Dibble, or Dibber, a simple but useful implement in gardening, for the purpose of setting out young plants, etc. Within these few years, it has been employed for dibbing wheat, and the whole process consists in making perpendicular holes an inch and a half or two inches deep, in the same manner as is usually done in planting potatoe-roots. These holes are made by a man who has a proper staff, shod with iron, in each hand; and, as he walks backwards, is able, by looking at the part of the row already formed, to keep nearly in a strait line, and to make two holes at once, about four inches distant from set to set in the rows. Two or more children attend him, and drop two, three, or four seeds into every hole, which are afterwards covered by drawing over them what is called a Husk-harrow.
This method is deservedly considered one of the greatest improvements in agriculture. It appears to have originated from the planting of grain in a garden, from mere curiosity, by persons who neither designed, nor had any opportunity of extending it to a lucrative purpose. Nor was it attempted on a larger scale, till an industrious farmer, in the vicinity of Norwich, began to dibble on less than an acre of land. The success of this experiment induced others to follow his example, and notwithstanding the ridicule they incurred for adopting so singular a .practice, their crops were not only larger, but likewise so much superior to those of others, that dibbing has become the practice of every intelligent agriculturist in Norfolk, whence it has spread into several other counties.
From a conclusive experiment made by the Rev. H. J. Close, of Trimley, near Ipswich, in the years 1783-4, it appears that drilling, or dibbling, greatly exceeds the broadcast husbandry (see vol. i. pp. 359 and foil.), on the best cultivated soils ; and, besides the increased produce of grain, many other advantages arise from the former method. For instance, it employs a greater number of labourers, especially women and children that cannot be- serviceable in the common mode of culture. Mr. Close employed the following frame for setting wheat :
This implement is two feet two inches wide, and provided with se-ven tines ; but Mr. C. has since experienced that a frame of similar width, with five tines only, is preferable to one of seven.
The lands on which this method may be practised with the greatest advantage, are either those after a clover-stubble, or where trefoil and grass-seed were sown in the spring before the last. These, after the usual manuring, are once turned over by the plough in an extended flag or turf, at ten inches wide, and the wheat is set in the manner already described. By this mode, three pecks of grain are sufficientfor an acre ; which, being immediately buried, is equally secured against the depredations of vermin, or the power of frost. The regular manner in which it rises, affords the best opportunity of keeping it clear from noxious plants, by weeding or hand-hoeing.
Dibbling is peculiarly beneficial when corn is dear; and, if the season be favourable, may be practised with great benefit, both to the public and the farmer: as it saves six pecks of seed-wheat per acre; and, if generally adopted, would of itself afford bread for more than half a million of people. It should, however, be observed, that in seasons when corn is sold at a low price, or the autumn unfavourable to the practice, it cannot be practised with advantage. Thus, in light lands, a very dry season prevents dibbling, because the holes will be filled up as soon as the instrument is withdrawn. In like manner, on strong and stiff clays, if it be very wet, the seeds in the holes cannot be properly covered by the bush-harrow. These two extremes, however, seldom happen ; nor do they affect: lands of a moderately consistent texture, or both light and heavy soils at the same time; so that they never preclude the general adoption of this useful and rational mode of saving seed- corn.