Cropland and Pastures Agency: Participants’ interactions

12 min read

The Cropland and Pastures Agency is responsible for ensuring that the community can feed itself, by facilitating agriculture. The agency owns the land that participants use to produce food, for which it provides access to farmers, and works with them to safeguard the quality and quantity of produce.

potato plantation

The Cropland and Pastures Agency acquires land surrounding the community’s physical plant, as well as other suitable land that will be used to grow crops or rear animals. In addition, the agency works with farmers and other relevant agencies to ensure that farmers have access to equipment, input, and training to successfully run their businesses.

Access to land and machinery

Land ownership and leasing

The Cropland and Pastures Agency, after acquiring land, entrusts it to stewards to manage it. The stewards are chosen competitively, and rent the land from the agency. They manage the land, ensuring that its use is in line with best practices, and routinely filing reports on its state with the agency.

Stewards lease the land under their care to farmers. Farmers commit to only practice food production in line with the steward’s conditions, which are in turn drawn in close consultations with the agency and agricultural best practices. Stewards, using advanced technology including drones and robotics, AI, and other tools routinely monitor farming activities to ensure compliance. Farmers have an incentive to follow the agreed-upon practices when working the land – they are aware of constant monitoring, and know that they risk losing their lease – and potentially, their business, if they do not implement them.

Role of stewards in land management

While the process of leasing land to farmers is competitive, those with proven knowledge or experience in prioritising quality and quantity have an edge. monocropping in the community is strongly discouraged. This is because through monocropping, a specific crop exploits a set of nutrients from the soil without any natural means of replenishing it. Therefore, it forces farmers to rely more on agrochemicals and excessive fertilizer to replenish the soil and deal with weeds and pests. The over-reliance on fertilizer and pesticides harms the environment, especially water resources and marine life, as well as human health.

The community is deeply conscious of the principle that the soil, as a host of so many living things, is alive. It must be tended to carefully if all other things above ground, including humans, are to thrive. Where possible, the community promotes permaculture, practices that promote soil health, as well as the prevention of harmful chemicals that, while boosting food production, pose grave dangers to microbes in the soil and humans.

Stewards prioritize leasing land to participants who are keen to practice poly or multi-cropping. This specifically involves planting, side by side, crops that benefit from each other. For instance, planting corn alongside beans helps both crops derives synergies from each other. Corn stems break the wind among other forms of protection, while beans fix nitrogen, which corn needs to be healthy.

Polycropping may be challenging to perform on a large scale, and with conventional methods, would need manual labor. This is not an alternative in the community, where farm labor will not be existent in the way it may be today. Instead, farmers will employ precision agriculture to ensure that they can mass-produce different crops on the same piece of land. Today, John Deere and New Holland, among other companies, are developing technologies that enable different crops to be planted and harvested on the same farm, and still optimize production.

Besides polycropping, the community through this agency and stewards will require regular crop rotation, to give the soil time to rest. In addition, alternating land between crops and pastures will create natural forms of fertilization, boost crop production, and ultimately, lead to less reliance on agrochemicals.

Machinery Access

As is the nature of farming, different pieces of machinery are highly specialized and are used for specific tasks. Due to the seasoonal nature of crop farming, a piece of equipment such as a harvester is unlikely to be used for more than 2 weeks in a year. This translates to machinery being left to lie idle for long periods, during which, the farmer continues to pay for insurance and loan installments.

The pressure to make payments, in addition to regularly maintaining equipment to ensure it is in great working condition, may take a toll on farmers, either forcing them to employ unorthodox methods of boosting productivity and earning more money and, if they cannot, going bust.

Scrap farm machinery

Farming equipment is owned by the community, through the Business Operations Agency. The agency leases this equipment to businesses that specialize in a particular line so that if one deals in harvesters, it does not also deal in irrigation systems. This enhances service quality and optimizes equipment utilization.

Businesses that lease equipment are responsible for maintenance, and may from time to time request more or updated machinery to keep up with technology and farmers’ needs. They rent out the equipment to operators who provide services to farmers. For instance, when an operator can be contracted by a farmer to till their land, the contractor will rent the equipment needed from the business that has leased that equipment from the agency.

Streamlined management and specialization ensure there is no duplication of machinery – there are not too many tractors, for instance, that some lie idle when they should be in the field. Additionally, not having to own, maintain, or operate machinery means that farmers can focus on production, without overly worrying about loan and insurance repayments, as well as maintenance, and therefore forcing them out of business or into unethical practices.

The Cropland and Pastures agency’s advice has considerable influence on the Business Operations Agency’s procurement of new machinery. The agency helps stewards in charge of machinery, who lease it from the Business Operations Agency to have the best and most advanced machinery available and advises on how equipment productivity can be optimized. This is done by sharing information, advising farmers on different planting and harvesting timings where possible, and training stewards on proper use.


