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Old 11-26-2020, 02:10 PM   #11
Phantasm
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Another thing to consider is nutritional requirements. Many New World grains require complementary crops to provide humans with complete nutrition, which was one the reasons why malnutrition was such as issue in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. They switched to New World crops like maize and potatoes because of the bulk calories that they could produce, not understanding that they had less protein and fewer nutrients per kilogram than Old World crops. They usually ended up with more people because of more calories, but the resulting population often suffered from mental and physical difficulties caused by the resulting chronic malnutrition.
Indeed. They grew maize without realizing the benefits of growing and eating maize, beans, and squash (what the American peoples called the "three sisters" because of how they grew* and were cooked) together, nor of needing to mix the maize meal with lime (mixtla) to unlock all the nutrients.


* all three were basically planted together, though not at the same time; the maize was planted first, then the beans which grew up the stalks of the maize, then the squash which grew outward from the stalks
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Old 11-26-2020, 02:35 PM   #12
(E)
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
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Default Re: Crop selection

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Originally Posted by Michele View Post
Have you already considered GURPS Low-Tech Companion 3?
Yes, thank you, I have looked at that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adaman14 View Post
Is there a specific time period and civilization you are trying to emulate?
In this case no, I'm looking for more "Key Principles" that apply to a wide range of cases.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
The location and era matters a lot. <snip>
This much at least I have got sorted out, it's relatively simple to assign what crops etc are available to each culture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rupert View Post
It depends a lot on where in the 'old' or 'new' world you are too - peanuts are South American, as are pineapples (and so not part of pre-Columbian North American diets).
<snip>
I've got this issue solved, to some extent at least, with factoring in the various tolerances each crop has.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
The majority of land is still devoted to staple crops; it's just that maize has joined what and rice as a staple grain, and potatoes have become a staple root crop. Things like chocolate, peppers, and tobacco occupy much less acreage, and are grown much more for sale rather than subsistence.
This is true, staple crops are probably the first issue to consider (hunting/gathering and gardening do contend for the top of the list).
*I'll get back to this below.

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Originally Posted by Anthony View Post
Also, as far as a 'theory' behind what was grown, having theories that meaningfully enhanced traditional practices is largely a TL 5+ feature.
Yes, but among other things I was wondering if a research paper or something similar was known about by the folks here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
I think he's asking for a model for GMs and players to use in determining what kind and amount of crops to grow, rather than an in-setting theory. I'm also pretty sure there is no such model suitable for the purpose.

We need to start by determining the objective of farming. Humans, until recently, have generally increased their numbers to the limits of the food supply, but other species might have different objectives, such as fantasy elves not wanting to change the character of a forest.

Then there's the question of the amount of food you can get without using agriculture, from fishing, hunting, and gathering, and what kinds of food you can get from those means.

Then there's the question of the amount of land available, the kinds of crops available, the amount of labour needed for different crops, the need for crop rotation, the potential for making money by growing different crops, your need or desire for crops other than food, such as fibre or tobacco, and so on.

There's also the trade-off between using land for agriculture or animal husbandry, which depends strongly on the kind of land you have, the kinds of animals, and your need for animal labour for agriculture.

The total problem is huge, and filled with special cases and feedback loops. In any real situation, it will be much simpler because of constraints, but still pretty complicated.

A practical way to solve it for game purposes might well be to start with nutritional requirements, what different kinds of food can supply, and what different ways of getting food can yield.
Yes, that whole section is very illustrative of what I'm working through at the moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantasm View Post
In the past, a lot of what decided which crops were grown depending on knowing - usually through experimentation - which crops would grow in an area based on its climate and soil conditions, as well as the need for irrigation. And a lot of this was trial and error.

<SNIP>
This much at least is simple (if time consuming) to research, I have already factored in crop tolerances to help determine what grows best where.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
Another thing to consider is nutritional requirements.
This subject I have a handle on, though I cover it in an admitted simplified fashion.

