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Author Topic: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution  (Read 137751 times)

Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #270 on: May 02, 2012, 05:28:42 pm »

There is a difference between "free" and "infinite."

"Free" resources are the ones that you get through no work (stone is an example)
"Infinite" resources are the ones that you get through either no material input (food) or through renewable means (obsidian).

Free AND Infinite is the problem.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #271 on: May 02, 2012, 05:57:08 pm »

However, I do want to raise a point from the original post concerning the conservation of mass and energy.  That being, plant mass is not derived from soil, and farming the same soil for years won't make you run out of soil.  Fertilization exists to replace certain nutrients or chemicals in the soil, not the replace the soil itself.  Plant matter is basically all hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon, and all of that is derived from the air and water.

I don't mean "mass" as in "all the soil is gone", I simply mean "if you continuously remove all the potassium from the soil in this area, then unless potassium is somehow put back into the soil, it will eventually get less common and run out". 

We're not tracking air (yet... although it WOULD be cool to have to use ventilation systems or else have enough oxygen-producing plants in your hermetically sealed cavern that must be magically powered to compensate for the lack of sunlight if you want to completely wall off your fortress...), and water is being tracked.

Part of the aspect of the water section of the thread was talking about how aquifers and streams could be made less infinite (infinitely renewing, but with a finite quantity of water that can be generated in a given year) so that water management can become a potential concern.  (Wouldn't be a problem in most cases, but a single brook might not be enough for a truly huge farm, and aquifers might become depleted.)

As far as minerals, however, part of what I want to see is that there is a real life cycle/nitrogen cycle/carbon cycle/phosphorus cycle going on, where nutrients like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are removed from the soil and put into crops that are then carried away, eaten by creatures who take those nutrients into their bodies, and when they die or excrete, that's where the nutrients are, ready for composting and return to the soil so that the cycle can be fed again.

This wouldn't require much actual effort on the player's part, other than assigning a compost duty and giving dwarves instructions on how much fertilizer they are allowed to use on each field.  (For simplicity of play, I suggested that farmer dwarves fertilize on their own initiative by reading the soil fertility, but where players can throttle how much fertilizer is allowed to be used if they need to conserve.)  The benefit, however, would be both the need to actually manage your fertilizers to make sure the soil isn't depleted, and use crop rotations to avoid overtaxing the soil, but also to produce the simple "ant farm" simulation quality of being able to see a realistic system working on its own once it is set up...

Nutrients in the soil become plants, plants become food, food is eaten by animals/dwarves, either the animal/dwarf dies or excretes waste that gets sent to compost, compost turns into fertilizer, fertilizer restores nutrients in the soil. 

Conservation of Mass. 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #272 on: May 02, 2012, 06:23:54 pm »

If my proposal was implemented, each biome (depending on fertility) would be able to provide a varying number of plant types. Some biomes would provide everything you need. This is good for new players or people that like it that way. For people who like more difficulty, embarks exist where farming is more limited: in other words, you could not get EVERYTHING you need through farming. Only some stuff. Perhaps even very little (depending on your choice of biome). Then what do you do? Use alternative means of food & booze production: animal breeding, fishing, beekeeping. All of these should be infinite sources of food and booze because they're basic resources (It's the expensive resources like ore and gems that should be finite). None of these industries should give you everything you'd ever need though. That's the general idea - details may be tweaked.

It'd be nice if you could just skim my proposal, as well. 

The point of what I was setting up to do was that small-scale subsistence farming for a small fortress would be easy, but larger projects, including heavier tree-farming, would become more difficult.  Especially since wild-growing trees would no longer be infinite, and instead subject to the same rules of conservation of mass as farms.  (It would restore on its own if it were truly wild, but only so long as you don't over-poach the forests.) 

Growing tree farms, textile farms, food farms, magical resource for alchemy farms, etc. would all strain your ability to balance a self-contained dwarf-made ecosystem to an ever-growing degree.

