The Farmer’s Magazine, February, 1865, 160-164

Dr. Tiffen

At the usual bi-monthly meeting: of the Wigton Farmers Club, the subject for discussion—"The Modern System of Draining; its Advantages and Imperfections"—was introduced by Dr. TIFFEN, who, after a few introductory remarks, read as follows:

I now proceed to discuss, as well as I can, and time will allow, the merits of the modern system of draining, merely observing by the way that, in the practical parts of my remarks, I shall refer especially to that which has been practised in our own neighbourhood, excluding all comment upon the more elaborate mechanical appliances to be seen at work in some localities, but which are either not applicable to our own neighbourhood, or so much in advance of our actual condition in respect of cultivation as not to be immediately practicable; and, for the sake of conciseness, I propose to discuss my subject under three heads or divisions, and to consider the most prominent features of each separately, in as brief a manner as possible. These three heads, or divisions, are:

1. What do we understand by "the modern system of draining"?

2. The benefits arising from it.

3. The imperfections or deficiencies which I conceive to belong to it, as practised in the district.

First. The distinctive and characteristic features of the modem system of draining, as I understand it, are, in a few words, the depth at which the tiles are laid in the ground, and the direction of the fall; the principle guiding or deciding the depth having reference to the presence of water underlying the subsoils, and that determining the direction of the fall having reference to the rapid discharge of the water itself from the drain. Deep drainage, in the direction of the inclination or fall of the land, so as to promote the speedy emptying of the tiles, constitutes, therefore, the chief characteristic feature of the modern and most approved system of draining. Another item in this definition is the cutting of the drains up the face of the incline, for the purpose and with the object of tapping or opening-up the ends of the substrata, which crop out upon the face of the hill. This often effectually sets at liberty the water which has been confined in beds, unable to escape directly, or, if escaping, thoroughly drowning the land into or upon which it has made its way. Simple methods, such as I have already alluded to, have been practised from the earliest times; and, indeed, some more elaborate and scientific systems, though perhaps known only to a few advanced and limited localities, appear to have engaged the attention of the Government of this country in every period of its history; but it is only within the last 250 years that we find that any idea appears to have been entertained by the agriculturist, of removing superfluous water from the surplus soil by first drawing off that which is found lying in quantity in the substrata, and which is commonly known as bottom-water, by means of deep cuts or covered drains. In the seventeenth century a certain Captain Blyth wrote a work, in which was pointed out the necessity of removing bottom-water from land; and it is curious to note that this work contained instructions as to the best methods of accomplishing this object, which will bear comparison with those of good writers in the present day. Still later—about 150 years ago— a system of thorough drainage was in vogue in some of the southern counties of England, which was so perfect, and so similar in principle to the one now practised, that, wore it not that we know that man's inventive faculties are ever in active operation, and his mind open to the reception of peculiar impressions at one period as much as another, or, if varying at all, only quickened when his necessities arc especially urgent. we might readily believe that the discovery of Mr. Smith, of Deanston, published by him in 1835, was neither more nor less than a mere revival of the best plans of our forefathers, suggested, possibly, by some old, unnoticed book of farming, which curiosity might have led him to look into, or, as probably, by observing the remains of some of the older systems still to be seen in some of the southern counties, and which, though obsolete in practice in his day, were still visible in their effects. The old and trite saying, that "there's nothing new under the sun," might therefore possibly find in this coincidence an apt illustration in the history of agriculture, as it is said to be constantly doing in the history of other forms of human progress.

It ought to be observed, in reviewing the history of farming, that Mr. Smith's system superseded, about the year 1825, one which had been much practised in this country since 1764, when a Mr. Elkington discovered what is known under the title of the "tapping" system, and for which discovery he received from Parliament a reward of 1,000—a sufficient indication of its supposed value. This system consisted in cutting deep drains, to intercept springs, and boring through the subsoil and underlying strata, by means of a rod, until the underlying water was reached and set at liberty. It was much praised at the time of its discovery, and for a long period afterwards; but by-and-by the system was found not to answer in lands where the soils were very porous and absorbent to any considerable depth, and therefore ceased to be applied to such lands, though it continued to be extensively and effectively used in situations where the soil was drowned in the overflux of natural springs. In the present day, Elkington's system may be said to have entirely disappeared. In my humble opinion, this is an unfortunate circumstance; and I purpose troubling you, by-and-by, to consider the propriety of returning to one part of his plan, or to some modification of it.

