Back to: Jss2 Agricultural Science (PVS)
Topic: Farm Structures and Buildings
WEEK: 1 & 2
Farm structures and buildings are essential components of modern agriculture. These structures are designed and constructed to provide shelter, storage, and working space for livestock, crops, and farm equipment. They also help to protect crops and livestock from adverse weather conditions, pests, and predators.
Farm structures and buildings come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the type of farming operation and the climate in which they are located. Some of the most common structures found on farms include barns, silos, sheds, stables, poultry houses, and greenhouses.
Farm structures are constructions built on a farm site to enhance the efficiency of farming operations. These structures are designed to make various aspects of farming easier and more effective. The specific type of farm structure required depends on factors such as the type of farming practised, the scale of operations, site conditions, and available financial resources.
The primary purpose of farm structures is to provide a suitable environment for crops, livestock, and farm equipment. They can be designed and built to provide shelter, storage, and working space for different types of farming activities. For example, barns are used to house livestock, store feed and equipment, and process crops, while silos are used for storing grain and silage.
The type of farm structure required for a particular farm depends on the farming practices employed. For instance, dairy farms may require specialized milking parlours and cooling tanks, while poultry farms need chicken coops and brooders. Greenhouses are essential for producing crops such as vegetables and flowers, especially in areas with unfavourable weather conditions.
Types of Farm Structures and Their Uses
The structures which may be found on any farm include:
- Silos: Silos are tall structures, often made of concrete, mud, or stainless steel, designed for the storage of grains and silage. They are preplanned structures that provide controlled humidity, ensuring the grains can be stored for long periods in good condition. While expensive and difficult to maintain, silos are essential for large-scale farms and grain storage facilities.
- Cribs: Cribs are simple grain storage structures made of wood and wire gauze on the sides and floor with a thatch or zinc roof. They are primarily used for drying maize while still on the cob. The raised floor prevents rodents from accessing the grains, and the thatched roof provides shade to help dry the maize.
- Rhumbus: These are round structures made of mud with a grass or thatch roof. They are commonly found in the drier northern parts of Nigeria and are used for storing grains such as maize, sorghum, millet, cowpeas, and groundnuts.
- Feed mill: A feed mill is a structure designed for producing animal feed. Large-scale animal farmers often have a feed mill to produce feed for their animals, as it is more economical than purchasing pre-made feed.
- Barns: Barns are temporary structures made from sticks, mud, and thatch used for storing yams, cassava, grass, or hay. They are cheap to construct and provide essential storage space for feed and other agricultural inputs.
- Abattoirs: Abattoirs, or slaughterhouses, are structures designed for slaughtering and butchering animals, such as goats, sheep, pigs, and cattle. They often include a passageway for animals to pass through before being held down and slaughtered on the slab.
- Animal Dips and Sprays: Dips and sprays are structures used for disinfecting animals and destroying ectoparasites. Dips are concrete baths or plastic vessels set on the ground, filled with water and disinfectants, while sprays are overhead tanks containing disinfectant with a sprinkler that drips onto the animals.
- Weighbridge: A weighbridge is a structure used for determining the weight of farm animals.
- Crushes: Crushes are narrow passageways made of wood or metal used for restricting animals during check-ups or vaccinations by a veterinary officer.
- Water supply structures: Water supply structures include dams, water tanks, and irrigation channels or canals.
- Dams: Dams are barriers constructed across a river or stream to reduce water flow and accumulate water for irrigation or domestic use.
- Water tanks: Water tanks are raised structures constructed from galvanized metal, plastic, or reinforced concrete used for storing water for domestic use and watering farm animals.
- Canals: Canals are structures used to carry water from rivers to fields for crop irrigation. Drainage canals are also constructed to remove excess water from the farm.
- Compost manure pits: Compost manure pits are pits dug for collecting plant and animal remains or waste, which is allowed to decompose and turn into manure for use as soil fertilizer.
- Electricity supply structures: Electricity supply structures include electric poles, wires, and connections used for supplying electric power to the farm.
- Waste/disposal pits: Waste/disposal pits are large pits dug on the outskirts of the farm for dumping waste and useless products. They are typically covered to prevent flies from carrying germs to human food.
- Fences: Fences are physical barriers constructed around an area for various purposes, such as keeping animals within a particular area, demarcating boundaries, or providing security. They can be made from various materials such as wood, wire, or concrete.
