The 3 Field System

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QuantaCube

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Mar 4, 2014
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#1
I'm in the process of developing a farm realism guide, although there are some things that I believe are of upmost importance so I am making a quick post just to put out some information.
I am by no means an expert, so if I have said incorrect information please make a reply and I will alter the information!

What is the 3 Field system?
It has been decided that the farms of middle earth are going to use the 3-field system- which is a system of crop rotation to keep farms fertile and help survive hard winters, developed through the later middle ages.

Here is the basic layout of a farm/village using the 3 field system:

As can be seen: A farm (Usually 1 communal farm per town) generally consists of 3 fields, one of wheat or rye, one of legumes or oats, and one of fallows (empty farmland for grazing). Each year these fields would be rotated, although due the static time of the server, although the server does take place in Autumn, so more can be stated.
As it is during Autumn, the field of wheat would be either in the process of being planted/ very recently planted, the legumes would have been recently harvested , and the fallows would be fallows.

Farm size and Structure

Another thing, don't make fields too small! Fields are generally rather large, and just 3 fields using the 3 field system around each town would be enough. Farms would also likely be communal in middle earth, as private farms are a rather new thing. Animals were also very important , so for each farming village it is incredibly important to have an area for the animals (pasture?), with access to the fallow field for the animals to graze on weeds.

Anyway, just a quick thing so i'll be off now.
-Quanta


Edit: Seems the image isn't working, so just look up '3-field system' on your preferred image search
and there is plenty of visual diagrams to see what it's all about.
 
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Eriol_Eandur

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#2
Thank you @QuantaCube for working on this. I think it's very important and I agree with most of you points. Just some comments.

  • That Image is broken
  • Also I'd like to add that forest around a village was intensly used for pasture and many other things. This resulted in light forests without undergrowth.
  • Only one communal farm with 3 fields per town would look very weird imo. Also I read (german) that though farming was communal there were seveal fields around a village (and more around a town I guess). Each inhabitant had a small share in each field.
  • Yes our fields are too small quite often. But they are also too irregular. Ofc they should not perfectly square and straight but too irregular fields are very impractical (e.g. to plough).
  • When I search for pictures I find large, quite rectangular fields that are divided into narrow stripes for each individual farmer:

 
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Eriol_Eandur

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#3
So the question is: How to implement this at MCME?
The server date is September which means in real world:
  • No half or full grown crops (harvested at latest in August, more like June-July). Seedlings would make sense, winter wheat is seeded in September. But most crops fields would be empty.
  • Vegetables like cabbage would be at the fields in September
  • 1/3 of all fields would be fallows.
  • All fields of an area must have the same plants. This was a very strict rule in 3-field-system. Around a village there were only 3 large fields, crops, vegetables, fallow. Every field was divided into small stripes for the individual farmers who were forced to grow the same plants.
But I think this would look quite bad. So let's make it not too inaccurate and looking good at the same time:
  • We can decide crops (first year) harvest time in Gondor is September due to the warm and wet climate! Not too accurate but also not too bad imo. So crops should be fully gown and many fields partially harvested. This will look very nice and interesting. At some already harvested fields some seedlings can be placed from fallen grain, I think there are already nice examples of this at the map.
  • Vegetables and beans (second year) should be fully grown at the fields.
  • Fallows (third years) should have some sparse vegetation. There are nice expamples at the map already.
  • Some more than 3 fields around a village will look better. So hey, let's just make large but not huge fields.
This would not be 100% real world accurate but 100% realistic. There is no reason why people in Gondor should not have a different system than in medieval europe.
 

Eriol_Eandur

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#4
@QuantaCube after our in I read your 3-field system post again. I basically agree, but we need to change things a bit to make it looking good. What you suggested there would mean that all fields are fallow, already harvested or recently planted. This would first look very boring, second it would not don't fit with all existing fields.
So let's shift harvest time in Gondor a bit back as I suggested in my post I linked above. That's not historically correct, yes. But it is realistic! Gondor is not middle europe (which could be compared to The Shire). Gondor had a much warmer climate. But Gondor isn't the mediteranean either. It's directly at the open ocean and could therefore get much more humidity, thus not everything dried out in summer. So a 3 field system in Gondor could look like this (yellow: wheat,rye - dark aqua: oats, legume - brown: fallow):
upload_2018-4-8_16-3-3.png


But another thing that is different in Gondor from medieval europe: Poe-Tae-Toes!
In europe when potatoes where introduced they replaced (together with turnips) the fallows of the 3 field system. So I think it could be like this in Gondor (red: potatoes and tunips):
upload_2018-4-8_16-7-41.png

If you look at September (9th month) of any year you'll see that one field is already harvested and fallow. One is still planted with fully grown legumes or oats. The last one (orange) has either still potatoe still on it but some of these fields are already planted with next years winter wheat and rye.