County Down Soil

The extent and varied surface of the county necessarily occasion a great diversity of soil: indeed there exists every gradation from a light sandy loam to a strong clay; but the predominant soil is a loam, not of great depth but good in quality, though in most places intermixed with a considerable quantity of stones of every size. When clay is the substratum of this loam, it is retentive of water and more difficult to improve; but when thoroughly cultivated, its produce is considerable and of superior quality. As the subsoil approaches to a hungry gravel, the loam diminishes considerably in fertility. Clay is mostly confined to the eastern coast of the Ardes and the northern portion of Castlereagh, in which district the soil is strong and of good quality. Of sandy ground, the quantity is still less, being confined to a few stripes scattered along the shores, of which the most considerable is that on the bay of Dundrum: part of this land is cultivated, part used as grazing land or rabbit-warren, and a small portion consists of shifting sands, which have hitherto baffled all attempts at improvement. There is a small tract of land south of the Lagan, between Moira and Lisburn, which is very productive, managed with less labour than any of the soils above mentioned, and earlier both in seed-time and harvest. Gravelly soils, or those intermixed with water-worn stones, are scattered over a great part of the county. Moory grounds are mostly confined to the skirts of the mountains; the bogs, though numerous, are now scarcely sufficient to afford a plentiful supply of fuel: in some parts they form the most lucrative portion of the property. The rich and deep loams on the sides of the larger rivers are also extremely valuable, as they produce luxuriant crops of grass annually without the assistance of manure.

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