The Duty of a Steward to his Lord p. 29-31 (1727)
Edward Laurence

Article VIII.

* I have often met with rebukes from several Farmers, and others, who are fond of Denshiring, or Burning of good as well as bad Land: And they have wonder'd that I should be against this Noble Improvement (as they call it) since there is such vast quantities of Poor Land in England, that have by a long continuance in Pasture contracted such a sowre Juice, that the Land would be worth nothing without paring and burning the Soil: And they have told me, they have (by this method) receiv'd such Crops as would purchase the Inheritance ot the Land. Supposing this to be true, yet I would have them consider, that all or most of the Nitrous Particles, by this method, must be drawn from the Land, especially when the practice is continued which is generally done; and so consequently they can never expect to receive little or no advantage from the Land for the future. Therefore the surest way to improve such Poor Land, is to turn it up with the Plough, and to sow such Seeds upon it as the nature of the Land requires, and to plough in the Crop at Midsummer. NB. This method is more fully treated of in the Appendix.

As the ‘formention'd land is design'd to be continued for Pasture, so it is adviseable to sow them with the natural Hay-seed, allowing Ten or Fifteen Bushels to an Acre where it can conveniently be got, near any considerable City or Market-Town. This hath been practis'd with great success, because these natural Grasses do not wear out, as the artificial ones do.

A Steward should likewise on his Surveys diligently observe, whether any of the Tenants do pare and burn the Soil of any part of their Farms: For tho' this is a practice of late years brought up, and encourag'd by the Farmers, for their own immediate advantage, and by Art made to look plausible, especially where Avarice or Indigence are address'd to by present rewards yet, led by long Experience, and certain Knowledge, I am sure nothing thing hath more tended to the falling of rents and the ruine of Estates than *Denshiring, as it is call'd from its first practice in Devonshire; where they now own, by way of Proverb, that tho' it is good for the Father, it is bad for the Son. And what brings on the destruction of a Farm the sooner, is the still viler Practice, of the Farmer, who too often sows Rape after burning; than which, there cannot be a greater Beggarer, especially of good Land; for it strikes a deep root into the Soil, and quickly fetches out all (or most) of the terrestrial matter fit for Vegetation; insomuch, that the Land so abus'd seldom or never is known to come to it self again. And again; While the Steward is watching to prevent Abuses, he should not neglect to restrain the Tenants from sowing Hemp, Flax, Woad, Weldt, Madder; and from planting Hops or Potatoes; (except in small quantities for their own private use.) All which Vegetables are very destructive to Land, because they breed no manure; they take from, but give nothing back to the Earth: For which reason the practice should be discourag'd, and indeed not suffer'd, even on the best Land, without a very Valuable Consideration made to the Landlord, not exceeding the term of Three Years at most. And, after that, the utmost care must be taken that the Land be laid down not in too high Ridges, and with a sufficient quantity of such Dung or Lime as can be got for breeding Grass and swarding the Land: Coal-ashes and Horse-dung for heavy Land, and Cow-dung, Lime, or Marle for light Land.