American Farmer 2(7): 209 (Jan 1847)


As it has been pretty well ascertained that every succeeding fall of snow brings with it very notable traces of ammonia, the experiment might be worth trying for the cultivators of wheat to sow over portions of their wheat fields, when covered with snow, pulverized charcoal at the rate of about 20 bushels to the acre. As we are averse from making costly experiments we would not desire that each farmer, who may venture upon carrying our recommendation into affect, should do so upon more than one or two acres. The cost of such experiment would be but trifling, and would test the efficacy of the application just as well as though the whole field were covered. Indeed, it would prove more satisfactory, as by marking the acre or acres sowed with the powdered charcoal, and comparing its product with that grown on an equal quantity of the adjoining land at harvest time, he would be enabled to tell whether it was or was not of real value.

The office to be performed by the Charcoal would be that of fixing the ammonia which might be contained in the snow, as also that which is comprised in rain. Nor would its action cease with the conclusion of winter, as it would continue throughout the season to act as a condenser of all nutritive gases, alternately attracting, and giving them out, as the necessities of the growing plants might require fresh supplies. Among the capacities ascribed to charcoal is that of absorbing 90 times its own weight of such gases as we have alluded to, and if this ascription be founded in fact, its value as a provider of food, cannot well be too highly appreciated, as from the fact of its giving it up to the plants when so absorbed, and being promptly ready to reabsorb and give out again, there is no telling the amount of readily prepared food it might bring to a growing crop. At all events, the experiment is worthy of being tried, and we sincerely hope that the enterprise will not be wanting to carry our recommendation into effect.