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Fertilizers Should Give More Nutrients: An Analysis


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Hello. It's me again.

I've been playing around with the new farming system a lot (and I mean a lot) since the beta came out and I am just about head over heels in love with it. Well, with most of it. The new system has a lot of depth to it and feels very rewarding to figure out and optimize, however it has one glaring flaw: fertilizers.

The amount of nutrients provided by fertilizers is almost never worth the time and resources required to produce said fertilizers.

Now, I do understand that one of the central aims of the new system is to incentivize crop variety and give less popular crops some time in the spotlight by making it so certain crop combinations can fertilize themselves. I definitely wouldn't want to see that aspect of the system disappear, yet I think it would be a terrible shame if all that work that has been clearly been put into fertilizers (both old and new) ended up being ignored by most of the community because of how much better self-feeding crop combinations are.

But you can't really use such self-feeding setups in the first year, where you'll largely be at the mercy of random seeds. Perhaps more importantly, however, the sheer inefficiency of fertilizers is likely to turn a lot of players who are new to the game or to the farming system away from farming. Most of them won't think to combine crops into self-feeding setups (since they'll have to grow the plants first to research them and learn their nutritional needs) and will rely on fertilizer to feed their plants instead, only to end up hitting a "wall".

 

To illustrate what I think is so wrong with fertilizers, I will provide some numerical examples, one for each type of fertilizer. The following numbers are calculated under the assumption that we are aiming for a single-tile, "0 stress" mono-culture farm, which means each plant will feed 4 times. And since each tile can comfortably fit only 9 plants, that means this farm will require a total of 4x9=36 feedings and produce an average of 24.75 veggies. It is true that you can cut corners to reduce the nutrients needed, but this would result in a much smaller harvest of 9 crops, so I feel my approach is an accurate enough representation. (And if you don't want giant crops, you can safely ignore nutrition anyway.)

Now, then, let's crunch some numbers!


GROWTH FORMULA

For this example, I will use Carrots, because they are a crop we'll need to farm a lot to set up those bunnyman farms everyone loves and because it is a crop that has no special uses (such as crockpot recipes) besides its use as a generic veggie filler.

Carrots consume 4 points of Growth Formula every time they feed, so our perfect farm would require a grand total of 4 x 36 = 144 points of Growth Formula. And, on average, it would produce 0.172 carrots per point. Let's look at our options for fertilizing this farm:

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In theory, these numbers don't look particularly bad (at least, the Super Starter's numbers don't), but one needs to make a very significant time investment to produce even a single Weak Formula Starter, let alone the 3.6 Super Formula Starters needed to fertilize this farm. (And keep in mind, Onions and Pomegranates would need twice as much.)

You need Empty Bottles for all of these and you can only get those by spending a few days sailing around until one spawns randomly somewhere outside of your screen. And you are probably going to miss a bunch of them anyway. To their credit, once you have a bunch of bottles, formula starters are pretty cheap, since they return the bottle used to craft them. However, because it takes 3 day for them to spoil into their super form, you need to craft them in parallel; that is you must get a lot of bottles and craft/spoil a lot of formula starters at once. And that sort of thing would require a veeeery long time at sea, especially considering you also need the bottles to buy things from the Crabby Hermit.

 

COMPOST

This one's simpler, since there is only a single Fertilizer that gives only Compost and it is also called "Compost". One serving of Compost item gives 8 points of the nutrient of the same name.

Corn consumes 4 points of that same nutrient per feeding, so our farm would need 144 points of nutrition. That means we would get an average of 0.172 corns per point, or 1.375 corns per Compost item. In total, we would need 18 Compost items to fertilize the farm.

Meanwhile, Garlic consumes 8 points per feeding, so the farm would need 288 points of nutrition. This works out to an average of 0.086 garlics per point, or 0.687 garlics per Compost item.

And once more, getting Compost is not a particularly easy thing to do. A single Composting Bin costs 3 Boards to make and, in the best case scenario, takes roughly a single day to produce 3 Compost items. The ingredients for this can be very cheap: 3 rot/seeds + 3 twigs for 3 Compost items. However, to achieve this ideal "1 day for 3 Composts" scenario, you have to babysit the Composting Bin and turn it roughly once every 2.75 minutes, which doesn't really leave you much time to do anything else.

