[Skill] Farming

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[Skill] Farming

Postby Calla Davin on September 12th, 2019, 3:33 am


Farming is the practice of cultivating the land to produce crops. It is different from gardening in that gardening is more small-scale. If questioning whether something qualifies as gardening or as farming, use this little phrase: big area farming, little area gardening. It is also different from animal husbandry, which would be the practice of raising and caring for animals or livestock. Lastly, farming is a skill boosted by the actual tending of the land and managing the farm itself, which differs from the agriculture skill. Agriculture is knowledge of the plants themselves and how they must physically be planted, fertilized, tended, and harvested.

Not all farmers farm crops and animals, though it is often beneficial to do so. Farmers that just grow crops are known as arable farmers while farmers that just raise livestock are known as pastoral farmers. Those that do both are mixed farmers.

Farming is a complex skill, requiring knowledge about not only plants and animals, but about land preparation, weather, and even construction. A good farmer will know what crops or animals suit their area best as well as how to take care of them in any situation. The larger the farm, the more business skills a good farmer will need: staff management, plot planning, price negotiation, and stocking are all key parts to becoming a successful large-scale farmer.

Pre-Requisite Skills:

  • Agriculture: the skill of learning to grow, manage, and harvest crops.
  • Aquiculture: depending on the area or plant life, using the skill of growing crops in or under water is also necessary.
  • Animal Husbandry: if a pastoral or mixed farmer, knowing how to take care of your animals is essential.
  • Wilderness Survival: if your farm is out on its own (especially when it is just beginning) then you will need to know how to survive. Make sure to check the lore page for what level of WS you need in your farm's area.

Steps for Farming:

1. What kind of farmer are you? As already covered, there are three types of farmers: arable (crops), pastoral (livestock), and mixed (both). Before anything else, one must decide what they will be farming. Deciding between pastoral and arable has a lot to do with the area that the farm will be located. Less nutritious soils aren’t conducive to crop growth, and, therefore, pastures would be more suitable to a farm in that area. Additionally, extreme climate (frequent flooding, long wet or dry seasons, strong winds, cold climates) lends itself to raising livestock rather than crops. Furthermore, if a farmer has fewer human resources then tending to large fields of crops would be substantially harder than tending to a large flock or herd.

Another thing to think about when planning to be a farmer is whether one plans on roaming or not. Nomadic farming, like that commonly found among the Benshira, is farming that moves around. Though easiest with livestock, nomadic farming can be done with crops in order to save the nutrients in the soil. Sedentary farming is the opposite: farming in which people farm permanently in one location.

The last thing to consider is whether one intends on farming for subsistence or commercial gain. A subsistence farmer has a smaller plot, because they only intend to live off their land rather than make money from it. A commercial farmer, on the other hand, intends on selling what they harvest to either get by or make a profit. This obviously will require a larger amount of land and resources, so it is important to plan ahead if one thinks they will expand their farm.

2. Choosing a Plot. If one is looking to start a new farm, they must take great care in picking out where their plot will be. Large-scale planting can’t happen just anywhere.

Arable: On the most basic level, arable farmers will need slightly sloping land (which will help with water run-off), fertile soil, and moderate climate. In densely forested areas or jungles, crops would benefit from areas where they won’t be as disturbed; pick an area that is easily accessible and defendable, but still avoids some of the problems listed above.

Pastoral: As previously stated, animals are hardier than crops. They can live in tougher climates and move if need be. Do, however, keep an eye out for things that will make it difficult to protect or harvest your livestock. Are predators common? If so, you will want to pick a plot that will be easily closed off and defendable. Alternatively, you can pick a larger plot and construct a larger structure to bring your animals to avoid danger. If your product will easily spoil, like dairy, then you will want to pick a plot closer to a market so as to avoid wasting all your hard work on spoiled products.

What is Fertile Soil? There’s an easy way of determining if soil is fertile enough for planting. Uproot a plant that is already growing in the plot and examine its roots: if the roots are spread out and the soil easily crumbles away, then the soil should be fertile. Additionally, turning over some soil to reveal fungi or bugs is a good sign as well. Even simpler than that would be checking the soil color: dark soil means that there is typically better nutrition and organic matter in the soil. If wildlife doesn’t want it, neither do you!

