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Agriculture experiments with fertilizers ; Grasses ; Corn
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Experiments with fertilizers
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Lake City, Fla
Experiment Station of Florida at the State Agricultural College
Floridian Book and Job Office
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10 p. : ; 23 cm.


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Fertilizers -- Florida ( lcsh )
Grasses -- Field experiments ( lcsh )
Corn -- Field experiments ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


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Florida Agricultural Experiment Station bulletin 3

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
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023540756 ( AlephBibNum )


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No. 3.







t lgSpimitel ($l


J. KiOS, M. D. LL. D., Director.




It is well known to all well informed in matters of fertiliza-
tion, that the soil maintains very diverse functions in vegetable
production-the most simple being its office as the support or
foot-hold for the growing plant. Then, by its capillary action,
it receives and maintains the moisture necessary to plant
growth. But the most important of all is the chemical action
going on in the soil. It is by this that the fertilizing elements
are fitted for the nourishment of the plant.
The essential elements for productiveness of the soil are
thirteen, namely: Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen,
serving as organizons, and which constitute 95 to 99 parts in
the 100 of the produced crops of the farm. These are the
portions of the plant that are dissipated by burning. The
other elements, which are the non-organic, are potassium, so-
dium, calcium, magnesium and iron, that are metals; and
chlorine, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur, that are denominated
earths-all of which inorganic substances remain in the ash
when plants are burned.
Now, a complete soil possesses all these thirteen substances;
but it is not common that all are possessed by the soils of ordi-
nary farms; and when even all are present, some are often in
diminutive quantity, and others in an insoluble state. Hence
the remedies-fertilizers-must be of kinds and qualities to
suit the lack of the soils respectively.
Experimentations with varieties of soils and varieties of fer-
tilizers are, hence, of great importance.
In our Station, experiments were conducted upon the soils of
lands long subjected to cropping without any fertilizing. Be-
low are given the results of a line of experiments upon the soil
of the rear of the college campus, that had, as is stated, been
subjected to cultivation for over thirty years without any fer-
tilizing. The land was high hammock, that in native state had
oaks, hickory, magnolia, dogwood, ironwood and sassafras
timber; but had been so run as to be literally barren.


The table here is not intended to represent the quantity ot
production, but the relative development produced by various
fertilizing materials.
Farmers, by bearing in mind the character of soil here used,
may secure some important practical hints for treating the soils
of their farms:

Sam- Fertilizer Used. Color of Development.
pie. plants.

1 No fertilizer......... 3 yellow Spire-tassel; no ear.
2 Lime............... 5 pale green Branched tassel; sign of ear.
3 Wood ashes......... 6 deep green Branched tassel; silk, ear.
4 Gypsum............. 5% green Branched tassel; silk ear.
5 Mineral Phosphate,
(simple powdered
rock.). ........ 7 green Branched tassel; silk, ear 8 in.
6 Stable manure....... 10 deep green Full tassel; two ears, 8 to 10 in,
7 Mineral ac dula ted
phosphate and sal.
ammoniac......... 12 deep green Full tassel; two ears, 8to 10 in
8 Rye, nearly ripe..... 6 green Medium tassel; ear 6 in.
9 Cow peas, nearly ripe 7 green Medium tassel; ear 7 in.
10 Cotton seed......... 7 green Medium tassel; ear 7 in.
11 Marsh muck & lime. 7 green Medium tassel; ear 7 in.
12 Marsh muck & wood
ashes............. 8 green Full tassel ; ear 8 in.
13 Buckwheat, nearly
ripe.... .......... 6 green Medium tassel; ear 6 in.
This series of experimentation must not be taken as a com-
plete one, because the dry spell of this season was a serious
detriment. The estimates were made before maturity of the
corn, and in this particular, also, the experiment is imperfect.
Still it proves the relative value of fertilizers and their adapta-
In the Experiment No. 1 it is proven that the soil employed
in this series of experimentation was in quite a barren state,
since that the stalk of the corn produced was only 3 feet high,
and had only a spike-tassel, without any sign of an ear, and the
color yellow.
In No. 2 the addition of lime afforded a slight improvement,
which was effected by the chemical action of the lime, on the
ordinarily insoluble material of plant food which this barren
soil still possessed, and by which slight fertilization was
produced, as the stalk of the corn was two feet higher than th at
of the non-fertilized soil, and the color was improved. There
was a branched tassel and the sign of an ear.

