Picture of agricultural land in Bordzvek basin


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About 85% of Kassidor's population is involved in agriculture. Most of them in most basins live more or less outside the money economy, eat what they grow and trade the extra for what they are short of. The average farm, planet-wide, is just over an acre, in the Darceen basin, a quarter acre. In the Highlands at least 85% of the population is involved in agriculture, but they are not outside the money economy because they also take day jobs quite frequently. The Kassidorians consider someone 'urban' if they eat more than they grow, 'rural' if the opposite is true. Most of the Highland's population lives within a few percent of that distinction. Using this definition there are a hundred and three million contiguous urban people in the area of Kassidor Yakhan. But enough of those people can grow a good portion of their food, so that 61% of the food consumed by those hundred and three million people is grown on the land they possess. In the heart of the rural Highlands of Kassidor, weeks of travel from the nearest big city, the population density is a thousand per square mile, much higher than in the upscale parts of Centorin's cities.

At present we can't provide you with a simple list of crops grown and tonnages like you are used to seeing for other human planets. The figures are not available and the list would be too long to fit in the space we have available. Science is not even sure what grows in some of the basins because data service is non-existent over millions of square miles where there may be millions of people. When the farmer doesn't believe the one seeking the information exists, he loses motivation to collect the data. As long as they can satisfy their hunger when they get the munchies, they're fine.

Two important characteristics made agriculture on Kassidor easier even in ancient times. Perhaps the most important is that there are no insects on Kassidor. The niches they occupy on Earth are filled on Kassidor by several different phyla. Only the wee-ksarids can fly, and some are crop pests but never to the extent that insects are among Earth-native life. In general they are larger and easier to capture or control. They live several Earth years and reproduce much more slowly than insects. There are two other phyla that have crop pests in the four nucleotide evolution, the dtairs and the bristle bugs. They do reproduce quickly but they do not move quickly and could be managed by hand picking in ancient times. The keeping of klizhorn's to control them dates back into prehistory. Before the Energy Age, grubs and slugs were the only pests to take a significant proportion of mankind's produce. The only control for grubs was periodic drying of the soil, the only control for slugs was constant hand-picking, and in ancient times it was the major part of work in the fields. The smallest inglethors, the ytith, have species that bore into plant stems, and many others that eat leaves, flowers and fruit. In ancient times these had to be hand picked, in modern times the klizhorn has been modified to take them also, though they are often too quick for it to catch.

The other factor making agriculture easier is that almost all crops are perennials. That is easy to understand because the year is so short that few annuals can grow large enough to interest a human being. Most plants in the six nucleotide evolution have no built-in limit to their life spans, and in prehistoric times many of the tribe's food plants were older then their oral histories. The average plot was weeded and fertilized once a year even in prehistory. The fact that more than half of all fruits and vegetables grow at a convenient height has lessened the peasant's woe enormously, relatively little of Kassidor's field work is done stooped over.

The 'plow' as is traditional in Earth-native cereal farming is all but unknown on Kassidor. Thus the 'row' is not common either, and crop placement is based on the properties of the soil. The staple crops, even in ancient times, were wild stands of grains that were weeded and protected, and selected for better production. Most of them produce once a year. In ancient times the most important were related to the shaftwoods, today they are the thesh and vedn ribbonleaves. Most ribbonleaves have been producing for thousands of years. They can fix nitrogen and dissolve rock, so they need no fertilization other than the dung of occasional herbivore that makes it into the area.


There is a dimension to agriculture unknown on planets with Earth-based life. It is the principle called soom. Neither of the two evolutions of life that lives on Kassidor is nutritionally complete to a human being. All the millions of species of plants and animals in the whole six nucleotide evolution, from ribbonleaves to theiropsoids can't provide it. All the species of the four nucleotide evolution, from week leaves to kranjans, can't provide it. But combined, they just about can. Until the Energy Age humans also needed the onion. Humans and onions are obviously biologically related, they have the same kinds of cells and genes, the same cellular chemistry. Totally unlike either evolution of native life.

Growing the right mix of the different evolutions is so ingrained it seems like a biological instinct as basic as eating and sex. Even though the onion has not been necessary for human survival for four thousand years, you will find an urban person with only three window-pots will have one of six nucleotide life, one of soom, and one of onions. In a city today such window pots will probably be a decorative species, but no one who keeps plants is comfortable without at least one pot of each even today. Today that essential amino acid from onions is present in many different crops and the genetic modification to produce it internally now sells for about two hours of unskilled labor.

The need for the nutrients from the four nucleotide life and their use in agriculture has altered the balance between the two evolutions since humans were introduced. When they were introduced, finding enough soom was a daunting task. The abundance of lon and chuss in the deeps is a prime reason their populations grew faster in ancient times. The present near balance between the two evolutions wasn't achieved till the aftermath of the Energy Age.

The Science and Business of Agriculture

The native life is made of the same molecular building blocks as human life and as soon as they were released, humans found ways to get proper nutrition. Some substances humans need as vitamins are waste products for native life, but early man didn't care and agriculture flourished from the beginning. Even during the Energy Age, it was never large scale. There were no equivalents of the three thousand acre monoculture even then. Dempala's agriculture was not as large-scale as Japan's. Little machinery other than irrigation pumps and wind wheels ever got involved in agriculture, and it is much more automated today than it was in the Energy Age.

Most of the automation in Kassidorian agriculture is biological. Biological science has been used in agriculture since the Energy Age, and in some ways it is now accurate to say food grows itself for most of the population. The hours of labor to produce enough to live on, using no energy but one's own muscles, is down to about four hours out of the eighty four. This is a measure that has always been important in the Kassidorian marketplace. The driving force in Kassidorian agriculture since the Energy Age has been small scientists selling superior seeds to the masses. It was the first mass market in the Highlands and is still the largest. Today most seeds produce zero-maintenance perennials with high yields. They are graded for temperature range and water consumption. Most have calories/year/acre ratings on the package from several rating agencies.