Farmers also buy the water for irrigation from stewards who are in charge of supplying it to farms. Water, as with any other resource, is owned by the community. Business however extracts it, and using the community’s infrastructure, deliver it where it is needed. Water use is not only monitored by farmers to ensure they keep their costs down but also by suppliers to ensure that the resource’s use is optimized.

Cropland and pasture size

The physical plant or campus of the community (the core, where streets, hubs, apartment/ village buildings, district buildings, and the storehouse are located) is 1.44 square miles. Each part of the physical plant is mirrored on the outside, meaning the built-up part of the community is 2.88 square miles. The mirrored part of the community is mainly used for industrial and intensive farming purposes. It has factories and warehouses. It also has greenhouses, vertical farms that also produce fish and other seafood through aquaponics, and intensive animal-feeding units (CAFOs), which mainly produce white meat (e.g., chicken), and are used to prime red meat (cattle, sheep, and other pasture-raised animals).

The parts of the mirrored community that are dedicated to farming are owned by the Cropland and Pastures Agency. Surrounding the community, there are vast swathes of land that the community uses as farmland and pastures. This land is owned or otherwise controlled by the agency as well. It is, on average, 10 times larger than the community and its mirror – around 28 square miles (18,000 acres).


The Cropland and Pastures Agency works with farmers to build their capacity and enable them to fulfill their potential It coordinates interactions between the farmers and contractors who are agricultural experts, skilled in veterinary medicine, agronomy, and other related disciplines. The agency ensures that all farmers have the necessary help and that expert advice is implemented. This mitigates avoidable loss, such as the loss of animals due to non-vaccination, and keeps farming businesses as a going concern.

Besides help from contractors, farmers are expected to be experts in their fields. The agency organizes regular training sessions targeted at specific farmers. A farmer’s interactions with consultants, and their productivity, are some of the pointers that the agency’s automated system uses to recommend specific training sessions. The training is conducted virtually.

The agency performs virtually all its operations through the automated system. The agency’s executive presidency sets policy and amends it as circumstances dictate, or as advised by contractors. The executive presidency routinely hires contractors to develop training modules, assess farmers beyond what the automated system can do, and perform audits and inspections to ensure agricultural best practices are being followed.

Smart farming

Farming in the community is heavily mechanized. Additionally, it employs artificial intelligence to deal with big data analytics and therefore helps farmers not only minimize costs but also identify and deal with issues promptly.

Farmers additionally use drones, robotics, and other equipment that contains AI chips. The equipment can collect, analyze, and communicate information in real-time, and in some instances, even take care of the problem by itself

Farmers rely on these systems to optimize the land that they have leased. Besides preventing unnecessary cultivation, which not only harms the natural environment but is more costly, farmers are presented with advanced data analytics which synthesizes hard data into actionable information.

Normally, farmers and those who herd livestock may be able to commute from the community daily, if wherever they are performing their business is close enough. Sometimes, it is unreasonable for them to go back to the community daily. The agency provides on-site housing that the Communication Agency equips with connectivity. Other agencies, such as the Business Operations Agency, provide additional equipment to ease movement and ensure the living conditions are as good as in the built-up community. Businesses lease onsite housing from the agency and rent them out to tenants, who can be farmers, contractors, herders, or other relevant professionals.  

Farmers and herders who are unable to go back to the community every evening stay at these camps for two weeks and then spend the next two weeks in the community. This ensures that they participate fully in the community. It also allows them to learn more about their business and diversify their operations. For instance, a herder can also be a contractor in a concentrated animal feeding operation unit (CAFO).


The Cropland and Pastures Agency does not have operational presidencies to implement the agency’s strategy and policies. It relies on the automated system, as well as contractors who observe how well the system assists participants. Stewards who manage land, equipment, and other resources also help the agency in serving participants. Here are illustrations of these interactions.

Illustration 1

Zach graduated several years ago with a degree in Agricultural economics from Nebraska State University, in the state where he was born. After graduation, he went back to his father’s farm, which he helped his family manage.

Maize plantation

At first, things were moving smoothly, and Zach was able to apply much of what he had learned at school. He quickly became adept at solving the farm’s many problems in being an actual business, rather than something that was heavily reliant on subsidies and nature. He solved some of the farm’s issues with labor by adopting more mechanized operations, expanding markets, and progressively implementing many agricultural best practices.

However, successive years of subpar harvests due to low rainfall, and lack of water resources to compensate, as the drought and intensive irrigation had depleted groundwater reserves, as well as a series of devastating diseases, had its toll on the farm. It became very difficult to pay loans taken to modernize the farm, insurance, and maintain machinery.

While his father could continue to operate, having been through such cycles in the past, Zach was afraid that this business model was untenable. He resolved to look for work where he could apply his skills. He was soon approached by a limited partner who ran a farm in a nearby community, where he was contracted to offer consultancy services that would boost the yield while adhering to the community’s principles.