In No. 3 wood ashes, in this soil, proved of more value than
lime. It produced a stalk 6 feet in height, and afforded a deep
green color to the blades, with branched tassel, silk and ear.
Wood ashes generally possess all the inorganic elements of
plants; and often (in cases of poor combustion) some organic
substances likewise. Thus it proves to have additionally to its
chemical action on the soil, some active fertilizing properties-
It is usually of more value in sandy soil than in clay soil.
No. 4 shows the effect of sulphate of lime in gypsum. Field
plaster, as commonly used is a sulpho-carhonate of lime, and
with some varieties of soil is quite useful. Particularly is this
the case where the soil has been much subject to washing, as on
hillsides of old fields.
In No. 5 tlhe common rock phosphate in simply powdered state
was employed. The sample was the Wakulla or Sopchoppy
phosphate rock. As the phosphoric acid combined in the form
of rock, or native state, is largely insoluble it does not in this
state afford its power in full effect. Still it has proved superior,
as a fertilizer, to any of the foregoing.
No. 6 comprised a fertilizer that contains usually all the
plant food required by any soil; and if this material were suffi-
ciently abundant everywhere farmers would have no need of
any other fertilizer. It produced in this barren soil a stalk of
corn 10 feet high; of deep green color of blades, and with
full tassel and two ears; one 8, the other 10 inches long.
No. 7 affords the production in this barren soil of corn with
stalk 12 feet in height, of deep green color, with two ears, 8
and 10 inches in length. The acidulated phosphate rock, with
the addition of ammonia, affords at once the full power of the
phosphoric acid, and with the nitrogen of the ammonia sup-
plies the chief fertilizing agents required for a full crop.
In No. 8 a lot of rye had been turned under on the same soil
of this series of experiments. The rye was by no means a fair
crop; but was carefully turned under when the milk in the
berry was hardening, and the corn was then planted in the soil
thus treated. It is seen that rye proves to be a fair fertilizing
Cow peas, in Experiment No. 9, prove superior to rye. The
entire plant of peas was put under, at the proper time,
which is when the pod is fully grown, and before the seed is

sufficiently ripe to grow. This plant in this stage contains a
considerable nitrogen and may be considered as among the
very best green-crop fertilizers that we possses.
Cotton seed, represented in Experiment No. 10, has proved
the equal of the cow pea in fertilizing power.
In Experiment No. 11, in which marsh muck that had been
composted with lime, has proved the equal in effect to cow
peas and cotton seed. In the heating process that occurs in
this composting nitrogen is absorbed and held in the compost"
This is a cheap and excellent material for all sorts of crops.
Marsh muck and wood ashes composted together proves, as
shown in Experiment No. 12, to be a superior home-made fer-
Experiment No. 13 proves that buckwheat is the equivalent
of rye as a green fertilizer; and this being of such quick
growth is more desirable. Buckwheat, as tested in our station,
does well in this climate.
Since writing the results of this line of experimentation in
our station, the Director visited the Ohio Experiment Station,
at Columbus, O.-Professor Charles E. Thorne, Director--and
there found a parallel experimentation with corn, which is so
nearly alike in some of the results with this of ours as to induce
its insertion here.
In this Ohio Station the proceeding was more circumspect,
and comprised such special methods for isolation from external
soil influence as to make that experimentation of greater value
than that of ours.
Director Thorne procured clean, drift sand, from a beach of
Lake Erie, which he took particular pains to clean still more
thoroughly, so as to render it almost absolutely pure silica.
This sand he placed in a series of clean boxes set into the
ground out in an open field. He took care to have the boxes
sufficiently high at top above the ground surface without as to
prevent overflow into the boxes. The depth of the sand in
the boxes was such as to afford moisture about equal to that of
the surrounding soil in the field, and every other precaution
was taken to make the series of experimentation as complete as
possible. Below is given in tabular form the results of Director
Thorne's work, and which he has kindly allowed to be used as
here appended-he, himself, having copied his entries, as given
in this table:


No. Height in Color of
Box Inches. Pants. Development.

