Sugar Cane takes on a bigger role with Thaumcraft's hunger for Paper, Books, and Bookshelves, making it a very handy resource to gather and automate using other aspects of the Technic Pack. Even more usefully, sugar cane is, if nothing else, free EMC points, so it is nice to generate these while fiddling with something else in your castle. For those not interested in using Collector arrays to generate effortless EMC, this continues to be a good source of them, plus, watching the parade of loot is fun!
To get started, you'll need to set up an appropriate field for growing cane -- two dirt or sand rows bordered on either side by a 1 deep trench will suffice. Preferably do this in a flattened area; you'll want to expand out in both directions, making sure your dirt is touching a water block. Plant sugar cane along all the dirt. Of course, you can manually harvest this, and, at least for a bit, you'll have to. Use book and paper in a Quaesitum, surrounded by bookshelves, or Brains-In-A-Jar to get some recipes for Thaumcraft; Books has very good research value, which works out well. The main thing you want is a Thaumic Crystalizer, as the next step will require a good amount of various Vis Crystals. More efficient Crucible types are also a good idea.
In your mining, you should turn up Vis Crystals, which are going to be very useful for seals. Each crystal will make two Runic Essences when combined with nitor (gotten by placing redstone andGlowstone Dust into an Infuser) and a Gold Nugget. No special research is needed for this, per se, but in order to get the crystals you want, you'll need to make use of a few Thaumic Crystalizers, which can convert one crystal type for another semi-randomly. You'll need green, dark, blue and yellow, in that order, to best automate the farm. Tainted Crystals are rare, and you will need them in good quantity -- research forbidden lore until you get Concentrated Evil, and then place one of those into a Thaumic Crystalizer to get those. Another good source of Vis Crystal is to explore Mystcraft books; some of the other worlds you'll go to are lousy with flying orbs; bring a bow!
Automating the FarmEditConstruct walkways out of anything, 4 high above the base of your cane farm. Each walkway should be 14 spaces apart (i.e., leave 13 in between), and will extend all the way across your rows of cane. It does not matter if the cane is shaded by the walkway; they don't care. Along that walkway, place a chest (any kind will do) every 13 spaces (i.e., leave 12 in between). The reason for the spacing is because of the radius of effect of the Seal Combinations we will use -- it is precise. Set up a Transposer to the side of the chest you want the cane to flow, and connect Pneumatic Tubes from that Transposer to the next chest, and repeat -- there will be a flow of tubes leading to chests along your walkway.
Why all the chests? Why not just have the tubes travel the entire length?
Underneath each chest, below the walkway, and to its left and right, place a Seal. You want 3 combinations here, one to harvest, one to grow, and one to suck up all the dropped cane and place it into the chest. Seal Combinations explains all of them, but namely you want:
Under the chest: Yellow Dark Dark
Next to the chest: Green Blue Green
The other seal: Blue Green Green (optional; if you're low on green, skip these in favor of the Harvest seal)
In a moment, you'll notice the tops of your sugar cane falling off. That's the Harvest seal (Green Blue Green) at work. Then they'll start flying towards your chest. That's the Vortex Seal (Yellow Dark Dark). Finally, you'll see your shorter canes sparkle green and grow more quickly -- Fertilizer Seal (Blue Green Green). Each piece of cane will poof into your chest, and, each time the Transposer ticks, they'll be sent on their merry way towards your collecting area.
Now what do I do with all this crap?Edit
Depending on your needs/desire, you can set up pathways for all this sugar cane, turning them on/off as you change your focus. The best flexibility comes from channeling the cane into an Alchemical Chest with a Gem of Eternal Density in it. Each time enough cane shows up, it will be eaten and converted towards iron. This essentially makes Red Matter -- perhaps more slowly than a Collector Flower does, but since you were already using the cane for Thaumcraft and Mystcraft, this simply builds on a thing you had established, which is nice.
If you still desire paper, book and bookshelf production, send the cane into Automated Crafting Table MkII and Transposer stacks. The output of an Automated Crafting Table MkII is its top, and that can be fed into the sides of the next one -- 3 sugar cane becomes a paper, 3 papers become a book, 3 books and 6 wooden planks become a bookshelf. There is no net gain from sending bookshelves into your Alchemical Chest; the EE value of a bookshelf is exactly the same as the base materials, so if you want EE, just send the cane to that chest directly.