Check out the price list for land prices.

3. Preparing Your Plot. Now that you have your plot all picked out, you still must make it a farm. Evaluate your needs and the amount of space you have. You’re going to need, at minimum, a place to live and a place to store your tools. Another thing to consider if your area does not get frequent enough rains: where will your irrigation system go? What type of irrigation system will you use?

Irrigation Systems: For smaller farms, carrying buckets from a nearby well or water source will be time consuming but effective. This will, however, involve digging a well if you aren't near a water source. Larger farms require the transportation of water from its source to the plots. Typically, farms are either irrigated through the flooding of the field or through the channeling of water between crop rows. To do this, a farmer can choose to build aqueducts to bring steady amounts of water down from higher bodies of water or ice caps. This will take quite a bit of time and planning, and will need help from someone with the necessary construction and mathematics skills. Similarly, a farmer may choose to build a series of canals to bring a body of water on relatively the same level as the farm to the plot. Though this will take fewer resources, building canals will take a similar level of planning and execution time. Another primary option would be to build a man-made body of water, such as a lake or pond. This can work with a dam in order to supply water to an entire farm. No matter what irrigation technique is chosen, all require forethought and time to set up.

Land Preparation: Preparing the land mostly consists of clearing the already present vegetation and then tilling the land. Tilling is the process of preparing a seedbed. To till, one would overturn the surface of the soil mix the soil and shape the beds or rows. Ideally, the rows will be wide enough so that you can straddle it when working without stepping on the plants themselves. These rows would be separated by pathways for walking. Tilling can further be broken down into two separate processes: plowing and harrowing.

Plowing is the first step of tillage. It is when a farmer, either by hand or using a animal-drawn plow, breaks up the surface of the soil. This is also the time when manure or fertilizer gets incorporated into the soil. As the plow moves, it mixes all of these components together. There are two main types of plows used in farming: the moldboard and the chisel. Moldboards are wider and better suited for plowing a field for the first time. These are heavy, though, and cause soil compaction (which in turn causes soil to be erosive). Chisel plows don't disturb as much soil, because they are not as wide or deep-digging. These are best for subsequent plowings.

Then, there is harrowing. Harrowing smooths over the land, causing those neat, even rows that everyone thinks of when they imagine a fresh plot of land. A harrow will break up the larger clumps of soil produced by a plow, making the land nearly ready for planting. Once the soil has been harrowed, farmers will want to pick out the rocks that have been brought to the surface. This prevents any damage to equipment and allows for easier planting in the future.

Check out the price list for prices of structures.

4. Maintaining Your Plot. The everyday running of a farm includes both physical working of the land as well as planning on how the land will be worked in the future. For example, animals will graze only the plants that they enjoy most in their pasture. Over time, this will cause those plants to be stunted from constant grazing while other plants that the animals do not favor will become overgrown. This requires a watchful farmer who knows when to rotate a herd to a different pasture so that each pasture's vegetation can remain healthy. Other tasks to consider when maintaining a farm are as follows:
  • Weed management: how will you get rid of pesky, often harmful, undergrowth? Common techniques include burning, using animals to "mow," or regular, manual pulling.
  • Predators: checking for predators daily by examining injured flock or damaged property is essential to maintaining a healthy herd. How will you prevent or deal with predators? Common techniques include keeping guardian animals,building physical barriers, keeping areas well-lit at night, and moving weakened or young animals inside at night. Keep in mind that herbivores can also lay siege to vegetation, so those "predators" must be dealt with as well.
  • Feeding animals and maintaining soil health: if there is a cold season when animals must be brought indoors, a farmer must grow food to preserve for the animals to eat during that season. Growing the same type of crop on the same plot will similarly kill off the soil, so planning when crops will rotate through different plots is also essential.
  • Food preservation and storage: once harvested, what are you going to do with your crops? Sell them immediately? Dry them? Where will they be put, and how much will you keep for yourself?

