This earth usually forms the uppermost stratum of fen-lands, and consists almost wholly of pure vegetable matter, which renders it very fertile. Moors, however, are subject to inundations, and they retain moisture for a considerable time, so as to render it difficult for cattle to graze, without poaching the soil. To remedy this inconvenience, the tenants of such lands pare and burn them at certain seasons of the year ; by which process their nature is considerably improved, as the surface readily takes fire, and burns freely.
In other respects, the conversion of moors into arable or pasture land, varies little from the method already stated under the article Marsh; provided such tracts of ground be in a plain, or on a level. It will be advisable, however, to plant the black willow preferably to any other tree or shrub ; as it flourishes well on moors, and affords an excellent shelter to cattle during stormy weather. The course of crops that has been found most profitable, is, for the first three years, grass ; that is, hay-seeds, and the different kinds of clover, sown after the surface has been burnt and ploughed in during the next three years, two crops of corn, with an intermediate fallow. By such rotation, lands that were naturally of little value, have been rendered fit to produce very bene-ficial crops.
But, where moors occur in mountainous situations,Mr. Young recommends them first to be drained and irrigated, as the water will work numerous passages round the he3th, that is usually found in moorlands ; but which will speedily perish when flooded, and will be succeeded by sweet grasses, and other useful plants.
The next step will be to inclose the land with a double, dry stonewall, between which young oaks, alders, ash, holly, mountain-ash, etc. may be advantageously planted ; for, independently of the immediate shelter thus afforded to cattle, they will, in the course of a few years, become very profitable woods. In some cases, a simple inclosure has, without farther cultivation, been found very beneficial for feeding the common Scotch wethers, which are distinguished by black faces and legs, and long coarse wool- Mr. Young observes, that mountainous moors, if tolerably well covered with heath, intermixed with spots of sedge, rushes, and coarse grass, will support a sheep on an acre, throughout the year; and, as the rot seldom occurs on these lands, it has been found, that flocks pastured on them, without the addition of hay, thrive well, and oftentimes better than those which are regularly foddered. If, however, the design be to establish a grass-farm, it will be advisable to pare, burn, and lime the lands, after which they must be once thinly ploughed, that the lime and may not be too deeply buried.
As the cultivation of mountainous moors is either productive of great profit, or of total ruin, the greatest judgment is requisite in fixing the course of crops. The chief object being to convert these soils ultimately into good meadows, or sheep-walks, the tillage ought only to extend to the destruction of spontaneous growth ; to the removal of the acidity peculiar to peat-soils, and to support a flock during the winter: which purposes may be effected by paring 3nd liming judiciously, and also by sowing hay.- The first course, which Mr. Young considers as deserving more particular attention, is:
1. Turnips, or cabbages.
3. Grasses, mown.
4. etc. Grasses, fed.
This course is generally preferable to others; but, in case it should be found inadequate, he recommends the following variation to be adopted, viz.
1. Turnips or cabbages.
2. Cabbages or turnips.
4. Grasses, mown.
5. Grasses, fed.
Such rotation is, in Mr. Young's opinion, far superior to that in which turnips, etc. and oats, are sown twice alternately, previously to laying down grass-seeds; because the grass is thus defended one year; whereas two alternate crops of oats too much exhaust the virtues of the manure, before the grass-seeds are sown ; while the turnips, etc. being fed on the land, return to it, by the dung of the cattle, comparatively more than they derive or take from it.
As there are extensive wastes in various parts of England, which consist of moors, capable of being brought into a high degree of cultivation, the patriotic Society for the Encouragement of Arts, etc. has, from time to time, offered premiums for improving them.— Large tracts of lands have, in consequence, been rescued from a state of nature ; but the most considerable improvement appears to be that effected by John Mirehouse, Esq. of Brownslade, Pembrokeshire, on whom the Society, in 1800, conferred their gold medal; and whose merit we have incidentally mentioned, under the article Draining.
The quantity of land thus recovered, was 274 acres, situated between two hills, which extended nearly two miles in length : it was formerly a common, so completely inundated as to be of little or no value. The lord of the manor having obtained an act of parliament for its inclosure, Mr. Mire-house proposed to take a lease, on condition that the proprietor should cut a drain, and lay down a tunnel; which being accordingly executed, the lease was concluded, and Mr. Mikehouse proceeded to complete the drainage.
He formed a channelon the north side, and divided the land into twelve pieces, by double ditches, of such a depth as the fall would allow, from a few inches to four feet: between the ditches, a space of about 30 or 40 feet Was left for planting willows. The soil appeared a perfect sponge ; and, as soon as the drains began to take effect, it sank so considerably that, after frequently lowering the ditches, the surface of the water remained nearly the same distance from that of the land. Having repeatedly sunk the principal drains and ditches, be at length obtained above three feet from the water to the surface of the land, in the lowest parts; and, In others, a level sufficient for his purpose.
The common being thus inclosed and divided, Mr. Mirehouse commenced the draining of each division, by small internal cuts, about 20 inches wide at the top, and of various depths, to three feet and a half, reducing them to six inches at the bottom ; leaving those open which were in the direction of the plough, and filling up others with brush-wood. Both these drains answer to his entire satisfaction ; and he observes that the whole common has been converted from a state of waste into excellent land, for the sum of 5081.
We regret that our limits do not allow us to detail the course of crops pursued by this truly " Practical Agriculturist:" let it therefore suffice, to conclude, that barley and oats have seldom succeeded ; but the wheat raised on this land, has been very abundant, and the grain weighty: cole-seed has also been cultivated with great advantage, as a winter food, the crops having in general been very fine, and enabled Mr. Mirehouse to feed great numbers of sheep during the space of four months, from January to April; and to fatten them much sooner than he had ever been able to effect, on turnips of the best quality, produced on his home-grounds. In short, the land, from being of no value, has already been very productive} and Mr. Mike-house thinks it will, in a short time, become the most valuable meadow of the neighbourhood. The vegetable substance thus drain-ed, has become a fine luxuriant black mould, to the very surface of the water, and is daily losing it sponginess, and acquiring greater cohesion.