Existing infrastructure on a piece of land should be included in your evaluation of that land’s production potential. This section will give you an overview of the needs of different crops and help you assess what you have or will need to be successful.
Providing shelter for animals is necessary for quality production. Many ag enterprises require barns and outbuildings, or specific buildings like sugar shacks and greenhouses. Do you know what types of buildings you need, and do you have anything that can be used or modified to meet those needs?
1. Barns and Shelters – Will you need vehicle access to the building year-round? Can an existing building be modified to fit your needs? Download this PDF about barns and shelters for livestock: UNH Housing and Space Guidelines for Livestock
2. Horticultural Crops, field Crops, vegetables and fruit need storage sheds for equipment, usually washing or packing areas, and storage sheds or coolers to hold over the harvested crops.
3. Greenhouses If you’re looking at greenhouse production, keep in mind the siting and utilities needs of greenhouses. For information on greenhouses, the National Center for Appropriate Technology website has great fact sheets.
Fences are for keeping livestock in and wildlife out. There are many types of fencing from portable to permanent, and livestock species vary in their fencing needs. Some animals do well with high tensile electric fence while others require a mesh style of fencing. Research what type of fencing you will need for your operation. Check with your local Natural Resource Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) as well as your county’s Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) for more information about livestock fencing alternatives and specifications. They should be able to refer you to contractors who install fencing and sell fencing supplies, and may even be able to offer you a cost-share grant for fencing. Consider putting up a perimeter fence and using portable, temporary fencing to form smaller paddocks within the perimeter to rotationally graze livestock.
Deer are a major limitation to the production of horticultural crops including fruits, vegetables and ornamentals. Increasingly farmers have to invest in deer fencing in order to successfully grow these crops and minimize losses. Deer fencing is a major investment but a necessity in the long run. Fencing options include: 3 strand wire fence that is electrified or 8 foot high plastic fencing that provides a more secure barrier. For information on deer fencing, read this fact sheet from the Cornell Cooperative Extension. Unfortunately, there are no federal or state programs to help offset the cost of deer fence installation. Therefore, it is a production expense that must be calculated into start up costs.
Evaluate what you’re looking to accomplish and determine the level of fencing you need.
1. Livestock Fencing– for information on the many types of livestock fences and systems view this article from the University of Georgia.