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Author Topic: Improved Farming  (Read 78448 times)

Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #465 on: July 21, 2010, 01:21:53 pm »

5 signs of nitrogen deficiency.
5 signs of phosphorous deficiency.
Potassium: A critical garden nutrient (same site as above two).
Potassium deficiency in plants (wikipedia)
Some general info on the NPK system including signs of too little and too much of each nutrient (except too much phosphorous, as its pretty much impossible).
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AngleWyrm

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #466 on: July 21, 2010, 02:38:44 pm »

I'de just like to see the Fallow and Fertilize work. Fertilize is currently pointless (as well as broken), because crop yield is off the charts. And last I read "lay fallow" is countermanded by some sort of illogical bonus for planting the same crop several seasons running.

For a fort with a default pop cap of 200 dwarves, seems like about 200 tiles of farmland would be good. That's eight 5x5 plots.

But a major defect in farming is the requirement that water be engineered to visit the site once. It makes building separate plots as needed too much work. Better to just water one giant area. So i don't build little plots as the population grows; instead I end up building one area and irrigating it. Then because there's no real reason not to, I plump down all the plots at once.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 02:57:43 pm by AngleWyrm »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #467 on: July 21, 2010, 03:33:33 pm »

Well, that nitrogen stuff, just looking at that first, seems to be entirely based upon looking at the plants once the problems have already occured. 

In-game, this will probably need to be displayed as a text line, and it might seem a little odd, but if we go by that, we would come up with a scale like this:

"Plant leaves look healthy"/"Plant leaves are slightly pale"/"Plant leaves are showing slight yellowing and somewhat small"/"Plant leaves are yellowing, new leaves are progressively smaller, and show ruddy undersides"/"Plants are stunted in their growth, and are discolored yellow and red"

(keep in mind, this would show, even while fallow, and also, it would say "Plant leaves look healthy" even if it said plants are dying in other fields...)

This would be my mockup Phosphorous, I suppose:

"Plant stalks look healthy"/"Plant stalks seem slightly thin"/"Plant stalks seem slightly thin, with thin purple veins appearing"/"Plant stalks are thin, with purple veins, and a slight blueish leaf tint"/"Plant growth is stunted, with spindly thin stalks and purplish-blue veins and splotches on the leaves"

Potassium mockup:

"The leaf tips are healthy"/"The leaf tips are slightly yellowish"/"The leaf tips are yellowing"/"The leaf tips are yellow with browning splotches, and purple spots are appearing on the underside"/"Plant growth is stunted, the leaf tips appear burned and dark brown, with purple splotches on the leaf undersides."

Acidity would be more of a balancing act, even if we don't include over-fertilization in other aspects.  Nitrogen fertilization (wether by crop rotation or by artificial fertilizers) often adds acidity to the soil, but if we use ammonia as a fertilizer, that would actually potentially be making soil too basic. According to wikipedia, you actually want your soil just very slightly acidic, so "neutral" is a little too basic, but that might be confusing, so I'll just ignore that part.

"The soil is too alkaline for proper growth"/"The soil is alkaline"/"The soil is slightly alkaline"/"The soil is faintly alkaline"/"The soil is balanced"/"The soil is faintly acidic"/"The soil is slightly acidic"/"The soil is acidic"/"The soil is too acidic for proper growth"

Oh, and hey, let's do water, too.

"The soil is moist"/"The soil is slightly moist"/"The soil is losing moisture"/"The soil is becoming dry"/"The soil is too dry to support farming"

Note, this isn't talking about having any specific nutrient or even water being possible to "over fertilize", which may or may not be in Toady's plans.

Additionally, the game might start reccomending yellow solution activities, the way that the game currently tells you that you need mud.  For example, saying that legumes (or whatever fake plants we make up as nitrogen fixers in an ecology that isn't even based on photosynthesis, anyway) or ammonia fertilizer would help add nitrogen.



