or
great injury of the crop.
Methods of applying irrigation water, especially surface irri-
gation and subirrigation, have been tested by a number of the
experiment stations in both arid and humid regions. The results
have generally been unfavorable to subirrigation. The laying
of the underground pipes necessary in this system is of course
expensive, and, moreover, it is difficult, if not impossible, in sub-
irrigation to obtain a uniform distribution of the water through-
out the soil on account of the fact that while water moves up
and down in the soil with comparative rapidity it moves from
side to side very slowly. The irrigation pipes being out of sight
it is impossible to note the movement of the water with accuracy.
The soil immediately surrounding the pipes may become exces-
sively wet, while a large proportion of the soil between the pipes
is insufficiently irrigated. Moreover, a considerable amount of
the water may pass down into the lower layers of the soil with-
out being of the slightest benefit to the crop. King found that
a given amount of water was much more effective in increasing
the yield of corn when applied by surface irrigation than when
applied by subirrigation.
Raine, of the New Hampshire Experiment Station, in experi-
ments with celery on clay loam soil "with water applied both
through ditches for surface irrigation and through tiles below
the reach of the plow for subirrigation" found that the latter
system required much more water than the former for the same
[A method of tile irrigation which he has found to possess
decided advantages over ordinary subirrigation] was to place
common porous 24-inch drain tiles in a continuous row, end to
end, on the surface of the soil, vegetables being planted on either
or both sides of the line. The tiles were 1 foot long, and by
pouring in the water at one end of the line it was distributed at
the joints throughout the length desired when the opposite end
was stopped up. Take celery as an example crop for irrigation
on uplands. We plant the celery as above stated, and while it is
young we have simple surface irrigation; but as the crop grows
we bank it up, and finally have the tiles covered, and thus have
subirrigation. The tiles are cheap and last indefinitely. When
the celery is harvested, the tiles are dug out also and piled up or
used for subirrigation in the greenhouse beds. Potatoes and
various other crops can be grown in the same way. The celery
watered this year grew well and did not rust. Besides this, we
were able to water twenty times as much space in the same time
as in the ordinary way with ditches. Besides saving time, this
plan delivers water where it is most needed, and we have reason
to believe is fully as economical with water as with time.
Experiments during two seasons have shown that with this
method the plants did fully as well as in the other systems and
with less water."
Where irrigating is to be done on a large scale, it seems to
be the consensus of opinion that surface irrigation by means of
furrows is undoubtedly the most practical method. In green-
houses and gardens subirrigation by means of tiles may often be
found advisable. Furthermore, many soils need drainage and
require the laying of tile. On such soil it may be possible to
combine drainage and subirrigation economically, and the Wis-
consin Experiment Station is at present studying this subject.
Effects of Subsoiling.
Upon the question of subsoiling, the same bulletin
has this to say:
A question of the greatest importance in regions of deficient
rainfall or where irrigation is practiced is the storage capacity of
the soil for water. When the soil is thoroughly loosened up, the
amount of water which it will hold is greatly increased, and the
rise of water to the surface and evaporation are checked. Experi-
ments at the Wisconsin and Nebraska Experiment Stations have
shown the beneficial effects in these respects of subsoiling. On
this point the Nebraska station makes the following suggestions:
Subsoil plowing, although a means of conserving moisture,
does not produce it, and is, therefore, not a substitute for irriga-
tion where the rainfall is too small to produce crops.
Where there is a hard, dry subsoil, subsoil plowing is to be
Where the subsoil is loose, gravelly, or sandy, subsoiling is
probably unnecessary, or may even be injurious.
Do not subsoil when the soil is very wet, either above or
beneath, as there is great danger of puddling the soil, thus leaving
it in worse condition than before. This is one of the reasons why
it is better to subsoil in the fall than in the spring.
If the ground be subsoiled in the fall, the winter and spring
rains have ample opportunity to soak in, that being the season of
greatest rainfall and least evaporation. (In the Florida penin-
sula the "rainy season occurs, of course, during the summer
Subsoiling in the spring may be a positive detriment if the
subsoil be extremely dry, as in that case the rain water is par-
tially removed from the young plant by the absorption of the
bottom soil. If the spring rains were heavy, this would not be a
It is probable that the increased yields on subsoiled lands
are mainly, if not entirely, due to the increased amount of water
which such land is able to store up for the use of the crop. Sub-
soil plowing may thus be made the means of greatly extending
the area over which crops may be successfully grown without
irrigation, and when practiced in connection with irrigation may
result in a great saving of irrigation water. As indicated above,
however, before deciding upon the advisability of subsoiling it is
necessary to ascertain, among other things, the nature and con-
dition of the soil and subsoil."
Interpretation of Analyses.
In order that the analyses given in these pages may
be of practical benefit to the farmers it is not enough sim-
ply to publish pages of tables which, to the uneducated,
will convey no meaning. It is important that informa-
tion be given that will enable all to derive benefit from a
careful study of such tables. Columns of figures set oppo-
site "meaningless names are of no practical value to
The tables of analyses herein express the percentage
composition of the various soils. That is, they tell
how many pounds of the various soil constituents
are present in each hundred pounds of the sample
of air-dried soil taken for analysis. For example,
suppose that in reporting the proportion of insol-
uble residue present in a soil sample the figures
95.8450 are employed: This simply means that
in each hundred pounds of the soil (air-dried) there
are present ninety-five (and the fraction given) pounds of
this insoluble residue, consisting of sand, insoluble sili-
cates, etc. It will also be noticed that in the printed
tables the figures are carried out to the fourth decimal
place. There were two reasons for so doing. One was
that some of the soil constituents occurred in such small
proportions that if only two decimals had been employed
it frequently would have happened that a soil would
fail to show any quantity of a particular element pres-
ent when, as a matter of fact, several hundred pounds
of that element may have occurred in each acre of that
soil from the surface to a depth of one foot. Another rea-
son was, the employment of four decimals enables the
figures to be converted into a meaning which an ordinary
reader, unfamiliar with chemical tables, can readily inter-
pret. If the decimal point is removed, each number
given represents so many pounds in a million (or five
hundred tons). Then if Prof. Johnson's estimate of four
million pounds (two thousand tons) be approximately the
weight of the soil on one acre to the depth of one foot, it
is easy to ascertain the amount, in pounds, of any soil
constituent in a similar area.
Suppose, for instance, that the figures .0583 are
employed in reporting the quantity of potash occurring
in a soil: This simply means that there are present 583
pounds of potash in each million pounds of soil, and
then, since according to Johnson, the average weight of
a soil to the depth of one foot on an acre, is four million
pounds, and since there were present about 583 pounds
of potash in each million pounds, then one acre (four
million pounds) would contain 2,332 pounds of this ma-
terial. The same calculation will apply to every other
constituent in the analysis which are reported in four
decimals. A more approximate estimate of the quantity
of the several constituents present in the sandy soils
reported herein, can be had by employing the figures of
Stockbridge reported in a previous table and applying
especially to sandy soils. Those employed above were
average figures for different soil types, According to
Stockbridge, the approximate weight of a cubic foot of
sandy soil is 110 pounds. Then, a similar calculation to
the one above will show that an acre of such soil to a
depth of one foot will weigh 4,791,600 pounds (instead of
4,000,000 pounds), and the quantity of the several soil
constituents will increase proportionately. It should not
be forgotten, however, that far the greater proportion of
this potash, etc., is in an unavailable form and is likely to
remain so for an indefinite period. At present, there is no
method by which the chemist can, in his laboratory, ascer-
tain with precision, the amount of the several elements that
plants can employ, but it is known that only in the case
of virgin soils, in this State, is it ever safe to rely on
them, without administering to them fertilizer treatment.
And it is not always the case that even the virgin soils
are naturally productive, as will be indicated in the sub-
sequent analyses. It will be noticed that in all tables
the soil elements are reported in the form of "oxids."
This method of reporting analyses is universally em-
ployed because of its convenience in affording a simple
and uniform method for recording analytical results.
Soil constituents do not actually exist in the soil as
" oxids," because of their active chemical behavior toward
one another. All metalic oxids invariably combine with
the soil acids to form chemical salts. Thus calcium oxid
and sulphuric acid form calcium sulphate, and the same
oxid with carbon dioxid to form calcium carbonate, etc.
There are two points in connection with the estima-
tion of the mineral matter in soils that the chemist must
keep in view. First, he must ascertain the total quan-
tity of such matter in the soil, and second, he must de-
termine the proportion of mineral constituents that are
more easily brought into solution, and hence are in con-
dition to be appropriated in the growth of plants. A
large proportion of the potash, soda, etc., of soils is in
the form of complex silicates, formed by the union of
these elements with sand, and plant-food in this form is
of no value to the agriculturist. It is generally custom-
ary to divide the plant-food and silicates of the soil into
(1) Those silicates which exist in such a state as to
require the combined action of strong chemicals and high
heat to decompose them. This class possesses at least no
immediate value to the farmer, since it will require a
number of years for the various disintegrating natural
forces to liberate any appreciable quantity of plant food
(2) This class comprises what are known as the
zeolitic silicates. In this division the plant food is in a
more soluble form, and is dissolved by the chemist in a
hot 22.9 per cent hydrochloric acid solution (sp. gr. 1.
115). It is believed that hydrochloric acid of this
strength represents the limit of the solvent action of the
various organic acids of plant roots, etc., and hence, in-
cludes all material that can possibly be available to
growing crops. The solvents that act upon soils while
crops are growing are the acid sap of plant roots and the
dissolved mineral and organic salts. In some plants one
acid will predominate and in some another. Thus, in
lemons citric acid is present, in apples malic acid is
found, and in grapes tartaric acid predominates. Fre-
quently the sap of one plant will contain several acids.
Now, since the several organic acids possess varying solv-
ent powers it follows that plants containing different
acids will possess different capacities for deriving their
food from soils.
