PRESS BULLETIN No. 110.
Florida Agricullural Experimenl Slallon.
PRODUCING FERTILIZER ON THE FARM.
BY JOHN M. SCOTT.
Doubtless the farmers of Florida use more fertilizer per capital than
do those of any other State in the Union. It is also probably true that 90
per cent, or more, of the fertilizers which are used are commercial brands.
With a change in the methods of farming from the *growing of only one
crop to a variety of crops in rotation, we can produce at home all of the
ammonia we now buy in our fertilizers, and in that way save about half
the money spent for fertilizer.
INCREASED COST OF CROP PRODUCTION.
Until recently most of the farmers of northern and central Florida have
depended for their income almost entirely on one crop-cotton. But con-
ditions have forced many to change. The price of land has increased, and
the cost of labor has also advanced nearly 50 per cent. The cost of
producing a bale of cotton has increased in the same proportion, but the
price received for the bale of cotton has remained nearly the same. There-
fore the farmer must study and investigate, and if possible find some
means whereby he may reduce the cost of production. What is true of
cotton is also true of the cost of producing other farm crops.
The heaviest expenses in the production of a crop are the fertilizer and
the labor. We can reduce the cost of cultivation about 50 per- cent. by
usingimproved farm implements. Therefore, if we can save 50 per cent.
in fertilizer and 50 per cent. in cultivation we will greatly reduce the cost
of producing our crops.
Fertilizer may be produced o
legumes, such as velvet beans,
have the power to get ammonia fro
velvet beans, cowpeas and beggarweed we can
tent of the soil. This is not the case with corn and cotton; on
ammonia is taken from the soil by them. When velvet beans are grown,
and the vines left on the ground to be plowed under during the following
winter, they will add ammonia to each acre equal to an application of $20
worth of cottonseed meal. An acre of cowpeas will produce a good crop of
hay, and after this has been removed, the leaves that break off and remain
in the field on the ground, and the roots, will add ammonia to the soil equal
to an application of 400 pounds of cottonseed meal. When such crop rota-
tion is practiced the fertility of the soil can be increased; while with the
Fecbruary 27, 1909.
old method of continual cropping in cotton or corn, the soil is sooner or
later depleted of available ammonia, phosphoric acid or potash, and the
crop depends almost wholly on purchased fertilizer.
Second. by feeding the crops produced on the farm to live stock, either
beef or dairy cattle, saving the manure produced, and returning it to the
field. A good cow or steer will in a year produce from six to seven tons
of manure. The quality of the manure will depend entirely upon the quality
of the feed. If we give feeds rich in ammonia, the manure produced will
be rich in ammonia. It has been found that the animal body retains only
about one-fifth of the ammonia in the feed; that is, for every hundred pounds
of ammonia fed to an animal eighty pounds are excreted. Therefore by
growing such crops as velvet beans, cowpeas and beggarweed, and feeding
them to live stock on the farm, we can produce large quantities of manure
rich in ammonia. Hence by the growing of these crops, feeding them to
live stock, and returning the manure to the fields, we can in a few years
increase the fertility of our lands so that we will need to buy only potash
and phosphoric acid-the cheap elements in commercial fertilizer.
When it is necessary to buy ammonia it should be purchased in the
form of cottonseed meal and fed to animals, and the manure produced used
as a fertilizer. By using cottonseed meal in this way we get a double value
from it. First its value as a milk and meat producer, and second, its fertiliz-
ing value. By following this method, instead of having to purchase large
quantities of ammonia, potash and phosphoric acid in chemical fertilizers,
good crops can be grown with no purchased ammonia, and less potash than
before. The most expensive element in the fertilizer-ammonia-would be
obtained from the air, or as a by-product of the feed.
Every general farmer ought to arrange his crop rotation so that it would
not be necessary for him to purchase any ammonia as fertilizer.
State papers please copy.