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floods carried away what birds and vermin had left, or in the absence of floods, the grain sprouted in the ear, will be forgotten in a few years, when the crop-drying machine has been perfected, cheapened, and brought to the service of every holding, large or small. Many farmers are forced to-day to borrow on the security of crops that cannot be sold for months to come because of the condition in which they were harvested. It will be cheaper to buy, borrow, or hire the new drying plant, though it is hard to borrow machinery that was not bought for hire since it has such a brief and busy
Another invention which, while it promises to be of immense value to the farmer will also serve the countryside throughout the length and breadth of Great Britain, is the Wind Motor. Nothing very definite has been said of its origins, but apparently, the invention comes from Germany, where some examples are in use. Certainly one of the most effective of the wind motors now on sale is that invented by Major Bilau. At the same time, it is understood that Denmark has been experimenting with one of these machines for some time past, and the mill exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Show this summer was of Danish origin. The underlying idea of the invention is primarily to supply light and power to farmland, so that no matter where the farmer may have his holding, he may enjoy the advantages that would come to him if he were within one of the great electricity areas, while at the same time, when his plant is established, power to work it will come from the air, and he will need no assistance save that which may be called for on those few days in the year when the wind fails. The average wind speed in these islands has not yet been ascertained; it is said to range somewhere between twelve and twenty miles an hour, while the wind motor becomes effective when the speed is no more than eight or nine, some indeed can work in a six-mile-an-hour breeze. Experiments have been carried out with six or seven different types of machine for some time past, the rights in those from Germany and Denmark have been acquired by English companies, and we may expect to see a considerable choice on the market in the next few months when some of the questions that count have
ad found their final answer.
The cost will be little more
than installation and maintenance.
The effect of the wind motor as a labour-saver is hard to over-estimate. It will do away with such hand labour 1 as is called for in pumping, chaff and silage cutting, milking, cream separating, fire lighting. It will serve the farmhouse and the farm buildings, and in this conInexion, it may be remembered that if stock can enjoy a few extra hours of light in the winter, they feed late and tend to become more thrifty, while vermin will be more reluctant to venture out in search of their food. It is not difficult to see the expansion of the wind motor to the service of the village itself. Not only will it remove the reproach of dullness from the streets, but by bringing power within the reach of places far removed from the area of gas or electricity undertakings, it will enable many a village industry to revive and find a paying basis. A few years ago, the Electricity Commissioners had a vast scheme to supply power, a scheme which appeared to include the absorption of small interests and the elimination of waste, but apparently, there were many difficulties in the path, and at the time of writing, the question of a national supply of electricity coming from centres where coal or water are available in the necessary quantity would appear to have fallen into the decent obscurity of Cabinet consideration.
If the wind motor can be perfected, and there is no reason to believe that the difficulties at present unsolved are insoluble, then every village should be independent and every farm should be able further to reduce its costs of food production, and to improve both the quality of the labour it employs and the rate of wages paid for it. Clearly, whether we consider crop-drying machinery or the electric motor, we find that skilled service of a kind little known in farmland will be required in the near future, and it may be that the beginnings of this service can well be taught in the village school, since nothing appeals more strongly to the young mind than the chance of handling a machine. There is some talk in official circles of extending the very limited area of secondary schools with a rural bias, and if this is done the rising generation will be prepared to meet the new conditions. Not only is it likely that motors driven by Vol. 245.-No. 486.
wind power can compete effectively with commercial electricity, but the cost of one of these appliances with- tio out storage batteries will probably be found to stand an round about 1007. when they are first placed on the Th market; while, as new types and designs supersede the early ones, there is no reason to suppose that the price di will not decline, as it should do in the case of the crop- PL drying plant. The question of storage batteries is, of course, a large one, because they are very expensive, and a if they were indispensable, might place the motor beyond the reach of the man with limited means. Against this, we have to remember, first, that the days when no wind is blowing are few and far between, and secondly, that when they do arrive, it might be easily possible to run the wind motor for a few days either by the aid of a motor-car engine, or one of those small portable gasengines which are part of the equipment of every modern farm. That there are difficulties still to be overcome is admitted on every side, but the fact remains that some of these machines are already producing electricity, and the need for their services is so great, the reward for making them cheap and effective so certain, that there is no reason at all to doubt the result of the present endeavours.
