How to Build an Underground Farm in Minecraft
What is an Underground Farm?
In Minecraft, players build farms to grow crops like wheat, potatoes, beets and carrots for crafting and survival. Without a stable food supply, 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 crops, 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:
As in real life, every crop that you 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, sugarcane, and cactus). 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.
Unless you are growing saplings, sugarcane or mushrooms, just planting seeds on a dirt block is not going to work! Tilling a dirt or grass block with a hoe creates 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; dehydrated farmland will turn back into dirt, uprooting any seeds that were currently growing. Jumping on farmland will also trample crops, ejecting the seeds from the ground.
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 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.
Light-emitting Blocks Versus Light Level
Jack 'o' lantern
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?
How to Build an Underground Farm
Underground farms are just like outdoor farms, except they exist underground. Players sometimes farm underground to protect their crops from the zombies, skeletons and creepers that spawn at night. If you are on a multiplayer server, having an underground farm can protect and hide your food source from other players. 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?
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 you have room for a redstone lamp setup if you plan on building one!
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 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.
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 hydrates the farmland surrounding it and allows 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, beets 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 design your underground farm this way, but it is a simple and efficient setup.
4. Till dirt blocks and plant seeds of choice
To grow your crops, 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 crops, 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!
5. Harvest crops when they have fully grown
Harvesting your crops prematurely results 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 receive the end product (wheat, carrots, potatoes, etc) along with new seeds to plant in its place. In later Minecraft versions, you can right-click on most crops to harvest them without ripping out the seeds!
Do you have an underground farm?
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:
To do this, you will need extra space above or around your underground farm to place the redstone lamps and connect them with redstone. Redstone configures 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 powered will turn bright red, while redstone that is not powered will be dark red. The video at the beginning of this hub displays a simple redstone lamp setup!
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Jessica Marello