27 March 1882

THE AGRICULTURAL OUTLOOK IN THE NORTH.

From a Special Correspondent.

THE HUNDRED OF EURELIA.

Having recently visited this hundred, with a view of ascertaining the past results, present position, and future prospects of the settlers thereon, I forward with pleasure a statement of some of the facts collected through my enquiries.

In treating of the general features of this important hundred there are many things connected with it to award the well-merited opinion of Eurelia being one of the very best hundreds north of Goyder's line of rainfall. Its geographical situation gives it an elevated position, as the greater part of the hundred is found among the hilly country which intercepts the low land country of Oladdie on the east and Coonatto on the west.

Some of the creeks in the hundred are studded with moderate - sized gumtrees, whilst the native pines are found in many other parts. There are considerable portions of stunted shrubs in other parts, whilst small quantities of bluebush are found in the northern end of the hundred.

Grass grows very luxuriantly in more favoured spots, and this enhances the value of the land for grazing purposes. Portions of the hilly elevations render cultivation impossible. The soil varies somewhat in its nature. In some parts are found the light and in other parts the dark or chocolate loam. Eurelia cannot show clay soil equal to the western plains, such as Willowie and parts of Pinda.

This favoured hundred possesses two townships. The one situated on the southern portion is named Eurelia, after the name of the hundred, and is mainly composed of one hotel, one store, one smith's shop, one butcher's shop, and one small chapel. The railway from Orroroo to Quorn passes through this township, and the department has seemingly recognised its importance by erecting a substantial stone station, besides a very large iron goods - shed, the latter being in course of erection. With good seasons in the future much wheat may be expected to be forwarded to the seaboard from here.

Carrieton is also in the Hundred of Eurelia, and is situated on its most northerly end. By far more business is done in this place than in the other, and it is composed of two hotels, two smiths' shops, one or two stores. There are two churches, either built or in course of erection. A branch banking business has been opened, and a police-trooper is stationed in this young and thriving place. Carrieton is situated in the midst of a splendid agricultural district, and possesses the exceptional boon of a first-class Goverment whim which furnishes an abundance of excellent water.

One drawback to this township is found in the fact that the railway does not come within two miles of it, and, consequently, great inconvenience must result therefrom.

Taking Eurelia as a whole, the hundred suffers very materially from the want of sufficient water supply, and especially in the central and southern portions of it ; and yet a great many of the settlers are to be commended for the energy and perseverance manifested in attempts to supply themselves with the necessary accommodation for conserving water.

On many farms may be found one and two, and even three large dams. In some instances those constructions are of considerable dimensions.

Sinking wells has been resorted to by not a few - a costly enterprise, affording no compensation. On most reliable authority I have been informed that one selector in this hundred made two dams and built two tanks (cemented.) These I saw. One tank was very large, and calculated to hold 35,000 gallons of water. This of itself cost the farmer £100. In spite of this provision for water the same farmer carted sixty tanks of 400 gallons each a distance of thirteen miles a trip, cost ing him £60 for the season. This carting of water was almost exclusively for working cattle.

This same settler last year was driving sixty head of horned cattle three times each week a distance of thirteen miles to water and back, and in the months of May and June twenty-seven head of large cattle died through loss of flesh and sheer exhaustion. This loss was estimated at £4 per head, or £108 total. To prevent this great evil the farmer was resolved to sink for water, and employed two practical well-sinkers at a rate of £1 per foot for sinking, and after going down 203 feet without the slightest results about ten days ago the farmer resolved to abandon the sinking for the time being ; thus £203 were spent to no avail.

The plucky farmer has not wholly abandoned the hope of finding water, but purposes applying the boring ap paratus at his earliest convenience, and thus, if possible, obtain reward for his endeavours. And richly he deserves the boon ! One of the most discouraging aspects of agricultural operations is the great scarcity of good water.

The land in the hundred was taken up in 1876. Large quantities of it were sold at £1 per acre. One settler, whose word is most reliable, informed me that the first year he put in 80 acres of green land, which returned 14 bushels per acre ; the second year he put in 350 acres, and reaped 9 bushels per acre ; the third year he put in 450 acres, and reaped 14 1/2 bushels per acre ; the fourth year he put in 480 acres, and reaped 5 bushels per acre; whilst last year he put in 520 acres, and reaped 3 1/2 bushels per acre.

This farmer is most systematic and thorough in his mode of cultivation, ploughing deep one year and scarifying well the next. He sows one bushel per acre of good seed, preferring the Purple Straw. All the manure made on the farm is carefully utilized on the land. His opinion is that rolling the land is not beneficial for wheat, but should be done for hay.

The seasons of good yield are visited with timely and abundant rains. The chief causes of failure last season were the protracted drought, followed by locusts, which destroyed in their wild and wholesale ravages about two bushels per acre. The hundred sustained but little loss by frosts during the year. The hot winds at the early part of the season did a little damage.

Another good authority and thoroughly practical farmer gave it as his opinion that Eurelia is one of the best and safest wheat growing hundreds north of the line of rain fall. The soil was most suitable to the production of cereals. A neighbour of his had grown 10,000 bushels of wheat in one year, at an average of 14 bushels per acre. This was the best season for rain in the history of the settlers ; and about three years ago, and a year or two ago, when the average returns of wheat for the whole of the colony was 4 bushels 58 lb., Eurelia's average was 4 bushels 1 lb., thus in his opinion the wheat-growing capabilities of the hundred have been demonstrated by statistics not to be set aside.

The first two or three seasons were very favourable ; the unfavourableness of the last two seasons may be attributed to dry weather and locusts.

There is a difference of opinion among the settlers with respect to the disputed question of concessions by Government. Some of the most unfortunate wheatgrowers in the hundred go in for one form of concession, and some for another. One thinks that the interest should count part of the principal; others think such would be a vicious principle, and unwarranted, unless the Government provided that all farmers who had met the claims of the Government should have their interest refunded, or allow it to be counted in their favour when next they select land and take it from the Government.

Some are of opinion that there should be no other concession granted than deferred payment for one year. The opinion also prevails that selectors in difficulties should be allowed to throw up their present holdings and make new selections. But in all cases where improvements have been made the original holder should be allowed at least two-thirds the value of his improvements, at such time as his first holding is taken by another person. In all cases a Government official - and not a private person, or persons - should estimate the value of the said improvements.

Abundant testimony was borne to the great depreciation in value of the land in Eurelia Hundred, as well as all other lands north of Goyder's line of rainfall since the unwarrantable agitations for concessions from certain quarters in the North. Land had sunk in value at least one-third in the last three months, in consequence of the strong statements and the complaints urged against the Government respecting the Northern Areas - their failure and distress.

Several of the farms in this hundred wear the appearance of thoroughness and comfort. Nearly all the selectors were farmers in the South, and understand well their avocation. All they desire is a good rainfall next season, and things will be rectified and hopeful.