Loughash National Model Agricultural School
Report of Operations for 1853
SIR, — I beg to submit to you my Report on the working of the above school and Model Farm for 1853. The following will show the number of pupils receiving agricultural instruction at this school:
Classes 1 Jan 1853 /Admitted during the year /discharged during the year / increase or decrease/ remaining 1 Jan 1854
total 30 15 15 0 30
Of the fifteen boarding and day pupils who left during the year, most of them remained too short a time to qualify them for situations, but the amount of agricultural and literary knowledge which they acquired cannot fail to be of service, not only to themselves, but be a means of extending its benefits in whatever district they are placed.
The pupils in general conducted themselves most satisfactorily, displayed considerable energy and proficiency in acquiring a knowledge of the various branches of study brought under their notice, and I have no doubt, on examination, would be capable of exhibiting a fair specimen of the progress which pupils are capable of making, not only in agriculture, but in literary acquirements, though but half the day is devoted to study, the other half being for labour on the farm. The studies to which their attention is chiefly confined are of a practical nature, having relation to the management of land, as surveying in theory and practice ; laying out and levelling roads, water-courses, and drains ; a knowledge of chemistry, geology, and botany ; of the rearing and feeding of stock, and management of land; all conducted on a small scale, but suited to the wants of the generality of Irish farmers, and on such principles of economy as cannot fail to insure success wherever it is practised.
Cultivation of Farm. — The results connected with the management of the Model Farm for this year have been as favourable as could be anticipated. The crops, without exception, exhibited as fair a return as land of the kind could be expected to produce. The potato crop withstood the blight better than since the first year of the failure, so as almost to be a full crop : but the kinds cultivated, and which withstand the disease best, are inferior in quality to those cultivated previous to the commencement of the disease. Renewing the seed frequently, and planting early on dry and deeply prepared land appears to be the most successful practice to insure a crop comparatively free from disease.
The favourable result of the potato harvest, with the enhanced value of farm produce generally, has swelled the profits of the farm this year beyond what we have hitherto been able to realize ; but now that the most expensive portion of the improvements has been effected, I hope to be able to labour the farm more economically, so that should prices fall, it may still be capable of showing a fair return for the outlay of capital and labour bestowed upon it. With a view of testing the result of narrow drills, in turnip cultivation, and diminishing the distance between the plants, as required by Professor W. K. Sullivan, in your circular of 27th April last, I had two plots, of four drills each, prepared of the dimensions given in the following table, an equal quantity of manure was used in the drill in each lot, but as more drills are contained in an acre when they are made narrow, a greater quantity of manure is required, and this accounts for the difference of manure applied per acre. The turnips were sown on the 28th May.
I may observe, in reference to this experiment, that considerable inconvenience arises in working narrow drills, the horses are liable to injure the turnips where the space is too narrow for them to walk in, and as narrow drills must always be made shallow, the manure cannot be properly covered, and from this, and the small quantity of earth in the drill, the fibres of the plant have but limited space in search of nourishment: the size of the bulbs was a good deal less than where the drills were at the regular distance, but the foliage was greater. The place experimented upon does not represent an average of the whole field, consisting of 5 and a half acres, but I thought it best not to select the most favourable portion of the ground for the experiment.
Live Stock — The cattle fed upon the farm during the year, consisted of nine milch cows, fourteen heifers aud calves, eight sheep, and two horses, besides pigs, fowls, &c. The cattle are fed in the house one half the day in summer, and the other half get out to pasture for exercise; whilst in winter the milch stock are kept constantly in the house, and the young stock get out a few hours each day, when the weather is fine. This system of house- feeding enables me to keep a larger stock than could possibly be kept if the greater part of the farm were devoted to pasture, and though the yield in milk may be a little less in summer, when they are house-fed, less food is consumed, and the cattle kept in better condition, besides, the quantity of manure made for the benefit of the ensuing crop renders the sytem of house-feeding far preferable to any grazing system that could be adopted. The yield in milk and butter has been accurately kept for the past year, and you will see from the returns furnished, that the produce of the cows realized £62 13s.6d This with the value of the young stock reared during the year, exhibits a fair return from this branch of farm management.
Manures. — Our chief occupation for a large portion of the year consisted in collecting manure. The soil is naturally poor, and if a large quantity be not regularly applied, we are sure to find a great deficiency in the quantity of crop. So soon as the manure-stead has been cleared for the preceding year's crop, we fill it to the depth of eighteen inches with a layer of bog stuff, road scrapings, scourings of ditches, &c the urine from the cow houses is allowed to flow through it, and as soon as it becomes saturated, it is mixed in alternate layers with the manure as it is made from the cattle ; this bog stuff, when mixed, prevents the animal manure from decomposing too rapidly, and if any fermentation ensues, it retains the gaseous and liquid elements that would escape from it. During the winter this is carted to the field and made up into heaps, where it remains till it is required. In addition, we use a small quantity of guano for the turnip crop, which being placed nearer to the seed than the manure, but not in contact with it, pushes the young turnip forward at the commencement of it's growth, till its roots become sufficiently developed for extracting nourishment from the manure placed at the bottom of the drill. The application of guano appears to have a decided effect on the growth of the turnip crop ; and though its price is so high. it still leaves a margin for profit in the crop to which it is applied; but if it could be had for half the price, its application would become more extended, and the benefits resulting become proportionally greater.
Permanent Improvements. — The chief improvements effected during the year have been the making aud repairing of fences, clearing the land of stones, and putting additional drains in some parts of the fields, where they had not become sufficiently dry from the first draining. Almost the whole of the farm has now been drained, so that we will be able in the future to devote more of our spare labour to the improvement of the fences, and rendering more productive some parts of the farm which had been less susceptible of improvement.
The agriculture of this district has materially improved since the establishment of this school. There is now little difficulty in getting the people to follow the practice of " house-feeding" stock and raising green crops. The social condition of the people is now as satisfactory as in the most flourishing time of the potato culture, and little difficulty is experienced in meeting the demands of rent and taxes that now come against them, even with persons living upon small holdings. They are able to raise, from milk and butter, more than sufficient to pay rent, taxes, and other demands, leaving the crop of the farm for their own use. It is considered by the farmers in this place, that the person who has to depend on his crop alone to meet his demands, cannot be in a prosperous condition.
I send you the statistics of cropping, and other tables, compiled as carefully as could be, from an estimate of the different crops; and though our returns are not large, they are regular, and by a judicious expenditure, we try to keep the outlay within the income, which can be the only means of insuring success in any undertaking. A man engaged in agricultural pursuits may fail from two extremes : that is, by bestowing too much labour on his land, or too little, the great point is to know the kind of labour that will pay, and how far it is to be carried out, so as to insure a return for the expenditure. A proper understanding of this constitutes the chief skill of the Agriculturist, and enables him to exhibit a system capable of extension among the class of persons he is intended to benefit.
I remain, with respect, your obedient servant,
Name Date of Entrance Destination Date of Leaving
Michael Haley Dec.
Got employment aas a Clerk in a shirt
manufactory Dec. '63.