Farming Sugar Cane
Sugar cane can be found growing next to water. It grows up to three blocks high; if you break off the middle and top blocks, leaving the bottom block in place, it will continue to grow. This makes sugar cane easy to farm as you don't need to replant if you harvest it carefully.
A Simple Sugar Cane Farm
Sugar Cane must be planted on dirt blocks that are next to water. It's best to use canals of running water so that cane when harvested will flow to the end of the stream for easy collection.
Plant single blocks of sugar cane on all the dirt.
Wait for the sugar cane to grow: remember to make sure that your plantation is well-lit so you don't have nasty surprise when you come back.
Harvest the sugar cane by bashing the upper and middle blocks. Job done!
Automated Sugar Cane Farms
If you want a lot of sugar-cane — maybe you're making books for enchanting, or just a decorative library — consider making an automated farm that can be harvested at the push of a button.
It's easy to build automated sugar cane farms that use pistons to break off the top and middle sections of cane, leaving the rest to regrow.
The version I present here uses quite a lot of redstone, but below I will show a different version that uses less materials.
You will need 79 redstone, 32 iron bars, 96 wood planks, 20 sticks, 128 cobblestone and 5 smooth stone for components, plus more stone or cobblestone for building, 16 blocks of dirt and a bucket of water. Plus at least 1 piece of sugar cane to get started!
(The poor man's version requires only 42 redstone, 16 iron bars and 48 planks)
This farm is very compact; 11 x 9 x 5 blocks high. You might want to connect several farms together if you want to harvest vast amounts of sugar cane, though.
1. Build The Base
Build the base: an 8-block canal with water placed at one end, flanked by strips of dirt. There is a 1 block-high wall next to the dirt.
2. Add Pistons
Make 32 pistons:
Arrange the pistons in two banks of 16 like so:
3. Wire Up the Pistons
Build a row of blocks level with the top row of pistons, 1 block away. Place redstone torches along the side of these blocks, facing the pistons, and place redstone dust along the top to form a wire.
Underneath one end of the row of blocks, place a redstone torch. Place a stone button on the block underneath the redstone torch.
Extend the wiring around the back of the farm so that it controls the pistons on the other side. A repeater is needed to make the current go far enough. Make sure you place it the right way round - there is a little arrow on it that points from right to left.
Test your wiring! Push the button, and all of the pistons should extend momentarily.
5. Finishing Touches and Operation.
Add a roof and lighting if you like, but this is optional. Plant your sugar cane and wait for it to grow.
When it is fully grown, push the button to harvest. Almost all of the sugar cane will fall into the water and be brought to you to pick up.
It's easy to chain together a large number of these units if you want to harvest very large quantities of sugar cane.
A competent redstone engineer could easily hook these farms up to a clock mechanism to pulse the pistons every 5–10 minutes and provide a steady stream of sugar cane.
Here is a cheaper version of a sugar-cane farm. It uses only 16 pistons, aimed at the middle sections of the sugar cane, and in this picture is operated by a pressure plate (wood or stone) in front of the collection point.
Instead of using the redstone torches, redstone wire is placed in a line along the top of blocks that are behind the pistons.