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How to Build an Underground Farm in Minecraft

Updated on December 11, 2015
Dreamhowl profile image

Dreamhowl has been playing Minecraft since 2012. She enjoys building, farming, and breeding animals in vanilla and modded Minecraft.

What is an Underground Farm?

In Minecraft, players build farms to grow crops like wheat, potatoes and carrots for crafting and survival. Without a stable supply of food, players risk starvation and in-game death. Non-player character (NPC) villages that spawn into the world usually have at least one farm, making villages a lucky find in a survival world. Village farms consist of four rows of a crop, each two separated by a row of water and outlined by wood blocks. Farms require a few constants in order to grow and produce crops, listed below:

  • dirt blocks

  • (1) hoe

  • water blocks

  • light source

As in real life, every crop that you can harvest in Minecraft needs to be grown in dirt. Dirt blocks make up large portions of most Minecraft worlds and are incredibly easy to acquire. It is impossible to plant and farm crops on any other material block (excluding mushrooms, which can populate on cobblestone but need dirt to grow into giant mushrooms). As long as the conditions are appropriate, crops can be farmed both above land and underground as long as they are planted on dirt blocks.

Learn the ins and outs of building an underground farm in Minecraft!
Learn the ins and outs of building an underground farm in Minecraft! | Source

Unless you are growing saplings, sugarcane or mushrooms, simply planting seeds on a dirt block is not going to work! Tilling a dirt or grass block with a hoe will create a farmland block. Farmland blocks are tilled dirt that all crops can grow on. However, grass cannot spread onto farmland once it has been tilled. Farmland needs to be constantly hydrated by a block of water to remain in this form; unhydrated farmland will eventually turn back into dirt, uprooting any seeds that were currently growing. Jumping on farmland will also trample the crops, ejecting the seeds from the ground.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Farmland blocks are darker and appear shorter than than dirt blocks.Making a hoe for farming is simple.
Farmland blocks are darker and appear shorter than than dirt blocks.
Farmland blocks are darker and appear shorter than than dirt blocks. | Source
Making a hoe for farming is simple.
Making a hoe for farming is simple. | Source

Water blocks are required to hydrate farmland and grow most crops. Hydrated farmland looks “wet” compared to dehydrated farmland (being darker brown in color). While wheat does not need water to grow, it grows much more quickly when hydrated. For farmland to remain hydrated, there must be one block of water up to four blocks away either horizontally or diagonally. The water needs to be either on the same level as the farmland or one block above it. Rain naturally hydrates farmland, but the effect fades away a few minutes after the storm stops. Utilizing farmland space in relation to water blocks can maximize your crop yield.

In order to grow crops like wheat, carrots and potatoes, you need a source of light. Having your farm outdoors ensures that your crops will get plenty of light without having to construct anything; however, using sunlight to grow your crops is not required. Wheat, carrots, potatoes and other crops like melons and pumpkins can grow as long as the light level above them is at least 9 - it does not have to be sunlight. Torches alone have a light level of 14! The flexibility of light sources for growing crops makes building an underground farm both easy and lucrative. Are you ready to give building an underground farm a try?

Light-emitting Blocks Versus Light Level

Minecraft Block
Light Level
Redstone torch
7
Sunlight (thunder)
10
Sunlight (rain/snow)
12
Torch
14
Redstone lamp
15
Jack 'o' lantern
15
Glowstone
15
Sunlight
15

How to Build an Underground Farm

Underground farms are just like outdoor farms, except they exist underground. Players sometimes build underground farms to protect their crops from the zombies, skeletons and creepers that spawn at night. If you are on a multiplayer server, putting your farms underground can protect them from other players and hide your food source from thieving hands. Building an underground farm also ensures that your crops will have a light source that also keeps mobs from spawning. So how do you build an underground farm?

