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  • Farming and Farmland — Liberty Twp

    by EAB

    Farming - Initial Agriculture

    How much land we will need to plant will be determined by our population size and farming efficiency. Back on Earth the most efficient farmers the world had ever seen resided primarily in the United Stated of America on the North American continent at the end of the 20th century. With about 300 million acres under cultivation a population of 300 million was supported. Naturally some foodstuffs were imported but there was a large net export advantage especially in grain crops. Of this land almost 25% was planted in corn, a major portion of which was used for livestock feed and ethanol production. With corn the astounding output of 120 bushels an acre had been achieved by the late 20th century

    The factors which made such an unprecedented productivity possible were, on the natural side, climate, soil condition and an abundance of water. The human induced factors of large scale farms, machine use, fertilization, insecticide development and genetically modified plant species were equally important.

    The site of our initial landing was chosen with a view to climate and water availability. In terms of temperature we should be fine but the growing season will be 2 and a half times as long. This will add problems of storage and the need to grow multiple crops each year. Timing of planting so that the crops become available sequentially rather than all at once will be important for an efficient harvest. If the soil type is favorable, a factor which presently appears likely, we will not have for some time the amount of special machinery, insecticides, and fertilizers employed on earth.

    Some types of foodstuffs require special types of pollination; the use of bees for instance. We have brought along bees, but will they survive? Or if they cannot will another of Alchibah’s species take over their function? Even the presence and actions of earthworms have a large effect on crop yields and we have brought worms with us but the same questions asked about bees apply to them. We have only limited abilities to improve yield by genetic modification. It will be critical that we overcome any of the problems which present themselves as rapidly as possible.

    We have hydroponics on board the Mayflower but this is a stopgap and short term aid at best. Incapable of rapid expansion, production requirements and transportation make it more labor intensive than food grown planetside. Most colonists have never eaten a real, non greenhouse tomato, when they do another one of the reasons will become obvious.

    In the efficient areas on Earth direct farm work is the occupation of less than 2% of the population. Seven of the colonists were engaged as such before they joined us, luckily a higher number than chance alone would have provided. A survey and average of this “expert opinion”, suggests that we will be doing very well indeed in the short term, (short being 5 Alchibah years), to reach 15% of Earth values with 10% being far more likely.

    Therefore, planning for a population of 200, to include expected births, about 2000 acres, or over three square miles, should be put under cultivation as quickly as possible. We will need double or triple the number of farmers initially though the use of robots might eventually minimize or eliminate this problem. Until we learn enough to teach the robots there seems no alternative. Provision for preserving and storing foodstuffs during the long non-growing times will also require additional labor at first but could well be taken over by the farmers once they were established.

    It is already certain that the agricultural output will not be needed for fuel production as the abundant forests and clearing of land will provide more than enough biomass into the foreseeable future.

    For additional discussion see Farming Livestock and Animal Husbandry.

    Posted in A, F, L | Comments Off

    Government — First Colony Farm

    by EAB

    Primary Edit Lester Reye

    When the council in public meeting began talking about getting the farming underway the discussion was lively. Including myself their were five of us colonists who actually owned or operated farms back on Earth. I had raised cattle and hogs before getting into politics and my farm still did the same but with a manager rather than me in person. Frank Turner grew grain, Chen Yamasak had run a vineyard and raised fruit trees as a sideline. Bartholomew (Thal) Isaacson said over his years he had raised a little bit of everything and the Ortega’s (Manuel and Felicia) had raised vegetables and garden crops. All of us had some experience of course in the others major areas of expertise. Hamilton’s selection process had served us well in this area.

    The Historian was the acknowledged master by now on poultry and was considering adding turkeys to his mix. Isaacson suggested he add rabbits also, as soon as we could get some through the tubes. With a 30 day gestation period and a breeding cycle of about the same they would give us a secondary source of meat faster than almost anything else. They should also be able to eat the native grasses and in cages be easy for the bots to manage.

    The Council agreed that those six, counting the Ortegas as just one member, would make up the farm board and be responsible for drafting and submitting for vote farming related issues that affected the entire colony. Even that farm board would need to be voted upon by the township as a whole. But as none of those who witnessed the meeting where this was approved objected it looked like a given.

    We had already cleared and begun to prepare farmland to the north and west sides of the township so it was agreed to use this land, and clear enough more, to get a first 150 grid communal farm in while us farmers worked on private plots. Until we were sure of their safety all the decanted livestock would be kept here and I would be their primary overseer at a rate of 1.1 SLHs. The other farmers would receive the same and workers on the communal farm would be authorized at the 1.0 standard rate. That same principal was applied to Bartlett and Fortson’s lumbering and the Andy Stuart’s power project.

    Frank Turner was selected as leader of the farm board and his first proposal fit right into my wish to find work for Burt Buchanan and others who had not as of yet been contributing much to the colony. Frank said that since we would need more land than we had set aside for the communal farm to be put into agriculture, that the township should authorize payment at the 1.0 rate for colonists in the general labor pool to satisfy their 30 hour tax, by clearing and preparing the land around the farmers Freehold sites.

    Jack the Blade immediately objected to that and in no uncertain terms. The compromise we finally worked out was to permit the labor use as township equity but that the farmers benefiting must pay back to the colony the number of labor hours used before they would be able to purchase that cleared land. It was also agreed that they would be given a preference when it came time to purchase said land if they agreed to continue using it as farmland and contributed crops to the general supply at a rate equal to what the demonstration farm was producing until this land was paid for plus an additional 4 A-years or until the demonstration farm was sold by the township to the highest bidder. In the meantime the township would farm such land and own all proceeds exactly as it did with the demonstration farm. We put in a clause letting us revisit this provision in 2 A-years and modify it to make purchase easier for the farmers if that seemed proper.

    That proposal just squeaked out of council when a qualifier was added limiting such lands to no more than 50 extra grids per farm and that at least 80% of those grids be kept in production till the entire grant was paid for. All timber cleared from any such land would be township stock and used in township construction or sold at the direction of the appropriate body and again after a vote by the citizenry.

    The last farm related proposal authorized all colonists a right to procure seeds for their personal use if there was any surplus after the needs of the township farms were satisfied. The price of those seeds would be set or put up for bid when the initial communal needs were determined.

    Posted in A, F, G | Comments Off