My thought process at the moment is to
1) determine the relevant details of the area in question then determine the relevant details of the population that live there.
2) determine the primary staple and what support it requires (grains would need oxen in most cases, oxen needs pasture etc. Rotation crops as well)
3) determine how best to allocate the remaining labour (and area)

Points 2 and 3 are the ones I'm working through currently. (I'm using "grain" here as a generic term) There are numerous questions coming up, for example. If 100 people need feeding, how much grain will they want to grow, 130% of their average requirement?* Will they grow a second different grain crop to avoid a monoculture**? If so, how much?

Will the village grow a fiber crop or use wild sources/trade etc.
* to account for variation in yields.
** an insurance crop.

It's a sprawling topic.
And Thanks for all the comments thus far.
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Last edited by (E); 11-26-2020 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Added foot note
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Old 11-26-2020, 04:47 PM   #13
adaman14
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

Quote:
Originally Posted by (E) View Post

My thought process at the moment is to
1) determine the relevant details of the area in question then determine the relevant details of the population that live there.
2) determine the primary staple and what support it requires (grains would need oxen in most cases, oxen needs pasture etc. Rotation crops as well)
3) determine how best to allocate the remaining labour (and area)
Item 1 - consider that if a population does a significant amount of livestock, the proportion of hunting for food is drastically reduced. Mesolithic digs show that the remains from eating only show less than 5% of bones from wild animals. Livestock is much easier to sustain life. However, North America had very little livestock raising thus hunting and fishing was very prevalent. Feudal Europe had 98% of population rural and the farming was just enough to sustain the household with very little remaining to sell. Cities could survive with grains, veggies, and meat because they were such a small proportion of the population. Food for this period was very reliant upon livestock. A society such as Rome would have much more reliance upon much larger farming operations (the villa) and would have more foods to sell. Also they would use other richer societies to collect grains for consumption (Egypt).

Item 2 - Oxen only required if plowing. All of the Americas farmed without any beasts of burden and not even using the wheel. Also areas such as Japan or Greece were mainly reliant upon the sea. Just some ideas. Rotation was usually not used as much as letting ground go fallow.

Have fun man! Wish I was there to discuss and plan. I love this crap.
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Old 11-26-2020, 05:00 PM   #14
AlexanderHowl
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

In general, farmers need an average of 3,000 calories per day (ranging from 1,500 calories per day during the quiet times to 7,500 per day during planting/harvesting). A bushel of wheat produces around 70 loaves of white bread and 3,000 calories is around four loaves of bread, so the average farmer needs around twenty bushels of wheat. Alternatively, the calories may come from millet, rice, rye, etc.

Now, a significant fraction of the calories consumed by a farmer will come from ale or beer, as much as third of their calories, since water is usually unsafe to drink, and that will come from barley, so the average farmer needs one-third of their calories from barley. In general, this will mean that one-third of the acreage of the average farm will be barley.
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Old 11-26-2020, 09:56 PM   #15
cptbutton
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

Risk management is another part of it. You want different crops so that if one fails you still have the other. Getting a high yield of wheat in the good years is nice, but you also want barley for the bad years. And you want to plant both up on the hillside and down near the river in case of floods or droughts. That sort of thing.

(Yes if you have an advanced money economy and good transportation systems you just borrow money and buy food in the bad years and pay it off in the good years, but you are unlikely to have that in the situation the OP asked about.)

A blog I've been reading lately discusses this sort of thing:

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!
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Old 11-27-2020, 07:47 AM   #16
dcarson
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Default Re: Crop selection

One thing that helped Rome become a power was the landscape in Italy meant they could plant grain in the valley bottom, and grapes and olive trees on the slopes. These have different times that they require major work on the farmers part so they had more efficient agriculture than many places. Farmers have a common problem of too much work needed planting and harvest season and less the rest of the time.
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Old 11-27-2020, 08:15 AM   #17
hal
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

There are a lot of variables in farming: soil ph too high or too low, days where temperatures above a given level, sufficient water but not too much, etc. toss in pestilence and disease, and things get to be interesting. The potato Famine of Ireland is a perfect example of what happens where you rely upon one crop staple. Rye grows better in some soils than wheat due to either of, or both - soil acidity or temperatures. Some crops where used for ale. If you want ale production yields per given amount of grain, Iíll dig it up for you. If you want average yields of wool per sheep, I can dig it up. Alternatively, I can post a link to Amazon.com where you can buy a GOOD reference book for all of this by Professor Dyer that is worth picking up. Between Professor Dyerís books and books by Gies and Gies, there should be sufficient stuff that will be worth reading.
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Old 11-27-2020, 07:27 PM   #18
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Default Re: Crop selection