This automated melon farm uses sticky pistons to uproot ripe melons.
This automated melon farm uses sticky pistons to uproot ripe melons. | Source

1. Build a room underground for your farm

It doesn’t matter where you build your underground farm, as long as it is underground! Think about how big you want your farm to be, and what crops you want to grow. If you want to grow multiple crops, you can combine your farms in one room, or separate them according to type. In my underground farm, I have separate rooms for my wheat farm and my pumpkin and melon farm. Make sure the ceiling is high enough if you plan on rigging up a redstone system with redstone lamps!

Did You Know?

Zombies and skeletons can survive daylight if they are in water or in low light levels caused by trees and other structures. Be careful!

2. Provide an appropriate light source

Your underground farm needs light to grow and prosper. As shown in the table above, most light sources are bright enough to grow crops without the aid of sunlight. Torches are by far the simplest and cheapest option; placing them at least 12 blocks apart will guarantee that your crops have enough light and that mobs won’t spawn. If you want a fancier décor, try using glowstone or crafting redstone lamps. Both give off the same light level as sunlight and have more visual appeal. Keep in mind that redstone lamps require switches or redstone setups to turn on, however.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Growing crops in this underground farm only requires four blocks of water!On our latest server, I have a small room with redstone lamps for each type of crops.
Growing crops in this underground farm only requires four blocks of water!
Growing crops in this underground farm only requires four blocks of water! | Source
On our latest server, I have a small room with redstone lamps for each type of crops.
On our latest server, I have a small room with redstone lamps for each type of crops. | Source

3. Place dirt within four blocks of water

Once you’ve built your underground room and set up a light source, make sure that your dirt blocks are always within four blocks of a water block. To properly maximize the output of your farm, place one water block in the middle of a 9x9 patch of dirt blocks. This one block will hydrate the farmland surrounding it and will allow you to grow more crops in a smaller space. You can place as many 9x9 squares on your farm as you wish. This method is great for growing wheat, carrots and potatoes; however, melons and pumpkins require an extra dirt block to grow on and may need a more creative layout. You don’t need to fashion your underground farm this way, but it is a great setup for both beginners and professionals.

The bottom row of wheat seeds were just planted while the top are fully grown.
The bottom row of wheat seeds were just planted while the top are fully grown. | Source

4. Till dirt blocks and plant seeds of choice

To grow your crops of choice, you’ll need to till the dirt blocks first. You can make a hoe with cobblestone, iron, gold or diamond though you won't be using it often; dirt blocks that have been tilled into farmland don't need to be tilled again unless the blocks are not constantly hydrated or seeded. The only crops that don't require tilled farmland are sugarcane, cactus, mushrooms and saplings. Once you have planted the crops you want to grow, all you can do is wait - unless you speed the growth with bonemeal. Depending on how big your underground farm is, the time it takes to do this may not be worth the effort!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Turning off the lights in this underground farm uproots the crops from the farmland.Turning the lamps off creates near darkness, so remember to turn them back on!
Turning off the lights in this underground farm uproots the crops from the farmland.
Turning off the lights in this underground farm uproots the crops from the farmland. | Source
Turning the lamps off creates near darkness, so remember to turn them back on!
Turning the lamps off creates near darkness, so remember to turn them back on! | Source

5. Harvest crops when they have fully grown

You can finally harvest your underground farm once the crops have fully grown. Harvesting your crops prematurely will result in killing the plant and getting back the seeds; if you harvest wheat before its time, you will get back wheat seeds and have to plant it all over again. Fully grown crops are at their tallest and are sometimes more yellow than green. When pumpkins and melons are fully grown, the crop grows onto the dirt block next to the plant. When you harvest a fully grown crop, you usually receive the end product (wheat, carrots, potatoes, etc) along with new seeds to plant in its place.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The redstone lamps are connected by a redstone circuit above the underground farm.On our multiplayer server, I set up redstone behind the walls instead of the ceiling.
The redstone lamps are connected by a redstone circuit above the underground farm.
The redstone lamps are connected by a redstone circuit above the underground farm. | Source
On our multiplayer server, I set up redstone behind the walls instead of the ceiling.
On our multiplayer server, I set up redstone behind the walls instead of the ceiling. | Source

Do you have an underground farm?