I'd also like to say, before we get locked into NPK+pH+water as our only nutrients of note, that, well, yes, we're still underground farming as much as anything else, here.  Chemosynthesis would be a realistic (if potentially not particularly appetizing) means of theoretically unlimited underground nutrient creation via magma farming.  Basically, just using some method of turning obsidian farming / a pumice explosion into producing nutrients by crushing various igneous stones into some sort of powder that could be dumped into "farms" of shallow pools of microorganisms (or just dumping stones into water outright), and the creatures that live on them.

http://www.geo.uni-bremen.de/Ozeankruste/Research/Research_Weathering.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chemosynthesis

Real life chemosynthesis is based upon things like oxidizing iron (which mafic magma flows are rich in, such as ones near the magma sea in this game), and especially hydrogen sulfide, which produces, as a byproduct, clumps of solid sulfur.

If we model this in-game, we could either use the megafauna that can survive off of deep vent chemosynthesis creatures as a food source directly (mmmmm... tube worms and abyssal crabs), or, presuming that eating a sulfurous life form would be too disgusting, we could fish them up, and use their carcasses as the organic base for fungus growth instead of using wood chips, as most modern mushroom farms do. 

Once composted by fungi (whether edible or not), they could then be used as a base material for future underground farming.  (Funguses are capable of growing off of other funguses, essentially to the point where absolutely every last trace of chemical energy has been consumed, so you just need to keep adding biomass in to replace the amount of biomass you take out.)

As had been said earlier in this thread, mushroom growth is often done simply by planting funguses onto a dead log, and waiting for mushrooms to grow.  Even controlled-environment mushroom growth (that even take place in abandoned mines, no less) often uses sawdust as the base medium for growing mushrooms.  Going to "Start your own mushroom farm" places, they are basically selling either wooden dowels as growth mediums, or a mash of some kind of cereal grain or a fruit mash.

In one of these, however, it does reccomend using a "fertilizer" of ammonia (that's NH3, or a nitrogen fertilizer) early in the process.

Oh, and hey, while I'm at it, there's a British meat-substitute mushroom that goes under the brand name "quorn", that is used to replace chicken for those who think that soy beans aren't strange enough, and want to eat mushrooms as their meat replacement, instead:
Quorn, which I had never heard about until a Modern Marvels on, of all things, fungus.  This stuff is apparently a non-mushrooming ground fungus that is grown in a vat of water that is fed with glucose and starch, which are largely carbohydrates you only get out of decomposing some photosynthetic or chemosynthetic lifeform (or something that ate one).



I would go into the subject of fertilizers, but I think this post is probably getting a little on the unweildy side, so I'll break it up into another post.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2010, 08:10:41 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #468 on: July 21, 2010, 04:12:46 pm »

On the point of mushroom farming - I would say that there might need to be one additional "nutrient", which would be a carbohydrate or just plain "dead stuff" nutrient meter for mushrooms, as they only really re-use the carbohydrates of other lifeforms, rather than synthesizing their own, as a plant does, and that dead stuff also carries most of the nutrients that the mushrooms will need. 

As has been said before, simply using a log, fragments of a chopped-up log, a rotting piece of normal produce (even other mushrooms), or a rotting corpse (possibly first pre-treated by having a special compost vat of funguses that specifically break down corpses a little into a form more suited for edible mushrooms, or just outright composting corpses into soil for photosynthetic plants), you can make mushroom-food.
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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #469 on: July 21, 2010, 06:15:15 pm »

Well, that nitrogen stuff, just looking at that first, seems to be entirely based upon looking at the plants once the problems have already occured.

While true, that is--as far as I know--anyone learned anything about soil quality until we had complex testing methods that are too modern for the game.

So, "bad soil?  well, it's going to be a bad harvest, but at least we can fix the problem for next season."
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #470 on: July 21, 2010, 06:55:52 pm »

While true, that is--as far as I know--anyone learned anything about soil quality until we had complex testing methods that are too modern for the game.

So, "bad soil?  well, it's going to be a bad harvest, but at least we can fix the problem for next season."

NW_Kohaku cancels long Improved Farming post: writing a different Improved Farming post

Well, I think part of what Toady wants is to make this clearly visible to the player... which means that it would be revealed to the player what the plant leaves look like, even when the fields are barren.  (So that you aren't screwed if you don't look until between one harvest and the next planting.)  You would also have an ability to get a look at soil quality before choosing what to plant.