But though Mr. Smith's system might not be the absolute novelty it was supposed to be, at the time it first became known in England, it was new, to all intents and purposes, whether his own invention or not; and he deserves all the credit of an inventor at our hands, seeing that the older systems, with the exception of Elkington's, had then entirely disappeared from practice; and that it was through his discernment we were enabled to become acquainted with such a mode of operating upon our land as speedily to raise its value, where applied, from a few shillings au acre to as many pounds, by the discovery of a system of drainage which, whether new or old in itself, was certainly brought to a state of comparative perfection through his energy and skill. To Mr. Smith, then, I would say that the present generation of agriculturists owe a large debt of gratitude for having originated that system of modern improvements which has had such a marvellous influence upon the progress of agriculture in our day. He, however, did not; lay sufficient stress upon the importance and necessity of cutting the drains deeply in the direction of the fall, or up and down hill, and, in the course of time, with practical experience gained, it began to be felt that the full benefit of draining had not been attained by his system. Though much good was undoubtedly effected, and agriculturists in general were satisfied for a long time to believe that it was the perfection of draining, yet there arose in the minds of some a strong desire for further improvement. The ingenuity of man set itself to work, and further improvement appeared in the shape of the system of Mr. Parkes, of Westminster. This gentleman some years ago pointed out the necessity of still further deepening our drains, and forming the conduits by means of the pipe-tiles, supported by collars, placed in parallel lines, in the direction of the fall of the land; and in no other way. This is the plan most approved of by Government, and in all drainage works which have been carried out through the assistance of money borrowed under the Drainage Act of 18, the ordinary drains cut four feet, placed in parallel lines, in the direction of the fall, not more than nine yards apart—the distance somewhat modified, of course, in cases where the subsoil is of a very open, porous nature—and laid with collared pipes, have been absolutely insisted upon. The fact that Government adopted Mr. Parkes’ system, which it did after a full inquiry into the merits of all the systems in operation, or suggested, at the time the Drainage Act was passed, is a very strong point in favour of it; and I am very much afraid that the modification, if it be now regularly practised in this neighbourhood, is a step in the wrong direction— a retrograde movement dictated by a false sense of economy, but scarcely, I imagine, approved of by our better judgment. I shall have to refer to this point again, however.

Deep drainage is, without doubt, the foundation of every improvement in agriculture, yet with all the experience hitherto required, I am convinced, from observation, that it is often imperfectly done, setting aside even the faulty modification of it just referred to. So many peculiarities in land are to be found in particular districts, and so many opinions prevail as to the way in which they should lie dealt with, that it is next to impossible to get established any well-defined mode of operation, as being likely to be universally applicable; and in the absence of one such fixed rule or principle of action, these opinions are acted upon too frequently without sufficient consideration, the idea being allowed to prevail that if the draining gets done at all, it will do. The consequences are dissatisfaction to the occupier, and disappointment to the owner; the benefits accruing from such imperfect and ill-considered operations not being commensurate with the labour and expense incurred. Before proceeding to the next part of my subject, I may briefly notice what has been termed a "new system of drainage," which has been applied, it is said successfully, to river-side meadows, lying on a level with, or very little above, the bed of the neighbouring stream. It is stated, by a Mr. Robie, of Paisley, that much benefit has accrued from draining such land three or four feet deep, into a main drain, which is made to enter the running stream two or three feet below the surface. The effect of having a main drain entering the river at such a depth must be to keep the soil and subsoils constantly in a state of moisture, and in winter or wet seasons to starve the land. The only way in which I can imagine such a system to act beneficially is this—by admitting the river-water into the soil and subsoil. In very dry weather it will of course prevent drought, and may be the means of conveying the fertilizing materials contained in the water into immediate contact with the roots of the grasses; but I should be apprehensive that such constant under-ground irrigation—to within a few inches, perhaps, of the surface of the land—as this system must produce, would either drown the land, or lead to the production of a kind of vegetation highly objectionable for feeding purposes, Without being able, certainly, to comprehend how this new mode of treating river-side meadows can be beneficial, I must incline, as a matter of taste, to prefer the old-fashioned system of taking a main drain to some lower point of the river-course, so us to procure a good outfall, and if I am desirous of underground irrigation, to admit the water from some point of the river above.

