Farming Simulator–A New Approach

I realize it’s been a while since I published a blog article. While I’ve been busy playing Farming Simulator 17 and recording much of my game play for the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube Channel, I’ve not turned away from this medium.  While video blogs (or vlogs) are popular, I believe the written form of blogging is very much needed and I don’t plan to cease creating content in this form.  By the way, Farming Simulator 17 is truly awesome.  If you’ve been on the fence regarding upgrading from FS15 to FS17, I would certainly recommend making the move.  New mods are coming out daily and while we still await CoursePlay, there is still a lot of goodness about FS17 to make it worth the move from FS15.

If you’ve watched my YouTube “Let’s Play” series on Goldcrest Valley (GCV), you know I’m about ten episodes in.  For the most part I’m playing it in career mode.  My approach to GCV was to take advantage of the new mission system and do as much work for the local farmers as I could.  This does two things.  First, it generates a nice sum of income.  Second, it raises your reputation with these other local farmers and in turn, reduces the asking price of their additional fields.  After all, one really can’t begin making a fortune in virtual farming until you own more fields.  But I’ve wanted to do something different for some time and have decided to take a new approach to how I start a new map.

Perhaps you are aware of the new farm simulation game called Cattle and Crops (CnC).  CnC is due to release (early preview) in the Spring of 2017, then the full version in late 2017.  One of the highly anticipated new features of CnC is how it is supposed to simulate seasons.  Cool huh?  The Farming Simulator franchise (FS13, FS15, FS17) doesn’t simulate seasons by default.  The addition of Soilmod sort of helped, but still….it’s spring/summer all year long.  While Soilmod is not yet available for FS17, there is a mod called Growth Manager which (in my opinion) provides better crop growth management than what is available in the default game.  Yes, it’s still spring/summer all year long….but we can still simulate seasonal farming with a little help from a few mods and our own imagination.

In addition to the Growth Manager mod, I also highly recommend the RealTime mod.  This mod changes the HUD in the upper-right corner of the screen to show the game day number.  With my new approach to virtual farming, this value is important in understanding the season I’m currently working in.  Outside of these two mods, the rest is left up to your imagination.

Let me set the stage…..

First, there is no absolute right or wrong way to how you go about playing farming simulator.  You certainly can start out in career mode and earn every hard earned dollar, euro or pound.  This IS absolutely fun and extremely rewarding.  I recommend following this method on at least one map.  I think the satisfaction in knowing you built your farming empire from just a few thousand dollars and basic equipment, is key to truly getting a high level of enjoyment from the game.  But, just as importantly….there is no wrong way of doing it either.  Enter stage right, North Brabant for FS17.

The North Brabant map is situated in the Netherlands (very near Belgium) and for all intents and purposes, the fields, farms etc. very much look the same between these regions.  You may have heard about the North Brabant map in FS15.  It was quite popular and Mike-Modding has converted it over to FS17.  I believe it is still a work in progress (WIP), but even in its version 1.0 state…it is very much playable and challenging.  By default, when you load up the North Brabant map for FS17 you already own a fairly large number of the 47 available fields, 32 to be exact. With the exception of about 7 grass fields, the remaining owned fields need to be planted.    Actually, they would need to be plowed, cultivated then planted if you want the highest crop yield.

A Seasonal Approach

My new game play for the North Brabant map, will find us in the Spring (April to be exact).  If I understand the Growth Manager mod correctly, each game day will represent approx. one calendar month.  In researching available information on the internet, I’ve created a rough schedule of how and what I’ll plant to achieve my seasonal style of play.  Remember, with exception of the two mods I’ve mentioned….the rest is going to be left up to your imagination and your own desire.

My researched information and plan is not specific to the Netherlands, Europe or any particular region of the world.  I determined through researching several US States agriculture sites when most of the FS17 crops should be planted and when they should be available for harvest.  Again, due to the limitations of FS17….this is all only limited to your individual imagination and desire.  In an effort for variety, I plan to plant the following crops:  Wheat (Spring/Winter), Barley (Spring/Fall), Canola (Spring/Winter), Corn (Grain and Silage), Potatoes (Summer/Fall), Soybeans and Sugarbeets.

As I previously stated, each game day will represent approx. one calendar month.  I’ve divided each season (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter) to represent three game days each.  Again, I’m starting in Spring and day 1 is April.  The general idea (all subject to change as I truly get rolling) is to avoid the practice of just planting/harvesting over and over in the same fields without any consideration to the challenges of also factoring in the Winter season.  In other words, placing a high level of importance of ensuring you have collected enough hay, straw and silage to sustain a large animal population from late fall until ????

Withering Off

Unfortunately, because the game itself will not automagically detect the slower winter growing season (example Wheat) I’ve turned plant withering off.  An example of the collected research I’ve performed, shows that winter wheat crops are typically planted between mid-September and mid-October and will be ready for harvest around June the following year.  This growth cycle is twice as long as wheat planted in the Spring.  So therefore, I’ll simply ignore the fields I’ve identified as being planted in winter wheat until the appropriate time (June).  Again, this is all about imagination and good note taking.

Animals Everywhere

From day one, I have established 100 dairy cows, 100 sheep and 50 pigs.  Thankfully the Buy Bales Mod is your friend.  I’ve used this mod to purchase enough bales to enable me to provide bedding and the creation of TMR for all my animals.

Winter Month Activities

There will be a period of time (approx. Nov. through Feb.) where no planting or harvesting will be performed.  However, there will be no rest for the weary.  This will be a great time to fire up our greenhouse operations and of course, animals will still need daily attention to keep them fully productive.

Measuring Success

This could all end up in a huge mess, be extremely successful or fall anywhere in between.  I’ve changed most of the starting equipment and have purchased just about everything I can imagine that I’ll need.  I’ve also paid off the bank loan and started with $60,000.  If my calculations are correct, the milk income alone from 100 dairy cows should generate a net income of approx. $30,000 each game day.  While I’m using some hired labor, I’m making an effort of keeping that cost as low as possible.  But the general idea is not the amount of money I’ll have at the end.

You can follow along with my new approach to virtual farming via my YouTube channel and the new North Brabant series.  The first video will pickup after about 5 hours of off video work which was required to get everything situated, animals up to 100% productivity etc.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has subscribed to my new YouTube channel and “Liked” my videos.  I will occasionally provide blog updates on how this approach is working and at a later date, I’ll share my spreadsheet which I’m creating to help keep track of what I’m planting and when it will be available to harvest based on the seasonal approach.

Until then…

Happy “Seasonal” Farming

Jerry


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