This article describes the concept of an agriculture simulator that can allow a farmer to test the performance of his selected crops and their setup in the field for his unique situation (climate, sunlight availability, ...). In addition, he may test the outcome of certain soil manipulations before actually implementing them in practice (and risk reduced harvests). A final use of the simulator would be to simply train/test the farmer in farming and the newly aquired skills (obtained after reading/studying the Agriculture Manual).
Making the similator[edit | edit source]
- Firstly, the amount of crops is too restrictive, and as it is now, actually educates people to go through with their current selection of crops, which are not suitable for countries in the subtropical and tropical zone (which is the home of the main part of the developing countries). Crops such as corn, wheat, cotton, ... are actually crops that have been introduced from the exterior (colonisers) and where crops that have been brought from other countries and climates. Instead of these, crops such as eg yams, breadfruit, ... are far superior as they are indeed crops from the (sub)tropics and are thus ideally suited for the climate and other local environmental parameters (eg resistance to pests, ...). Thus, the player needs to be given the possibility of selecting both types of crops (foreign and regional), with offcourse better results if regional crops are chosen. Examples of crops may be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_fruit#Tropical_fruits . Also, the game should let people understand that they need to grow several crops, depending on their nutritional content. This includes crops with protein (eg beans, soy, ...) as well as certain vitamins (A, B, C, D, ...) and minerals (calcium, iron, ...) in proportions. Also, the distribution of the food may be introduced to ensure everyone is given enough, yet not too much calories (fattening) and other nutrients. Finally, the game should educate people to select bio-cultivars (thus disease-resistant cultivars) instead of commercial cultivars selected on yield.
- Another improvement is creating suitable growing environments for the crops (which is not present in the game). A rough example can be found in the game "Wallace and Grommit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit"; in which a greenhouse can be manipulated based on several parameters as watering, heating, .... The Virtualleaf project is a more advanced project which could also be suitable for building on. The administration of water, sunlight (eg by shielding in greenhouses), nitrogen, potassium, .. aswel as the exact makeup of the plant beds, presence near sea (salt-contaminated) or nitrate-contaminated areas, plant location (windy, sunny, half-shade areas, ...), ... should be introduced so that people may be educated what the perfect growing environment is for each particular plant to be grown (so that it may be replicated in real life). The exact measurements in Liters; Kg, ... to administer may be inputted (they can be learned from a extra "farming manual")
- The game may feature pests which can occur on each different kinds of crop. Depending on the appearance of the crop in the game (in 3d), the farmer can learn how to recognise the pest; pest determination may be explained in detail in the manual). It should educate people that both chemical and organic pesticides exist, yet feature a lean towards organic means (although in a integrated pest management approach; thus relying on chemicals in certain situations).
- The game may feature the choice between chemical or organic fertiliser (eg household waste, human and animal feces), of course with a preference to organic (less nitrate-pollution of areas and ground water). The exact timing of nitrogen administration should be implemented (so that the fertiliser kicks in just at the time when the crop needs it; eg in its fruiting stage).
- The game should also feature a more in depth cattle farming experience; in which it is explained that although some things are simpler (not much trouble with pests; although still antibiotics too need to be given), using crops is more effective/efficient if done right.
In order to introduce these new features, a entirely new game needs to be created, and the ideal software herefore is Second Life. Like Sloodle (a virtual leaning environment modification), it could hereby implement inmediatelly a 3d environment and advanced world manipulation. Having it remain a online game, is I believe, not possible. Further finetuning may be done using the grow models of http://www.virtualplant.wur.nl/UK/
As this game could educate farmers worldwide (and thus not only those in the developing world), the game may be created in conjunction with universities and farming test facilities worldwide (reducing development costs). Cooperation can also be done with Departement Leefmilieu, Natuur en Energie - Dienst Land en Bodembescherming . See http://www.bdb.be/Portals/0/docs/vul200820.pdf for their recent carbon simulator.