GRASSING OF PUMICE LAND
AbstractFrom quite early days in the colonization of New Zealand farmers began to search for satisfactory methods of grassing and farming the great areas of light volcanic soils in the central region of the North Island. Even the earliest land-improvers seemed to think that these pumice soils were suitable for pastoral purposes, but for many decades their hopes, engendered by the excellent red clover growth in the initial pasture sowings, fell as the pasture swards ran out and sheep and cattle pined from bush-sickness. This initial excellence of red clover was certainly a factor which kept people perpetually interested in the land, for although the land is easily cultivated, the virgin pumice soils appear infertile and unattractive. This. aspect was commented on as early as 1839 by J. C. Bidwell, who, in recording his travels from Tauranga to Taupo, remarked " . . . the land is not bad . . . I have seen clover and grass growing in the garden of a Mission or I might perhaps have thought the land was worse than it is . . ." It was the intuition that really intensive farming was ultimately possible on these pumice lands that kept invigorated the faith of such men as Aston, Clifton, Carr Rollett, and Earle Vaile in their work of seeking methods which would overcome the problem of pumice land farming.