Related Skills:

Skill Progression:

Novice: The novice should have a good understanding of how to till land, though they won't be able to produce perfect plots; their rows will be wobbly and uneven. They know how to tell if soil is generally fertile, but they may not be able to determine how fertility in varying weather conditions. A novice farmer will still need help with determining proper irrigation systems, crop types, and planting/harvesting schedules. Novice farmers cannot run their own farms yet; any sort of problem (such as drought, flooding, famine, or infestation) will be completely beyond a novice farmer's expertise and would cripple their produce. Novice farmers are most likely ranch hands or apprentices to more well-trained farmers.

Competent: A competent farmer will be more skilled at land preparation, though they are far from perfect; they can prepare one type of irrigation system on their own, though it may need frequent repairs. They are more prepared for problems, but only because they understand more ways of preventing such problems. If something like an infestation or infection were to hit, they would still lose a good majority of their stock. Competent farmers are well-equipped to run their own small-scale farm. They are able to feed themselves and their families off of the land, but they are not yet capable of becoming commercial farmers.

Expert: Expert farmers are highly skilled in land preparation, knowing how to properly till, irrigate, and propagate in most conditions/areas. They not only know how to prepare for problems, but how to keep most of their crop and flock alive through any problems that may arise. These farmers can feed themselves and their families off of the land, but they can also manage and maintain large commercial farms.

Master: Master farmers can run their own farm in biomes where farms may not seem possible: tundra, dessert, mountainsides...all are areas where a master farmer can figure out ways to grow and herd. A master farmer would know how to manage multiple farms, even if those farms are off-site. A master farmer should also be a master in at least agriculture and animal husbandry as well; they are now skilled in combining crops to create new strains that are resistant to issues such as drought or infestation.
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[Skill] Farming

Postby Mayhem on September 12th, 2019, 5:03 am

If questioning whether something qualifies as gardening or as farming, use this little phrase: big area farming, little area gardening.

On my first impression, this made sense, but as I continued to read and think about it, I began thinking. There are gardens much larger than farms. Farms seem more utilitarian and with only a few crops growing over a larger area for efficiency, while gardens are often decorative and have many different plants (including some crops) grown in smaller quantities...if that makes sense.

Additionally, extreme climate (frequent flooding, long wet or dry seasons, strong winds, cold climates) lends itself to raising livestock rather than crops.

This is another phrase that made sense when I first read it, and that drew me back to think about it again. Many successful modern and historical farming communities are or were in areas where there is regular flooding for at least part of the year, such as the Nile River Delta. I'm not an expert on this, but I think it would be worth noting that the river flooding is what contributed to the fertile land. While that is a general statement, it's also worth making note that many slightly milder versions of these extreme climates have quite a few native crops that thrive in them, and other crops can thrive with adjustments to their usual growing seasons in order to match what they were typically used to.

In densely forested areas or jungles

I know that jungles have very thin soil and are unsuitable to crops without modifications made. In Syka for instance, the Isuas grove thrives because Ashta manure is collected and used as fertilizer.

If your product will easily spoil, like dairy, then you will want to pick a plot closer to a market so as to avoid wasting all your hard work on spoiled products.

Food preservation and storage: once harvested, what are you going to do with your crops? Sell them immediately? Dry them? Where will they be put, and how much will you keep for yourself?

I think these would lend well to adding a section about storing crops and animal products, such as different kinds of storehouses and cellars.

Master: Master farmers can run their own farm in biomes where farms may not seem possible: tundra, dessert, mountainsides...

Just some obvious typoes I noticed. Dessert to desert, and mountainsides would be better as just mountains. :)


Aside from these specific notes, I would also be interested in seeing information related to working with the land, rather than specifically modifying it to work against it. Things like terraces to grow crops on mountains and using your animals to benefit your crops on a mixed farm. Manure as fertilizer, feeding weeds to goats, animals to help with preparing the land and harvesting...things like that. A section about how to selectively breed and modify crops would be helpful, too.

Overall I think this is a great article, Calla, and I look forward to seeing you add to it.
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[Skill] Farming

Postby Luminescence on September 15th, 2019, 9:27 pm

This looks like a great write-up so far, Calla! Awesome job. :) I just have a few small suggestions.

I feel like most of the skills you listed as prerequisites actually probably qualify as related. I think Agriculture for sure is probably a prerequisite, but Aquiculture and WS largely depend on location, and Animal Husbandry depends entirely on whether or not the farm has animals; just something to consider potentially moving around.

