Tutorials/Sugar cane farming
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Sugar cane farming is the process of planting a large amount of sugar cane and waiting for it to grow. This sugar cane is then trimmed for more sugar cane, which can be used to grow another generation of sugar cane. This can be repeated indefinitely, yielding a regular supply of sugar cane without the hassle of covering large areas of terrain.
Since sugar cane will grow quite happily underground with adjacent water, and will grow when in direct or diagonal contact with other sugar cane, quite compact arrangements can be used for efficient use of space. Various patterns of sugar cane and water can be used to achieve varying degrees of space efficiency.
80% Efficiency Farming
For sugar cane to grow, it must have at least one water source block next to it. (not diagonal.) This strategy yields a maximum space efficiency of 80% since the pattern is made up of units of 1 water + 4 sugar cane. The plus-sign shaped units can be arranged to completely fill an area.
For example, the following diagram shows an 11 by 7 farm, utilizing 61 sugar cane and 22 water blocks, with a perimeter walkway.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
While an odd-shaped 80% efficient farm is possible, this design sacrifices some efficiency (79.2% efficient in an 11x7 farm, not counting the walkway) for ease of maintenance by including a rectangle perimeter walkway around the farm. The water placed in the walkway is required for watering the immediately adjacent sugar cane. Lily pads can be placed on the water blocks for convenience; this does not interfere with the sugar cane's growth.
Limitations And Mitigation
The 80% efficiency design mentioned above has a limitation. When harvesting, it is easy to fall into the pools of water. The player must watch where they are going in order to ensure this does not happen. This can be solved by covering the water with either lilypads, slabs, or Carpet.
Another limitation is lighting the design. There is currently no set location for lighting. With a larger design, mobs may spawn in the farm and interfere with harvesting or damage the structure. Glowstone or a Sea Lantern could be placed at the bottom of each pool of water to prevent this, mainly because Glowstone and Sea Lanterns won't stop emitting light when it's submerged underwater.
The design can be modified to deal with these two limitations by placing glowstone or jack 'o' lanterns above each pool of water, or above certain pools in a pattern which provides sufficient light. This also allows the farm to double as an oak tree farm, should the player need wood as opposed to sugarcane. Dirt or cobblestone would be placed above the other pools to prevent the player falling in while mining. If the player does not have access to glowstone, torches could be placed on top of dirt or cobblestone on each pool, with the disadvantage of being easily knocked while harvesting.
Sugar Cane Piston Farming
When pushed by a piston or a sticky piston, sugar cane will be pushed off, and therefore, it can be automatically farmed by setting a redstone clock. The fallen sugar cane can be guided through flowing water towards a central collection location. The benefit of this approach is that the player's harvesting time can be reduced. The player need only grab the fallen sugar cane from the central location. Alternatively, the player can utilize hoppers or droppers to deliver the sugarcane to a chest, although this may be somewhat resource intensive.