If nothing else, it could just be a "recorded" appearance of the last crops that were there, or perhaps a look at some buds of weeds in the soil if you just turned it into a farm.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #471 on: July 21, 2010, 08:10:07 pm »

Fertilizer (for photosynthetic NPK+pH+water plants) Post:

Green Manure / Crop Rotation system - You mean plant something BESIDES plump helmets?

Definitely the simplest, this essentially relies upon just letting land "fallow" occasionally.  Fallow does not mean "nothing grows", just that you grow a fallow crop, like clover, which can perform nitrogen fixation and the like, before you "plow it under".  This, however, should only fully work with nitrogen.  You should still get P and K suppliments in the form of the ol' brown manure. 

Real life medieval peasants would work their fields on a two-year cycle, letting half their fields fallow at any given point in time, but better understanding of the crops let 16th century farmers work on a 3-year-cycle, with only 1/3 of their fields fallow, and using legume crops like peas as supplimental crops in another third of the year, without any actual technological upgrade, so it should be possible for dwarves/players with a better understanding of how to do crop rotations, even if "anachronstic" (of course, this would not be anachronistic to the Arabs or Chinese, who were more educated on their farms).

Nothing in my research tells me it is possible to have full-field productivity for years without produce decline without the use of serious additional fertilizers, though.  So just setting up a perfect cycle of crops that lets you produce everything forever if you arrange the order carefully enough shouldn't happen (at least, without modding).

It is also worth noting that real-life pests and weeds will often be specific to individual species of crops - overplanting certain crops will bring up their related pest more and more frequently.  Rotating crops so that your fields actually go a full year without seeing a certain crop will often significantly reduce the population levels of the pests and diseases related to a given crop.



"Ammonia" and "Night Soil" - Urist McWastehauler has changed professions to "Gong Farmer"

Yeah, yeah, I've been arguing down this path before, but I'll do it again - biological wastes collectable from dwarven toilets (and animal stalls) would be a wonderful place to find the fertilizers you need.

Urine's "active ingredient" is Urea, seen here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urea which is, in the modern world, used for 46.7% of the world's nitrogen-release fertilizers.  Soil microbes are capable of turning Urea into ammonia, which is the preferred method of nitrogen fertilization, aside from crop rotation. 

The Romans actually distilled ammonia out of urine, and used it as a cleaning agent, making this completely historically viable.  Urine could be set into large distilling vats for cultures of bacteria to turn it into ammonia, for whatever purposes ammonia could be put to in a fortress, although obviously, we are talking here about using it as a fertilizer, and fertilizer may be one of its main uses, as you will probably need quite a bit of it to cover the fields.

As for "Night Soil", the solid waste of both humans dwarves and animals make for a fine fertilizer, and its historic use is unquestionable.  We may want to allow for direct application to the fields (but this means that you have to boil everything you grow there, or you risk all sorts of lovely diseases, especially if using human/dwarven waste), or you can have some kind of fungal vat that will break down the night soil to regular soil.



Goblinite - it's not just for iron, anymore!

You can decompose the rotting corpses and waste-products of your slaughtered livestock, like the nervous tissues, in the same vats of decomposing funguses that you use on the above mentioned night soil.  Now, just like the native americans, you can use every part of the goblinite!  May also be a useful way to dispose of old and tattered clothing items.



Potash - It's where potassium got it's name, you know.

Yeah, this one's really simple.  Just burn you some trees real good, and you've got some angry elves fertilizer.



Potassium Nitrate - I remember when I found out about Chemistry...

Quote from: Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_nitrate
The earliest known complete purification process for potassium nitrate was outlined in 1270 by the Arab chemist and engineer Hasan al-Rammah of Syria in his book al-Furusiyya wa al-Manasib al-Harbiyya ('The Book of Military Horsemanship and Ingenious War Devices'), where he first described the use of potassium carbonate (in the form of wood ashes).[2]

Into the 19th century, niter-beds were prepared by mixing manure with either mortar or wood ashes, common earth and organic materials such as straw to give porosity to a compost pile typically 1.5󫏁 meters in size.[3] The heap was usually under a cover from the rain, kept moist with urine, turned often to accelerate the decomposition and leached with water after approximately one year. Dung-heaps were a particularly common source: ammonia from the decomposition of urea and other nitrogenous materials would undergo bacterial oxidation to produce various nitrates, primarily calcium nitrate, which could be converted to potassium nitrate by the addition of potash from wood ashes.