Second.—The benefits arising from draining a country, speaking broadly, are many and various, not only to agriculturists, but to the community at large. The climate even is materially affected, and the atmospheric condition of localities, before scarcely habitable with any degree of safety to health or life—human or animal—is so altered and improved, as to become all that is desirable. The cold and depressing vapours which are seen and felt to hang like a filmy sheet, suspended in mid-air, above the swampy meadow or undrained marsh, on a spring or autumn evening, and which are so fatal to human life, and so pregnant with disease and mortality to cattle and sheep, disappear before the draining spade as if by magic, and give place to that healthful, bracing air, which, whilst it gives health, vigour, and energy to man, contributes amazingly to the soundness of the health and solidity of the flesh of the lower animals. The vegetation upon such lands is entirely changed in its character; rushes, sedges, bent, cotton grass, and such like worthless aquatic plants, which thrive so luxuriantly in the presence of constant surface water, speedily give way to those finer grasses, which are so necessary to the fattening of a beast, and to the production of good milk in the dairy. Sheep, too, experience the good effects of dry pasturage to a surprising degree; instead of dying of rot, and other diseases, they become healthy, of larger size, better quality, and fatten much more rapidly. The effects of drainage upon vegetable growth are, indeed, remarkable—more noticeable even than those upon animal life.

The effects of draining upon the characters of soil are equally decided, though, at first sight, not quite so obvious. Soils differ widely, as we know, in their capacity for moisture, and it necessarily follows that what may only be a useful quantity in one kind becomes an excess upon another; for example, clay readily absorbs moisture to the degree of saturation, and when this has happened no percolation can take place through its substance; it has become like a bed of putty, totally impervious, and any additional water coming upon it, as from a heavy rainfall, is, therefore retained upon its surface. On the other hand, sandy soils and gravels, having little powers of absorption, allow water to pass freely through them, and unless supported and strengthened by understrata of clay, or other firm subsoil, rapidly—in some cases too rapidly—relieve themselves of any temporary excess of moisture. In tins case draining is a very simple process, and, indeed, often unnecessary, so far as getting quit of the water is concerned. The land is easily workable, and requires but little labour. In some instances the soil is so open and free, that the difficulty with the cultivator is not so much to get rid of excess of moisture as to improve its texture sufficiently to retain the manures which he may have to put into it. And in reference to this particular point, the question may be asked, would not thoroughly draining soil of this description tend to solidify it, and make it more retentive, by abstracting the water even more rapidly than it now passes away by the natural channels? It would certainly diminish the amount of solution of the manures added to the soil, the water not being detained sufficiently long by it to effect this completely. As a consequence of the retention of the manure in this way production would be increased, and so also would the effete matter which so largely contributes to the formation of loam in good soils. The occasional addition of some more solid material would be all that would be required to make land of this description much more valuable than it could be by any other process which did not include the preliminary step of effectually draining it. In the former instance, however, the effects of draining are very striking, and highly important from an economical point of view. Unless the subsoil be thoroughly broken up, and its texture softened and refined by the abstraction of its superfluous water by draining, the labour of cultivation is fearfully increased. The ploughing is difficult, slow, and imperfect; the harrowing all but useless—a mere scratching of the furrows, instead of tearing them to pieces, which it should be; and the rolling, if thought necessary for any purpose, will produce such a compression of the; surface as to render it more like a road than a cultivated field. Hut if drained—and, let me add, if thoroughly drained, more or less according to the modern system—all this is changed; even the wettest and most clayey soil becomes free and easily workable; the labour of cultivation is diminished, and the cost largely economised. Your summer fallow is no longer necessary, and that rude and wasteful system of narrow ridges and wide furrows, so much practised in this neighbourhood, becomes needless. The loss of your best soil, and most fertilizing parts of your good manures by this contrivance—assisted, as it is, by those surface cuts considered necessary in undrained retentive hinds—must be enormous, and is not incurred where this is attended to. The destruction of seed, also, when put into wet soil, is immense; a large proportion of it swells, bursts, and dies; and the roots of that which vegetates are liable to rot and perish. The ripening of the crops is even affected; for it is a remarkable fact that the average spring and summer temperature of the soil is considerably increased by draining, and this increased temperature, of course, promotes more rapid growth, and early ripening of your crop. In a word, it may be said that the successful issue of every operation in agriculture depends, almost entirely, upon the completeness and perfection of your system of draining; and in proportion as this is weak and imperfect in any point will be the loss of your labour, and the quantity and quality of our returns.