Most of the big money in agriculture lies in collecting wagonloads from hundreds or thousands of small farmers, and selling it to sailing ships that will sell it in the big cities hundreds or thousands of miles away. Another layer of middle men make a living collecting the baskets of a little extra produce from many individuals and making up a wagonload to take to the nearest dock. It is a business of volume and narrow margins. There is still no agricultural transport on Kassidor's tubeways and the exotic delicacies sold to the very rich thruout human space arrive at the gatehead in central Kassidor City via sailing ship and animal cart and sweating human handlers pushing handcarts into the dome.

The Highland Garden

You can get to agricultural land (rural by Kassidorian standards) within an hour's walk of a fifteen minute tube ride from the gatehead. There are some grain fields (vedn) of hundreds of acres, but they are offset by the villages of fifty to a hundred and fifty people who occupy the trees along a quarter acre piece of the shore of a local brook. Fields are fenced with rope and vines, there are lots of them. Most fences surround less than a quarter acre, and are just about waist high. 91% of the meals eaten on the planet Kassidor were picked from or caught in the garden that week. That's just about all meals in rural areas and almost half of the meals eaten by people counted as urban, because they grow less food than they eat. Almost twenty percent of the people live in apartments along canals or tube lines in Kassidor City, the other eighty or ninety million have gardens of some type or other, many on the limbs of the trees they live in. Others gather wild plants and/or animals as a significant part of their diet.

The more urban the person or persons at a residence, the more likely their garden is to be exotic, with spices predominating among people who make most of their income in an urban way. Most of the people counted as urban have a house and garden and grow a significant part of their diet. Many have a one day a week urban career, either out of their house or within walking distance. Half the people counted as urban in the megalopolitan area are technically peasant farmers who take day jobs now and then, many on year long 'trips to the city' that may be a day's hike away. On the other hand, some in high rises along the beach may have half their balcony given over to spice pots.

The average garden in the Highlands will contain plenty of Rinko to provide the soom in the diet. It grows like patties on the ground, they are thick, and if you don't pick them they will buckle against each other at the edges. They are in the same phylum as lon. Along all the fences, most of the Highlanders grow beans. Kassidorian beans produce thin but tough vines, have beautiful flowers and seldom get harder than peas. They do not grow in pods but in sprays.

Even if the city is a year away, few have more land than they need. They see it as 'why walk the extra distance to pick it'. Once you are away from the Yakhan, cities are separate but not very far apart. Villages pop up every mile, towns every ten miles or so and cities every sixty all thru the Highlands. There are over a hundred cities of a million or more in the Highlands, New Midlands and Gengee. The number for the entire planet isn't known, but it may be a thousand. Fresh produce is brought in to them by keda and wagon every day. Often they are ports on lake or canal where the extra is shipped out to one of the larger urban complexes like the Yakhan, Lasnar or Entisonggas.

The Highlands suffer frost every week and everything in their gardens has to be frost hardy. This still allows them six or eight phyla of edible plants. Kalic, icicles and purple root are all distantly related. Cheeseapple and gnarl berries are in the same phylum. The cheeseapple can also be coaxed to grow large enough to provide a dwelling. Shums grow to a size that requires a ladder to pick the fruit and can be used as starch in many common recipes.

The garden produces both vegetable and animal food. Most people catch a great deal of the animals that come to eat the garden with springband traps that have been in use in the Highlands since about 800bc and planet wide since the year 0. Most gardens are surrounded by so many miles of others that there is nothing left to get thru. From then on there is a balance between how many people bother to buy traps and how many garden pests get thru. Even urban people have no problem eating the local equivalents of gophers, field mice, hamsters, squirrels and so on. Those animals are built on different body plan with wooden skeletons, and none of them are soom.

The farmers most familiar to Centorins are those who raise staples like vedn, thesh, lash, and tell. They have wagons of their own, hired hands, a hundred acres of monoculture and a business to run. They have a garden for their own use next to the kitchen end of the house. There are hundreds of millions planet wide, tens of millions in the Highlands. They are important in keeping the cities fed. They contribute over eight percent of Kassidor's total agricultural output, but of these staple crops, they produce almost forty percent. They are found more often near large cities in most basins, including the Highlands.

Agriculture of the Deeps

There are forms of Kassidorian agriculture that only the most adventurous will see. The deep basins are frost free and a whole different ecology lives there. Different foods, many different fruits, psychedelic teas and berries, many different kinds of spices and a whole class of frond plants that produce edible leaves or berries, some tasting like honey. Deeper still, far beyond the reach of tubes today, are plants that float in the air on vines, aquatic animals that are raised like pigs or goats and a nutritious tangled weed that grows in salt water.

The main problem with agriculture in the deeps is lack of sunlight. The deep basins are fertile and moist, but there may be three or four more layers of atmosphere to develop cloud cover or haze and the sunlight is weak when it reaches the ground. Many plants native to these depths have adapted and capture a greater percent of the sunlight. One of the most important of these crops was Blackreed, a member of the tall grain phylum that was accidentally exterminated in the Energy Age, killing at least a billion people of starvation in the Lumpral basin alone.

Today many plants of the deeps implement multiple photosynthetic pathways like lon and enthora and are able to get per-acre yields nearly as great some crops in shallower reaches of the atmosphere. There are ranges of deep. The Trenst, Zhlindu and Edniktar basins are considered 'deep' because they are frost free, but they are thin air compared to Borlunth, Tthmuurng or the deeps of Lumpral.

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