kawuli (kawuli) wrote,
kawuli
kawuli

Nerdsniped: Agricultural statistics and District Nine logistics

So, remember the post I made, way back when, about Panem geography and such?
(over here)

And remember how I said I was going to write a fic about D9 for the Mary Sue Big Bang (you guys should write OC fic with me it'll be fun)?

Yeah. So today I COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY nerd-sniped myself when I realized the USDA provides free data downloads of crop harvested area on a by-county basis, and that I could therefore not only plan more precisely where I should put District Nine, but also where the wheat-growing crew my protagonist belongs to would be at what times.

So now my "Hunger Games Fic References" folder now includes R code and QGIS files. Don't ask me man, I don't know either.


SO. ANYWAY. We started here:
Kid Pix Map

Then, thanks to the USDA, I could see where exactly the Corn Belt is located (and note that this is soil-characteristics-driven, so unless we screw up the soil too badly before Panem comes into being it'll stay put, approximately), and where, currently, wheat is grown. Some of that will shift in Panem, and I am imagining in a less energy-intensive agricultural system, there would be less irrigated wheat way out West. (Less energy-intensive also means longer rotations, less fertilizer).

Which gives us this:
Maize and Wheat
The blue is maize acreage, orange is wheat acreage, the darker the color the more harvested area in a given county.

If you add soy, which is just about always grown in rotation with maize, it looks like this:
Maize, Wheat, Soy
Again, orange is wheat, blue is maize, and now green is soy: you can see that the blue part in the first map just basically turns greenish.

Unfortunately I don't have Canada's ag statistics. D9 might go up a ways into the Prairie Provinces, Snow knows there's enough wheat grown in Manitoba to keep the Mellarks in business until the 20th Quarter Quell.

So, combining the Kid Pix sketch with the super fancy georeferenced data and assuming Panem's crop breeders are working overtime to keep up with climate change (plausible), you end up with the middle of Panem looking something like this:
Central Districts

D10 is drawn based on partly handwaving and partly cattle distributions, as the rest of the animals I assume are more intensely raised. Cattle, though, would make more sense to have on range as much as possible so you don't have to feed them grain (or silage, or hay, or whatever).

Now, if you're willing to take those rough borders as plausible, and assume the crop distributions are similar, I can tell you more about D9 logistics.

Major crop rotations in D9 are corn-soy-fallow, corn-soy-wheat-fallow and wheat-red clover-fallow, where you might get more than one rotation in before fallowing and fallows might last more than one year, depending on your soil fertility and fertilizer availability. This works because Panem is maximizing return to people and fertilizer, not economic return on a piece of land. Sorghum and alfalfa for animal feed could be grown in pockets, cotton likewise (probably in the southeast near the Mississippi), some oilseed crops like canola in the north and rice in the southeast. You can grow either sugarbeets in 9 or sugarcane in 11 for sugar--maybe both. I don't know about potatoes--maybe 9, maybe 11. And now I'm going to stop thinking about all the minor crops before I disappear down another internet rabbit hole.

For the main crops, corn, soy, and wheat, I'm imagining crews that run up and down the districts planting and harvesting. You would have teams of two per machine, working as combine/planter/tractor and truck drivers (for carrying grain and machinery), and about four machines per crew, moving out to plant/cut from a central point and then heading for a new area together. This also means D9 is one of the only districts to have an extensive road network for moving machinery around--it'd be too hard to do all of it by train.

I'm putting my girl on a wheat crew: so, from late September to late November they're planting winter wheat from south to north, in April and May planting spring wheat in the northern part of the district, Then they spend June - August harvesting winter and spring wheat, again moving from south to north with the harvest dates.

That leaves late November through March for working in town in mills, loading docks, etc. A few mechanics from Six do major overhauls to equipment in winter, but basic repairs can be done by crews, with one trained D9 mechanic per crew, who would be a driver, just with extra training in an apprenticeship style with the D6ers.

You would need more corn and soy crews per area because corn/soy land is less spread North-South and harvest dates are closer together. Compared to the modern US, Panem probably produces much less maize and soy both on an absolute basis and compared to other crops, because less is fed to animals--although more might be used for ethanol and soy diesel, depending how you feel about Panem's oil supplies (I think oil is scarce enough to be expensive but not nonexistent, for the record).

Anyway, this is quite a lot more geeking out than is truly necessary for fic-writing purposes, but I had fun with it so I thought I'd share, so you all can amuse yourselves or ask questions or tell me what bits make no sense before I start writing the real thing.
Tags: absurd logistics of panem, d9
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