1 No fertilizer used..... 31 very pale. Tassel, no sign of ears.
2 Dissolved ione black 48
3 Muriate of Potash. 32 "
4 Nitrate of Sda ...... 50 dark green no silk.
5 Diss. Boue-black and
Muriate of Potash... 58 very pale no cars.
6 Dissolved Bone-black
and Nit. of Soda.... 77 dark dreen small ears.
7 Muriate of Potash and
Nitrate of Soda..... 39 and silk.
8 Dis. Bone-black, Mur.
Potash and Nit. Soda 87 silk and ears.
9 Barn-yard Manure.... 57 medium and silk.
10 Linseid Oil Cake Meal 42 "

In the next table below there is a repetition of the test, but
old field soil used instead of clean sand:

No fertilizer used.
Dissolved Bone-black..
'Auriate of Potash.....
Nitrate of Soda........
Diss. Bone-black and
Muriate of Potash.
Diss. Bone-black and
Nitrate of Soda...
Muriate of Potash and
Nitrate of Soda...
Diss Bone-black, Mari-
ate of Potash and Ni-
trate of Soda........
Barn-yard Manure.....
Linseed Oil Cake.





p le. Stalk and tassel, ears 3 to
4 inches long.
very pale. Do do ears 2 to 3 "
Do do ears2 to3 "
very dark. Do do ears 4 to 6 "
very pale. Do do ears 2 to 3 "
very dark. Do do ears 4 to 6 "
very dark. Do do ears 4 to 6 "

vary dark. Do do ears 4 to 6 "
medium. Do do ears 4 to 6 "
medium. Do do ears 4 to 6 "

Accompanying these tables Prof. Thorne gives the following
very interesting remarks: "In both series of boxes the pres-
ence of nitrogen in the fertilizer is most strikingly shown by
the dark green color of the stalk and foliage, the color, where
no nitrogen has been added, being in every case pale and sickly.
In the case of the lake sand there is a striking different ce in the
altitude and general development of the plants, showing com-
plete development of all parts, where a complete fertilizer was
used, containing nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash. The
plants which received phosphoric acid only [contained in the
bone-black] or phosphoric acid and potash came most in devel-
opment, while those receiving only potash show no superiority
to those receiving no fertilizer whatever. Yet the necessity



for potash is shown in the superior development of the plants
in box 8 over those in box 6. [In first table.]
"In the case of the series in which the soil of the Experi-
ment Farm was used there is less difference in the development
of the plants, but there is the same difference in color of foliage
shown in the first series. The box receiving the complete min-
eral fertilizer contains the shortest plants in the entire series,
with the exception of that receiving no fertilizer; but the de-
velopment of grain is better in this box than in any other of
the series. It is intended at the close of the season to deter-
mine the weight of all parts of each plant in this experiment."
It is seen, by noting the results of the experimentation
with fertilizers in our station, and that of the Ohio station, that
nitrogen, as contained in the soil is exceedingly important.
Every example proves this. Next to nitrogen is phosphoric
acid. Carbon, although constituting the great body of plants,
is not so important as a component of the soil. Carbon is
almost entirely taken from the air by the foliage of the grow-
ing plant.
One important matter is determined by these series of experi-
mentation, and which doubtless has been often noted by per-
sons of experience in farming, it is that the indiscriminate use
of fertilizers is a poor practice. Soils differ greatly in their
requirements. Thus the practice of using lime, gypsum or
carbon composts indiscriminately is not a good one. On the
other hand, however, one cannot go far wrong in the indiscrim-
inate use of materials rich in nitrogen, phosphoric acid or pot-
ash, unless, indeed the soil is already a very rich one.