You could, of course, neglect turning and still get the 3 compost items in the span of 1.5 days instead. However, in either case, the Composting Bin cannot hold more than 3 Compost items (or the corresponding ingredients), so you'll always end up with a slow and involved process. (Other types of Compost fertilizer are either way less efficient or both harder to get and less efficient.)

 

MANURE

I left the simplest one for last. I won't go into detail on how to get this fertilizer, since all the relevant items have been in the game for ages and everyone already knows how easy or how hard they are to amass. Instead I'll just give a couple of examples using the Manure item, which provides 4 points of the nutrient of the same name.

Potatoes consume 4 points of the nutrient per feeding, so our farm would need 144 points in total. That means we would get an average of 0.172 potatoes per point of nutrient, or 0.688 potatoes per Manure item. In total, we would need 36 Manure items to fertilize the farm.

And now for everyone's favorite crop: Dragon Fruit, which consumes 8 points per feeding. A Dragon Fruit farm would need 288 points of nutrition. That means an average of 0.086 Dragon Fruits per point or 0.344 per Manure item. In total, it would take a whopping 72 Manure items to fertilize the farm.

I rest my case.

 

FINAL NOTES

Sadly, I don't have some particular suggestion for what the nutrient values should be, and no doubt there's a balancing act required here, so that the system still incentivizes crop variety, but mono-cultures are still sustainable enough (and therefore the Composting Bin and Formula Starters do not fall into obscurity). But the fertilizers we have now are just too weak to be of any practical use.

Edit: @Cuikui 's suggestion to halve how much nutrients plants produce and consume would probably be a good start, while keeping fertilizers unchanged. This would not affect the existing crop synergies in any way, but would make fertilizers and monoculture more viable. I would add to that that the weakest fertilizers should add 2 points of nutrient rather than 1, for consistency's sake, mostly.

Finally, there's two other fertilizer items that I think deserve some special mention:

The first is Guano. For some reason, it has the same "manure" value as Manure, despite being far more difficult to amass. And despite there being no "tier 3" manure-based fertilizer. I really think Guano could be that fertilizer.

The other is Compost Wrap. Compost Wrap costs 5 Manure and 2 Rot to craft, but only restores 4 of each nutrient. Meanwhile, its ingredients combined would restore 2 points of formula, 2 points of compost and a whopping 22 points of manure. There's a pretty noticeable imbalance here.

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6 hours ago, QuartzBeam said:

But you can't really use such self-feeding setups in the first year, where you'll largely be at the mercy of random seeds. Perhaps more importantly, however, the sheer inefficiency of fertilizers is likely to turn a lot of players who are new to the game or to the farming system away from farming. Most of them won't think to combine crops into self-feeding setups (since they'll have to grow the plants first to research them and learn their nutritional needs) and will rely on fertilizer to feed their plants instead, only to end up hitting a "wall".

I didn't play in beta, but I did lurk a bit.

Can't you spam twigs and grass at catcoons until they give seeds you need?

(Potato and Toma Root) or (Carrot, Corn and Potato) working for half the year, and each seed being very common in it's drop pool

 

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5 hours ago, hyiltiz said:

We need to be able to  craft bottles, just like SW.

But bottles are a currency themselves and using growth formula doesn't use up the bottles. They are not hard to amass through a quick trip into waters. I'm not sure about how I'd feel about crafting a currency. Still, if it could be crafted, I can see refining one sand stone into four bottles a fine trade on the refine tab.

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18 minutes ago, SinancoTheBest said:

But bottles are a currency themselves and using growth formula doesn't use up the bottles. They are not hard to amass through a quick trip into waters. I'm not sure about how I'd feel about crafting a currency. Still, if it could be crafted, I can see refining one sand stone into four bottles a fine trade on the refine tab.

I agree bottles being craftable would feel wrong. However, they are not as easy to amass as you think. Though there are a bunch of "permanent" bottles that spawn close to shore at world gen, most bottles spawn every couple of days just outside your screen while sailing and, in my experience, are pretty easy to miss because of that.

 

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1 hour ago, hyiltiz said:

You can always trade one currently with another. As far as Pig King is concerned, an egg is the base currency... And we can "craft" it!

except that the pig king has a pocket dimension full of gold and is hungry and wants to feast on anything meat related.

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