Diligent farmers on Zynga's Farmville can now earn bonuses for harvesting each crop a certain number of times. Starting today, each plot you harvest will give you 1 point of mastery towards that crop. Mastering all three levels of the crop will earn you a 'special bonus'; since there are currently no Ribbons related to crop mastery, we're guessing these bonuses are items.
You can check progress on any of the crops by loading up the Market screen - under each crop is a set of three stars, one for each mastery level, and a progress bar to indicate mastery on the current level (Simple Think has a handy listing of how many points you'll need to reach mastery for each crop).
We noted that only seed crops have mastery levels -- harvesting fruit from trees or resources from animals will not earn you any points. Also, the points you earn towards crop mastery are distinct from the experience points you'll still earn from plowing/planting/harvesting (these help you level up in general).
Social game agnostics may recognize the mastery level system from Zynga's other popular game, Mafia Wars. Players earn a certain percentage of mastery each time they pull off a job - mastering all three levels of a job earns you otherwise unobtainable items as well as the ability to amend your Mafia title with. We think the addition of this feature to Farmville is a welcome one, since it'll encourage and reward us for planting a diverse set of crops (instead of sticking to the ones that'll generate the most profit).
What do you think of the new crop mastery system on Farmville? Will you be planting different crops as a result, or do you think this feature is unnecessary?