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Complex Irrigation Systems (And Other Farming Doodads)


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Irrigation currently is not particularly interesting as you have basically only 3 methods which you can use.

  1. Manually water every single crop to 100%, horribly time intensive but yields fast growth.
  2. Place source blocks of water next to farmland, most effective long term solution but can't moisturize land to 100%. Not very interesting mechanically either.
  3. Wait for it to rain

None of these systems are particularly interesting to me, and there isn't any correlation between effort/skill to benefit with the undefeated best option just being to place down water source blocks in a certain predefined grid pattern and leave farmland as it is with no additional work outside of harvesting and replanting. So, instead, I'd like to see a more difficult but overall more rewarding system of irrigation implemented along with a few other changes that make it possible.

Water Source Blocks

Water source blocks should not be allowed to be moved by a piece of tech gated only by obtaining a saw. If water is needed constantly for some operation, it should have to be diverted from some natural source instead of being taken and made into a new source. This would make farming less trivial and also pave way for a reasonable implementation of a waterwheel that isn't just a free power source wherever necessary by restricting it only to be nearby rivers or diverted rivers.

Crop Hydration

Plants in the real world don't take kindly to excessive watering, often wilting and dying when exposed to excessive quantities of water. As such, crops in game should behave the same way and have their growth stunted or even be killed outright if they are given too much water for too long (such as would occur if they were constantly exposed to a cubic meter of water at all times). Instead, crops should be given a moderated intake of water within a very broad range of values or, in the case of rice, could have an entirely different method of growing.

Cover Crops

Primarily used for animal feed, cover crops would be used to more quickly replenish certain nutrients in a soil and once harvested is useful for composting and as animal feed. These crops would also be useful in maintaining soil integrity during dry periods because the roots of the plant would anchor the dry soil in place so it isn't quickly dried out by the heat and wind if left exposed.

Irrigation Techniques

To replace the aforementioned forms of crop hydration and to balance them around a system that includes over hydration, multiple possible systems would be introduced all of which have some set of drawbacks and benefits to them. These techniques would include:

Furrow Irrigation


A kind of irrigation which consists of periodically flooding a network of ditches with water to hydrate crops. A very simplistic and early game form of irrigation that would be available upon getting a hoe of any kind but would come with the downside of being costly in terms of water and needing to be carefully managed as an overfilled furrow can overflow and destroy crops, and a furrow left full of water for too long can overhydrate crops as well.


Can be made more efficient later through the use of stone irrigation ditches that allow water to transport much faster with less waste but can't be used to hydrate crops, only to transport water to valid dirt furrows.

Irrigation Vessel

Something you may have seen from primitive survival already, also called an olla. An unglazed earthen pot that is buried in the earth with a neck that sticks out of the ground for refilling. Water slowly seeps out of the unglazed surface and saturates nearby farmland. Needs to occasionally be replaced after breaking but is generally a low cost low maintenance but highly efficient solution for watering plants. Less easy to scale up to huge amounts though given the need to have individually filled fired pots often in a field.


Drip Irrigation

Also to be implemented in Primitive Survival, composed of cut half circle bamboo segments that water flows through and eventually drips out of onto crops. A very intensive method of irrigation that requires that a bamboo segment be placed above every row of crops but provides near perfect hydration constantly if properly split. Can also overhydrate crops if given too much water.



Raised beds on lakes and wetlands made from mud and reeds mixed together and lashed reeds and posts to hold it into a formation. Provides incredible plant nutrition that exceeds any other form of agriculture but requires a shallow, large lake as well as an intensive construction process. Must be made at medium sizes for ideal hydration and plant nutrition.


Other Farming Changes

One thing I've never really enjoyed in vanilla farming is the hunt for terra preta to construct a farm. It's strange to make ideal agriculture a process of harvesting faraway materials to exploit in your farmland and make it such a simple process where the farmland stays rich forever without maintenance outside of proper crop rotation and watering. Instead, I'd like to see a system where the quality of a soil is dependent primarily upon how it is treated, with good hydration, temps, fertilization, and crop rotation producing healthy nutrient rich soil and excessive or minuscule hydration, no fertilization, monoculture, and dry barren fields exposed to wind producing poor soil.

Fertilizer Changes

Fertilizer should be a core component of farming not just an additional nicety that can boost certain nutrients. As such, a few things should be added with the first being the ability to fill a bucket with fertilizer and cast it out over a wide but irregular area (up to 5x5 blocks centered at one block in front of the player). This would make fertilizing fields much more manageable at a large scale which in addition to a requirement for fertilization for some kinds of agriculture make it an interesting task.

Fertilizer would also come in many new different forms with the addition of this tool, such as compost from a more in depth composting system (described later), wood ash fertilizer (obtained from burning wood anywhere), and feather meal (obtained from boiling chickens feathers and then drying and grinding them).


Compost already exists in game but in a pretty inaccurate and boring state where rot of any type is sealed in a barrel, producing compost that only satisfies one type of nutrient. Real compost involves primarily plant material decomposing in a high moisture high oxygen environment and yields material which is useful for a wide variety of plants. It also serves as a way to reuse the nutrients a plant spent on leaves and flowering parts by using the compost in growing other plants. As such, I think it would be a good idea to give all crops two parts: a food part and a greens part. The food part stays as is, but the greens part can be used for animal feed and composting.


Composting would be a primarily passive process but one that needs to be carefully set up with proper ratios and ingredients. Fat, meat, and any other animal parts would not compost well so generic rot should be excluded from composting. Instead, composting primarily consists of mixing water with brown and green materials at ideal ratios, with brown materials being things such as hay, sawdust, dry grasses, and dry leaves and green materials being vegetable trimmings, fresh plants, and any other living green material. Green is mixed with brown at an ideal ratio of 2:1, but most ratios work reasonable well for creating compost.

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I see you took alot of time on this suggestion.

I personaly love this idea. Especialy the part where the soil quality depends on how its treated.


Since you mentioned removal of water sources. It would be cool to have the ability to dig wells for water sources i guess.

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