Quote from: same article, under "Uses"
Potassium nitrate is mainly used in fertilizers, as a source of nitrogen and potassium – two of the macro nutrients for plants. When used by itself, it has an NPK rating of 13-0-44. Potassium nitrate is also one of the three components of black powder, along with powdered charcoal (substantially carbon) and sulfur, where it acts as an oxidizer.

Wee! We combine both wastes and burning wood for potash into a source of both N and K.

Oh, right, and Potassium Nitrate is also called "Saltpeter".  That is, the stone you can mine.  Grind those rocks up, and you can have some of this fertilizer ready-made.



Mining for Phosphorous - It's the dwarven thing to do.

There are two major ways to mine phosphorous.  First, you can find some oceanic islands covered in bird droppings, and I mean so covered that they are literal mountains rising out of the sea of bird droppings, and MINE GUANO!  That stuff is white gold - England and Germany actually fought before World War 1 over the South American guano deposits.  It was the only way to get sufficient phosphates (and nitrates), by then necessary both for feeding the people of their nations, and for making the explosives for war.  Germany's defeat in WW1 is actually directly attributable to an inability to import phosphates for their fields, (using all they could produce for gunpowder and explosives) to the point where their people revolted as they started to starve.

The other is to mine something called "Phosphorite" or "Apatite"... which don't exist in DF right now.  Apatite is a sedimentary rock, and in real life, is often mined from the bottoms of dried lake beds.  (Actually reducing Apatite might be a little too complex for dwarves, however, in spite of the major components being Apatite stone, coke, and silica (I.E. sand), and requiring a temperature just barely above magma, as seen here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submerged-arc_furnace_for_phosphorus_production )



Mining Potassium - Similarly dwarven, but not as cool as just burning trees.

Sylvite is a potassium salt, and occurs in Rock Salt formations.  Likewise, Saltpeter is already a natural Potassium Nitrate.



Bone Grinding - Now for profit as well as fun!

Bones can be composed of as much as 30% phosphorus.  Grind them.  Spread them.



Phosphorous is, basically, just plain harder to find additional suppliments for than other nutrients, here, with the exception of just finding something dead, and adding it to your compost pile.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #472 on: July 21, 2010, 08:25:45 pm »

Simple acidity-balancing:

Lime from limestone, chalk, or some other calcium carbonates, crushed, will recover soil from too acidic to become more neutral.  Sites I looked up include Hardwood Ash, and bone meal as means of raising pH.

Urea, AKA peeing on your problem, is acidic, and will help neutralize alkaline soils.  Most compost can add acidity, as well.  Rotting leaves can raise soil pH, especially pine needles.  So will adding sulfur (AKA brimstone).
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #473 on: July 22, 2010, 02:31:48 pm »

Ah, one other thing about acidity: Since we're setting up farms on places that don't have topsoil per se, but instead just flood silty water over random stones, the stone that we start out growing things on top of should matter significantly for soil acidity (and, well, nutrients, as well, obvoiusly).  Limestone, chalk, or rocksalt (or anything high in calcium, sodium, or magnesium) would be naturally alkaline, for example, while igneous rocks like granite are moderately acidic, while shale and coal are strongly acidic with sulfuric acid

We might even have a more complex setup to starting farms on outright stone, though, and have a "building the topsoil" phase of farming on stone, where you need aggressive lichens or fungi to break down some of the stone to build a thin layer of topsoil upon which you can start farming.  Using said lichens would be able to continuously introduce new minerals into the soil through breaking apart rocks, so if you started a farm on stone, the stone istelf would be a useful fertilizer.