In the mean time, the Institute of Agricultural Engineering at Oxford is collecting all manner of data and studying every problem on an experimental farm in Bedfordshire. The present methods of converting wind power into mechanical power and thence to electrical energy may not prove to be the best available, only research can decide the matter. Then the question of wind wheel design, concerned as it is with problems of rainfall, atmosphere, temperature, and relative humidities, is a very extensive one, and much patient research will be required before all the story can be told. The cost of the power produced, the conditions of running, the variations in blade design to meet wind conditions, are more or less new, and it is well to remember that our knowledge of the wind itself has only been acquired recently, and remains very incomplete. Great ingenuity has, however, already been displayed by the makers of the new motors, and some of them are so constructed that an increase in wind pressure brings about a reduc
SUGGESTIONS FOR FARMERS
ion in the area affected, so that there is no danger of fony great gale creating more power than is required.
The problem of the moment is cheap storage. So far as one can tell, the wind motor, which of course comes in direct succession to the very similar instrument that pumps the water on the farm, is destined to release the farm worker from many a familiar but unpleasant task, and to add enormously to the amenities of life on the farm and in the village. Already, some few progressive men who combine farming and engineering are using electricity for their plough power.
The fact that the work of investigating the claims of every kind of agricultural machine has been taken up by the Agricultural Institute at Oxford is of the very highest importance, because the farmer has always been at the mercy of the salesman hitherto, and the best salesman is not always employed in the service of the finest article. The work of the Institute at Oxford is to prove the new inventions that are submitted to the agriculturists, and every farmer who contemplates a purchase can apply to the Institute and learn what is known to the advantage of the one he proposes to buy. The Institute having no commercial interests to protect and no other purpose than the benefit of the agricultural community to serve, there could be no better test for the farmer than a report issued by the inspector in the Institute's service. The machine that is not offered for examination will have no semi-official credentials to offer.
Another question of which the wise solution may mean great advantage to the agricultural community relates to subsoiling, that is, the breaking up of the stratum below the plough-sole, without bringing the subsoil to the surface, a delicate operation enough, though seemingly a matter of brute force. It has long been known that subsoiling if properly carried out has an immensely advantageous effect upon production, whereas if it is done badly, and brings the subsoil to the surface, the position is reversed. Subsoiling is not practised at present so often as it should be, and the steam cables which are generally used are expensive in their application, and in some cases very difficult to adjust. On the other hand, the strain upon the plough team is exceedingly heavy, and down to a little while
ago there was no choice between the horse and the steam cable, so that the work tended to be neglected. To-day, thanks to the motor tractor, it is possible to carry out subsoiling at moderate expense and with little difficulty. But here, as in every other agricultural operation, there are very many questions that must be settled before the method can be deemed effective, and the Institute of Agricultural Engineering has been engaged for more than two years past in carrying out a series of experiments on every class of soil. These have been conclusive up to a point. It is shown that increased yields, amounting to 25 per cent. on a conservative basis, are possible, and that every manner of land, from the heavy London clay to the gravel and sand, has some beneficial result to yield from subsoiling. At present the inquiry is directed to finding the maximum depth to which it is desirable to pierce; the relation of expense to effect; the ratio of increase; the most desirable conditions; the best crops to take advantage of subsoiling; the degree of pulverisation to be aimed at; and all questions relating to aëration, chemical changes, mixture content, temperature, germination, effect of manuring, and the rest, which must be understood before the farmer can expect to know precisely where he stands or the benefit he may hope to gain from a given expenditure. The question of the most suitable tine for subsoiling is also under consideration, but in a very little while we may hope for some authoritative pronouncement on these points, and when we consider the high productive capacity of some of the more recently bred varieties of corn and the new conditions that the developments outlined above are likely to bring about, it is not unreasonable to say that the evolution of farming practice has reached a point at which the outlook is more promising than it has ever been. The optimist may assert himself in farmland in spite of the problems associated with unrestricted import, labour difficulties, and the merciless manipulation of our markets by those middlemen who are apparently destined to thrive by grace of Government, in spite of the revelations of Lord Linlithgow's committee. A long period of patient research in agriculture is bearing rich fruit, and the one danger before the farmer is that he will not recognise the duty of the