Third.—This leads me to speak of what I venture to call the imperfections of our modern system of draining, or I ought rather to say, perhaps, of the imperfect way in which that system is applied in this district, From what I have already said, it will perhaps not startle you to hear me make the somewhat broad assertion that not only is this district generally not half-drained, but much of the land in it which is looked upon as well-drained, is scarcely more than half-drained. A drive round the country is sufficient to satisfy any observer how little draining has been attended to on those lands where it is most needed—that a large proportion of them have never been drained at all, or so ineffectively as not to deserve the name. And with respect to many of those lands which have been drained, I consider that there is strong evidence of the operation having been imperfectly done. I maintain that as long as narrow ridges and wide furrows are necessary to corn-land; as long as summer-fallowing is required to prepare the soil for the reception of the wheat-seed; as long as the crops ripen irregularly; as long as our pastures are easily drowned and as easily draughted, and as long as draining requires to he renewed every fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years—and all these things are daily before our eyes—just so long have we demonstrated proofs that our lands are imperfectly drained. Now, I will take the liberty to point out some of the defects in our draining; and, at the same time, I will, with your permission, suggest improvements which, I feel a conviction, would be of much service.

1st,—The first defect in modern draining I have to notice, is the small number of drains we are in the habit of cutting. We are told by engineers that a well-pit will draw moisture of any description from all the ground, of ordinary texture, within a circle of twelve feet space, or radius, from the circumference of the pit itself. Taking the diameter of the pit to he four feet, we have a circle, the total diameter of which will be about twenty-eight feet, brought within the influence of the pit. Now, if a well-pit, perhaps twenty feet deep, will only relieve fourteen feet of fair drawing ground, on each side, of its moisture, I would ask how is a drain, four feet deep, in a stiff clay subsoil, to draw freely over even a similar space? I presume it was upon this theory that Government directed that their drains should be at least nine yards apart, conceiving, we may suppose, that the ordinary drawing probities of soils would enable each parallel drain to relieve its share of the twenty-seven feet of all its moisture. The theory I shall not dispute; but what is the fact? In open, free subsoils, the whole space is vastly benefited; but on those clayey soils, which form the bulk of the cropping land of this district, little more than half the space is directly affected by each drain. The remainder obtains a certain amount of good, but only indirectly, through the improved absorbing power of that portion which is upon, and contiguous to the drain, and to some small extent, perhaps, through the evaporation of the moisture contained in it not being interrupted by that of the drained portion. Everybody, of course, knows that the surface immediately above the drains presents the most luxuriant appearance, and that this gradually diminishes as we recede from the drain. What does this indicate? It clearly shows that where the water is directly abstracted from the soil, there the productive powers of the soil are least interfered with. The lesson to be learnt from this hint on the part of nature is, obviously, that we should increase the number of drains. It has been suggested to mc that subsoiling would be as efficient and cheaper, inasmuch as it would subserve two purposes at once—drain and subsoil, by one operation. I confess I should like to see Fowlers machine at work in this country, as I believe nothing would contribute so powerfully to the increase of the productiveness of its cold clay lands; but I am persuaded that without thorough drainage being first applied a vast amount of labour would lie fruitlessly expended if we adopted this, or any oilier expensive mode of breaking up the subsoil Therefore, before subsoiling strong lands with stiff, pasty, clayey substrata, I would suggest, with a view to economy, and, at the same time, sufficiently draining the land, that alternate deep and shallow drains be cut at intervals—say five, or five-and-a-half yards; the deep drains being made good at four feet, and the shallow drains three feet deep. The effect of this arrangement would be this: The deeper drains would serve the double purpose of intercepting and carrying off the underlying water, and, at the same time, assisting in the removal of the surface water, which, however, would be more speedily and effectually removed by the interposition of the shallower drains. Possibly, if they were all deep drains, the effect might be still greater; but a moment's consideration of the laws which regulate the gravitation