Global plagues have dropped the population to 1 billion and global civilization has collapsed. In an effort to save future civilization some time, you want to provide some information to kick start civilization's regrowth.

You are choosing exactly three books on grain production


  • We assume the initial reader of these books is highly educated and that they are fluent in one of the languages that these books are written in. Should the info prove reasonable/useful, it will be handed off to grain farmers.
  • ‎We also assume that the future reader is familiar with and has an interest in agriculture. Maybe, they grew up in a farming community.
  • ‎We also assume a technology level of approximately 1800. Whatever we had tech or knowledge-wise in 1800, they have.
  • ‎While we can be sure that these three books will be found together, we can't be sure that they will be found with any other sets of books.

By virtue of a print-on-demand press and a generous internet connection (and minimal scruples about copyright law), you can get your hands on the text and diagrams of most any book/article in existence.

The best book choices will:

  • Give future generations stronger pointers for where to go looking for further knowledge.
  • Save them some of the trial and error of fumbling around on their own, if possible.
  • Will be books about general agricultural best practices, not how to grow a specific crop or how to grow crops in a specific climate.

Printing off all the agricultural articles on Wikipedia or any other article archive won't satisfy because...reasons. Only actual books will satisfy.

Preserving the books is a solved problem, so no need to worry about it. These won't be electronic copies because given our target tech level, electronic records will be just little black bricks.

Note to responders: Also, while it's true that three books is arbitrary, the number was chosen as it forces hard choices about which books are really worthy. There are two extremes at play: the utterly mundane, "give them normal undergraduate textbooks" and "compress an entire field down to three books". The first isn't noteworthy, while the second is impossible. Try to push your selection of books further towards the highly comprehensible master-works of the field. The specification of grain production is intentionally broad because someone in 1800 won't be aware of the diversification of sub fields that we see now. Further, this information will be distributed to farmers who already know their job. We just want to show them how they can improve their yields.

This question is a part of the Three Books series. It will grow to cover many and diverse topics.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I don't have time to dig through all of these, but it might be a good place to start. ;) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Draco18s that's very useful, thank you. $\endgroup$
    – Green
    Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 21:35
  • $\begingroup$ Doesn't your Three Book series also contain a question on medical texts? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2018 at 22:36
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ With lower population density you don't need higher yields and in fact they may have detrimental affects politically and socially. One thing about high labour intensive farming is that you don't have unemployment, people are a valuable resource as labour etc,. However, a billion people is a LOT of people, without global trade exchanging resources there would be chaos in some areas that just wouldn't support the population. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 2:52
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What are the conditions of this post-apocalyptic Earth? Agricultural principles vary widely with climate. The problem here is that a good guide for Sicilian winter wheat is useless if you want to grow North Dakota summer wheat, not mention corn, rice, etc. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Jan 13, 2018 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


Book 1 - 2018 Southern States Catalog with free calendar

The catalog will have pictures of modern tools along with the sales description. This should give the people of the future some ideas of what can be done.

The pictures on the calendar should give them the images of how to put the equipment to use.

Book 2 - USDA Report on Irrigation and Water Conservation.

Farmers need water.

This should help describe how to use the water in the most efficient manner.

Its either this report or one on fertilizer and insecticides.

Book 3 - World Atlas

You just need to highlight the coordinates 78.235867°N 15.491374°E and tape a Polaroid picture of the entrance to that page.

Entrance to Svalbard Global Seed Vault

In a way, we are already planning for your scenario. But, there will be a lot more than "3 books" available to them once they get there.


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