Animals will eventually need to be fed somehow.  Pasturing a cow is easy, but takes a large amount of arable land to renew those resources without intervention.  Growing fodder and feeding it to a cow in a pen is more resource-intensive, but gets you extra food, but it is generally easier to just go for just growing more crops and skipping the cow entirely if you want the most food for the least arable land.  (And real-life medieval peasants often did not eat meat frequently unless they happened to catch a rabbit that was in their fields or something, and stuck to cheese and eggs for protein, because just keeping a chicken alive with some extra grain for feed was easier than raising chickens for slaughter.)

Some animal products are also in drastic need of rebalancing, although generally just making animals eat things will take care of some of the problem.  Right now, the best food-production system in the game is a crocodile because it lays so many eggs and doesn't need to eat.  But just as raising fodder in a farm for a cow is less efficient than just using that land for wheat, a carnivore that needs to eat a cow that needs to eat fodder from a farm is even less efficient.  Eggs in general need to be less numerous (an egg of any size is a full meal, so creatures with huge egg clutches are unreasonably good food producers), while milking is severely underpowered (cows should be producing roughly 10 to 14 times as much milk as the current rate of milking). 

Food consumption in general needs rebalancing, as well - roughly 5 times as much food should be consumed as is currently consumed.  I also would like to see a nutritional model, so that strict vegan diets or all-egg based diets aren't the easy answer.

The purpose of this idea is to make basic farming easy for new people, but difficult to master into having "infinite" resources for everything that can be grown organically, and with a progressive incline in difficulty as you ask for more and more from the soil. 

The purpose of the pests section specifically makes large single-crop plantations much more difficult farms to maintain (because they foster the growth of pests that are specialized in killing your crops in an age before pesticides).  Branching into polycultures that let you protect cash crops from pests by taking advantage of natural predators and plants that repel pest species is a complex task for advanced players who wish to explore the full nuance of the system, but can be skipped by basic players.  This also directly gives players a reason to have variety in their plantings.

The biome-based (and temperature-based) crop discriminations you are talking about are already included in the system I outlined in this thread. 
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Andeerz

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #273 on: May 02, 2012, 10:26:34 pm »

The only qualm I have about this thread's proposal at all, and I've mentioned this somewhere before, is that I believe that MUCH more land should be required for farming, and I mean on par with what human farms are like in the game and would be required in real life.  To put it in other words, not only do I think people need to eat around 5 times more than they actually do in the game, I think the rate of production of food should be reduced per tile of farmland.  This would open the game up to some very fun, not to mention realistic, challenges, such as having to manage and protect lands outside of the immediate embark area (unless farming is done extensively underground under the embark area).
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dizzyelk

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #274 on: May 02, 2012, 10:56:05 pm »

Haven't seen this thread yet, and just checked out the first posts. NW_Kohaku, you never cease to amaze me. I stand in awe of the sheer amount of words you're consistently able to put forth. Tomorrow, I plan on checking this thread out early. But right now? All those words make my head hurt.
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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #275 on: May 02, 2012, 11:10:34 pm »

The only qualm I have about this thread's proposal at all, and I've mentioned this somewhere before, is that I believe that MUCH more land should be required for farming, and I mean on par with what human farms are like in the game and would be required in real life.

I half agree and half don't agree.

While I agree that farms need more space, it is my opinion that four to six 10x10 plots is where I feel is "right" (for 200 dwarves).

A 10x10 underground farm (when ceilings collapse again, anyway) is difficult to make fit.  Four of them are an engineering challenge.

It's large enough to make the player go "wow, I need lots of room" but small enough to not take up three quarters of the embark's surface area.
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Andrew425

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #276 on: May 03, 2012, 02:03:45 am »

Two things that i'd like to add.

I think wood is far to sparse in this game as is, making it used even more often is a difficult idea. Perhaps be able to either import massive amounts of potash or the ability to mine it could help. Also perhaps all farms would naturally regrow themselves without any input. Maybe if the field is fallow for 7 seasons it can go from 0% fertilized to 100%

And I think the need for farmers is important. During the medieval times over (guess) 80% of the people worked the land or where very close to the production of it. In a fortress of 200 I think at least 100 should be farmers and the rest be craftspeople. Perhaps re-label farmers(fields) to peasants as everyone who doesn't have a job assigned to them is automatically a peasant and tills the farmlands
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expwnent

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #277 on: May 03, 2012, 02:04:40 am »

Looks interesting.