of water, and the modification of them which is brought into operation by the presence of underground conductors, will lie sufficient to show how the two sets of drains will act, and how the intermediate shallower drains may be as effective as if they were deep, whilst the adoption of them would certainly effect a material saving in the expense. But, in addition to increasing the number of ordinary drains, I need scarcely say it would be necessary to add to the number and capacity of the main drains, not for each set separately, but a greater number into which all the drains might be conducted. Even in lands already drained on Mr. Parkes's principle, there is, to my mind, a great deficiency in the number of mains introduced; and, of course, if more drains were used, a strict attention to this point would lie still more necessary'. A simple calculation will prove what I say as to the want of mains. One main has frequently to take the water from perhaps twenty subsidiary drains; and, if we have twenty of these, each having a two-inch tile, emptying into one out-fall drain, with only one six-inch tile, how is the latter to deliver the water it may receive, under some pressing circumstances, from the former? The volume of water received from the subsidiary drains being so much greater than the capacity of the main drain, it is physically impossible. And what is the consequence? Why, that the water which should flow along the tiles speedily forces itself forward outside, scours away the foundation of the drain so as to allow the tiles themselves to become displaced, and eventually either to get stopped altogether, or so closed as to permit only a very limited run of water. It is a matter of common experience that the mains are the first drains to get out of order; and, to my mind, the cause is obvious, viz., the want of capacity in the mains to carry off the water they receive from the subsidiary drains with sufficient rapidity.

2nd.—This leads me to the consideration of another imperfection in our system of draining, and it is one of great importance. I refer to the mode of tiling the drain. Whoever invented the flat pipe tiles, and recommended them as a substitute for the pipes and collars, did, in my humble opinion, an act of the greatest unkindness to the agriculturist, and especially to the owner of land. He tempted them with an appearance of security, and a saving of money; but I think it will not be difficult to show that the former is deceptive, and the latter only temporary. Now, had this inventor only devised some form of collar or "support, which would have done away with the dread of leaving the pipe tiles hollow, when placed between two collars, instead of dispensing with the collar altogether, he would have done a rent kindness. But to explain my previous proposition; the security of the drain is deceptive, and the economy a mistake. I feel strongly impressed with the idea that a properly laid drain, in a clayey subsoil, ought to endure for generations, instead of being barely serviceable for one, but that this cannot occur unless the tiles are most accurately laid on a sound foundation, and their opposing extremities properly secured and supported. Further, that such security and permanent support cannot be attained to by any means at present known, except some form of collar, and that therefore the saving of the expense of the collar is lost many times over in the want of permanency of the drain. Moreover, that the use of any kind of slip placed under the tiles, by way of support, does not efficiently serve the same purpose as the collar. To prove my position, I must ask you to consider the fact that the clay subsoils of this district are not uniform in consistence, that they almost invariably contain veins, or pots of sands, or are of varying degrees of hardness. The action of the water upon a foundation of this description, as it passes from the surrounding earth into the cavity of the tile, will tend to establish a scour, to wash the softer portions away, and so leave parts—most probably the extremities—of the tiles unsupported. These must, therefore, tilt, get out of line, and eventually close up the drain. And I apprehend the same mode of reasoning applies, with even greater force, to the laving of tiles in subsoils of softer and more variable texture. Now, the correction I propose for this defect is either that the tile-setter be provided with a kind of scoop to remove just sufficient of the bed of the drain ns will receive the collar, and so allow the tile itself to lie solid, or that a form of collar shall be used which shall be adapted and fitted to the form of the flattened pipe, and rest upon the same level as the tile itself; or, that a pipe with one end widened to receive the small end of the next tile shall be substituted for the one now in use. I am convinced that the small flattened pipes, now so much used in this district, and the practice of laying the main-drain tiles without collars, arc very great mistakes, and that the sooner they are discarded the better.