Various organic acids of different strengths have been
tried in the laboratory with a view to approximating the
total solvent action of plants on the soil, among them,
citric, tartaric and oxalic acids, but nearly all practical
experiments have served to prove that hydrochloric acid
of the above strength more accurately approximates re-
sults obtained from practical experiments than all others,
and hence, it is more universally employed as the solvent
for available plant food. It is the soil solution of this
acid that is employed in all analyses given in this bul-
(3) This class comprises all silicates and other com-
pounds of potash, soda, lime, magnesia, phosphorus, etc.,
which are easily soluble in the soil water and weak (di-
lute) organic acids. In this division is included the
most available, and hence, the most valuable of the soil
ingredients, but, unfortunately, plant food in this form
occurs only in very small amounts. Rarely is it the case
that more than a few hundredths of a pound of a plant
food occur in this form in a hundred pounds of soils.
It is impossible to fix an arbitrary standard by which
the chemist can adjudge precisely concerning the fertility
of soils. In would be a risky thing for him to do to as-
sert positively that a soil must analyze a certain definite
quantity of each soil constituent in order to be productive
through one or several seasons. As has been stated, in
our present state of chemical knowledge he can only pre-
dict with a moderate degree of positiveness because of his
inability to ascertain the exact amount of any soil ele-
ment that is present in an available form. It is gener-
ally true, however, that if a soil shows a high percentage
of all plant food constituents it will prove productive, but
on the other hand, it is not true that every soil which
shows a low percentage of plant food is unproductive.
Here in Florida there are many soils that are apparently
very deficient in certain plant food elements, when com-
pared with the soils of other States, and yet the yields
obtained from them are entirely satisfactory. These soils
may continue to produce good yields for a few years, but
there is sure to come a time when they will fail to do so,
and then will it be necessary to fertilize them before they
can be made to produce. Where there is present only a
limited amount of plant food at the most, it is not likely
that any great proportion of it exists in a form that will
permit of plants employing it in growth, and, even in the
case of virgin soils, it cannot be expected that they
will last longer than a few years in any event.
Prof. Hilgard, probably the most eminent authority
on the Chemistry of soils, has this to say in reference to
the quantity of soil elements that should be present be-
fore a soil can be regarded as possessing lasting fer-
"The lime percentage should not fall below 0.1 per cent. in
the lightest sandy soils; in clay loams not below 0.25 per cent.,
and in heavy clay soils not below 0.5 per cent; and it may ad-
vantageously rise to 1 and even 2 per cent. as a maximum. Be-
yond the latter figure it seems in no case to act more favorably
than a less amount, unless it be mechanically.
"The percentage of phosphoric acid is that which, in connec-
tion with the lime, seems to govern most commonly the produc-
tiveness of our virgin soils. In any of these, less than .05 must
be regarded as a serious deficiency, unless accompanied by a
large amount of lime. In sandy loams, 0.1 per cent., when ac-
companied by a fair supply of lime, secures fair productiveness
for from eight to fifteen years; with a deficiency of lime, twice
that percentage would only serve for a similar time.
"The potash percentages of soils seem, in a large number of
cases, to vary with that of 'clay;' that is, in clay soils they are
usually high, in sandy soils low; and since subsoils are in all ord-
inary cases more clayey than surface soils, their potash percent-
ages are almost invariably higher.
"The potash percentage of heavy clay upland soil, and clay
loams, ranges from about 0.8 to 0.5 per cent; lighter loams from
0.45 to 0.30 per cent; sandy loams below 0.3 per cent. and sandy
soils of great depth may fall below 0.1 per cent. consistently with
good productiveness and durability. Virgin soils falling below
0.6 per cent. in potash seem in most cases to be deficient in
available potash, its application to such soils being followed by
an immediate great increase of production. Sometimes, however,
a soil very rich in lime and phosphoric acid, shows good produc-
tiveness, despite a very low potash percentage, and conversely, a
high potash percentage seems capable of offsetting a low one of
It will be observed that only the lime, phosphoric
acid and potash are referred to in the above quotation
from Prof. Hilgard. This is because these are the only
three mineral constituents that are likely to be deficient,
and since all others are generally present in sufficient
quantities to last for an indefinite period, it is seldom nec-
essary to give them attention. It is worthy of notice, in
this connection, to remark, that, while it is usually the
case that soils contain a sufficient store of all mineral
plant foods, a careful inspection of the analysis, contained
herein, will reveal the fact that many Florida soils ap-
pear to be lacking in magnesium, and an application of
this element, in appropriate form where certain crops are
to be grown doubtless will prove satisfactory. Where a
soil seems to be deficient in this element, an excellent
way to provide it will be to apply the Double Salt (Sul-
phate) of Potash and Magnesia, using about twice the
quantity that would be required of either high grade
Sulphate or Muriate of Potash, for fertilizing. In this
way, both elements can be applied simultaneously, since
the above salt contains a considerable quantity of each.
The hints, given above, will be of great value in inter-
preting results, and should be carefully studied and thorough-
ly understood, before considering the analytical tables.
It is in order now to apply what has been said to
the various analyses included in this report. The lack of
space will compel us to be as brief as possible with this
feature of the bulletin. Where the various soils in a county
are of the same character, and almost identical, it will
not be necessary to separately consider them in de-
tail in every instance. Many inferences will be left for
each individual to interpret for himself, in the light of
the information that has been placed before him. Only
points worthy of general notice will be considered, and
minor details will generally be omitted. In studying
the several soils, it is deemed best to disregard county
alphabetical arrangement and consider them geographic-
ally. Beginning, then, with the southern portion of the
peninsula, the soils of the various counties will be studied
according to this plan, and the first ones considered will
be those of Dade County.
The soils of Dade County may be included under
five divisions, as follows:
(1) Dark Sand, (2) Rocky Land, (3) White Sand,
(4) Mucks, (5) Prairie.
An average sample of division 4 is included in the
chapter devoted to Florida mucks. No sample of prairie
soil was sent for analysis.
Nos. 10 and 11 include a soil of the first type, Nos.
DADE COUNTY SOILS.
"Dark Sand "Rocky" Rocky"
Soil Sub-Soil Surface Sub-Soil Soil Sub-Soil
Station Number.................... 10 11 14 15 19 20
Coarse Earth...................... 4.83 5.93
Fine Earth........................ 95.17 94.07
Humus ............................ .47 4.55
Nitrogen...................... ... .0126 .0602
Moisture at 100G............... .1720 1.7840
Insoluble Residue ................ 97.8770 89.7625
Potash (K,0)................... .0965 .0183
Soda (Na.O) ..................... .0861 .1362
Lime (CaO) ....................... .0250 .0150
Magnesia (MgO) ..... ........ .0090 .0450
Ferric oxid (Fe,0,) trace .2941
Alumina (AlO1,) ..... .0185 .3064
Phosphorus Pentoxid( PO,).... 0240 .0320
Chlorin ............................. trace trace
Sulphur Trioxid(SO,) ......... .0428 .0137
Carbon Dioxid (CO,).............. .0000 .0000
Water and Organic Matter....... 1.9780 9.3768
Total ........................... 100.1569 100.0000
TYPE OF SOIL.
14 and 15 and 19 and 20 are samples of the second
division, and Nos. 18 and 17 of the third. The samples
were collected by Messrs. F. A. Soop, F. P. Wilson
and E. Lee, all residing near Lemon City, and are
types of the prevailing soils of the county. Nos. 10 and
11 constitute an uncultivated soil which was taken from
what appeared to be an old channel from the Everglades.
The surface of this soil is very dark. The timber grow-
ing upon it is comparatively small, consisting of scrub
oak, huckleberry, grape vines, etc. There is also a some-
what limited growth of palmetto (both saw and cabbage),
and the soil is fairly covered with a coarse, swamp grass.
The sub-soil was very compact and exceedingly difficult
to disintegrate, after drying, and at a depth of from two
to three feet a sunken shaft exposed water in consider-
able quantities. This soil appears less deficient in pot-
ash than in either phosphoric acid, lime or nitrogen. Far
the larger proportion of the potash is in the surface soil,
while the excess of both nitrogen and phosphoric acid
occurs in the sub-soil. It is deficient in all plant-food
constituents that it is usually necessary to apply, and
should such a virgin soil prove fairly productive at first,
it can not be expected to continue fertile any great length
of time without fertilization, especially if devoted to truck-
ing and fruit growing. When employed for these pur-
poses, liberal fertilization from the beginning will doubt-
less prove profitable.
Nos. 14 and 15 and 19 and 20 (virgin rocky soil),
taken from the Biscayne Bay region, appear to be ex-
ceedingly deficient in potash, but contain considerably
more lime than the previous sample, and about the same
quantity of phosphoric acid. The occurrence of these
latter constituents in these proportions may render this
type of soils as productive as the preceding type in the
beginning, but like it, it cannot continue to produce sat-
isfactorily for any great length of time without liberal
applications of fertilizer. In this type, the soil proper ex-
tends to a depth of twelve to fourteen inches, and from
this depth a change of color appears, the greyish sand
becoming whiter with depth. Commenting on this soil,
Mr. Soop writes: The Rocky Soil' produces the densest
growth of palmetto, both saw and small cabbage, also, of
scrub oak, comptie, etc., as well as very large pine timber."
Nos. 18 and 17 (White Sand) were forwarded by Mr.
E. Lee, of Lemon City. Unlike the "Rocky" soil, no
rocks appear on the surface of this land, but are found at
depths, ranging from two to ten feet. The timber grow-
ing upon it is smaller than that upon the "Rocky," and
much less palmetto is noticed growing upon it, and the
growth of grass is also very limited.
This soil contains far less humus than the preceding
types, and crops growing upon it will doubtless suffer
much more from drouths. It is exceedingly deficient in
nitrogen and potash, less so in phosphoric acid, while its
per cent. of lime (especially in the case of the soil proper)
is far larger than in any other type previously reported.