While this might be leaning into Gardening territory, I think it might be worth mentioning the different soil types somewhere briefly, considering you do talk about soil quite a bit already. Different soil types have different appearances and qualities, and certain crops grow better in certain types of soil. Some types of soil simply don't lend themselves to farming well at all, like Mayhem pointed out with the jungle. Perhaps include a section solely for soil that discusses soil fertility and types? (Also, how many times has soil been said between the article and this comment? Probably too many lol)

I really like Mayhem's suggestion about having a section for breeding and modifying crops too, though that might be pushing too much into Agriculture territory. I look forward to seeing this article when you're done!
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[Skill] Farming

Postby Gossamer on September 15th, 2019, 10:19 pm

People made good points.

I’ll touch on other things instead. First off, Farming is NOT different than Agriculture. You can’t, for example, get a BS in Farming. You’d be getting a BS in Agriculture.

noun: agriculture
1. the science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

noun: farming
1. the activity or business of growing crops and raising livestock.

This makes me cringe just reading that you are stating it is different. It is not. They go hand in hand with Agriculture being the blanket term for about ten different branches or types of farming and including a bunch more components like Agronomy , soil science and agriculture chemistry, horticulture plant breeding and genetics , plant pathology , entomology, agriculture, extension education , agriculture statistics, seed technology , nematogy, plant physiology, forestry, agricultural biotechnology.

We talked about separating out animal production from food production on Mizahar’s level because it invalidates Animal Husbandry which has been historically used by people to raise animals and it would be redundant with articles in the wiki.

I feel like the language of this article is too informal. It should be formal and educational. You can’t make statements like Farming is a complex skill. You are telling the audience. You should instead go into the complexities of farming so that people understand.

You also broke farming into two three times, including one that farms animals. Okay. We again talked about this. Farming has far more types.

• Arable: Crops
• Pastoral: Animals (See animal husbandry)
• Mixed: Crops and animals (Must be done in conjunction to Animal Husbandry)
• Subsistence: Grown just for the farmer and his family
• Commercial: Grown to sell
• Sedentary: Permanently in in one place
• Nomadic: The farmers move around to find new areas to farm
• Wet/Dry: Rice & Cranberry verses crops that are not submerged

So… you need to remove the prerequisite of Aquiculture. Make this part of your writeup.

Steps for farming. This was VERY oversimplified. Many PCs will be multiple types of farmers because of the changing landscape of their farms. Again, remove animals. So, in light of this why would they decide what type of farmer they’d need to be? You are obsessed with size, but I know a lot of subsistence farmers that grow huge plots verses commercial farmers that grow small plots.

I liked your fertile soil situation in here.

In terms of water, I think you forgot to think about wind powered water which can fill huge stock tanks and keep crops watered. You didn’t talk about stored water or rain water catchment systems which water crops world wide. Waterwheels can also feed water from running streams and rivers to a crop via hollowed out logs that form half pipes that are just stacked one after another after another until they deliver water. I would suggest researching off-grid water solutions or homesteading to learn a lot more about watering.

I liked the rest of your article in the prepping soil, weeding, harvesting, predators, etc… I think you should include a situation. I do think you should include a blurb about crop rotation and resting the land. That’s important.

So then we get to your skill progression and I think it falls apart again here. For one, Novices can’t practice farming on their own? That’s insane. I recommend you go with a limited type of ‘easy crops’ they can grow and a limited number of acres they can handle. Much like other articles (Falcony comes to mind where novices can only work with ravens, crows, magpies, and maybe Kestrels.

Each progression has good points, but I think the type and number of things they can grow should increase with level, have examples listed, and amounts of land they can farm increased. I feel like a novice could grow things like potatoes and corn… easy things… and live by trial and error getting irrigation up and running and crop fertilization etc.

I was confused by a Master Farmer managing and running a farm off-site. What? He doesn’t even need to be there for a farm to run? I think anyone who’s ever farmed would laugh at this. No, they need to be hands on on-sight. But I like what else you said about the masters.

No matter who you are and how good you are, you can’t be ten places at once. You can’t oversee and manage land you aren’t there daily to work on. It’s impossible. So consider making these adjustments to get your article passed.
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