3rd.—The next mode which I must consider is the mode of blinding the tile, and filling the drain. As you are aware, the Government authorities recommend pasting up the jointings of the tiles with clay, and filling the drains with the removed materials, taking care to keep the soil upon the surface. Is this on imperfect or incorrect practice or not? It appears to me to be an open question here at all events; though we must suppose the Government would not have urged it had there not been good grounds for believing it best. It is contended that, by preventing the rapid flow of water into the drain, much loss of the fine particles of the soil and manures is avoided. Also, that by blinding the tiles and tilling the drain within the surface materials, you lose so much actual land or soil. Without speaking positively of the advantages or disadvantages of the plan, I may suggest that, if the water be longer retained in the soil, it is more likely to dissolve, and carry away the finest and most valuable parts of the soil and manures, than it would do if carried off more quickly; and as regards the loss of soil, caused by putting the loose surface materials into the lower parts of the drain, it is to be calculated whether that loss is compensated for by the free and rapid discharge of the water, by the admission of air into the lower parts of the drain, and by the possible value of the subsoil material kept upon the surface. Another probable advantage arising from the quick removal of the water from the substrata, is the more rapid conversion of such substrata into useful soil, or, at all events, the more speedy preparation of it for the operation of subsoiling.

4-th.—Another imperfection, suggested by the remarks just made, is the want of a system of ventilating our drains, especially where the draining is conducted upon the Government plan. Ventilators appear to be entirely overlooked. A free admission of air into drains is absolutely necessary, if we wish the water to pass away rapidly, and especially is it required in the subsidiary drains, where the conductors are small. Each drain should have its ventilator, placed at its point of greatest elevation, and properly secured against damage.

5th.—Another consideration discloses itself in our want of information as to the actual effect produced by our drains upon the land in the spaces between them. We seem only to judge by general results. Why not satisfy ourselves at once, and at intervals, by the use of the very simple expedient of test pits, or holes, dug in the ground to various depths, and observe how the water disappears from them in wet weather ?

6th.—To secure the full benefits of a system of underground water-conductors, or drains, I venture to express a belief that much good would arise from the introduction of a part of Elkington's system. Tapping the water contained in underlying strata, and conveying it into our drains, would not only remove a source of wetness in the superstrata, but, if conducted especially into the shallower drains which I have proposed, would provide a never-failing supply of water for the purposes of underground irrigation, which would, in time, effectually do away with some of the worst consequences of drought in any extraordinarily dry seasons. Of course I do not mean to say that this is universally applicable; but I conceive that it might very frequently be practised with ease, and, where available, with good effect.

Such are some of the defects which I have observed, and which have struck me as being very important. I have not entered into any details as to the mode of carrying out the operations suggested, because I know that to practical men this is unnecessary. Besides, I fear I have occupied your time too long already.

At present, the usual charge made to occupiers, by landlords, for money expended upon drainage, varies from five to six-and-a-half per cent, per annum, exclusive of cartage of tiles, &c., and this charge is made upon the supposition that the benefits of such drainage are only temporary, and exclusively for the occupier. Now, if permanency of the works were secured, I do not sec why landlords should charge their tenants more than the common interest received from ordinary investments, viz., four per cent.; and if they were satisfied with this, the actual cost to the tenant would be less, considering the advantages promised, than that now incurred for such improvements. To secure his own interests, the landlord should sec that the proposed drainage is made perfect at the outset, and be at all the cost; whilst the tenant should be bound to keep it in perfect order, and, if necessary, subjected to penalty for any neglect.

In conclusion, permit me to suggest that some of our independent yeomen, who have the means, and are farming their own land, should experiment a little more in this and kindred operations, and give their neighbours, through the machinery furnished by this club, or otherwise, the benefit of their observations, and results of their experience. It would pleasantly occupy many a leisure hour for themselves, and be conferring a boon on agriculture in general.