The per cent. of iron oxid and magnesia are likewise no-
ticeably small in this soil (as well as in some others) and
experiments, with a view to supplying these deficiencies,
would seem desirable. Magnesia, though, for general
purposes, is not much regarded as a plant-food. A growth
of beggar-weed, velvet bean, or ordinary field pea upon
this soil, would increase the humus supply, as well as
that of nitrogen, thus greatly improving it and render-
ing the purchase of a large amount of a costly nitro-
genous fertilizer unnecessary. Reference to the table of
averages of the different counties will show that the soils
of Dade County, as a whole, are, as regards the three
chief essentials, most deficient in potash and least in nitro-
gen. They are, at the same time, more or less deficient
in all. As regards lime, they come just within the limit
prescribed by Hilgard, and contain the average amount
of this material usually found in the average sandy soils
of the peninsula. Except in case of the type designated,
" White Sand," they seem fairly well supplied with humus.
It may often be the case that those types of soil showing
relatively large supplies of humus, are somewhat sour.
This can be remedied, either by thoroughly plowing and
exposing the soil to some depth, thus allowing a more ready
action of the air, or, else, more rapidly, by administering,
in such cases, small applications of water-slaked lime.
These suggestions should be sufficient to enable every
thinking farmer to become somewhat intimate with his
soil and its requirements.
In reference to the samples of Lee County soils given
in the table, it may be well to state in the beginning
that sample No. 29, (General Sub-soil) is the sub-soil to
each of the other numbers except No. 1. The collector
reported that the same character of sub-soil prevailed
throughout the different areas from which the several
samples were taken. All samples save No. 1 were
selected from various portions of the Experiment Station
Practical experience has demonstrated that there is
much land in Lee County more fertile than any found
on the Experiment Station. Unfortunately, the soils
from the station are not virgin, still, although they have
been cultivated, none of them, except No. 25 (Best Rye)
has ever received any fertilizer.
Sample No. 1 was sent on by Mr. B. H. Barfield, of
Marco. This sample is especially noticeable for its high
per cent of both phosphoric acid and lime. It.is also
quite rich in nitrogen and contains a liberal supply of
humus. It appears to be deficient only in potash, and
in the presence of such a large supply of phosphoric
LEE COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL.
Station Number..... ...................
"Best Rye." "Peach and "Northeast "General ..auma."
"Best Rye. Plum." Portion." Sub-soil." atu
Soil Soil Soil Soil Sub-soil Soil
1 25 26 28 29 59
Coarse Earth............................. 17.40 4.80
Fine Earth ............................. 82.60 95.20
H umus...... ............................ 3.47 1.37
Nitrogen.................................. .4914 .1162
Moisture at 100 ......... ........ 4.0460 .3300
Insoluble Residue.................. 65.4090 96.4305
Potash (K ,O)........... ................. .0164 .0058
Soda (NaO)........ ...................... .3307 .0242
Lime (CaO)..................... 6.6050 trace
Magnesia (MgO)....... ......... .0290 .0299
Ferric oxid (FeO) 4.4140 .0592
Alumina (AlO3) .............. I
Phosphorus pentoxid (POs) .......... 2.5630 .0208
Chlorin............... ............. ....... .0536 trace
Sulphur dioxid (SO,)............... .0540 .0172
Carbon dioxid [COJ.]................ 4.5940 .0000
Water and organic matter... ...... 16.7740 3.4124
Total ........................... 100.8427 100.0000
acid and lime, it may be that it will prove quite produc-
tive for a while without any fertilizer application. More
likely, though, a liberal dressing of potash would increase
the yield quite perceptibly. This soil gave an alkaline
reaction with test paper, which was to be expected, since
it was thickly interspersed with fine shell particles.
It has never been cultivated, but after an addition of
potash, it certainly ought to prove quite productive after
being put in proper tilth.
The requirements of the remaining soils can be
inferred from what has been already said relative to pre-
ceding analyses. Briefly stated, though, No. 25 is shown
to be most deficient in lime and potash, and somewhat
so in phosphoric acid. It appears to be well supplied
with all other plant-food material. No 26, though
apparently less fertile than 25, appears to be most defi-
cient in the same materials and to require the same gen-
Nos. 28 and 59 appear to be exceedingly poor, and
will doubtless require a complete fertilizer, proportioned
so as to meet the particular requirements of the crop to
be grown. They appear to be fairly well supplied with
humus, but it is entirely probable that a growth upon
them, of one of the legumes previously referred to would
prove beneficial both as regards enriching the soil and
improving its tilth. As is indicated by the names, Nos.
25 and 26 are soil areas lately devoted to growing rye
and fruits respectively.
Sample No. 64, of which only the surface soil is given,
being only one sample, can hardly be said to be typical
of all the farming pine lands of the county. As a whole,
the high pine lands of the county, however, are
probably similar in composition to those of other adjacent
counties, and will require similar treatment. The meth-
od for conducting practical soil test experiments, given in
DESOTO COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL.
Station Number ......................
Salt Salt Pine
Marsh Marsh Land
Soil Sub-soil Soil
4 5 64
Coarse Earth ....... ................ 1.10
Fine Earth............................ 98.90
H um us ............................... .69
Nitrogen ........................... .0994
Moisture at 100C ................... .5960
Insoluble Residue ......... ......... 95.6575
Potash [K,O] ........................ .0212
Soda [Na,O] ..................... .4844
Lime [CaO] ........................ .0750
Magnesia [MgO] .................... .1125
Ferric Oxid [FeO3l ............... .0914
Alumina [AO,3] ................... .1426
Phosphorus pentoxid (PO5) '...... .0160
Chlorin .......... ........... ...... .3657
Sulphur Trioxid [SO,] ............. .3695
Carbon Dioxid [CO,) .............. .0000
Water and Organic Matter ....... 3.1240
Total ............................ 100.4598
subsequent pages, will enable every one interested to as-
certain the needs of the several types, and such experi-
ments should invariably be undertaken.
Sample Nos. 4 and 5 were sent on by Mr. Carl Troil,
a resident of Wetumpka, Ala., who owns land near Punta
Gorda, Fla. The soil is virgin, and the growth upon it
is chiefly marsh grass and no timber. It is located near
salt water. The high per cent. of sodium and chlorin
shown in the analysis indicate that there is an excess of
common salt (sodium chlorid) in this soil-a sufficient
quantity to prove highly injurious to growing crops. In-
deed, it is possible that crops will refuse to make a sub-
stantial growth upon it, without it can be freed from the
objectionable salt accumulation by drainage. It is be-
lieved that if as much as one part of chlorin, per thous-
and, occurs in a soil, it will prove injurious, and it is
shown in the analysis that much more than this amount
is present. It is exceedingly rare to find an excess of chlo-
rin occurring in Florida soils, save in the case of salt
marshes, and for that reason the estimation of chlorin in
nearly all soil samples really might have been omitted.
As regards the essential fertilizing constituents, the sam-
ple appears to be most in need of phosphoric acid, and
next of potash. Even after the excess of salt is removed
from it by drainage, it cannot be expected that it will re-
main long fertile, if fertile at all, if subjected to a contin-
uous system of cropping. Sample 64 is of surface soil
only, and is fairly representative of the surface soils of
the high pine lands comprised in a radius of thirty-three
miles of Wauchula. "The surface soil is gray to a depth
of four inches, and,after that," writes Mr. Clavel, who sent
on the sample, "the color changes to dark brown and
continues so for about nineteen inches." The timber
growing upon the land is high pine, huckleberry bushes,
etc. The soil also contains considerable growths of wire-
grass, wild oats, wild sweet peas, myrtle and saw palmet-
to. This sample is shown to be quite deficient in both
lime and potash. It contains considerably more phos-
phoric acid than either of the above, but, in the absence
of lime, it is not likely that much of it is available.
Probably this soil would respond quite well to applica-
tions of acid phosphate and potash-the former would
provide both, lime and phosphoric acid. It appears
to be fairly well supplied with nitrogen, and it is
not likely that an addition of this element will be nec-
Sample A was analyzed about two years ago,
and it was not intended for publication in this bulletin.
Unfortunately, several important determinations were
omitted. It is believed, nevertheless, that its publication
even in its present form, at this time will be of some ben-
efit, since the sample is typical of a large track of virgin
soil lying near the gulf coast in Manatee county, and the
analysis presents points worthy of consideration. Re-
peated efforts to secure typical Manatee county soils for
analysis in connection with this bulletin resulted in fail-
ure. The present sample connot, of course, be said to
represent the typical Manatee soils. It is simply a type
of what is known locally as "Hammock Marl Land," and
which occurs in large areas in the section from which it
was taken. It is generally regarded by the farmers of
that section as of little or no value. The analysis seems
to indicate that, with proper treatment, this soil can be
made to compare favorably with the best hammock lands
of the State. It seems quite well supplied with. phos-
phoric acid, and while the nitrogen estimate is not
shown, it is likely, from the proportion of volatile matter
(chiefly organic) present, that the soil is fairly well sup-
plied with this element. The quantity of potash is some-
what deficient, though not so much so as was found to be
TYPE OF SOIL. Marl
Station Number .. ................. ............................... Subsoil
Coarse Earth.................................................. ....
F ine E arth............. ............................. ... ............
H umus........ ...................... ... ....... .... .. ... ..... .....
N itrogen .......................... ............ .. ......... .
Moisture at 1000C..... .................. ...................... 1.4080
THE FINE EARTH ANALYZED.
Insoluble Residu ............................................ 56.3440
Potash [K,O]................... ....... .... .... ....... .0467
Soda [Na,O]........... ... ...... ...... ....... ......... .4384
L im e [CaO ]......................... ......... ............... 21.1700
M agnesia [M gO] .... ................ .. .. ..... ...... .1760
Ferric oxid [FeO,] 1.9850
Alumina [AIO,] ............. ......
