Elements of Agricultural Chemistry
Excerpt: ...have been made in support of these views, but the inferences which can be drawn from them are not absolutely conclusive on either side, ... Show synopsis Excerpt: ...have been made in support of these views, but the inferences which can be drawn from them are not absolutely conclusive on either side, and it is necessary to consider the matter in a general point of view. Setting out from the proposition already so frequently referred to, that the plant cannot grow unless it receives a supply of all its elements, it must be obvious that if, Pg 157 to a soil containing a sufficiency of mineral matters to raise a given number of crops, a supply of ammonia be added, its total productive capacity cannot be thus increased; and though it may yield larger crops than it would have done without that substance, this can only be accomplished by a proportionate diminution of their number. In either case, the same quantity of vegetable matter will be produced, but the time within which it is obtained will be regulated by the supply of ammonia. That substance differs in no respect from any other element of plant-food, and used in this way is to all intents and purposes a special manure, and acts merely by bringing into play those substances which the soil already contains. Its effect may not be apparent until after the lapse of a very long period of time, but it ultimately leads to the exhaustion of the soil. If, on the other hand, a soil be continuously cropped until it ceases to yield any produce, it is manifest that the exhaustion must in this instance be entirely due to the removal of its available mineral nutriment, because the superincumbent air constantly changed by the winds must continue to afford the same unvarying supply of the organic elements, and the power of supporting vegetation would be restored to it, by adding the necessary inorganic matters. Hence when a soil, which in its natural condition is capable of yielding a certain amount of vegetable matter, is rendered barren by the removal of the crop, it may be laid down as an incontrovertible position, that its infertility is due to the loss of mineral matters, ..