Former Bulletins afforded accounts of experiments with
Northern meadow grasses, as timothy, redtop, bluegrass, &c.,
and the progress of their growth had been noted as measurably
satisfactory. In this number, since those grasses, as also sev-
eral kinds of clovers have matured, more can be stated.
It had been stated that the dry spell of weather that had oc-
curred interfered with our experimentation. But still there
has been sufficient test of the practicability of culture of those
meadow grasses in Florida to warrant the conclusion that, with
proper care as to cultivation, and kinds of soil selected, those

grasses can be made at least moderately successful as pasture
grasses, and for hay as well.
The timothy headed out and matured seed. The heads, it is
trve, were not so large as they commonly grow in the North,
but yet they matured evenly in season. The stalks and blades
of the grass were respectably well developed, and the stand
was good and the plants are well rooted. Nearly as much may
be said of the redtop and bluegrass.
Both red and white clover headed out moderately well, and
matured seed. The stand with these is not really good, but as
the season was unfavorable some allowance must be made.
The crimson clover that had been reported as em-
inently well developed in growth, has matured seed abund-
antly. It proves here to be an annual plant, since that
after the seed had matured the roots died, as did the stalks.
Hence this clover must be sown annually.
This grass has now established its reliability, not only as a
pasture and lawn grass, but one that will yield hay of good
quality. Our College campus grounds are now well covered
with it, and by use of the lawn-mower has afforded a beautiful
lawn amidst the shade trees.
This was reported on in Bulletin No. 2 as a good success in
Florida. We can still so report.
Our plat of this grass is not well set, the dry weather ar-
rested its growth when young, while the roots had not yet pen-
etrated sufficiently deep to withstand the drouth. Still a por-
tion of the plat that was shaded a part of the day has a
moderately good stand.
Report of yield, to the acre, of varieties of Corn, under the
same treatment and on same soil.
Old oak and hickory land (high hammock.) The soil had
been exposed to commons for some years, after severe culture
and no fertilizing. The corn was all planted on March 10th, after
due preparation of soil, and fertilized with the Armour Blood
and Bone Fertilizer, three hundred pounds to the acre. Rows
4 feet apart, one stalk to the hill, 3 feet interval.

Seed from the Department at Washington. Yield 431 bushels
to the acre. Weight of shelled corn 60 pounds to, the bushel.
Weight of corn and cob, 73 pounds to the bushel.
Seed from the Department at Washington. Yield 31 bush-
els to the acre. Weight of shelled corn to the bushel, 581
pounds. Corn with cob, 75 pounds.
Seed from the Department at Washington. Yield,37b busl'-
els to the acre. Weight 64 pounds to the bushel of shelled
,corn, and with cob, 75 pounds.
Seed selected. Yield 31 bushels to the acre. Weight 64
pounds to the bushel, shelled; and with o',b, 75 pounds.
For fodder, when cut four times in the season, the growth
had been each time to three feet height 'and stood full and
stong. It was fed to stock and not estimated. Of seed, two
rows 370 feet long, close set, yielded one bushel and sixteen
quarts of seed. Weight of seed, 80 pounds per bushel.
Five rows, moderately close set, 4 feet apart, and 440 feet
long, yielded gross weight 240 pounds. Seed thereof, 7J bush-
els, and weight of cleaned brush, 150 pounds.
Note.-All the weighing in the above estimates was done
when the corn was not fully dried, and the weight part of'the
experimentation was therefore not complete, except as relating
to the object of the experiment, namely, proportionate yield.
In this year's treatment of corn it was found that in rich soil
the stand of two stalks to the hill did about equally well to one
in the development and thus produced greatly more corn to
the acre. The Florida practice of one stalk to the hill is not
most advantageous when the soil is rich, or when well fertil-
ized. Three stalks to the hill, however, did not increase the
aggregate yield over the two stalks in sufficient amount to pay
for the extra handling. All over three stalks proved detri-
mental proportionately as the increase was made. This, how-
ever, relates to the grain only, since that the fodder portion
was increased, and improved in quality.