Phosphorus Pentoxid [P.O] ................ ... ......... .2144
Chlorin................ I .... ..... ....... .. ... ... .4149
Sulphur trioxid [SO31 ....... ........................ .0000
Carbon dioxid [CO.]......................... ... ........ 15.4300
V olatile m atter ........... .................. ......... 2.3000
Total....... .......... ... .......... 98.5190
the case with many other soils. The two most noticeable
characteristics of the sample are the high per cents of
lime and sodium chlorid or common salt-most of the
chlorin being in combination with with sodium to form
this material. Where the location of the land is favora-
ble and drainage (and irrigation, if necessary) can be ac-
complished at moderate expense, the excess of salt can
be removed by this means. Then, by growing forage
crops, with heavy foliage (such as melilotus) upon the
land for several successive years, it will be found
that it will be very greatly improved. In-
deed, such crops, even in the absence of drainage and ir-
rigation, will greatly benefit it. This land will doubtless
require potash fertilization before any other, but in the
presence of so much lime, the supply even of available
potash may last for several years under ordinary crop-
ping. Should the quantity of lime be so large as to prove
injurious to growing vegetation, under the system recom-
mended above, and by growing such crops as the clovers
upon it, and feeding and pasturing the crop, much of
the excess of it will be gotten rid of each year.
This sample, not being a typical soil will not be in-
cluded in the table of averages to be inserted later on.
It was forwarded to the laboratory by Mr. Kline O.
Varn, of Venice, Fla. It was taken to a depth of ten
inches and, as has been stated, is a fair average of this
particular type of soils.
Samples Nos. 12 and 13 were sent on by S. T. Car-
row, of Sewall's Point. They are a type of soil (high
hammock) usually employed in Brevard County, for
growing pineapples. They are not virgin soil. Origi-
nally they were covered with a heavy growth of hard
wood, hickory, oak, bay, etc. Usually, it produces per-
fect pines, with proper fertilization, but here and there in
the field, occur patches upon which they refuse to thrive.
After the first year, they begin to die, and eventually they
appear to entirely starve. Sample No. 12 is from the
portion of the field where the plants grow perfectly, and
No. 13 is taken from a spot where they refuse to thrive.
So far as the chief constituents are concerned, the only
very noticeable difference in the composition of the two
samples appears to be in the lime, and, to a less extent, in
the phosphoric acid, in which No. 12 appears to have
some advantage. This sample is slightly more deficient
in potash than No. 13, but contains more magnesia, iron,
alumina, etc. Fertilizer soil tests will provide the only
definite means for ascertaining if it is due to some plant-
food deficiency. If such tests fail to solve the problem,
BREVARD COUNTY SOILS.
"FOie~ ld Pa "Saw Palmetto ,, General Orange
TYPE OF SOIL. "Field" Patches Scrub" "Yellow Soil" "White Soil" SuG sl
Soil Soil Soil Sub-soil Soil Sub-soil Soil ub-soil Sub-soil
Station Number ................. 12 13 21 22 38 39 40 41 37 X
Moisture at 1000 C ...............
soluble Residue........... 97.5085 98.2100
otash (K,0) ................. 0086 .0111
oda (NaO) ............ ...... 0510 .1285
ime (CaO) .................. .2100 .1075
[agnesia (MgO) ............. .0225 .0099
erric Oxid (Fe,.03) .2345 .1312
lumina (A]LO,) I ....... .1169 .0596
hosphorus pentoxid (P,Os) .0336 .0192
hlorin............................. trace trace
ulphur Trixod (SO) ......... .0145 .0103
arbon Dioxid (CO,).... .0000 .0000
rater and Organic Matter .. 1.7999 1.3127
Total ............................. 100.0000 100.0000
3.20 4.00 11.40 7.90 12.20 5.20 11.70 ......
96.80 96.00 88.60 92.10 87.80 94.80 88.30 ........
.71 .07 .18 .02 .16 .01 .12 ......
.0742 .0126 .0182 .000 .0042 .000 .000 .0261
.4880 i .3140- .1820 .1000 .0400 .0080 .0925 .2100
92.3635 82.8206 97.2875 97.8545 98.6490 99.4480 98.2240 98.1951
.0612 .0564 trace .0077 .0034 .0048 trace .0198
.1911 .2150 .0516 .0492 .0714 .0344 .0781 .0120
2.2325 7.5250 .0400 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .1150
.0207 trace .0090 .0990 .0634 .0036 .0243 .0197
.1 .3375 .8784 .4011 .1328 .0935 .3688 .2440
.0544 .0672 .0416 .0637 trace .0160 .0112 .0333
.0086 trace trace trace trace trace trace trace
trace trace trace .0060 trace trace trace .0530
1.6060 5.4280 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000
2.8464 3.5500 1.8600 .6400 .7860 ,1600 .6250 .8010
100.0000 100.0000 100.1681 99.98 99.8532 100.0783 100.1064 99.9550
then the trouble likely arises from some deseased condi-
tion of the soil which it is not in the province of the
chemist to discover. Probably, in such event, the bac-
teriologist may suggest an efficient remedy. Samples 21
and 22 were forwarded by Mr. L. B. Dawson, of Nar-
rows. They are from comparatively new land which
originally was covered with scrub palmetto. It has never
succeeded in producing successful yields. The quantity
of lime in this sample is noticeably large. It is hardly
likely, though, that failure to produce is due to this
rather excessive quantity of lime.
It appears to be somewhat deficient in each of three
essential plant-foods, as well as in humus, though, as
regards fertility, it appears to be superior to many
other Brevard soils.
Nothing unusual is noticed in any other of the Bre-
vard analyses, and therefore, further comment is deemed
unnecessary, except to remark that No. 37 is taken below
to the two preceding soils and sub-soils at a depth of
Samples 47 to 52, inclusive, were sent on by Mr. R.
E. Rose, of Kissimmee. In his letter referring to them
he divides the soil types and estimates the proportions of
the several soils occurring in the county as follows :
1. Pine Ridge................. 15 per cent.
2. Flat woods......... ...... 60
3. Hammock................. 5 "
4. Muck soils................. 20
Nos. 47 and 48 are an average sample of soil and
sub-soil of the first type. The principal growth upon it is
tall pine with scattering oak, willow, sumach, and wire
grass. The portion rejected on the sieve consisted almost
wholly of roots, leaves, etc. This sample seems to be
deficient in all the principal fertilizing elements, includ-
ing lime, and it cannot be relied upon to produce satis-
OSCEOLA COUNTY SOILS.
Station Number.......................... s4
Moisture at 1000C...... ................
Insoluble Residue.......... ..............
Potash [KO]................. ...........
Soda [NaO]......... ....................
Lime [CaO]................ ..............
Magnesia [MgO]......... ..............
Ferric Oxid FeO,]..
Alumina [ALO,] .... ...........
Phosphorus pelltoxid [PO,] ..........
Sulphur trioxid [SO,] ................
Carbon dioxid [CO]...................
Water and organic matter..............
Total... ..... .......................
TYPE OF SOIL.
factory yields, at least for any length of time, without it
receives liberal fertilizing.
Nos. 49 and 50 constitute a soil and sub-soil of the
representative flat woods virgin soil of the county. The
chief vegetation growing upon it is pine, scrub-palmetto
and wire grass. It exhibits approximately the same
plant-food deficiencies as the preceding sample and should
receive similar treatment.
Nos. 51 and 52 are the soil and sub-soil of the aver-
age hammock land of the county. The growth upon it
is hickory, live oak, water oak and mulberry. This sam-
ple contains more nitrogen, phosphoric acid and lime
than the preceding samples, and ought to prove more
lasting without fertilizer applications. It should re-
quire potash fertilization before any other, since the
quantity of this found was too small to admit of weighing.
The muck soils will be commented upon in the chapter
on mucks to be inserted later.
Samples 42, 43, 44, 45 and 46 were collected by Mr.
J. H. Tatum, of Bartow. No. 42 is an almost pure white
sand. There is a luxuriant growth of live oak, hickory,
cherry, wild orange, pine and cabbage palmetto upon it.
It includes both soil and sub-soil to a depth of two and a
half feet. The only orange grove in Polk County, not
frozen in 1895, adjoins the land from which this soil
sample was taken and was of a similar character. The
chemical analysis fails to throw any light upon this
peculiar circumstance. More likely, the cause will be
found in the favorable location of the grove as regards
exposure, proximity to water, method of fertilization etc.
The analysis shows this soil to be very deficient in all
the essential plant-food elements which it frequently is
necessary to apply.
Nos. 43 and 44 are samples of soil and sub-soil, in
each case, and in both instances the sample was taken to
POLK COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL. "No. 8." "No. 12." "No. 3." "No. 6A and No. 6B.
Station N mber..................................... Soil Soil Soil Soil Sub-soiL
S ......42 43 44 45 46
Fine Earth.................. .............................
Moisture at 100C.................. .. ...............
Potash [KO].............. ............................
Soda [Na,O].. ......... ...... ............
Lime [CaO]............ ..............................
Magnesia [MgO]............ ........ ....................
Ferric Oxid [FeO,]..)
Alumina [ALO,]...... f ........"" .............
Phosphorus pentoxid [P0,].......................
Chlorin.................. ...... ..... ..... .....
Sulphur trioxid [S03]............. .....................
Carbon dioxid [CO,]..................................
Water and organic matter.........................
Total................................. .................. 99.9913 1 99.8783
POLK COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL. High Sand Hill Level Sandy Land
Soil Sub-Soil Soil Sub-Soil
Station Number ............................... ..................... .. 55 56 57 58
Fine Earth ............... .............................................
H um us ............ ................... ................... ..............
Moisture at 1000C .....................................................
Insoluble Residue ...................................... ...........
Potash (K,O) .................. .................................. ...
Soda (Na,O) ........................................................
Lime (CaO)............................. ................... ....
Magnesia (MgO) ..................................... ............