How do you distinguish between "free stuff" and steel? With sufficient trading and/or goblinite, steel is an infinite resource, and with a good enough army, you can reliably take down any goblin invasion. Is that also a free stuff button? Is it the difficulty which makes the distinction, or the complexity, or the time?
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Blah

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #278 on: May 03, 2012, 02:51:43 am »

Requiring farms to occupy more land to produce is fine for me. Requiring more farmers is fine also. Just not too much. Tripling farm size and farmers required seems about right. I don't want it to be realistic because otherwise almost everyone would be a farmer with too few dwarves left for other professions.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 02:54:13 am by Blah »
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Andeerz

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #279 on: May 03, 2012, 05:49:05 am »

Well, let's say we have absolutely realistic crop land requirements (like more than a 4x4 embark area's worth of surface land needed to feed 200 dwarves). 

How about this, which is how I ideally see it: when trading and economic stuff become better fleshed out in the game, if you want a fort of primarily non-farming people, import your food.  And/or perhaps when managing lands outside of the embark area and other game mechanics become a possibility, delegate farming to people and lands outside of the embark area, relinquishing you the player from direct management; at that point, perhaps part of the role of your fort could be to protect these vital farm lands and those working the lands (like many IRL forts!!!).  And if you want to manage the embark area to be a huge farming operation, go ahead.  The options should be there for whatever you want to do.  And the OP's suggested game mechanics would still be awesomely relevant for these scenarios.

Also, who says that 200 dwarves will always be the max amount of dwarves in a fort?     
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 05:51:45 am by Andeerz »
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Draco18s

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #280 on: May 03, 2012, 07:35:22 am »

How do you distinguish between "free stuff" and steel? With sufficient trading and/or goblinite, steel is an infinite resource, and with a good enough army, you can reliably take down any goblin invasion. Is that also a free stuff button? Is it the difficulty which makes the distinction, or the complexity, or the time?

Goblinite is another issue that I take issue with.

And you don't need an army.  You don't even need a lot of traps.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #281 on: May 03, 2012, 09:55:32 am »

The only qualm I have about this thread's proposal at all, and I've mentioned this somewhere before, is that I believe that MUCH more land should be required for farming, and I mean on par with what human farms are like in the game and would be required in real life.  To put it in other words, not only do I think people need to eat around 5 times more than they actually do in the game, I think the rate of production of food should be reduced per tile of farmland.  This would open the game up to some very fun, not to mention realistic, challenges, such as having to manage and protect lands outside of the immediate embark area (unless farming is done extensively underground under the embark area).

Well, part of what I want to do is make it so that if you use the techniques of that era, then you will be correct - it takes up a huge amount of space. 

However, part of what you can do is have full irrigation, more complex crop rotation schedules, you can balance your fertilizer loads more carefully, take advantage of polycultures and aquaculture and grow your cattle's fodder on salty/swampy ground that isn't suitable for standard agriculture, use "natural pesticides" like fostering spider colonies and bat colonies to keep pests down and otherwise have tricks that give you an edge if you know how to use them.

Simply tilling everything into one giant patch of wheat for a single staple crop was what they did largely because wheat was the most easily traded crop, and the easiest to store for long periods of time.  Wheat actually takes more land to feed the same amount of people than growing vegetables does, and many medieval farmers would actually subsist on smaller vegetable gardens and a small orchard of fruit trees for much of the year, and only use bread to get through the winter, along with the few winter crops they could still grow (like onions or turnips or other root vegetables, and potatoes once they were brought back from South America).

Part of the reason the Muslim world was capable of exploding in population, wealth, and power during the Middle Ages was that they had more complex land management systems, public works including irrigation that Christian Europe didn't have, and could feed a much greater populace with less farmers.

Even then, it's worth noting that medieval farmers were only part-time workers - they really only worked hard during the plowing and the harvest.  They did almost literally nothing during the Winter.  Farmers were known to "waste away" during the Winter, not eating, not going outside, not doing anything but staying near a fire, and losing 50+ pounds of muscle during the Winter months. 

