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|This article is about the current version of DF.|
Tree Farming is the process of creating and managing an environment in which saplings can safely form and mature into trees. Since planting trees is not currently possible without mods, a more indirect approach must be used. This technique may be used to supplement a thriving wood industry or to create an orchard stocked with valuable plant products. Tree farms require a moderate area and may not produce fast enough for impatient players due to the growth times involved.
Creating a tree farm is generally straightforward, but depends on your situation and needs. A tree farm must be at least two z-levels tall (though additional z-levels can increase yield) with a soil or muddied stone floor. Walling off (and optionally roofing over) an outside area may suffice, but larger projects are possible below ground. Note that underground plants (including trees) will only grow after a cavern has been breached.
Walling off an existing plot of trees can provide a safe environment for plant gathering and woodcutting, even during a siege. A roof is necessary to fully protect from climbing and flying enemies, though a sufficiently-high block wall can stop most threats. If your embark has a wooded valley you can reduce your material and labor costs significantly by incorporating it into your design.
There is a discussion involving creating a large culled Orchard at this website https://redd.it/71fy5m
If your embark has at least two soil layers, you can create a simple tree farm by channeling down two or more layers from the surface then roofing over the hole. Surface trees will grow on "Light Indoor" tiles, allowing the creation of an indoor orchard or tree farm.
If your embark has at least three soil layers, the fastest way to create an underground tree farm is by channeling out two or more subterranean soil layers while leaving the bottom soil floor intact. Since soil is easily mined and requires no irrigation this is probably the easiest option if available. Note, however, that your farm might experience "light leakage" and "branch collapse" problems if you mine out the layer directly below the surface.
If you find a suitably-sized muddy cavern you can opt to just use that as a tree farm. Walling it off provides safety against migrating "wildlife". Existing caverns can be enlarged by channeling out layers above the soil, but any horizontal expansion will need to be irrigated. Note: causing a cave-in to clear overhanging stone will damage the mud floors, requiring re-irrigation.
If the above options are not for you then your next option is to dig out a large underground space, haul out the waste rock, and flood it. Locate several suitable levels and set your miners to work. While your miners and haulers are hard at work set up an irrigation system. Large amounts of water will need to be utilized since evaporation is a significant force when dealing with liquid spread thin over open areas. Aquifers, rivers, and underground lakes make excellent sources, but be wary of slowing frame rates especially with lakes. Once every tile has been covered then you can opt to recycle the water by dropping it down onto a similarly opened out space on a lower level. This way you may dig out larger farms without requiring more water.
Use and production
Freshly watered or sporulated farms will require about three years of growing before trees reach minimal harvest size. In this time a few may show up early, but the majority will mature as a group within the span of a month of in-game time. After the first group of trees appear, trees will show up slightly more frequently and steadily as time progresses.
Certain trees (especially underground -caps) produce only one or two logs, even when fully grown. For optimum yield, those trees should be harvested as soon as they reach minimum size. Other more productive trees (blood thorns, fungiwood, and spore trees) can be allowed to continue growing for much larger returns.
Your tree farm can be specialized into an orchard indirectly, by allowing desired trees to continue growing and cutting down any undesired trees. Note that there is an upper limit to the number of same-species trees that will grow in an area; specializing on two or more species is recommended for optimum production.
Tree farms can double as pastures, but trampling may lead to lowered wood production in the area occupied by grazers. It is generally advisable to create separate pasture and tree farming areas since pastures do not require multiple z-levels of open space.
Trees will not grow on soil that is occupied by rocky boulders, items, buildings or stockpiles. Removal of these obstructions will increase the productive area of your farm.
Saplings of underground trees will not form in artificial areas until a cavern has been breached. Underground saplings will die if marked as Outside.
A sapling must fulfill a few requirements in relation to the environment in order to mature. Saplings will not mature if there are many others of the same species in the area around it. On top of this, surface trees must meet a certain density requirement based on the biome your fortress is in. If there are too many mature trees in an area then growth will be halted. Underground trees always grow with uniform density.
Large tree farms can have a ridiculous impact on framerates, particularly when displayed on-screen.Bug:8877 Multi-tile trees produce much more wood than their single-tile counterparts, so a gigantic tree farm probably isn't necessary. It may be best to create multiple small tree farms (on separate levels) as your fortress's needs increase instead of one megaproject farm.
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