Ferric Oxid (Fe,O3)
Alumina (A]LO,)...... J ..........................................
Phosphorus Pentoxid (P, ) .......................... ..............
Chlorin.......... ......... ........................................
Sulphur Trioxid (SO) ............. .................................
Carbon Dioxid (CO,) ...................................... .......
W ater and Organic Matter..........................................
Total .............................................. .............
100.0000 100.0000 99.9350
a depth of two and a half feet. As will be seen, No. 44
contains an abundance of phosphoric acid and a fair sup-
ply of lime. It is not likely that this soil will need any
phosphoric acid for quite a while, since enough of this
element will doubtless become available to supply all
needs. It contains only a small supply of nitrogen and
is exceedingly deficient in potash.
No. 43 appears quite well supplied with phosphoric
acid, but the lime supply is shown to be quite limited.
Its supply of available acid cannot last very long with-
out steps are taken to render it available, since the lime
naturally existing in the soil is very limited. It is defi-
cient in nitrogen and very much so in Potash, and both
of these must be supplied before many crops are har-
Nos. 45 and 46 are the soil and sub-soil of another
sample taken at a similar depth. Comment upon these
analyses is unnecessary, for what has previously been
said in connection with other soil samples will furnish
the necessary information to interpret them.
Samples 55-58 (inclusive) were forwarded by Mr.
Charles G. Wilson, of Winter Haven.
Nos. 55 and 56 are representative types of the soil
and sub-soil, respectively, of the high sandy hills of that
vicinity. The location selected for taking the sample
was from thirty to forty ieet above Lake Elbert. The
principal growth upon it is small pine, with more or less
oak, willow, etc., scattered here and there. It also has
an undergrowth of wire grass, wild oats, milk weeds, etc.
It appears to be deficient in all plant-food essentials
and most so in potash.
Samples 57 and 58 are the soil and sub-soil of a more
level location, taken lower down than the previous sam-
ple, and at a depth of from twelve to fifteen feet above
the lake. A clay sub-soil is found at a:depth of five feet
from the surface. This soil will require similar treat-
ment to that previously given.
The muck soils of Polk County will be considered in
a subsequent chapter devoted to the muck soils of the
Samples Nos. 75 and 76 were forwarded by Mr. J.
L. Young of Plant City. The sample is virgin soil, col-
lected about one-half mile from the depot. The growth
upon it is pine, small oak and wire grass. A clay sub-
soil occurred at a depth of four feet. The soil is well
supplied with humus and contains a fair supply of nitro-
gen. It contains a large supply of phosphoric acid and
lime, and it is not likely to require an application of
either of these latter materials in quite a while. It is
deficient in potash and is sure to become exhausted of
this element earlier than any other when subjected to
Samples Nos. 116, 117 and 118 were forwarded to
the Laboratory by Hon. F. E. Harris of Ocala. The
samples were selected in the vicinity of Clear Water, Fla.
Nos. 116 and 117 are a sample of cultivated soil which
produces satisfactory yields when fertilized, and No. 118
is selected from an unproductive patch in the same field
which fails to respond to the same fertilizer application.
The writer is not aware of the variety of fertilizer that
has been administered, but the analysis shows the soil
(Nos. 117 and 118) to be somewhat deficient in humus,
nitrogen, and lime, though there may be enough of the
latter to render an application of phosphoric acid unnec-
essary for a little while, since this acid is shown from the
analysis to be fairly well supplied. The sample is shown
to be quite deficient in potash, and this element in some
form should be supplied. Sample No. 118 is a mixture
of soil and sub-soil. It is most deficient in potash, quite
so in phosphoric acid, and somewhat so in nitrogen.
HILLSBORO COUNTY SOIL.
TYPE OF SOIL. "Virgin Pine Land." "Orange Grove." tiUnpruc
Station Number Soil Sub-soil Soil Sub-soil Soil
station umber ... ....................... 75 76 116 117 118
Coarse Earth ................... ........ 5.20 3.40 2.33 2.16 1.66
Fine Earth ..... ............ .............. 94.80 96.60 97.67 97.84 98.34
Humus ............................. ..... 1.50 1.22 .25 .36 .33
Nitrogen............ ..................... .1106 .0238 .0770 .0266 .0322
Moisture at 1000C.......................... .7700 .5880 .4000 .3500 .1460
Insoluble Residue .......................... 90.3250 92.5155 95.6830 97.2115 98.0175
Potash [KO] ............... ... .. .... .0028 trace .0023 trace trace
Soda [NaO]............................ .0439 .0371 .0547 .0569 .0636
Lime [CaO]............... ............ .. .2025 .0725 .2650 .0250 .0650
Magnesia [MgO] ............................ .0693 .0666 .0072 .0090 .0126
Ferric Oxid [FeO,].j 1.3175 .7750 )6495 .9739 .
Alumina [AO,] ... f 1.7667 2.7910 5240
Phosphorus pentoxid [PO,] ................. .3408 .3040 .0880 .1136 .0160
Chlorin.................................. trace trace trace trace trace
Sulphur trioxid [SO] .......... ........... .0000 .0000 trace trace trace
Carbon dioxid (CO,).... .................. .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000 .0000
Water and organic matter .................... 5.7700 3.8400 3.0200 1.5640 1.2740
Total.... .. ................ ....... 99.8385 100.4017 99.7697 99.9539 99.9727
Should the other soil of the field fail to continue
to produce after the treatment suggested, it may prove
advantageous to administer to it a slight dressing of
PASCO COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL. Sandy Soil
Station Number ................... 73 74
Coarse Earth ..................... 2.50 1.20
Fine Earth..................... 97.50 98.80
Humus .......................... 1.23 .71
Nitrogen.......................... .0602 .0210
Moisture at 1000 C ................. .6120 .2700
Insoluble Residue .................. 93.2840 96.6105
Potash (KO) ............... . .0048 trace
Soda (Na )O) ...................... .0595 .0106
Lime (CaO) ................. ..... .0250 .14f 0
Magnesia (MgO) ................... .0405 .0115
Ferric Oxid (FeO ,)........ ....... .6510 .5037
Alumina ADO,) ................. .7380 .5628
Phosphorus Pentoxid (PO) ......... .1360 .1360
Chlorin ....................... . trace trace
Sulphur Trioxid (SO,) .............. .0000 .0000
Carbon Dioxid (CO,) ............... .0000 .0000
Water and Organic Matter ........... 5.1240 2.0420
Total ...... .............. 100.0628 100.0221
It is unfortunate that it was found impossible to
secure representative samples of virgin sandy soils from
this county. It was only possible to secure one sample
from Pasco, and this was of cultivated soil. The collec-
tor failed to comply with instructions to collect the sam-
ple from typical virgin soil. The sample was forwarded
by Mr. J. S. Goss of San Antonio. It was taken from an
old corn field, covered at the time with a growth of beg-
gar-weed, and grass. It is quite well supplied with phos-
phoric acid and lime and contains a moderate supply of
nitrogen. It is fairly well supplied with humus and is
deficient in potash. It seems to need most a potash fer-
tilizer and next a nitrogenous one. The soil was taken
to a depth of eight inches and the sub soil to a depth of
two feet, when a stratum of clay was encountered.
Samples 31 and 32 were forwarded by Mr. George
H. Wright, of Orlando. This soil was taken from
cleared pine land (virgin), and the soil proper was col-
lected to a depth of one foot. The sub-soil was then
taken to a depth of two feet. This soil seems to be best
supplied with phosphoric acid, though the supply of lime
is not sufficient to insure the necessary quantity of this
acid remaining available for any great length of time.
It is most deficient in potash and, next, in nitrogen.
Probably a growth of beggar-weed, or, else, of velvet bean,
would be an admirable way to supply the necessary nit-
rogen, since the supply of humus is shown to be some-
Nos. 60 to 63 (inclusive) are from Mr. George
Frost, of Altamonte Springs. Nos. 61 and 62 were col-
lected from land about a mile and a half southwest of the
Station. It was cleared of pine timber about twenty
years ago. It now contains a growth of scrub-oak, wil-
low, black-jack, etc. The undergrowth is chiefly wire-
grass. For the past fifteen years, the grass has been
burnt off annually. The analysis shows it to be deficient
in all fertilizing materials, but, least of all, in phosphoric
Nos. 62 and 63 constitute a soil and sub-soil of pine
land, covered with a growth of pines from eight to eight-
ORANGE COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL.
Coarse Earth ...............
Fine Earth ........ ...........
Humus....... ...... ...
N itrogen .................. ..
Moisture at 1000C ...........
Insoluble residu. .............. 95.3470
Potash (KO)............ ... trace
Soda (Na,O) ....... .... .0940
Lime (CaO).................. .0275
Magnesia (MgO).............. .0369
Ferric oxid (Fe,03) ... .8835
Alumina (Al,0) .. .3162
Phosphorus pentoxid (PO,) ..... .1328
Chlorin ..................... trace
Sulphur trioxid (SO, .......... .0086
Carbon dioxid (CO,)........... .0000
Water and organic matter....... 2.8800
Total ................... 99 7295
'Origin'l Pine Land." "Good Pine Land."
Soil Sub-soil Soil Sub-soil
60 61 62 63
11.20 11.20 10.90 10.00
88.80 88.80 89.10 90.00
.33 .17 .16 .12
.0042 .0014 .0014 .0014
.1640 _.1300 .1300 .0800
98.0375 98.3745 98.7165 99.0550
trace .0067 .0193 .0019
.0304 .0049 .0315 .0169
.0000 i .0000 .0000 .0000
.0270 .0108 .0036 .0027
.2325 .2092 0728 3024
.5184 .6140 .072 .324
.0816 .0768 .0272 .0176
trace trace trace trace
.0000 .0000 .0000 .0000
.0000 .0000 .0000 .0000
1.0960 .8300 1.1291 .6035
100.0234 100.1269 100.0000 100.0000
een inches in diameter. It is very similar in composition
to the preceding sample, though it is designated by the
sender "Good Pine Land."
