The best season for laying land down to grass, is the latter end of August, or the beginning of September, when the roots of the young plants will have time to strike deeply, before the frost sets in. Moist weather is the most proper for this purpose, as the earth will then be sufficiently warm, and the seeds quickly vegetate : but, if that season prove unfavourable, they may be sown in the middle of the month of March following.
In order to obtain a fine pasture, the soil should be thoroughly cleared from all noxious weeds, by repeated ploughing; for, if any of them are suffered to remain, they will speedily outgrow, and destroy the young grass. These weeds ought next to be raked up into heaps, burnt on the land, and their ashes spread as a manure; but, if the soil be clayey, and wet, it will be necessary to make some drains to carry off the water; which, if suffered to stagnate, will both chill and sour the grass. Previously to sowing, the land ought to be laid as level and as fine as possible: thus, if the grass-seeds be clean, three bushels will be sufficient for an acre. After sowing, they should be gently harrowed, and smoothened over with, a wooden roller. When the grass comes up, all the vacant spots are to be provided with fresh seed; which, if it be properly rolled in, will in a short time attain the height of that first sown.
Few circumstances are of greater importance in rural economy, especially to graziers, than to ascertain the most valuable field for pasture. For this purpose, Mr. David Young ("Agriculture the primary Interest of Britain," 8vo. 1788, 6s.) proposes to weigh all cattle previously to their going into each field, and to allow them neither food nor water, for 12 hours before. After the whole pasture is consumed, they should stand for a similar length of time, without food and drink, and then again be weighed. Thus, the increase of weight in each animal, may be easily determined.
Fields ought not to be kept too long in pasture. When land is first laid down, with a view to ameliorate the soil, the common practice is to leave it in that state for many years : for it is the general opinion, that the longer it is thus suffered to lie, the richer it will become for bearing corn. But, though the truth of this position be evident, the most important object of inquiry is, to ascertain the most beneficial rotation of crops. (See Crop.)—The best criterion, perhaps, is to take up pasture for corn, as soon as the grass begins to be deficient both in quantity and quality ; and, after a few crops, to lay it down again with grass-seeds: by this method the land may be kept in good heart, and considerable expence saved, while in the end, the soil will produce larger crops, and consequent-ly afford greater profit.