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Nature volume 101, pages 170174 (02 May 1918) | Download Citation

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Abstract

SOME little excitement was caused in agricultural circles by an article in the Times of April 20 describing how to grow wheat and grass on the same land. The method, if well founded, would revolutionise agriculture and overcome some great difficulties in food production. At present it is impossible to express any opinion, as no sufficient statement of detail has yet been made. It was stated in the article, that the Government experts had been much impressed by the method, but inquiries at the Food, Production Department put rather a different complexion on the case. According to the article, the method consists in delivering a mixture of wheat- or oat-seed and artificial fertilisers under the surface of grass land in July. By September or October the cereal is stated to have grown from 8 in. to 10 in. high. Livestock are then run on to the field to eat down the corn and grass,; the effect of this is said to be a strengthening of root-growth. The protection from frost given to the roots of the cereal by the covering of turf is further said to cause earlier start of normal spring growth, more heads to be thrown up, more rapid development of the plant, and earlier ripening of the grain. The harvesting is proposed to be done by means of an ordinary mowing machine fitted with an extra knife at the proper height above the grass to cut the heads of the grain. The lower knife is to cut the hay as usual and the upper knife to act as a “header.” Special arrangements are proposed for separately collecting the grain ahdf the straw. It would be easy to enlarge on the advantages, of the method if it materialised, but expectations should be repressed until a definite trial hasbeen made and seen bj7 competent observers. Agricultural experiments are just as full of pitfalls as any othersy and agricultural literature contains many, proposals for revolutionising crop production which unfortunately, never matured. There is a great deal of evidence to show that growing grass has a pernicious effect on wheat sown in the ordinary way, as careless farmers have often learned to their cost. Mr. Pickering's experiments at the Woburn Fruit Farm further demonstrate the incompatibility of grass and crops. It will be well, therefore, to await definite and unexceptionable evidence before attaching importance to the new claims, which are the subject of a further article in the Times of May 1.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/101170a0

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