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    Naturevolume 32pages605607 (1885) | Download Citation



    WE have observed with satisfaction, if we may be allowed to say so, the increasing attention which is being devoted to the subject of ensilage in this country, not only in view of the importance of this method of storing fodder as an auxiliary to the farmer, but because it evokes discussions which tend to the diffusion of the teachings of biologic science, and to widen the search after natural knowledge. The harvesting of ripe crops has become stereotyped by custom reaching back into the dim past; the practice of ensilage, on the other hand, involves a view of plant life which is not only foreign to our agricultural traditions, but is based upon less obvious teachings of nature, and it therefore demands a more intelligent cooperation of human industry. Notwithstanding these features, which make it a serious innovation, the unprejudiced acceptance of the system and the impartial spirit in which it is being practically investigated, testify to the growth of scientific culture amongst our agriculturists and to the general interest taken by them in the more recondite discussions of natural science which cannot fail to be widened by the study of the profound problems presented by the subject of ensilage. In contributing to the study of these we shall do so rather as observer than investigator, and as the text of our discussion we shall take Mr. Fry's excellent little work on “Sweet Ensilage.” Whatever the fate of the theory of the silo expounded by the author—and it is certainly a bold excursion into the terra incognita—he furnishes us with a good and clearly expressed working hypothesis for the regulation of the system to the production of “sweet” ensilage, to which his efforts as an agriculturist have converged, he has sought a warrant in the teachings of vegetable physiology, and the theoretical account of the silo which has resulted may be stated in broad outlines as follows:—The crop to be ensiled is cut in the full vigour of the growth of the plant; the tissues of the plant do not die, but continue to exercise their organic functions for some time after being deposited in the silo. The rise of temperature which ensues in the silo is due to what the author terms “intercellular oxidation,” or, from what we gather from the context, to the oxygen respiration of the cells.

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