The ancient Egyptians, in fact, had farmers, not slaves, build their pyramids - when the Nile flooded, and farmers had nothing better to do with their time, the Pharaohs came up with public works projects for them to work on in the meantime in order to prevent 2/3rds of their populace from doing nothing but getting drunk and causing trouble for three months at a time.

Also likewise, people will tell you that Asian rice paddy farming is the most land-efficient means of food production, which is true, but it's also the most labor-intensive form of food production.  An ancient family working with wood or stone tools in a field of wheat could work 3 acres of wheat farming.  Before the Industrial Revolution, with metal tools and better irrigation techniques, this rose to 10 acres.  Rice Paddies?  1 acre per family straight up until modern mechanized farming.  Sure, you get 3 harvests per year in tropical regions, but rice paddies are extremely maintenance-intensive. 

Now, how many acres can a fruit orchard handle?  If you have cattle-drivers in mostly arid semi-desert grasslands how many acres can a small number of cowboys cover with a herd of cattle? 

Land area and labor required to produce a given amount of food are not necessarily proportional to one another.

I'm presuming players will probably want to graduate up to the Muslim levels of land management, where it can still be realistic, but not take up 90% of your fortress farming.



EDIT:
Or, to say this a different way, I can understand why you would start from a place of saying "this should take X amount more space to run a farm", because the farms we have now are very much a matter of every individual crop being basically the same, however, that's not the sort of system I am trying to make. 

I am making an assumption from the start that real-life farms would never expect to get maximum yield consistently.  Nor should the player if they're smart, but that's another matter.  Let's assume for a second that we could have gotten 3 times as much actual grain from a wheat field than historical farmers did simply through the use of more intensive fertilization and irrigation so that the crops didn't wither without rain. 

There's also the fact that basically all crops in the game now are fairly similar in how they grow, and growing more crops in this game is generally a function of how much land you are using for agriculture.  Now, let's talk about how we have crops that have different nutrient consumption rates, and how we are limited in our use of fertilizers.  Hypothetically, we could grow much more land-efficient crops that take more labor per acre to grow those crops. 

Alternately, it takes very little effort to just set up a nest box or farmer's workshop and have a pasture for chickens or cows over "wild" land that you don't till or work, and let be fertilized naturally by the chicken and cow manure that falls out of them naturally as they go.  That takes little labor, but a lot of land if you aren't going to manually optimize the fields.  Also likewise, you can set up fruit orchards, where the apple trees you harvest for fruit still need care and maintenance, and definitely needs labor to harvest, but obviously not as much as plowing a field and constantly having to refertilize the soils.

You have choices between how much land you use, how much labor you use, and how much of your fertilizers you are going to use to get the most crops based upon what resources you are most feeling the squeeze on at the time.  The optimal choice depends on your given circumstance.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2012, 10:45:52 am by NW_Kohaku »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #282 on: May 03, 2012, 10:27:12 am »

Looks interesting.

How do you distinguish between "free stuff" and steel? With sufficient trading and/or goblinite, steel is an infinite resource, and with a good enough army, you can reliably take down any goblin invasion. Is that also a free stuff button? Is it the difficulty which makes the distinction, or the complexity, or the time?

Goblinite is something that probably won't be infinite forever - we might be getting historical goblins so that we can actually permanently deplete a goblin army, or at least have goblins that don't have unlimited iron armor to toss on their waves of expendable grunts.

But that's not really the point of your question...

I see "free" as something that takes no particular effort or thought to gain.  I was playing Minecraft recently - food in that game is close to free, as well.  After you have seeds and some tilled land, wheat grows automatically, you just have to punch the wheat and reseed it.  Feed that grain to cows you don't have to take care of, and they multiply.  Stone is functionally free - you're not going to have much trouble finding more, and you should always keep a pick on you, anyway.  Just point yourself at the nearest cliff face and hold down the trigger.  Diamonds are not so free - they take going very far out of your way to find them.  You have to take care not to let them fall into lurking pools of magma.  It takes iron picks to mine them.  They're very rare, so you should only use Fortune enchanted picks to mine them, as well. 

