Jour. Roy. Agricultural Soc. Eng. 1845
III.—Experiment on the Use of Charcoal as a Manure.
By the EARL OF ESSEX.
To Ph. Pusey. Esq.

SIR,—From the consideration that both salt and charcoal are not only direct food to plants, but also powerful absorbents and retainers of moisture, I made, during the late severe drought, the following experiment:

No. 1, I put in turnip-seed alone (Skirvings).

No. 2, the seed, mixed with 5 times its weight of salt, and 9 times its bulk of common charcoal refuse-dust.

No. 3, seed of the same kind, mixed with 12 bulks of charcoal-dust only.

All three put in the same day in drills, on the same ground, which had had no manure for three years. The ground at the time (3rd June) was as dry as dust: in five days Nos. 2 and 3 came up well, No. 3 soon, however, rapidly taking the lead. At the end of a fortnight all were slightly watered, but the soil was so dry that No. 1 did not vegetate; Nos. 2 and 3, however, grew rapidly. At the end of five weeks we had heavy rains, and in a few days No. 1 at last appeared, and then No. 3 almost grew visibly.

The three plants I exhibited to the Council this day (17th July) bore the following proportions to each other:—

No. 1, just coming into rough leaf.

No. 2, eleven inches long from end of root to the head; and

No. 3, twenty inches, and as big as my little finger at the crown of the root, and very vigorous. I may add, that the first week in May I sowed six acres of carrot, with charcoal, the ground at the time being quite dusty, and no rain falling for many weeks. Carrots, under the most favourable circumstances of rain, &c., seldom come up in less than four or five weeks. Mine, in spite of the drought, were well up in three weeks, and held their own during the drought. The efficacy of the charcoal would not be so apparent in moist weather, but under no circumstances can do injury.

By "12 bulks," I mean, that putting, say, 2 quarts of seed to the acre, I should well mix with it 24 quarts of charcoal-dust; 8 less than a bushel.

Below I send a scale of the plants.

Your obedient servant, ESSEX
Cassiobury, Waford, July 17th.