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Foreword: I am asking this question primarily to decide if a nocturnal race makes sense for my purposes before I develop them in too great a depth. This means I do not have much detail to provide on their biology or culture, just a basic outline. Hopefully it's enough.

Permanent settlements are dependent on sustained agriculture. A sapient extraterrestrial nocturnal race are omnivorous and capable of tool use, and are already at what we would call an early Neolithic level of technology - i.e. they have blades, art and clothing (or their equivalents), but no domesticated animals. They are not cave-dwellers. They wake at dusk and go to sleep with the dawn on their world, which has a day-night cycle and an axial tilt similar to Earth's, and perhaps several small natural satellites. They are not necessarily humanoid, and likely resemble a non-primate clade.

How does a population of this race come to develop agriculture on a scale that can sustain a permanent settlement and thus lead to civilization? Chiefly what I'm asking is, if you're asleep during the day, how do you manage crops, take care of them, and guard them from intruding diurnal animals, among other things, well enough to settle down? Would they have large farms of grass/grain crops like we do, or would they need to farm something more unusual? (Again, they don't dwell in caves, so I don't think they would farm cave-dwelling life like bioluminescent fungi.) Or to put it another way, are there any standard and necessary agricultural processes that are particularly difficult to accomplish at night? I would prefer that their agriculture take a form recognizable to us as agriculture (you see their farm and think "farm"), but only if it's justifiable.

(There's no need to address the domestication of animal livestock for the moment, but it's welcome if you do. Assume their livestock could be either diurnal or nocturnal, probably something they would already be hunting, or it could be for non-food products.)

Edit, promoted from comment: The reason I think developing agriculture at night would be a problem is that I feel that being awake during the day would give one a better chance of coming to understand what kind of nutrition and resources plant crops demand. It would take a lot of work staying up past one's bedtime to determine how to lay out fields for the best sunlight and such, which I feel would be too much fine detail for a population on the initial cusp of agriculture to accomplish or to have a sense for.

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    $\begingroup$ I strongly advise against the tidal locking, as it drastically changes everything on your planet :) $\endgroup$ – Andreas Heese Oct 13 '16 at 6:39
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand why planting seeds and cutting grass would be different during the night. Can you elaborate on why you think it's a problem? $\endgroup$ – pipe Oct 13 '16 at 11:05
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    $\begingroup$ Remember to give them a planet without axial tilt - if you have distinct seasons, you run into a problem of peak of agricultural activities being at time when days are long and nights short so your nocturnal race finds it hard to work on the outside for long hours. On Earth peak of agricultural work is spring and summer, when days are long and diurnal people feel good. $\endgroup$ – jacek_wi Oct 13 '16 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @undine_centimeter I think you're overestimating the knowledge needed to grow crops. There's no need to have absolutely perfectly laid out fields or crop rotation or whatnot. After all, plants have managed to grow on their own for millions of years. When you want to switch from simply harvesting the wild stuff to planting your own, just plant where the wild crops are. It should be sufficient to notice that wild crop A seems to pop up in wide open fields all over, but never seems to appear in dense forests. No need to know about light levels, just tell yourself your crops are claustrophobic. $\endgroup$ – 8bittree Oct 13 '16 at 17:12
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    $\begingroup$ @jacek_wi: Actually peak agricultural work tends to come before the spring equinox (plowing & planting), and after the fall one (harvest), at least in temperate climes. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 13 '16 at 17:46
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I don't think there would be any substantial deviations from how a diurnal species would manage it.

Standard farming activities (building, plowing, watering, planting, harvesting) can be performed at night as well as during the day. We do it during the day because we're diurnal, not because it's a requirement.

Diurnal pests aren't substantially more common or problematic than nocturnal ones (as anyone who has woken to a ravaged garden can attest), so again, you'd deal in pretty much he same way - fences, scare crows and other deterents, and if needed forcing some poor schmuck to stand guard all day.

As far as domesticated animals go, I suspect they would favor nocturnal animals for basic ease of handling (it's a lot easier to take an animal out to pasture or milk it when it is awake).