This is actually a pretty complex topic, because goblinite shouldn't be so "free", it should be hard to get, but it often isn't if you just know how to build a magma flood chamber or otherwise completely dominate sieges.  It's not meant to be free, but it functionally is because of how the game is currently set up.

This is a large part of why I am aiming at this degree of complexity in the system for farming - when the arguments over this thread started, it was a war between one faction that said that the current system was unrealistic, and we needed to have a fertility gauge and more land and more dwarves working that land to make the game more realistic, and another faction arguing back that it would only be too much micromanagement for the player, and wouldn't result in any real complex decisions. 

What I tried to do is create a system that would be complex enough that it would always require thought to set up a proper system - sort of in the same sense that goblin sieges are hard when you are surprised by them, but can become easy when you know what you're doing, but hopefully without it becoming as totally exploitably easy as goblins become.  Conversely, I also do not want to require constant babysitting and pushing a "refertilize field" button. 

So, part of the challenge is in setting up a crop rotation system or some other form of self-sustaining system.  Fertilizers are limited but renewable, as are most water supplies.  You have to manage them and your land as best you can to provide what you need.  That would be the first stage of complexity - setting up a self-sustaining dwarf-made ecosystem that can supply excess food to your community. 

The second part of the challenge comes in the form of "disaster management" from pests, droughts, or other major, non-micromanagy external forces that push change upon you, and demand you react.  The crop-pest-predator relationship gives you a sequence of measures and countermeasures to use against pests, as does polycultures, using, for example, setting up a defensive ring of flowers that have a scent that attracts a predator of a given pest, or else drives off a given pest to protect crops vulnerable to that given pest inside that ring. 

Because it is unpredictable, and you are required to constantly keep land management practices in mind (there are pollutants, soil erosion and other problems that can be sprung on the player), it should never become "free" in the sense that you can just permanently forget about it, but at the same time, isn't just a tedious grind of the same stuff over and over.

That's the plan, anyway...
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #283 on: May 03, 2012, 10:54:17 am »

Two things that i'd like to add.

I think wood is far to sparse in this game as is, making it used even more often is a difficult idea. Perhaps be able to either import massive amounts of potash or the ability to mine it could help.

Potassium can be mined in real life, in the form of minerals like Sylvite (which is found in rock salt deposits), and you can also mine Phosphorous from Apatite (found on the beds of ancient lakes made of ancient dead organisms) or from Guano deposits.

It is notable that in real-life, we rely upon mined phosphorous for our fertilizers, and we are actually facing a crisis of potentially running out of easily mined sources, and as such, soil scientists have been raising the alarm about how we need to work more to keep the current supply of phosphorus self-sustaining, rather than relying upon trying to find endless sources of a non-renewable resource.  (See: Peak Oil.)

Also perhaps all farms would naturally regrow themselves without any input.

This doesn't actually happen just that easily, but if you "fallow" a field, you can use "green manure", which means using a nitrogen-fixating crop (as in, it takes nitrogen from the air, and puts it back in the soil) and then till the plant you just grew back into the soil so that all the nutrients in the entire plant go back to the soil. 

Also, keep in mind there's regular manure, and dead bodies of animals that eat all that plant matter.  Plus goblinite can also refer to just composting dead goblins for their precious minerals. 

For both of these, though, it's in the "Fertilizers" section which is the second section in this post.
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Uristocrat

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Re: Improved Farming, Rebooted: Agricultural Revolution
« Reply #284 on: May 03, 2012, 03:39:32 pm »

Potassium can be mined in real life, in the form of minerals like Sylvite (which is found in rock salt deposits), and you can also mine Phosphorous from Apatite (found on the beds of ancient lakes made of ancient dead organisms) or from Guano deposits.

I note that we already have sylvite, though you can only find it if you already have rock salt.  No apatite, though.  Guano would be interesting for other !!scientific!! reasons.

I can only imagine the fun of dropping a bit of magma into the guano-lined hallway while the goblin/zombie siege is walking through it.....
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