Zach soon became a limited partner, and his business was booming. He soon signed up other limited partners, advising them on how to improve efficiency and become more profitable, how to conduct financial analysis to ensure they were utilizing resources efficiently, and the application of farm data in decision-making.

However, his passion had always been to run a farm. In the community, he soon learned enough to believe he could now take the next step. He prepared a business plan, which was approved, and after a test run, was endorsed for implementation by relevant agencies.

Zach sets out to rent suitable land that has until recently been used as pastures for 5 years. Using the Cropland and Pastures Agency’s automated system, he identifies an ideal farm. It had before that been used to farm soybeans, which he identified as important since he intended to grow wheat on the land. His market analysis suggests that there will be a strong demand for wheat since more farmers are favoring other crops. He agrees with the steward who has leased the land from the Cropland and Pastures Agency to minimize fertilizer use to only a list approved by the steward, which Zach feels is more than reasonable. He will need to employ organic interventions for pesticides, which, after his education and experience, is easy to come up with.

Next, Zach uses the automated system to find the equipment he needs and locates some machinery operators who are highly rated for the great quality of their services. He contracts them to plow and ready the land.

Plowing land

The plowing is done, after which the land is harrowed. Zach then hires another contractor who operates planters to plant the wheat seed. He obtains the seed, as inventory, from A business that sells seed and is facilitated in this by the Business Operations Agency’s factoring services. After this the farm is ready, save for an irrigation system, and water.

The two resources – the system and the water – are supplied by different businesses. After obtaining an agreement for water, Zach engages irrigation services, with a business that operates center pivot irrigation systems. He has previously used this method and is aware of the water wastage it entails.

To curb wastage, Zach requires that the business installing the system have weather, soil moisture, humidity, and crop water requirement sensors. These sensors will inform the system on which areas need what amount of water. The employment of such technologies will enable the irrigation system to be fully automated. This way, it will irrigate based on weather patterns, knowing when to irrigate and when not to, which areas need more water due to less soil moisture, which plants need more or less water due to the stages in their growth, and other factors.

In addition, an automated irrigation system will precisely deliver water where it is needed, slashing the amount of water needed, and hence, his overall wheat production costs.

Zach runs the farm using all available expertise, but also contracts agriculture experts from time to time. They visit the farm to advise on what he can do better to boost production and the quality of his wheat. Regularly, the steward who leased him the farm also performs inspections to ensure compliance with the terms of their agreement. The results of the compliance checks help Zach’s wheat score highly in quality analysis, enabling him to fetch a premium and faster turnover for his produce.

Illustration 2

Jeff is an experienced agronomist, who has extensive experience in the horticulture industry. Before joining the community, he was employed on a large farm that grew different types of flowers, especially roses. He got the opportunity to consult with a limited partner who was running a similar business in the community, during which process he was admitted.

He has been in the community for several years now. As an agronomist, Jeff aims to help businesses improve their yield, quality, and overheads that could impact their bottom line. For him, agronomy is not simply about the health of the plants, but the underlying market and agricultural practices that determine whether a farmer will make a profit or fail.

While he has training and experience in different ways of growing plants in a way that improves their production and longevity and helps farmers better manage their skills and businesses, he has recently narrowed down to two main themes: growing plants with biological interventions, and ensuring farmers do not make loses during transport.

Towards this, Jeff has been helping farmers implement biological controls as they grow roses. He helps farmers introduce and control ladybirds and predatory mites, which are effective in controlling specific pests that can otherwise damage roses. This reduces the reliance on agrichemicals some of which are potentially harmful to people and other plants.

biological interventions to pests

Jeff also provides biostimulants such as seaweed extracts and beneficial microorganisms, as well as advanced hormonal treatments. These go beyond normal farming techniques, and as a result following his input, his clients have seen a solid increase in productivity.

The interventions that Jeff encourages his clients to implement are geared not only towards increased and sustained production but also to show the market that he produces superior quality. This will help his clients compete favorably and could even enable them to sell their products at a premium.

In addition to these biological interventions, Jeff has, during his experience where he was once employed, and in the community, observed that farmers suffer significant losses during transport. Despite using cold rooms and refrigerated containers, farmers still suffer losses due to improper packaging, logistical issues, and poor handling.

He has helped farmers to implement modified atmosphere packaging. This is packaging in which the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide are optimally balanced to enhance the longevity of a flower during transportation. As a result, he has seen farmers improve their profits by getting more produce to the market in good condition.

From time to time, Jeff observes how farmers and other contractors interact with the automated system. Where he sees shortcomings, he can recommend training that the Cropland and Pastures Agency provides. In other instances, he advises the agency on things they can do to make the system more responsive to participants’ needs.