Quote:
Originally Posted by adaman14 View Post
Item 1 - consider that if a population does a significant amount of livestock, the proportion of hunting for food is drastically reduced. Mesolithic digs show that the remains from eating only show less than 5% of bones from wild animals. Livestock is much easier to sustain life.
<snip>
Have fun man! Wish I was there to discuss and plan. I love this crap.
Hmm, the number of 5% of bones from wild sources could be interpreted a couple of ways. Do you have a source?
If you're ever over on the gurps discord give me a yell (I'm (E) over there too) I'm always keen to chat on the subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexanderHowl View Post
In general, farmers need an average of 3,000 calories per day (ranging from 1,500 calories per day during the quiet times to 7,500 per day during planting/harvesting). A bushel of wheat produces around 70 loaves of white bread and 3,000 calories is around four loaves of bread, so the average farmer needs around twenty bushels of wheat. Alternatively, the calories may come from millet, rice, rye, etc.

Now, a significant fraction of the calories consumed by a farmer will come from ale or beer, as much as third of their calories, since water is usually unsafe to drink, and that will come from barley, so the average farmer needs one-third of their calories from barley. In general, this will mean that one-third of the acreage of the average farm will be barley.
Calculating the processes to turn a given raw material (say milk) into a another usable state (say cheese) is in the always helpful low tech 3.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
Risk management is another part of it. You want different crops so that if one fails you still have the other. Getting a high yield of wheat in the good years is nice, but you also want barley for the bad years. And you want to plant both up on the hillside and down near the river in case of floods or droughts. That sort of thing.

(Yes if you have an advanced money economy and good transportation systems you just borrow money and buy food in the bad years and pay it off in the good years, but you are unlikely to have that in the situation the OP asked about.)

A blog I've been reading lately discusses this sort of thing:

Collections: Bread, How Did They Make It? Part I: Farmers!
Ahh, the collection of unmitigated pedantry, that blog was quite handy for tracking down some numbers for charcoal production. A very useful site.

Related to your comment on management there is also availability, turnips for example produce a great yield, but a once a year crop is likely to be compost after a given number of months.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarson View Post
One thing that helped Rome become a power was the landscape in Italy meant they could plant grain in the valley bottom, and grapes and olive trees on the slopes. These have different times that they require major work on the farmers part so they had more efficient agriculture than many places. Farmers have a common problem of too much work needed planting and harvest season and less the rest of the time.
I fully agree, Ease of management is actually one of the core parts of my current system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hal View Post
There are a lot of variables in farming: soil ph too high or too low, days where temperatures above a given level, sufficient water but not too much, etc. toss in pestilence and disease, and things get to be interesting. The potato Famine of Ireland is a perfect example of what happens where you rely upon one crop staple. Rye grows better in some soils than wheat due to either of, or both - soil acidity or temperatures. Some crops where used for ale. If you want ale production yields per given amount of grain, Iíll dig it up for you. If you want average yields of wool per sheep, I can dig it up. Alternatively, I can post a link to Amazon.com where you can buy a GOOD reference book for all of this by Professor Dyer that is worth picking up. Between Professor Dyerís books and books by Gies and Gies, there should be sufficient stuff that will be worth reading.
I've actually got Gies and Gies on order (international shipping is slow at the moment) I'll look into Dyer though. Teresa McLean is another source, as are translations of Charlemange's letters to his stewards.
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Old 11-27-2020, 09:40 PM   #19
GURPSFredo
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

Don't know if it's realistic but Harn Manor is a RPG book I've always used for fantasy setting crops.
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Old 11-27-2020, 11:02 PM   #20
Anthony
 
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Default Re: Crop selection

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Originally Posted by (E) View Post
Related to your comment on management there is also availability, turnips for example produce a great yield, but a once a year crop is likely to be compost after a given number of months.
Hence a wide variety of preservation technologies (without freezers, I believe pickling is the most appropriate for turnips).
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