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, it's hard to think of reasons they couldn't develop agrarian societies. If necessary, the day-guards could even wear sunglasses. :-) $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Oct 13 '16 at 6:46
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    $\begingroup$ Well, usually, nocturnal does not imply that your eyes are damaged / you are blind during daylight. usually, creatures adapt to daylight sufficiently that at least SOME eyesight is retained during day. (e.g. owls are not completely blind during the day) $\endgroup$ – Andreas Heese Oct 13 '16 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Yes, actual glass "glasses" would be difficult. But pin-holes, for example, could easily be figured out before agriculture. A cactus thorn could pierce a flap of hide. $\endgroup$ – user2338816 Oct 13 '16 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ They might also domesticate a crepuscular or diurnal predator to help out with pest animals equivalent to mice and rats. The way we domesticated a crepuscular predator: felis catus. :) $\endgroup$ – wwarriner Oct 13 '16 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, at one time in my life, I spent many long nights plowing and planting fields in California's Central Valley, where it gets pretty darned hot during the day. So there's no reason most farm work HAS to be done during the day. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Oct 13 '16 at 17:49
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There's no logistical reason that agricultural activities couldn't be done at night. Plants do most of their photosynthesis during the day, but humans aren't involved in that particular process. The rest, we do when we're awake just because that's the time we're awake. We can't guard the fields all the time, even during the day, and the techniques we use to guard the fields when we're away should work just as well for a nocturnal species.

Certain activities may be more dangerous, due to reduced visibility. Injuries may be more common. If the workers use torches on overcast nights, there may be some risk of fire in the fields. But these are inconveniences to be overcome, rather than insurmountable obstacles.

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    $\begingroup$ To add to this, farmers on Earth used to (don't know if they still do) get up before the sun rose to begin the day, so they were already working in the dark. $\endgroup$ – Skyler Oct 13 '16 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ If the species is nocturnal in the first place, it can probably see (or otherwise adequately perceive their surroundings) quite well at night. Why would they remain nocturnal if that was not the case? $\endgroup$ – Angew Oct 14 '16 at 7:58
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The farmers sleep at night and work during the day, as habitual diurnals. Being naturally nocturnal doesn't mean your body shuts down against your will and you're unable to function during the day; certainly not if you're a sapient species capable of planning your future and making informed choices to guide your behaviour.

Presumably this species has physical adaptations appropriate for nocturnality, such as oversized eyes, a reliance on hearing, etc, so these farmers may need to take care to protect their eyes from daylight. Being habitually crepuscular could also be an option, operating around dawn and dusk.

Some aspects of agriculture simply can't be done under star light, or by relying on scent or hearing more than vision. Discolouration in fruits, vegetables or the plant itself won't be apparent; pollinators like bees will be active during the day (as the sun is a powerful navigation tool) and so husbandry will in part rely on their active period; even harvesting – being able to see and collect parts of plants – will be difficult if your visual acuity is based on movement more than colour or edge-detection.

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    $\begingroup$ Why would they do this? What's stopping them from taking care of the land during night? $\endgroup$ – pipe Oct 13 '16 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ @pipe Answer expanded. $\endgroup$ – rek Oct 13 '16 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ Presumably a nocturnal species would have significantly better night vision, and would therefore not have the difficulties that we do of distinguishing things at night $\endgroup$ – Kevin Wells Oct 13 '16 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ @KevinWells Nocturnal vision is based on edges, silhouettes and movement, not colour. The darker it is the less light there is to trigger a reaction in colour-detecting cones (two or more cones are needed). Even animals with highly specialized eyes capable of seeing colour at night can only see shades of one or two particular colours. $\endgroup$ – rek Oct 13 '16 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ They probably wouldn't see some discoloration, but that doesn't matter - no one eating it is going to notice it either, because they're all nocturnal. It's not the only/best way to sort out damaged food. It's just one we as humans favor because we're visual and diurnal. There are nocturnal pollinators and (more importantly) pollinators don't need supervision. Bees will still be bees and do the bee thing if the farmers are sleeping. $\endgroup$ – DerWhatkin Oct 13 '16 at 22:21
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Some species of earth ants have a kind of agriculture, and that underground without the aid of vision. And they are not even sentient or intelligent.

It is very likely that a nocturnal intelligent species would have effective senses not depending on light, so them sensing/navigating their natural environment is probably not a problem.

Nocturnal agriculture might well start with fungi or some kind of non-photosynthetic producers / stationary growths. Even if they do not live in caves, caves are still great for nocturnal agriculture due to them being protected from diurnal plants and animals and the environment.

From such farms their technology can advance to plants as they realize that farming photosynthetic organisms give much greater yields.

I can imagine that a major driving force behind their potential animal domestication would be for them to domesticate animals which help with their daytime agriculture (by killing daytime pests, fertilizing or even providing sight (like we use animals sniffing out truffles)).

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I don't think developing agriculture is a problem but I don't think your race would stay nocturnal for very long, since it's much easier to work at daylight. So unless you have a very good reason why should they trip over the farming equipment they will switch to diurnal life. There's too much advantage to be gained from working your fields when you could see well. Those who stay past bedtime will gain more yields and produce more offspring, which will prefer staying late and rising late.

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