On the Dwarf Fortress wiki is a description of muddying tiles using buckets and a channeled irrigation gallery. I haven't been able to make this work. I've dug the two z-levels, and channeled the upper level. I have a bucket, and I believe I've zoned the upper level as a pond (although I'm not at all sure I've done that correctly; the zoning menu is not intuitive to me). I have idle dwarfs, and they're not collecting water!

Is there anything else I need to do to enable my dwarfs to start pouring buckets? Do I need to designate a water source, enable a labour preference, or do anything else?

A step-by-step description of the process (particularly the zoning steps) would be extremely helpful to me.

2 Answers 2


Here's my method (illustration below, farm in progress): I dig an 8x8 room and channel out the interior 6x6 square with some stairs down for access. Once you've got that, you need to designate pond zones on the upper level. Only one dwarf will fill each pond zone at a time, so I like to designate six 2x3 pond zones.

Pond zones: i brings up the zone menu. Hit enter to start drawing a rectangle, then enter to set the other corner of the rectangle. Now you have a generic zone that's flashing. Press p (lower-case p) to make it a pond/pit. Press P (capital P) to change the zone settings. Press f to set the zone as a pond. Press esc to go back to the zone screen and draw your next zone!

Now you need free dwarves and plenty of buckets; they don't use buckets very efficiently. If your dwarves act too slowly, the water will start to evaporate, but I find 6 ponds with 6 dwarves will fairly quickly fill the farm area. If you have a stubborn spot that just won't fill, move your zones around to target that spot. If the stubborn spot is in the middle, well, be patient. :)

Once you've got mud on every tile (look, k, should show you mud) deactivate and/or remove your pond zones (via the zone menu) and then build your farm (b, p)! Don't forget you can size your farm plot with the umkh keys.

Advanced tip: I like to create a furniture stockpile that only accepts buckets near the water source to decrease the time dwarves spend running around carrying buckets.

DF Farm

  • You can also use ramp (which occur natural when you channel in DF2010) instead of stairs
    – tzenes
    Jul 17, 2010 at 21:19
  • 1
    Wow. This is a perfect answer. It was the 'f to set zone as pond' step that I was missing. Thank you! Jul 17, 2010 at 21:28
  • @tzenes: right, that's possible. I usually channel the 6x6 and then remove the ramps, because I'm picky like that. :)
    – JavadocMD
    Jul 17, 2010 at 22:43
  • I use 2xN zones so each to-be farm tile is directly irrigated; I micromanage each tile as a separate pond zone. Aug 3, 2010 at 13:55

You do need to designate a water source, I believe. Make sure that you've built some buckets. I think you may also need to designate one tile on solid ground as a pond to get them to water the gap next to it.

  • If you have wells, they are automatically water sources... but if not, yes, you need to designate a water source. As above: i brings up the zone menu. Hit enter to start drawing a rectangle - but make sure it overlaps water. Now you have a generic zone that's flashing. Hit w to make it a water source.
    – Mir
    Jul 20, 2014 at 4:31

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