Sample Y. was analyzed by Prof. Norman Robinson,
formerly State Chemist. It was stated by him to be sec-
ond class pine land of Orange County. Compared with
analyses of other pine lands of this county, made in this
laboratory, it will be seen that this sample, on the whole,
is somewhat superior to some others. The analysis in-
cludes both, soil and sub-soil. Further comment upon
this analysis is deemed unnecessary. The muck soils of
Orange County will be considered in the chapter devoted
to this type of soils. It may be well to note here, also,
that analyses of samples of muck soil from Lake County
will be given in the same chapter. No samples of sandy
soil were forwarded from this latter county.
Nos. 6, 7, 8 and 9 were forwarded by Hon. C. F. A.
Bielby (now deceased), of DeLand. Nos. 6 and 7 are
the soil and sub-soil, respectively, of Grey Hammock "
land. The timber upon it consists of hickory, live and
other oaks, magnolia, bay, etc. This soil occurs in Vol-
usia county in patches, varying in size, from ten to five
hundred, or, even one thousand acres, and is surrounded
by flat woods scrub sands," etc. The clay sub-soil is
found at a depth of about nine feet, and, normally the
depth of water is about eleven feet. The analytical
results may be easily interpreted from what has been said
in connection with similar soils in other counties.
Nos. 8 and 9 constitute a fair average of the good
pine lands of Volusia. The principal growth upon it is
tall, straight pine (about seventy per acre), with a few
so-called willow oaks." The undergrowth is wire grass,
and partridge pea, with here and there, a growth of wild
oats. The top soil was taken to a depth of eight inches.
No further comments are deemed necessary. Sample Z was
VOLUSIA COUNTY SOILS.
TYPE OF SOIL.
Station Number ...........................
Coarse Earth .............................
Fine Earth............................. 98.70
Humus ....................................... .10
Nitrogen .................................. .0308
Moisture at 1000C ......... ................ .1180
Insoluble Residue .......................... 98.5325
Potash (KO) ............................. .0048
Soda (NaO) .............................. .0728
Lime (CaO) .............................. .0500
Magnesia (MgO) ........................... .0297
Ferric Oxid (Fe ,03) ........................ .2634
Alumina (A O,03) ............................ .0904
Phosphorus Pentoxid (PO,) ................. .0112
C hlorin ................ . ............. trace
Sulphur Trixod (SO3) ....................... .0146
Carbon Dioxid (CO,) ....................... .0000
Water and Organic Matter .................. 1.0640
Total .............................. 100.1334
"Grey Hammock" "First-class Pine Land" Orange Soil
Soil Sub-Soil Soil Sub-Soil
6 7 8 9 Z
1.30 38.40 3.20 2.80 i........
analyzed by Prof. Robinson. The sample was collected
by Mr. E. O. Painter, of DeLand. Mr. Painter desig-
nates this soil "Good Orange Soil." It is very similar
in composition to the preceding sample, though it con-
tains considerably more phosphoric acid and nitrogen.
The writer is not aware whether this is a virgin soil, but
is inclined to believe that it is not. It has probably been
cultivated and fertilized liberally.
MARION COUNTY SOIL.
TYPE OF SOIL.
Station Number.................. Soil Sub-soil
Coarse Earth .................... '13.20 7.50
Fine Earth.... .................. 86.80 92.50
Humus.... ......... ........... 1.26 .51
Nitrogen ... ...................... .0350 .0098
Moisture at 1000C .... ............ .8180 .3860
Insoluble matter ........... ......... 92.6315 96.5865
Potash (K,O) ...................... .0149 .0024
Soda (NaO) ....................... .0352 .0655
Lime (CaO) .......................... .1500 .0425
Magnesia (MgO)......... ..... .... .0198 .0162
Ferric oxid (FeO,) ................ .4262 .3487
Alumina (A1O ..................... 1.6694 .9021
Phosphorus pentoxid (PO,) ............ .2544 .1792
Chlorin ............................ trace trace
Sulphur trioxid (SO) ............... .0085 .0000
Carbon dioxid (CO,) ............... .0000 .0000
Water and organic matter............ 5.0200 1.8080
Total ........................... 100.2299 99.9511
After repeated efforts, it was only found practicable
to secure one sample of sandy soil from Marion County.
Nos. 33 and 34 include this sample. It was collected
by Mr. W. C. Groom, of Reddick. Originally, the land
was wooded with ash, hickory, oak, etc. The soil, proper,
varies in depth from eight inches to one foot, while a
clay stratum is reached at a depth varying from two and
a half to three feet. This sample is well supplied with
phosphoric acid and lime. It is most deficient in potash
and next in nitrogen. Further comments are deemed
The following table affords a convenient and ready
reference for ascertaining the amounts of insoluble mat-
ter, humus, nitrogen, potash, phosphoric acid and lime in
the several soils included in the previous discussion.
The table is self-explanatory and is hereto appended.
In the table the figures employed are the average
of soil and sub-soil in each case.
The sample numbers employed are only those of
the soils, the sub-soil numbers being omitted.
A better general average of the phosphoric acid and
lime occurring in the sandy soils of that portion of the
Florida peninsula included in this bulletin can be ob-
tained by eliminating sample No. 1 (Lee County) and No.
44 (Polk County) in the case of the former, and samples
No. 21 (Brevard County) and 1 (Lee County) in the case
of the latter.
Such elimination will then make the total general
average of all constituents in all soil samples analyzed as
Humus ......................... .63
Potash (K20) ................. .0094
Phosphoric acid (P205) ........ .0687
Lime (CaO) ..................... .0564
Table showing the Total Average of Important Soil Ingredients in the
-Sandy Soils of the Central and Southern portions of the Florida pen-
insula and also showing the County Averages of those Ingredients in
A O 0
County No 0 |
Brevard ........ 12 97.5085 .24 .0378. .0086 .0336 .2100
S ....... 13 98.2100 .21 .0252 .0111 .0192 .1075
..... 21 87.5915 .39 .0434 .0588 .0608 4.8787
S ........ 38 97.5710 .10 .0091 .0038 .0527 .0200
........ 40 99.0485 .08 .0021 .0041 .0080 .0000
........ X 98.1951 ......... .0261 .0198 .0333 .1150
96.3541 .20 .0239 .0177 .0346 .8885
Dade ............ 10 93.8197 2.51 .0364 .0574 .0280 .0200
............ 14 93.4032 1.48 .0833 .0033 .0232 .0850
............ 17 98.4256 .26 .0084 .0027 .0288 .3025
............ 19 97.2740 .22 .0112 .0089 .0262 .0362
95.7306 1.10 .0348 .0181 .0245 .1109
DeSoto......... 4 97.4975! .40 .0497 .0106 .0080 .0537
Hillsboro ...... 75 91.4202 1.36 .0672 .0014 .3224 .1375
S ...... 92 96.4472 .30 .0518 .0011 .1008 .1450
93.9337i .83 .0595 .0012 .2116 .1412
Lee ......... ..... 1 82.4682 1.73 .2464 1.0125 1.2815 3.3025
S ............... 25 96.4305 1.37 .1162 .0058 .0208 .0000
............... 26 96.2090 .80 .0714 !.0000 .0496 .0725
S ............... 28 97.3085 .93 .0630 !.0125 .0112 .0000
S ............... 59 97.4155 .63 .0350 .0055 .0064 .0350
93.9663 1.09 .1064 .0072 .2739 .6820
Marion......... 33 94.6090i .88 .00741.0086 .2168 .0962
Orange ......... 31 96.4818 .45 .0294 .0000 .1027 .0137
S ....... 60 98.2060 .25 .0028 .0034 .0792 .0000
... 62 98.8857 .14 .0014 0106 .0224 .0000
... Y 96.4261 .........1100 0160 .1175 .0624
97.4999 .28 .0359 0075 .0804 .0190
Osceola......... 47 97.4670 .67 .0266 .0038 .0056 .0112
......... 49 97.7362 .70 .0252 .0037 .0088 .0075
......... 51 96.6082 .87 .0434 .0000 .0384 .0300
97.2704 .74 0317 .0025 .0176 .0162
Pasco............ 73 94.9472 .97 .0406 .0024 .1360 .0850
Polk............. 42 99.4830 .02 .0042 .0038 .0064 .0000
.............. 43 95.2190 .50 .0126 .0000 .2768 .0125
S .............. 44 89.3950 1.15 .0294 .0000 2.4000 .1125
S ......... .... 45 96.3590 .47 .0084 i.0014 .2176 .0212
.............. 55 97.9165 .35 .0098 .0000 .0224 .0062
S .............. 57 98.5205 .29 .0084 .0038 .0136 .0000
96.1488 .46 .0121 .0015 .4894 .0254
Volusia ......... 6 98.3022 .15 .0266 .0043 .0136 .0437
......... 8 96.6618 .25 .0280 .0157 .0592 .0222
......... Z 96.0852 ....... .0890 .0208 .1660 .0526
97.0164 .20 .0478 .0136 .0796 .0395
Total average ...... 95.9876 .64 .0413 .0091 .1635 .2805
NOTE-Analyses lettered X Y and Z in the above table were made by Prof.
Norman Robinson, formerly State Chemist of Florida.
The figures in heavy type in the table are the county averages. The figures in
heavy type opposite the total average represent the average of all soils included,
independent of counties.
When the samples referred to above are omitted
from the county averages in the counties in which they
occur, the averages of such counties will then become:
Brevard Co., Lime...... .0905.
Lee ...... .0269. Phosphoric acid, .0220
Polk ............ .1074
Occurrence of Muck Deposits.
All over Florida there occur deposits of rich muck
land of greater or less extent. In the peninsular portion
of the State, especially, there are vast deposits which
chemical analyses have shown to be of excellent quality.
