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In Star Wars: A New Hope Owen talks about how he needs Luke for the next harvest and stuff, but it's not like they're tilling crops or anything. Don't machines just suck water out of the atmosphere, then you just haul in barrels into town?

marked as duplicate by phantom42, Jason Baker, AncientSwordRage Jan 12 '16 at 12:48

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    Related: How exactly does one farm moisture? – Robotnik Jan 12 '16 at 3:47
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    To me the real question is why a galaxy-spanning spacefaring culture hadn't terraformed Tattoine or at least dropped a couple dozen comets on it to relieve the water shortage. They used anti-gravity in places where we would used wheels, had cheap single stage to orbit spacecraft, and built weapons that could slag a whole planet, but they couldn't nudge a few comets around to reverse the desertification of a colonized world? – Kyle Jones Jan 12 '16 at 6:45
  • If the native species are desert adapted they probably wouldn't appreciate that :) – Tim B Jan 12 '16 at 9:08
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    Tattooine doesn't look particularly affluent; perhaps they can't afford anything beyond the basic terraforming. Or perhaps some species prefer it hot... it seems unlikely that a slug-like race like the Hutts would fall into that category, but on balance, the Hutts are rich and can afford coolers and humidifiers, so perhaps it's to make it easier to oppress people who aren't as rich as they are by making life a struggle for the poor. – anaximander Jan 12 '16 at 9:48

They have lots of land to cover, and vaporators will occasionally break down. It isn't just "go get water, take water to town". Yes it is easier with a speeder, but it's still a lot of work to get everything quickly so that the vaporators are ready for the next harvest.

There's also work of maintaining droids, machinery around the farm (like the skyhopper and the speeder) that take up tons of time. Also having to patrol the territory for raiders, jawas, thieves, that sort of thing. While they do mention having farmhands to help out, it clearly wasn't enough for all that needed to be done.

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    Do we actually know how big Owen and Beru's farm was? From the films, I was under the impression they had about three vaporators all in close proximity to their house. – DaaaahWhoosh Jan 11 '16 at 21:14
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    I'm using the logic that Owen inherited his father's farm, and Shmi was out getting mushrooms and Clegg was inspecting vaporators far out. – CBredlow Jan 11 '16 at 21:16
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    @DaaaahWhoosh Also, according to Wookiepedia, there were approximately 63 vaporators on their land. – CBredlow Jan 11 '16 at 21:20
  • Sure, maintenance is something that obviously happens on the farm. But Owen specifically does not talk about needing him for ongoing maintenance, but for a specific event, which sounds like it is the harvesting of this accumulated water. – Jonathon Jan 12 '16 at 3:28
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    @JonathonWisnoski - In reality, generally around 'harvest time' comes a flurry of activity as equipment is checked and primed and storage is cleared/readied to receive a large influx of product, be it grain or in this case: water. 'Harvest' in this sense could be almost like a yearly or bi-yearly event, where the Vaporators fill easier and/or require more maintenance because of storms or other weather phenomena etc. It's probably easier/slang to refer to this time of year as 'harvest time' rather than 'the yearly maintenance of our equipment and land.' – Robotnik Jan 12 '16 at 3:46

The majority of the work would likely be maintenance on the vaporators and other equipment (such as droids). Tattooine is a desert world. That means sand. Sand gets into all sorts of gaps and crevasses, which will interfere with the working of the equipment. If the vaporators aren't working at full efficiency (or at least close), they won't pull as much water out of the air, meaning a smaller harvest or maybe even no harvest at all.

They would also have to monitor the vaporators to ensure that no one else (other farmers, scoundrels, or sand-people) raids the vaprorators' storage containers.

The assumption that a moisture farm would involve little work, because you just have to haul the water into town, is like assuming that a modern farm involves just a little work because you just have to plant and then haul the crop into town. While planting season and harvest season are the two busiest times of year for farmers, they don't exactly sit idle for the rest of the year.

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    Good point! I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. – Brian Gordon Jan 12 '16 at 0:48
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    NNnnnngggh...one more reason for me to invent a device that allows you to stab people in the face across the internet. – Nick T Jan 12 '16 at 1:18

Well just like crops, you have to go around and harvest from your collectors, store the water, potentially treat the water to make/keep it safe, and as you noted bring it to market.

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