Online Encyclopedia

FALLOW

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V10, Page 155 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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FALLOW, land ploughed and tilled, but left unsown, usually for a year, in order, on the one hand, to disintegrate, aerate and free it from weeds, and, on the other, to allow it to recuperate. The word was probably early confused with "fallow" (from O. Eng. fealu, probably cognate with Gr. iroAuis, grey), of a pale-brown or yellow colour, often applied to soil left untilled and unsown, but chiefly seen in the name of the " fallow deer." The true derivation is from the O. Eng. fealga, only found in the plural, a harrow, and the ultimate origin is a Teutonic root meaning " to plough," cf. the German falgen. The recognition that continuous growing of wheat on the same area of land robs the soil of its fertility was universal among ancient peoples, and the practice of " fallowing " or resting the soil is as old as agriculture itself. The " Sabbath rest " ordered to be given every seventh year to the land by the Mosaic law is a classical instance of the " fallow." Improvements in crop rotations and manuring have diminished the necessity of the " bare fallow," which is uneconomical because the land is left unproductive, and because the nitrates in the soil unintercepted by the roots of plants are washed away in the drainage waters. At the present time bare fallowing is, in general, only advisable on stiff soils and in dry climates. A " green fallow " is land planted with turnips, potatoes or some similar crop in rows, the space between which may be cleared of weeds by hoeing. The " bastard fallow " is a modification of the bare fallow, effected by the growth of rye, vetches, or some other rapidly growing crop, sown in autumn and fed off in spring, the land then undergoing the processes of ploughing, grubbing and harrowing usual in the bare fallow. FALLOW-DEER (that is, Dux DEER, in contradistinction to the red deer, Cervus [Dama] dama), a medium-sized representative of the family Cervidae, characterized by its expanded or palmated antlers, which generally have no bez-tine, rather long tail (black above and white below), and a coat spotted with white in summer but uniformly coloured in winter. The shoulder height is about 3 ft. The species is semi-domesticated in British parks, and occurs wild in western Asia, North Africa, the south of Europe and Sardinia. In prehistoric times it occurred throughout northern and central Europe. One park-breed has no spots. Bucks and does live apart except during the pairing-season; and the doe produces one or two, and sometimes three fawns at a birth. These deer are particularly fond of horse-chestnuts, which the stags are said to endeavour to procure by striking at the branches with their antlers. The Persian fallow-deer (C. [DJ mesopotamicus), a native of the mountains of Luristan, is larger than the typical species, and has a brighter coat, differing in some details of colouring. The antlers have the trez-tine near the small brow-tine, and the palmation beginning near the former. Here may be mentioned the gigantic fossil deer commonly known as the Irish elk, which is perhaps a giant type of fallow-deer, and if so should be known as Cervus (Dama) giganteus. If a distinct type, its title should be C. (Megaceros) giganteus. This deer inhabited Ireland, Great Britain, central and northern Europe, and western Asia in Pleistocene and prehistoric times; and must have stood 6 ft. high at the shoulder. The antlers are greatly palmated and of enormous kize, fine specimens measuring as much as 11 ft. between the tips.
End of Article: FALLOW
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