- Greenhouses: These are enclosed structures made of glass or plastic, used for growing plants in a controlled environment. Greenhouses can be used for growing crops that are not well adapted to the local climate, or for extending the growing season of certain crops.
- Grain dryers: These are structures used for drying harvested grains to prevent spoilage. Grain dryers can be heated with propane or natural gas, or they can be solar-powered. They are particularly useful in areas with high humidity, where grains are prone to spoilage if they are not dried quickly.
- Poultry houses: These are specialized structures designed for raising chickens, turkeys, ducks or other poultry. Poultry houses can be simple or complex and may include features such as automated feeding and watering systems, ventilation systems, and temperature control. They can also be designed to meet specific requirements for bird health and welfare, such as providing ample space, clean water, and protection from predators.
Siting of Farm and Layout of Farm Structures
Siting a farm refers to the process of selecting the best location for a farm, while the layout of farm structures involves the arrangement of various farm buildings and facilities on the farm site. The siting of a farm and the layout of farm structures are important aspects of modern farming, as they can greatly affect the success of a farm.
When sitting on a farm, several factors should be considered. First, the availability of water is important, as most crops require a steady supply of water. The soil type and quality should also be considered, as different crops thrive in different soil types. Other factors to consider include climate, topography, access to transportation, and proximity to markets and suppliers.
Once a suitable location has been identified, the layout of farm structures can begin. The layout should be designed in such a way that it maximizes the use of available land, while also ensuring efficient operations. The layout should provide adequate space for each farm structure and take into account the specific requirements of each structure.
For example, structures such as barns and storage sheds should be located close to the main access roads, to facilitate easy movement of equipment and supplies. Silos and grain storage structures should be located near the harvesting fields for easy transport of crops. Animal housing structures such as poultry houses and pens should be located in areas with good drainage, adequate ventilation, and sufficient shade.
The layout should also take into account the overall aesthetics of the farm. A well-designed layout can enhance the visual appeal of the farm, and create a more pleasant and welcoming environment for workers and visitors.
Factors Guiding the Siting of Farms
The siting of farms depends on various factors that must be considered to ensure that the farm is successful and sustainable in the long run. Here are some factors that guide the siting of farms:
- Climate: Climate is an important factor in determining the type of crops that can be grown in a particular area. The temperature, rainfall, and humidity of a region will affect the suitability of a farm for a particular crop or livestock.
- Topography: The topography of the land can affect the type of crops that can be grown, as well as the drainage and irrigation systems that can be put in place. Flat land is more suitable for mechanized farming, while hilly or mountainous terrain may require more labour-intensive methods.
- Soil quality: Soil quality is crucial in determining the productivity of a farm. The type of soil, its fertility, pH, and texture all play a role in what crops can be grown and how productive they will be.
- Water availability: Water is essential for farming, and the availability of water resources is an important consideration. Farms located near rivers, lakes, or other water sources will have an advantage over those located in arid or drought-prone regions.
- Proximity to markets: Access to markets is crucial for the success of a farm. Farms located near urban centres or transportation hubs will have an advantage over those located in remote areas.
- Access to labour: Farms require a significant amount of labour, and the availability of labour is an important consideration. Farms located in areas with a large pool of available labour will have an advantage over those located in areas with a labour shortage.
- Infrastructure: The availability of infrastructure such as roads, power, and telecommunications is important for the success of a farm. Farms located in areas with good infrastructure will have an advantage over those located in areas with poor infrastructure.
- Legal and regulatory environment: The legal and regulatory environment can affect the success of a farm. Farms located in areas with favourable regulations and policies will have an advantage over those located in areas with unfavourable regulations and policies.
- Security: The security of a farming area is important to ensure the safety of farmers and their crops. Farms located in areas with high levels of crime or civil unrest may be at a disadvantage.
- Land availability and cost: The availability and cost of land are important considerations when siting a farm. Farms located in areas with affordable land prices and ample available land will have an advantage over those located in areas with high land prices and limited available land.
Factors Guiding Layout of Farm Structure and Building
- Fertility of the soil: The fertility of the soil is an important factor to consider before constructing farm structures and buildings. Structures should not be erected on fertile soil, as this land should rather be used for planting crops. Therefore, farm buildings or structures should be located on the least fertile parts of the farm.
- Topography: The topography of the land is also an important factor to consider. Flat land should be used for construction to prevent erosion. Building structures on sloping land can increase the risk of erosion and soil loss.
