Erin's Green Isle Is Not Green Enough For Soil Expert
By the EARL OF WICKLOW Some months ago it was announced in this column that a report was in progress on the state of our agriculture, Mr. G. A. Holmes, the New Zealand grass expert, having been asked to visit this country and compile it.
It has now been published, and makes a most valuable and informative document. 87 pages in length.
THE MINISTER HAS ACTED
Mr. Dillon's ten-year scheme for the rehabilitation of the soil of Ireland by draining and fertilising was recently referred to in this column; there can be no doubt that the scheme represents Government policy to put into practice the recommendations made by Mr. Holmes.
The report could scarcely be more optimistic about the potentialities of Irish soil, while at the same time it is uncompromising on the state of neglect into which so much of our land has fallen.
Mr. Holmes affirms that in 8 of the 26 counties he had seen old permanent pa:stures with a density, colour, composition and grazing capacity superior to anything in Western Europe.
In some of the same counties, however, and in all the others which he visited he said that he saw hundreds of fields which were growing just as little as it was physically possible for land to grow under an Irish sky.
In the interest of local loyalties I should like to say he visited neither Clare nor Donegal.
Emphasising the urgent need for drainage, Mr. Holmes said many thousands of acres in this country, superior to the best land in Holland, were growing only reeds and rushes, owing to frequent flooding.
On the question of fertilising he said that he was " dumbfounded by the magnitude of the problem "; he recommended the setting up of a commission to foster the production of lime. It will he noted that Mr. Dillon's scheme provides for lime production on a very considerable scale.
Mr. Holmes explained that 95 per cent of Trish grassland had been mined of its fertility by grazing livestock or producing milk: on tillage land exhausting crops had reduced the phosphate content to a minimum. He further points nut that if some land could be taken away from farming and given over to forestry, it would be for the benefit of the country.
One could go on quoting indefinitely from this highly interesting document. but I would suggest that anyone who wishes to know more should buy the report, which is now available. SOME. POINTS