I am designing a fictional world (no magic, real-world technologies). I have an unexplained anomaly in my world: There is a natural "bold spot" in the jungle (in the thousands of square kilometers), at a latitude of 9°S. The land is very fertile, hence there is intense agriculture.

The technology level is of the 1930's, with requirement for manual labor. My issue is that the number of farm hands per hectare varies widely across the real world. The real world number ranges from 5 to 0.01 workers per hectare in today's times. [I can't find that reference online]

I picked the number of 0.8 workers / ha. (Imagine approximately 2 football fields of crops, with a single permanent worker responsible for it). My farm sizes vary from 200ha to 4000ha. In my initial design, I neglected to "house" these workers. Now, I'm retrofitting the design with farm worker villages. I group the labor from 2 to 5 of these farms into a "village". (Transporting the crop from these farms to the market / storage is an issue, but is beyond the scope of this question)

The issue is, that these villages are of substantial size: On average, they have a population of 7,000. This population also includes services like schools, governance, religion, basic shopping, doctors, entertainment (theaters and libraries). Land is also provided for a cemetery, and a waste water treatment plant. Villages provide no industry or commercial offices. These "villages" are build to urban standards, with each farm worker household having a free-standing house (400m² plot). The villages are usually within 200m to 2km of the farm house. The villages are approximately 250ha in area.

Additional services (like industry, crop storage, transportation hub, commercial offices, higher education) are provided by the anchor town, usual population is about 40,000 inhabitants.

The question is, is my number of 0.8 workers per hectare (100m x 100m) realistic? The issue is that a 1017km² county holds a population of 267,480. That gives me a population density of roughly the UK. http://statisticstimes.com/population/countries-by-population-density.php With about 28 to 30 of these Counties, I'll have an agricultural population in the millions. The grand plan for the map is to iterate through time (5 years at a time) until the year 2020. I will be installing highways and other modern infrastructure when the time is right. Bonus question: As I iterate through the decades, what do I need to look out for?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I miss why you mix 1930 tech level and today farm hands per hectare. $\endgroup$
    – L.Dutch
    May 13, 2018 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ For 1930s American technology, 0.8 to 1.0 workers/ha may be reasonable. For 1930s Central European technology you may want to increase that to 1.2 or 1.5 workers/ha. For 1930s Russian technology you are looking at 2, maybe 2.5 workers/ha. It also depends on what they are growing; it's one thing to crow maize on a flat plain and quite another to grow rice. The population density calculation seems to assume that all the land is arable and all the land is cultivated; that's not true today, and it wasn't even remotely true in 1930. For 1930s it's OK to have 50% of the pop in agriculture. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    May 13, 2018 at 8:34
  • $\begingroup$ Useful link maybe agclassroom.org/gan/timeline/1930.htm $\endgroup$
    – bendl
    May 13, 2018 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ This BBC clip from the Harvest series is about a UK farm which went from 60 workers and 40 horses in the 1950s to 2 workers and 3 tractors today. bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01gn176 It says the UK has lost 1 million farming jobs in the last 100 years because of tech changes, which might be useful to your calculations. $\endgroup$
    – DrBob
    May 13, 2018 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ First, what do your farms grow? The number of workers will vary greatly depending on the crop. Even with 1930s tech, a couple of workers with a tractor, plow, and combine can plant & harvest hundreds of acres of wheat or corn. Labor-intensive crops like strawberries or grapes might require hundreds of pickers during harvest season. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 13, 2018 at 18:37

1 Answer 1


Amount of worker per hectare is totally dependant on what you farm. For example: one worker could crop 0,5 hectare of wheat a day. With scythe. While picking strawberries would require much more hands to have same results. In 1930 CLASS introduced first combine. So a machine that not only cut but also pommel.

But that just extra information. What you are really looking at are Sovkhoz in Ukraine, radhósp to be exact. First you have state owned land. Second very fertile land (Ukraine). Third you have whole logistic placement. So for example you will know that state operated bus service to larger centres with doctors, schools and luxury shops while "on site" there's only houses. Food was either made at location or traded with other radhósp. Other usable good were delivered by truck where you could buy stuff. Like the one below Polish PGR mobile shop.

You could find that average size of such farm was around 15k acres while it sustained 200-400 households. With one household of 4 people, 2 adults and usually 2 children. 400 household could easily fit in 10 blocks. Which require less materials, building time, maintenance and so on. Also them having a house would be a waste of space. If the land is fertile it's better not to split that 40 acres in 400 patches. It's better to spend five days on working at once than to have 400 people work alone on their land for 5 days.

What is important - with creation of sovkhoz state rushed industrialization of productions. So tractors, combines, spraying, fertilizers. BUT not education on how and when to use it. That with state forcing production and results, with force grabbing any seeds created Holodomor


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