Teh Google also says that alkaline soils are predominate in areas of low rainfall, while high rainfall areas have higher soil acidity (thanks to rain leeching the acidic ions out of the soil).
« Last Edit: July 22, 2010, 02:33:19 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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Andeerz

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #474 on: July 23, 2010, 12:45:08 am »

stuff

Awesome.  This stuff would be cool for determining which places can have what naturally occurring plant life and can also determine arability of land in different areas of a generated world through, in essence, adding another level of sophistication and realism to biome creation!  Also, if farming in DF in the future would require much (and I mean MUCH) larger areas to do farming like in real life, this could lead to interesting and compelling reasons for civs to fight over land and stuff, as well as where civs decide to plop down their cities. 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #475 on: July 23, 2010, 12:04:08 pm »

Ah, one more thing: I wasn't really able to get a good read of how good a fertilizer "Night Soil" was earlier on.

Here's some specs on other animals: (source: http://goatconnection.com/articles/publish/article_84.shtml )

Quote
Table 1: Approximate NPK Values of Various Animal Manures *
animal % nitrogen % phosphoric acid % potash
Dairy cow 0.57 0.23 0.62
Beef steer 0.73 0.48 0.55
Horse 0.70 0.25 0.77
Swine 0.49 0.34 0.47
Sheep/goat 1.44 0.5 1.21
Rabbit 2.40 1.40 0.60
Chicken 1.00 0.80 0.39

Other sites have said not to use any meat-eater's manure, as it can potentially contain parasitic organisms.
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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #476 on: July 23, 2010, 01:56:07 pm »

Other sites have said not to use any meat-eater's manure, as it can potentially contain parasitic organisms.

"Parasitic organisms" of the kind they are referring to, weren't even known about pre-1400s, so we can more or less ignore that.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #477 on: July 23, 2010, 02:39:29 pm »

Oh, and one of the sites talking about "organic composting of manure" basically said that dairy cow manure may look low in nutrients compared to chemical fertilizers, but that it also contains plenty of bulk carbohydrates, which for them, help build up soil, but for us, if we are concerned for mushroom growth, that would also be helpful if we want to push for a "NPK +ph +water +carbohydrates" model, so that mushrooms require carbohydrates in the soil to grow.

As for fertilizer from brown waste, though, assuming we're going to just make all creatures have a single, flat value for what sort of fertilizer they produce (I seriously doubt Toady is going to stat out poo for every friggin' creature in the raws seperately, especially since different breeds of cow (or at least, cows that graze differently) give different quality fertilizers), it seems hard to make just one baseline value.  (Of course, that would make it no longer matter that I can't find Night Soil NPK values.)

There's also a problem of manure handling, though.  Basically, if you compost manure (which you would want to do for horse manure or chicken manure or sheep manure, and especially human manure, as it can contain some diseases, even in the Medieval time frame that would require boiling all your crops before eating) you avoid the potential to "burn" crops with certain compounds, but you also lose a good portion of the nitrogen (and some of the phosphorous) in the manure.  Like 50% or even 90% if you really screw it up.  You can drop this down to about 10% loss according to one scientific pdf I read by specifically upping the carbon to nitrogen ratio up to 30:1 when you first start stirring the compost, though.
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sweitx

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #478 on: July 26, 2010, 08:48:34 pm »

Looks like there are three basic type of fertilizers for the NPK.
Nitrogen - mulch and manure
Phosphorus - Fish/meat.
Potassium - Well, potash.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming
« Reply #479 on: July 26, 2010, 09:17:59 pm »

Looks like there are three basic type of fertilizers for the NPK.
Nitrogen - mulch and manure
Phosphorus - Fish/meat.
Potassium - Well, potash.

Umm... no. 

Most fertilizers contain more than one, if not all three of those nutrients.

Manure and meat alike will contain all three types of nutrients.  I specifically listed bones as being higher in Phosphorous than droppings or other body parts, however, because most other forms of fertilizer available to dwarves are going to be mostly N and K, which means that P may be slightly more problematic (requiring more P-rich bone meal as a suppliment).

It should also be pointed out that crop rotation is an especially effective way of making a sustainable crop yield, and should always be your primary method of maintaining NPK balance.

I also don't know what you mean by mulch...
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Personally, I like [DF] because after climbing the damned learning cliff, I'm too elitist to consider not liking it.
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