Before concluding, I wish to say a few words upon the money part of the subject. Of course, the additional expense of draining land, by the system proposed, would be considerable, as compared with that in practice; but if effectiveness and permanency were secured, the advantages gained in many ways would amply repay both occupier and owner.

Sir ROBERT BRISCO said he thought that no more difficult subject for discussion could have been chosen, because it seemed as though the more they thought they knew, the more they saw that they knew nothing. He had studied the subject a great deal himself, and he might say that they were only beginning to see their way how to begin to drain their land. In examining the drainage at Croft on, the greater part of which was done in his father's lifetime, he had to go through a great many tiles, and had come upon drains which were as dry as the floor of that room, and yet with ground wet about them. And there was no fault in the drains. He could remember when the ground was dry, and the drains acted well enough. Some of the drains on which he came were four feet in depth, and others two-and-a-half. Some of them were very old, and were made with bricks. They were of no use at all. He had put some drains in himself, which were the best that could be put in—so he thought, at least, though his son might have to take them out as useless. It was his belief that drains would not last more than fifteen years; therefore those who invested their capital at 6 per cent, were not making any great investment. What could be the reason for drains so soon becoming useless? Was it because the earth, by the action of the water around the tiles, got disintegrated, and so filled up and choked the pores of the land, thus preventing the land percolating into the drains? As to the direction of the drains, that was a most important question. There was the Scotch system, which took the drains across the hill; then, some took them sideways of the hill; some run them from the highest to the lowest parts of the ground. He believed, however, that the great mistake made was to put in their drains too far apart. The question raised by Dr. Tiffen might be a difficult one to answer, but he did not fear that any of the salts in the land would be removed out of it by the action of the water. It seemed that they could not get their drains to last more than fifteen years, so they might as well drain for the present day.

The CHAIRMAN said that few of them would differ as to the benefits arising from draining. They were all aware of the advantages of admitting air and water to the soil, adding to the heat of the earth, and making it more easy to cultivate. He had, however, known cases where the land was so sterile that drainage would not pay, though he had known the first year's root crop pay the extra cost. One thing which he had not heard alluded to, was the difficulty of keeping the small particles of sand out of the drains in a level district. He had known men take sods of black vegetable earth out of the hedges and put in beside the drains, and this was a good plan, as it made a filter for the sand. Another difficulty was when the soil contained ferruginous matter—iron. This often caused drains to become useless, as the combination with oxygen soon formed a material which filled up the pipes. This was found to be the case at Drayton Manor, which Mr. Parkes had drained twice for the late Sir Robert Peel, and the drains always filled up. Another imperfection was the want of a proper outfall. When he had this, he would not make any drain less than 4 feet, but thought 5 feet would be more effectual. One curious thing was that drains become gradually less and less efficient. He knew a case where a friend of his put in tiles 30 yards apart. Then he had to put them in 15 yards, and, finally, 7 1/2 yards, and the last drainage was worse than the first. They knew that land settled and saddened and became less bulky than before, and this might have an effect in preventing the escape of the water. Some might say that the soil got into the entrances of the tiles, and so prevented the water flowing. But he did not feel safe without a good surface soil. As to distance, much depended on the land itself. He had drained very effectually at 22 yards, and ineffectually at 6 yards, but it was a question which he should recommend to his brother-farmers. There was no regular rule to be laid down. As to what Dr. Tiffen had said about test-holes, he approved of. They could dig in and see where the water

Sir ROBERT BRISCO said that the question of depth must always be a difficult one. As to the effects of capillary attraction, he did not fear they would lose that. He had traced the roots of wheat plants to 9 feet deep, and the roots of clover to 2 1/2 feet. He believed that plants would come to where capillary attraction was. That part of the paper which recommended deep and shallow drains alternately, he condemned; it would not be a saving, as the deep drains would draw the water, and the shallow drains would not draw at all. It reminded him of the man who made one hole for the cat, and another for the kitten. As to the question of collars, it was puzzling. Sir Robert described the system which was practiced in Lancashire, where they cut a trench for the tiles to lay in, and placed them in with a pole, so that there was no walking in the drain to damage it, or displace the tiles.

