Jour. Roy. Agricultural Soc. Eng. 1845
XXVIII.—On Peat Charcoal as a Manure for Turnips.
Bonby, Lincolnshire, 9th Dec., 1844.

THE process of charring peat is very simple, if you have only plenty of water so near your fires that it can be scooped on as soon as the heaps are nearly red, though the fires want dragging down level before the water is thrown on: it is not necessary to wet the fires above half through; it then forms a coat at the top, which stops the fires doing anything more than smothering. The fires want examining next day, to see that it has not broken through anywhere, the top will be black from the water putting the fire out, and the bottom will be charred from the top smothering it. 1 have tried all ways with soda and clay, but could never succeed; the fires will be through them. I had almost forgot to tell you the chief thing, which is, not to light your fires while your pile is completed, as a shower of ram will not stop peat from burning when it once gets fire in it; and to light them at the outside, that is, not putting fire underneath your clumps (it will then eat its way into your clumps); and not to burn in windy weather the dried clumps. I think the best are about six feet wide at the bottom, rounding to the top, about six yards long, leaving a space for the man to walk and drag, as occasion requires. The first clump will want some fire, or something to start it, but still putting on the top, and setting on fire, the hot ashes will. fall in amongst the peat, and start it; after that, hot ashes from the first fire will be the only kindling you require, and are the best, as I have always found the longer the clumps are burning the better; but everything depends upon well dragging the fires, not letting them get red hot, without putting it sideways. I have burnt very good ashes in this way without water at all, when it has been in the middle of a field; but should recommend the ditch sides for the process, when water is good to come at, and I think the peat would pay for leading then, as you might lead the peat to the water, as soon as fetch water to the fires, without injuring so much grass, or whatever may be wanted to grow there. I am certain, when water is not plentiful, your man must be constantly putting the fires outwards as they burn. I find the ditch sides for another reason the best; the fires will be ten days or more in burning, and the ashes can lie on the ditch sides any length of time without stopping so much land from being sown, and wait for a convenient time to lead them away. I cannot make an estimate of the increased quantity by this process; all I can speak from is, that one waggon load of ashes burnt this way is preferable to two burnt as long as it will burn, which is the common process. Yet by checking the fires we produce a larger quantity of ashes than by the common method. The turnips that were drilled with dead burnt ashes two years since, were not fit to hoe, when the thirty-acre plot was furnished and even sown at the commencement of the field. The same year my house ashes I put on one side of the field, and black peat ashes on the other, therefore every other drill tread would be sown with them. We had to hoe all the peat-ashed sown rows first, right through the field, and both were used in the same quantities, about two waggon loads per acre. My turnips are really excellent, and I used nothing else. I am just finishing an 80-acre field which has been eaten off with 850 shearlings: calculating the sheep at 6d. per head, makes the turnips come to 5l. 7s. an acre; all old sheep.