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Bonus: Set up an automated redstone light system

Instead of harvesting each crop block by block, you can set up a light system controlled by redstone. Since crops need a light source to grow, you can arrange your underground farm so that the flip of a lever will turn off the lights and make the crops pop out of the ground. This makes harvesting a fully grown crop easier and quicker. This setup can be accomplished with the following supplies:

  • redstone

  • redstone lamps

  • levers

To do this, you will need extra space above your underground farm to place the redstone lamps and connect them with redstone. Once you build it for the first time, it isn’t so hard to replicate. Redstone will configure itself to point toward any adjacent redstone circuits (made by running redstone dust on the ground) and redstone powered components, such as redstone lamps and levers. Redstone that is being powered will turn bright red, while redstone that is not powered will be dark red. Feel free to look up tutorials on how to use redstone to better understand this setup!

© 2013 Jessica Marello

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    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 3 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      A very nice guide you've got here! I've been meaning to play a Survival world but never thought it could be as in-depth as this! I'll be sure to give it a shot and the first thing I'll do after establishing a base will be to build a farm!

      Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting! ^^

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks! When I had my farm above ground I had to surround it by a high fence because the villagers and golems always found their way in. Having it underground is much easier for me.

    • Seshagopalan profile image

      Seshagopalan Murali 3 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      I didn't even know there is something called an underground farm.. Learnt new thing today..

      Voted up!! Awesome

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 3 years ago from United States

      Thanks for reading, I am glad you liked it!

    • SimilarSam profile image

      Sam 2 years ago from Australia

      Great guide, the automated melon one looks particular interesting. I have wanted to do a Dwarven style playthrough where I have to stay mostly underground so I think it might come in handy!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 2 years ago from United States

      @SimilarSam: It is totally doable! I had help setting up the redstone light switch for that wheat farm, but having it made handling the farm so easy. And I love the automated melon one - makes everything so simple!

    • Gioelrosa profile image

      Gioel Rosa 2 years ago from Orlando, FL

      This is awesome! What a great way to check on your farm and reap the goods without having to go outside with those nasty mobs. I'm about to build this right now.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 2 years ago from United States

      It does keep things safer! I also sometimes do above-ground farms several levels high, like a giant farm tower. It feels futuristic.

    • JacobCornell profile image

      Jacob Cornell 23 months ago from Sandy Creek

      I love this post so much. But could you ever do that in rows?

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 23 months ago from United States

      @JacobCornell You mean farm in rows, instead of a huge square? You could plant however you like! I just like to economize with placement of water blocks.

    • thumbi7 profile image

      JR Krishna 23 months ago from India

      Wow! very interesting concept. Totally new to me

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 23 months ago from United States

      @thumbi7 Thanks!

    • JacobCornell profile image

      Jacob Cornell 23 months ago from Sandy Creek

      Cool man thanks.

    • thranax profile image

      Andrew 22 months ago from Rep Boston MA

      Great guide on how to make underground farms in Minecraft.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 22 months ago from United States

      @thranax Thank you very much!

    • profile image

      Stetson16565 22 months ago

      I learned a lot thank u very much

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 22 months ago from United States

      @Stetson16565 You're welcome!

    • Rabadi profile image

      22 months ago from New York

      Minecraft is a really awesome game, great article.

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 22 months ago from United States

      @Rabadi Thank you!

    • profile image

      mikeydcarroll67 22 months ago

      I haven't really gotten into the farm aspects of the game as much. Looks like you covered a very great tutorial!

    • Dreamhowl profile image
      Author

      Jessica Marello 22 months ago from United States

      @mikeydcarroll67 Thank you! Farming and animals are the bits of Minecraft I love the most.

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