The CHAIRMAN said he thought that the collars might be useful in a soft soil, or where there was a very quick incline.

Dr. TIFFEN said he should like to say a few words about the cat and the kitten, he knew that the shallow drains scarcely ever held water, except in times of heavy rainfall, when they might expect that the water from above would meet in the first instance with the shallow drain, and so be carried off; then, if there was an excess of it, it would find its way into the lower drains. He should like to hear something about Elkington's system of draining. With respect to what Sir Robert had said about the cessation of the value of drains, it had been a puzzling question in all times. He confessed he did not see what he meant by speaking of the process of the disintegration of the soil causing the drains to lose their effect. He was not aware of any chemical combination that could cause it. No kind of clay that he knew of, except the blue lias, which became like putty and held the water, and this would hold it until it evaporated, he thought they had no land in that district which could not be benefited by draining.

Mr. BANKS asked how the water was to be taken from the shallow drains?

Dr. TIFFEN said he had mentioned it in his paper. He should like to hear something said about the ventilation of drains.

Sir ROBERT BRISCO said that the drains of which he spoke had been made perhaps forty years. There must be a reason why that which worked well once should now be inefficient. The chairman had remarked that the land settled down so that the water could not get through it. His friend on his right (Mr. Pattinson Hayton) suggested that it was on account of the grass land being so much trodden upon. He said that the worms might be the reason, for wherever they took the water the worms followed, and these when in the ground tubed and tubed the earth full of vent holes. As to Elkington's system, he had his attention directed to it by Mr. Wilson, of Rigmaben, and by Mr. Smith, of Deanston, who had drained Mr. Wilson's land, but it was still wet. His (Sir Robert's) advice had been asked, and he suggested three and a-half feet drains, running up hill, which drained the land effectually. Alluding to ventilation, he said he thought it was a pretty theory to occupy minds which had nothing else to do. He had studied the subject 14 years ago, and had—as he always did—worked the question out, and this was the only conclusion at which he could arrive. He thought that the flow of water could never be impeded for want of air. Nature had so beautifully arranged things that whatever she wants she will be sure to get.

Mr. MESSENGER said that they did not say that air would follow down. He believed that this was very important.

Dr. TIFFEN said that the admission of air always caused a greater flow of water. In Mr. Parkes' system he kept out the air from the pipes altogether.

Sir ROBERT BRISCO told of an experiment at Lowther Castle, which had been made by Lord Lonsdale and himself. They had corked and sealed up a tile, and sunk it four feet deep in water for 24 hours, and not one drop of water got into it.

Dr. TIFFEN said there was a fallacy in that; no water could get in when the air was actually compressed in the tile, and hermetically sealed.

Sir ROBERT BRISCO said that the water could not pass through the earth faster than the air could follow it.

Mr. MESSENGER referred to the practice of the Abbey farmers in former days.

The CHAIRMAN said he might say he had tried ventilation, and found no advantage whatever.

Mr. MESSENGER said since he had sat down he had got convinced that they agreed that the land that wanted draining would be better of it, but how it was to be done none of them seemed to know.

Mr. BANKS: There was one point which he would make an observation about, and that was as to deep and shallow drains. He could not see how they could be of any use, as it was quite clear that water would follow down to the deepest part, and that the money spent over shallow drains would be simply money wasted. Mention was made of boring for water. Well, this last summer he had bored on some land, and had got so much water at one bore that it quite filled the drain.

Sir ROBERT BRISCO said that the paper appeared to be so carefully got up, presented so many matters for their discussion, and came upon them so suddenly, as it were, that it would be better if they had more time to think over it; and as the press there were so obliging as to give every detail, he should like to have the subject discussed another day. They should thus have the great advantage of reading it in the papers, and have time to think of the matter.

Mr. FOSTER seconded this proposition. He had been both sorry and glad to hear the paper—glad that they had a member who could bring forward so good a paper; sorry that he had himself spent so much money, and to think that much of it might be useless.

The meeting then separated.