The principal muck lands of the peninsula extend from
near the southern border of Orange County, southward,
far into the Everglades. South of Lake Okeechobee, these
lands have already been surveyed for a distance of more
than fifty miles and found to be of a high character. Prior
to 1882, little had been done towards reclaiming any of
the vast muck area above mentioned, and it was general-
ly regarded as of no value for agricultural purposes.
Much of it was under water, the greater portion of the
time, and all of it was too much saturated, all the while,
to admit of cultivation. About fifteen years ago, Mr.
Hamilton Disston, of Philadelphia, interested himself in
these lands and inaugurated extensive plans for reclaim-
ing large areas, situated principally in Osceola County,
by means of drainage canals. As a result of the enter-
prise of that gentleman, several thousand acres of the
muck lands of the above county have been reclaimed and
are now successfully devoted to the culture of sugar-cane,
rice, and to market gardening, etc. Several thousand
additional acres have been drained and only await the
additional essential preliminary treatment before being
ready for profitable cultivation. Owing to the favorable
topography of the country, Mr. Disston experienced no
very great difficulty inL accomplishing the drainage of the
territory referred to above. All that was necessary was
to construct canals of sufficient capacity, and these were
constructed, with comparative ease. As will be seen
further on, to drain some of these rich muck areas
will present a more difficult problem, and involve more
expensive methods. Still, the drainage of the greater
portion of these vast areas, is entirely feasible, and will
be accomplished before very many years have elapsed.
The Lake Hart Muck Region.
The first area comprised in Mr. Disston's scheme
of drainage, and which is now complete, is known as
the Lake Hart region. Lake Hart it situated near the
southern boundary of Orange County. This lake is on the
watershed between the headwaters of the St. Johns and
Kissimmee rivers. The Lake Hart region is drained by
means of a canal northward into the St. Johns.
The Osceola Muck Deposits.
All of the muck area of Osceola yet drained, is
situated in the northwestern part of the county, and
is drained southward.
A few miles south of Lake Hart, near the northern
border of Osceola county, is situated Lake East Tohope-
kaliga. This lake is connected by canal with Lake Toho-
pekaliga on the northern margin of which is located the
town of Kissimmee. This lake has also been connected
on its southern border by canal with Lake Cypress, lying
south of it, and Lake Cypress, in turn, with Lake Kis-
simmee, still further south. The area described is al-
ready drained and much of it is now in successful culti-
ovation. Immediately east of Lake East Tohopekaliga,
begins another series of lakes, between which canals have
either been completed, are in process of construction, or
else, are projected. Beginning at the north this series
comprises the following lakes:* Myrtle, Preston, Joel,
Trout, Lost, Lizzie, Alligator, Mud and Gentry. The
latter lake is also to be opened into Lake Cypress. When
this series of lakes are connected, upward of fifty thousand
acres of rich muck land will be reclaimed.
The Kissimmee River Muck Lands.
Another rich muck area is found along the Kissim-
mee river, which connects Lake Kissimmee with Lake
Okeechobee. On an air line, the distance between these
lakes is about eighty miles, but the winding course of the
river makes the distance about one hundred and fifty
miles. On both sides of the river occur rich muck de-
posits which gradually pass into the sand and pine lands
lying back of them. Unfortunately, the drainage of the
these lands is both a more difficult and expensive under-
taking than was the case with the area previously des-
cribed. Owing to their peculiar location, it is impossible
to drain these lands by the ordinary canal system. This
is due to the fact that the level of the river, even at low
water, is almost the same as the level of the muck lands
bordering it, while during the "rainy season" (i. e., from
June until October) the river assumes the form of a lake,
and spreads over wide areas. Under such circumstances
the only practicable way to accomplish the drainage of
the land would be to construct levees, such as are extens-
ively used on the Mississippi river below New Orleans,
along the Kissimmee, and employ pumps to remove the
water. Such systems of drainage are now widely prac-
*Possibly the names of some of these lakes have been recently changed.
ticed in localities where the difficulties in the way of
canal drainage are identical with those presented in this
instance, and, as has been stated, it is only a question
of a few years before this system of drainage will be
practiced along the Kissimmee river.
The Okeechobee Muck Deposits.
The next large muck deposits (probably the largest
in the world) extend from the southern boundary of Lake
Okeechobee, far into the Everglades. On the northern
shores of this lake, there is very little muck, but nearer
the southern border the deposit increases in width and
depth until south of the lake they constitute those vast
formations that form the northern border of the Ever-
glades. The extent of this area is not known, but the
muck formation occurs extensively in Osceola County, as
well as in DeSoto, Dade, Lee, etc. To drain these lands
would be a huge undertaking. Two methods have been
proposed for accomplishing this. result. One contem-
plates the drainage of Lake Okeechobee by cutting a
canal from its southern border, southward through the
muck deposits into the Everglades. Wiley (Agricultural
Science, page 109) estimates that a canal which would
answer all purposes during the rainy season would need
to be about 300 feet wide and twelve feet deep. This would
seem to be a more economical plan than constructing a
canal to the Atlantic ocean from the eastern border of
the lake. The length of a canal to the ocean would not
be less than forty miles, and would pass through sand all
the way. To cut a canal through this sand would, of
course, be more expensive than cutting through the muck
beds. Wiley estimates that a canal into the Everglades
of the dimensions he proposes would permanently lower
the water level of the lake six feet, which would be
ample to render this vast tract of muck land available
for agricultural pursuits.
The second plan for draining these lands is one
which is already in operation. It contemplates the drain-
age of only a portion, of the muck area on the southwest-
ern border of Lake Okeechobee, embracing as yet, only
the Hicpochee and Okeechobee sugar lands. Lake Hic-
pochee is about six miles distant from Lake Okeechobee,
and a canal has already been constructed between them.
Another canal, eighteen miles in length, has also been
constructed from the former lake to another point on
Lake Okeechobee. These, with a few minor exceptions,
are the principal improvements that have thus far been
inaugurated with a view to recovering this fertile terri-
tory and placing it at the disposal of the farming classes.
The immense possibilities of this section of Florida can-
not be conjectured, and when these vast areas are made
ready to respond to scientific systems of cultivation, these
great muck formations are sure to be prominent among
the most fertile lands in the United States. Other muck
areas of smaller dimensions occur throughout the penin-
sula, and analyses of a number of them are given in a
subsequent table. It will be observed that many of them
are of an exceedingly fertile character. Not only are
they well supplied with nitrogen, but they also contain
relatively large supplies of both phosphoric acid and lime.
Only in potash do they appear to be seriously deficient.
In the case of the large formations described at length
above, it appears that only nitrogen is present in them
in sufficient quantity. When the latter lands are culti-
vated, it will only be a short while before applications
of phosphoric acid and potash will have to be made.
Lime will need to be employed from the beginning.
More along these lines will be said under the discussion
of the separate analyses.
Origin of Muck Formations.
It is well known that muck formations occur in lo-
cations where organic matter is allowed to undergo slow
decay. Hence, there is usually a tendency towards the
accumulation of the material in marsh regions, or in
shallow water. Here in Florida, the muck soils are usu-
ally found about the margins of lakes. Throughout the
rainy season each year, the marshes bordering these lakes
are partly covered with water, and always contain a lux-
uriant growth of vegetation. The vegetation is protected
from fire by the water, and hence the accumulation of it
is constantly increasing, and by the several natural
agencies, is gradually compacted into a uniform mass.
It is customary, locally, to divide the muck deposits of
the state into two varieties, viz: saw-grass muck and bay-
head muck. True, there are several intermediate varie-
ties, but the above popular classification is sufficiently ac-
curate for all purposes. It not only acquaints us with
the origin of the deposits, but also with the conditions
under which they were produced. The bay-head muck
is formed in partially submerged swamps where the bay
tree, or laurel, is plentiful, forming the most conspicuous
growth, and where numerous other varieties of aquatic
trees, shrubs, vines, reeds, grasses, ferns, and mosses
abound. Vegetation of the above character has been
constantly dying and accumulating under these condi-
tions for indefinite ages, and has gradually been com-
pacted into masses of vegetable mold, or muck. The
saw-grass muck derives its name from the semi.aquatic,
sedge-like grass of the same name, from whose decaying
leaves and roots it is very largely formed. Robinson de-
scribes it as "a coarse, rank-growing, almost reed-like
grass, possessing leaves which are stiffened by folding
back upon themselves, and by means of their sharp, ser-
rate edges are enabled to kill or crowd out other forms
of vegetation and appropriate the land to its own growth."
In its matured state, on account of its exceedingly coarse
texture, it cannot serve either as pasture or forage Rob-
binson suggests that it, perhaps, might have, in pre-his-
toric times, "proved a toothsome morsel" for the mam-
moth and the mastodon, "but," he adds, "the Florida
steer, who considers wire-grass a delicacy, draws the line
on this vegetable combination of knives, saws and dag-
gers." He also asserts that it appears to him that saw-
grass exists for the sole purpose of producing the richest
muck in the world, for it is well known that deposits of
the material of the saw-grass variety are usually more
fertile than those included in the other division. It usu-
ally contains nearly twice as much of the costly element,
nitrogen, as does stable manure, and where it is intelli-
gently employed, the results from its use are always sat-
isfactory. While the saw-grass variety is usually the
richer, it must not be inferred that the bay-head muck is
a valueless material. This latter muck possesses much
agricultural merit. When the swamps, where it occurs,
are drained, and placed in a suitable state for cultivation,
they invariably make most excellent garden lands, and
contain, relatively large supplies of nitrogen. Wiley
(Agricultural Analysis, Vol. I, page 59) gives the follow-
ing list of grasses, weeds, etc., as the principal growths
now going to make up the large muck areas of Florida:
COMMON NAMES- BOTANICAL NAMES-
Saw-grass. Cladium effusum.
Yellow pond lily, Nymphea flava.