- Accessibility: Accessibility is a key consideration when planning farm structures and buildings. Farm buildings or structures should be linked with good roads for easy access and should be constructed on easily accessible parts of the farm. This is important for the efficient transportation of farm produce and equipment.
- Construction Materials: The availability of construction materials must also be considered during farm layout. This is largely dependent on the financial status of the farmer. The choice of construction materials can include cement blocks, bamboo or sawn planks. Farmers should consider the durability, cost, and availability of materials before making a choice.
- Protection: The protection of farm structures and buildings is crucial. They should be located in areas where they will be protected from excessive winds, erosion or fire hazards. This can include building windbreaks, planting vegetation, or selecting building sites that are sheltered from the prevailing winds.
- Water supply: A reliable and accessible source of water is essential for any farm. When planning the construction of farm structures and buildings, farmers must consider the proximity of water sources, such as wells, boreholes, or rivers. Structures should be located in areas that have an adequate water supply for their needs.
- Climate: The climate of the area where the farm is located should also be considered before constructing farm structures and buildings. Depending on the climate, farmers may need to incorporate features into their buildings, such as insulation, ventilation, or heating/cooling systems, to ensure that the buildings are suitable for their intended use.
- Land zoning regulations: Farmers must also consider local land zoning regulations before constructing farm structures and buildings. These regulations may restrict the types of structures that can be built in certain areas, or may require certain permits or approvals before construction can begin.
- Purpose of the structures: The intended use of the structures should also be considered. Different structures may be needed for different purposes, such as storage buildings, barns, or workshops. Farmers must ensure that the structures they build are appropriate for their intended use and that they have enough space to accommodate their needs.
- Future expansion: Finally, farmers should also consider their future plans for expansion before constructing farm structures and buildings. If they plan to expand their operations in the future, they should ensure that the structures they build can accommodate this growth and that they have enough space to add additional structures if needed.
Maintenance of Farm Structures
Maintenance of farm structures is essential to ensure their longevity, safety, and functionality. Neglecting maintenance can lead to costly repairs, reduced productivity, and even safety hazards. Here are ten maintenance practices for farm structures:
- Regular Cleaning: Dirt, debris, and accumulated waste can cause damage to the structure and promote mould and mildew growth. Regular cleaning will prevent dirt and debris from building up, keep pests away, and prevent the formation of rust and corrosion.
- Repainting: A fresh coat of paint can protect the structure from harsh weather conditions, prevent rust and corrosion, and improve the overall appearance of the structure.
- Roof Inspection and Repair: The roof is a critical part of the structure, and regular inspection and repair can prevent leaks and structural damage.
- Foundation Inspection: The foundation is the backbone of the structure, and any damage or deterioration can compromise the safety and stability of the structure. Regular inspection and repair can prevent further damage and ensure the foundation’s longevity.
- Pest Control: Insects and rodents can cause significant damage to the structure, including gnawing through wires, insulation, and wood. Regular pest control measures can prevent pests from infesting the structure.
- Electrical Maintenance: Regular inspection and repair of electrical systems can prevent electrical fires and ensure the safe and efficient functioning of the structure.
- Plumbing Maintenance: Regular inspection and repair of plumbing systems can prevent leaks, water damage, and contamination of water sources.
- Structural Reinforcement: Structures can weaken over time, and regular reinforcement can prevent structural damage and ensure the safety of the structure.
- HVAC Maintenance: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems require regular maintenance to function efficiently, reduce energy costs, and maintain indoor air quality.
- Equipment Maintenance: Regular maintenance of farm equipment can prevent breakdowns and ensure their longevity, reducing repair costs and downtime.
- Window and Door Maintenance: Windows and doors can allow drafts and pests to enter the structure, and damaged or improperly sealed windows and doors can compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of the structure. Regular inspection and repair can prevent these issues.
- Gutter Maintenance: Gutters and downspouts can become clogged with debris, preventing proper drainage and causing water damage to the structure. Regular cleaning and repair can prevent these issues.
- Fence Maintenance: Fences are important for protecting crops and livestock, and regular maintenance can prevent damage from weather, pests, and wear and tear.
- Drainage Maintenance: Proper drainage is crucial for preventing soil erosion and water damage to the structure and surrounding areas. Regular inspection and repair can prevent drainage issues.
- Structural Upgrades: Over time, the needs of a farm may change, and upgrades to the structure may be necessary to accommodate these changes. Upgrades such as adding insulation, improving ventilation, or adding storage space can improve the functionality and value of the structure. Regular assessment of these needs can help identify necessary upgrades.