One of main ways of growing population size inside your settlements available for both Farmers and Herder factions. Provides steady growth rate for both population and income. Quite complex when it comes to succesful management.
Let’s put everything down first. To create farmlands player needs 3 things: free hex of right terrain type, corresponding technology and time. First of all not every type of terrain is farmable – quite the opposite.
- Farmable: Fertile Plains, Gentle Hills, Steep Hills,
- Farmable after clearing land: Forests, Marshes,
- Non Farmable: Mountains, Rivers, Water, Grassland, Dry Plain, Plateau, Sand
Before you will be able to transform various hexes into farmland you will need corresponding technologies first though:
- Agriculture (24 turn) – allows for transforming Fertile Plains into Farmlands,
- Irrigation (10 turns) – allows for upgrading Farmlands into Irrigated Farmlands,
- Terracing (11 turns) – allows for transforming Gentle Hills and Steep Hills into Terraced Farmlands,
- Bronze Working (8 turns) – allows for clearing of forests,
- Marsh Drainage (12 turns) – allows for clearing of marshes,
Each of those 4 different farms type has different construction time:
Construction Time for various Farm Types:
- Farm – 2 turns of construction,
- Irrigated farm – 4 turns of construction,
- Terraced gentle – 4 turns of construction,
- Terraced steep – 6 turns of construction,
Once you fulfill all of those requirements you will acquire new farms. But it won’t provide food on it’s own – you need to have people who will be able to work on it. Food output is dependent on amount of population working on each of hexes. Luckily it is at least standardized and equals 1.5 food with 1 population working on hex and +2 food with 2 pop (with only exception being Irrigated farmlands which gives +3 food with 2 pop). There are also several technologies & edicts which affect this number:
Other things affecting farms production:
- Bountiful harvest (event): +20% food output for 4 turns,
- Flood (event): disables food output for 2 turns (1 with Flood Control) on affected hexes,
- Drought (event): -20% food output for 4 turns,
- Locust Swarm (event): -50% food output for 2 turns,
- Private Land Ownership edict (Central Burecracy edict): +20% food output,
- Private Arms Ban edict (Legalism technology): -10% food output,
- Seedling Transplantation (technology): +5% food output,
- Brick Faced Wells (technology): +5% food output,
- Crop Rotation (technology): +5% food output,
- Iron Plough (technology): +5% food output,
After dumping all of that data, it is finally time to analyze it and give you some tips on how to get more from your farming endeavors.
Looking straight into payoff there is no better thing than farmlands on fertile plains.With it we are getting 1 food per turn of construction. Which means than settlements located on vast fertile lowlands will grow in fastest possible way.
Next in order are Gentle Hills – 0.5 food per 1 turn of construction. Problem is that technology for them is quite late in Bronze Age. Also settling in hilly areas is tricky because there tend to be non farmable hexes in vicinity. On the other hand those hexes can offer some unique external buildings, which help with happiness (not even mentioning potential mineable resources). Because of that IMO the most ideal town would have inner ring of fertile plains with some hills on outskirt for extra resources/peasant happiness/natural defenses.
3rd place will be occupied by Irrigation approach. Half food unit/turn but with 50% less farms overall (making it more susceptible to enemy raids). For Irrigation to work settlement needs access to either river (which eats up hexes possible for agriculture) or other irrigated farms. Additionally irrigation quickens simultaneous construction once enough unemployed pop is created. Funny enough grey people serve as soft shield vs. negative food events mitigating chain reaction (when you lose food output then you start loosing people working on farms which in turn mean even less food).
Further in our top farms ranking will be forested locations as it takes 5 turn (at best) to created 1 farm in their place, which means only 0.4 food per 1 turn of labour. Of course you can quicken this process, by utilizing fast clearing exploit, but this is still something to remember. Important note – as you will want to clear and build farms at the same time with limited space to better utilize your time can throw irrigation into the mix. This way you will create from the scrap 1 fully irrigated farm while clearing 2 forests. This will also help by creating extra unemployed population, cutting down clearing timing and also bump you to 0.5 food per turn of construction ratio at the cost of bumping your labor faster.
Steep hills don’t seem great as they take 6 turn to make. Which means 0.33 food turn ratio.
Even worse are Marshes as clearing them will take 6 turns. Which means 0.25 food/turn ratio. Once again you can bump this up with irrigation to 0.375 food/turn ratio but it will generate more unrest.
In theory the worst of the worst should be forested hills areas but I’m not sure if I encountered hill hex after clearing forest. It would result in from whooping 0.22 to 0.28 food per turn of work. (All those ratio were calculated per turn, to show in some context)
Long story short:
For farming Fertile Plains>Gentle Hills>Irrigation>Forests>Steep Hills>Marshes.
So hunt for spots which don’t require much of clearing and avoid last 2 hex types. If you have to clear land and/or build many things asap - construct irrigated farms at the start. Extra unemployed population will prevent construction from getting delayed and allow settlement to get going quicker as well as helps with pacing idle turn for unrest reduction.
Formula for Farming
As I like to min/max to certain extent, I discovered rather easy to remember rule how to pace farms construction. Maybe it isn’t the best possible way, but it allows to keep up with AI’s without risking revolts and outgrowing opposition in Grand Campaign mid/late game population wise (mostly due to settling to cities too close by AI). Also it isn't time consuming which is great for MP and it's simplicty quickly grows into a habit. So how do I farm?
- After settling spam farms till I reach 40 population or 40-50 unrest.
- Then rest city for 10-15 turns.
- Build a single farm.
- Wait till growth goes lower than 1% and repeat from step 3.
This way after construction of each farm, city will have few turns of idle time during which it will start recovering from labor penalty. Over longer periods of time unrest will diminish, giving extra breathing room for implementing some edicts. It might need some adjusting to mountains or heavy forested areas but it isn't to hard.
On turn basis, it doesn't require much time. You can check it in the left menu - if city is costructing farm then you don't need to worry. If it is't then just check the color of arrow next to population number - green is ok, yellow = you need to check.