Maiden- cane grass. Panicum curtisii.
Alligator Wampee. Pontederia cordata.
Sedge. Cyperus species.
Fern brake. Osmunda species.
Mallow. Malva species.
Broom sedge. Andropogon species.
Arrow weed. Sagittaria species.
The above list includes only the principal growths.
It is not likely that the present growth upon the differ-
ent muck areas includes all plants that have previously
entered into the formation of the muck.
Conditions Influencing Muck Formation.
The changes which result in the transition of vege-
tation into muck are influenced very largely by tempera-
ture and, probably, to a less extent, by the presence of
compounds of iron and sulphur. It is mainly the differ-
ence in temperature prevailing in the respective sections
that accounts for the superior quality of Florida mucks
over the principal deposits occurring in the northern
states. In many northern muck beds, all the conditions
are most favorable to the accumulation of deposits of ex-
cellent quality, save that of temperature. The vegeta-
tion from which the material is formed in northern
climes, is fairly rich in nitrogen, and contains the salts
of iron, sulphur, etc., but the resulting product is not
so rich as the muck which is formed here. It is noticeable
that the farther south the samples are taken for analysis,
as a rule, the larger becomes the proportion of nitrogen
in the deposits, and the more concentrated, so to speak,
becomes the material. That the'difference in tempera-
ture of the widely separated locations in which the
formations occur has a great deal to do with the vari-
able composition, cannot be doubted. Carbon dioxid
and Marsh gas are produced very slowly below a tem-
perature of 60 degrees F., and in northern latitudes,
therefore, it is only during several months of the year
that the process of sub-aqueous decay is at all rapid.
In Florida, the temperature, a foot under water, seldom
falls below 60 degrees F., and usually it is about 80 or
90 degrees, and under these conditions it is very likely
that the process of decomposition is quite rapid and
well nigh continuous, and so it is that to this fact is
largely due the presence in our midst of almost incal-
culable areas or muck lands of superior quality. In a
recent paper, Robinson has contributed a very original
theory to account for the influence of the salts of iron and
sulphur in promoting the changes that occur in the trans-
formation of vegetable matter into muck and by which
its fertility is enhanced. In this connection he writes:
"The key to these changes, to a certain extent, at least,
is found in the abundant presence of iron and sulphur.
The ferrous and ferric salts have played a triple role.
First, they have acted their well-known part as oxygen-
carriers-ferrous and ferric sulphate being reduced by
organic matter to ferrous sulphid, and again, in turn, un-
der the favorable conditions present, oxidized into sul-
phate; second, in conjunction with alumina, they have
aided in fixing any volatile nitrogen compounds that
may have been formed; and, third, they have been active
gatherers of phosphoric acid and potash from solution in
the surrounding water."
-The superior physical character of Florida muck
which gives to it a high value as an absorbent, etc.,
need not be discussed in this place. It is now in or-
der to consider the separate analyses of the different
muck samples reported in the table, which is subse-
Referring to the table, sample No. 16 was sent from
Dade County, and is a mixture of soil and sub-soil to a
depth of three feet. It was forwarded by Mr. F. P. Wil-
son of Lemon City. The growth upon it is principally
saw-grass, interspersed with maiden cane, thistles, lilies,
etc. It appears to be seriously deficient only in potash.
It is unusually rich both in nitrogen and lime, and is
quite well supplied with phosphoric acid, and contains
only a trace of chlorin. With proper preliminary treat-
ment it will prove exceedingly productive.
Samples Nos. 53 and 54 are the soil and sub-soil, re-
spectively, of a sample of reclaimed bay muck. They
were forwarded by Mr. R. E. Rose of Kissimmee. The
soil, proper, was taken to a depth of fourteen inches, and
the sub-soil from fourteen to thirty inches, when a white
sand formation, interspersed with clay, occurred. The
growth upon it was bay, cypress, willow, maple, etc., and
the soil proper, was much more thoroughly decomposed
than the sub-soil, the latter being of a very fibrous char-
acter. It is rich in nitrogen, and contains a moderate
supply both of phosphoric acid and lime. It is very de-
ficient in potash, and the latter will doubtless have to be
%.the first form of commercial fertilizer applied.
Samples Nos. 90 to 98, inclusive, were analyzed in
the laboratory of the Department of Agriculture at Wash-
ington, D. C., under the supervision of Dr. H. W. Wiley,
Chief Chemist. They are taken from Agricultural Sci-
ence, page 119. Nos. 90, 91 and -92 were taken from the
same spot, near the back of the muck land and bordering
the pine forest, No. 90 was taken to a depth of one foot.
No. 91 was taken immediately underneath No. 90, to a
depth of two feet, and No. 92 beneath No. 91, to a depth
of three feet. Each sample, therefore, represents a foot of
depth, and the average of the three would represent the
composition of the deposit to a depth of three feet, at
which limit a sand formation was encountered.
Nos. 93, 94, 95 and 96 are samples taken from
the front of the station ground, where the muck is deeper,
in precisely the same manner as the three preceding sam-
ples. In the latter instance the sand formation was en-
countered at a depth slightly over four feet. The aver-
age of the four analyses in this instance would represent
the composition of the muck bed to a depth of four feet.
Sample 97 was taken from the orchard of the St.
Cloud plantation, four miles west of the station. The
sample was taken only to the depth of usual tillage, in
order to determine the effect of tillage on the composition
of the muck. This land had been for five years in culti-
vation, chiefly in vegetables, but more recently in grape
No. 98 was taken from a field that had been con-
stantly devoted to the culture of sugar cane for five years.
It, too, was taken only to the depth of tillage.
Nos. 90, 91 and 92 constitute a soil of a deep black
color, and, when wet, it is very compact, and it is always
retentive of moisture. Nos. 93, 94, 95 and 96 compose a
soil of a brownish black color, and which is less compact
and more easily drained. It will be noticed in the case
of the first soil that the per cent. of organic matter de-
creases with each successive layer, there being only 13.35
per cent. of this .material in the layer next to the sand.
In the case of the second sample, hower, it will be no-
ticed that the per cent. of organic matter is actually
greater at depths of two and three feet than at the surface.
As is usually the case, the percentage of nitrogen varies
quite regularly with that of the volatile matter in both
samples of the station soil. The actual form in which
the nitrogen exists was not determined in the case of any
sample reported in the table, but it is not likely that any
considerable portion of it is present in the form of ni-
trates, since the natural condition of the mucks is not
very favorable to nitrification. In those soils where lime
is present in largest quantities it is likely that nitrifica-
tion has progressed most rapidly, and where this sub-
stance is deficient in soils it will doubtless be ihe case
that applications of it will materially increase the nitrify-
ing process. It will be noticed that all analyses made at
the Government Laboratory show the samples to be defi-
cient in phosphoric acid, potash and lime. Especially
noticeable is the absence of lime, and this and potash,
doubtless, are the chief things needed in these soils. It
will also be noticed that in the case of the cultivated soils
the percentages of iron and alumina are very much
higher. It is deemed unnecessary to further consider the
analyses of the Osceola County mucks. All analyses of
samples reported from this county, which were made un-
der the supervision of Dr. Wiley, were taken from the
vast tract of reclaimed Osceola muck land described in
the preceding pages.
Sample No. 35 was forwarded by Mr. J. H. Tatum,
of Bartow. It was collected to a depth of four feet about
725 feet south of Lake Hancock. Below this depth was
encountered the usual sand formation. The growth upon
it is bay, live oak, hickory, magnolia, and other ham-
mock growth. The muck lands are nearly two feet lower
than the water of Lake Hancock. On this account drain-
ing them will be somewhat expensive, but can readily be
accomplished by a method applicable to such a case which
is referred to in a previous place. The analysis shows the
Sample to be exceedingly rich in nitrogen and lime, and
deficient in phosphoric acid and potash. These latter
materials will be the first that it will be necessary to
replenish when the soil is subjected to cultivation.
Samples R, S and T were analyzed by Prof. Norman
Robinson, of Orlando. In the light of what has already
been said it is deemed unnecessary to comment on them
further than to remark upon their high contents of nitro-
gen and lime, and in the case of the two latter samples,
the relatively large per cent. of phosphoric acid. Only in
potash I they appear to be noticeably deficient.
Samples Nos. 23 and 24 were forwarded from Lake
County by Messrs. Tongue & Geiger, who reside at Kil-
larney. No. 23 is popularly known as bay muck land
and No. 24 as saw-grass muck. The latter is reclaimed
land from what was once the bottom of Lake Apopka.
The growth upon the former is white bay, magnolia,
sweet gum, ash, etc. The water level stands at a
depth of about two and a half feet below the surface and
it is,.to all appearances, well drained. It would seem
from the high per cent. of chlorin, however, that this is
not the case. It is generally agreed that if chlorin occurs in
as great a proportion as one part, per thousand of soil, it is
injurious to vegetation. The sample is noticeably rich
in phosphoric acid and lime, and contains a good supply
of nitrogen, and is deficient only in potash. With the
removal by drainage of the surplus salt (sodium chlorid)
this land should be very fertile and, after the proper pre-
liminary treatment, it ought to produce large yields. No.
24 also appears to be well drained, but it, too, contains a
rather high per cent. of chlorin, though hardly enough
to render its presence very detrimental. The sample is
quite rich in nitrogen and lime, very deficient in potash
and somewhat so in phosphoric acid. Its failure to pro-
duce in the past, if it has been properly fertilized and
intelligently cultivated, is not apparent from the analysis.
This includes all samples of muck reported in the
table, and it is hoped that the analyses and comments
will prove of much value to those who are interested in
the cultivation of muck lands. It is deemed advisable
to insert just here a few brief suggestions in refer nce to
cultivating muck lands, and the reader is asked to give,
them careful attention.
Some Hints on Cultivating Muck Lands.
It is popularly supposed that what are known as
muck lands, some of which are covered with water
throughout the greater portion of the year, are valueless