Monthly Archives: February 2019

Engineering in Barbados (circa 1976)

F.C. Hutson

It cannot be determined with complete accuracy when engineering, as now known, was first introduced in Barbados, but it is reasonable to assume that Mechanical Engineers were required when steam-operated sugar mills began to replace windmills. This took place about the middle of the last century, it is recorded in Schomburgk’s “History of Barbados” that the first steam plant was installed in 1845, and in Bowen’s 1868 Almanac of Barbados that by 1854 there were five steam-operated sugar mills. These were at Bulkely, Carrington, Lamberts, River (St. Philip) and Walkers (St. Andrew). Also recorded in Bowen’s Almanac, the number of steam engines increased rapidly to thirty in 1868 and fifty-nine in 1880 and a hundred in 1895. It is of interest to note that only nine sugar factories are in existence today (1976), capable of making more sugar in four months than the five hundred odd windmills made in six months.

The following article was written by the Hon. Sir Francis C. Hutson, Ki.B., C.B.E., Eng., F.I.Mech.E., some thirteen years ago, but has never been publicised as far as is known. It recently came into this writer’s hands, and I believe Sir Frank may have originally written it for The Barbados Museum & Historical Society’s Journal, of which he was President around the time, or possibly just for his own amusement.

I have taken the liberty of updating it here and there (all the sections in italics) and of publishing it as the information contained therein is of much interest to those in the engineering business, as well as historians.

Engineering in Barbados 1976 pdf

The more fertilizer the more yield?

H.G. de Boer for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989

At the 4th Annual BSTA Conference, a graph was published (de Boer, 1986) based on work by Chase (1969-1981) which clearly indicated an optimum level of N application of somewhere between 115 and 140 lbs N per acre – less for plantcane, more for ratoons. This optimum level will vary with the cost of fertilizer, with receipts for cane sold and with the cost of harvest.

The Agronomy Research Unit (ARU) of Barbados Sugar Industry Ltd (BSIL) decided in 1983 to carry out some experiments to test the common perception among farmers that higher levels of fertilizer would be worth their while. It was also felt that maybe the figures produced by Chase were not directly applicable to current farming practice since his trials were carried out entirely by hand labour. It was considered possible that the cane would respond to higher levels of fertilizer under farming conditions where fertilizer is applied mechanically and the cane cut by combine harvester.

Excerpts from the conclusion

Not only did the cane in the trials reported on here not respond any better to extra fertilizer than in the MAFF trials by Chase (1969-1981), it did not respond at all to extra fertilizer – except in the presence of compost. The reason(s) for this need investigation and this paper indicates a number of possible lines of action.
In the meantime, farmers need to be advised that ap plying excess fertilizer is most likely to be a waste of scarce resources. The fact that the cane may look healthier and/or greener after heavy doses of fertilizer is no guarantee of extra yield. The data presented in this paper are accurate reflections of exactly what happens under commonly used farming practices and must therefore be taken seriously

More fertilizer more yield? pdf

A look at the ‘dry skin’ problem in yams

Michael James for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA 1989

‘Dry Skin’ or dry rot in yams is a disease found wide-spread in Barbados on the yam cultivars currently being grown here and indeed on nearly all the varieties of Dioscorea spp.

The causal agent is a nematode, Pratylenchus coffae which seems to work in association with a fungal organism and the disease causes both quantitative and qualitative damage to harvested tubers. (Brathwaite & Hutton, 1980)

A look at the ‘dry skin’ problem in yams pdf

An update on the propagation of Heliconias from seed

Jeff St.A. Chandler and Louis E. Chinnery for the 7th Annual Conference of the BSTA, 1989

The dynamic nature of the International Flower Market demands that new introductions enter the market place from time to time. This is to satisfy the need for something different, be it in form or colour. The creation of new variation in existing species would maintain florists’ enthusiasm and excitement and would enhance their creative skills at satisfying the all important consumer.

An update on the propagation of Heliconias from seed pdf