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Surveying and Planning of Farmstead and Different Farm Structures

In the past, there was a dearth of scientific methods employed into farming activities due to poor farm layout design for specific purposes in a large hectare of land. The resultant effects of this absence of farm surveying and planning adversely led to low agricultural production. However, in modern times, the practice of survey and planning in large hectares of land tend to now result in optimum land use, as well as maximum yields from agricultural production.

Surveying and Planning of Farmstead
(i) Farm Surveying: Farm surveying is the process of measuring and mapping out of the positions, heights, sizes of and boundaries of position of the farmstead.
(ii) Farm Planning: Farm planning is the laying out of a farmstead and the arrangement of land for optimum benefit.

Importance of Farm Surveying and Planning

(i) It is used for feasibility study.
(ii) It is valuable in farm investment.
(iii) It promotes maximum use of land and inputs.
(iv) Reports obtained from the process is useful for determining at a glance the topography, edaphic factor and climatic factor influencing agricultural productivity.
(v) It is tendered as collateral against repayment of loan.
(vi) It accurately indicates the area of a given farm at any given period.
(vii) It helps to broaden the scope of prospective investors into agricultural production.
(viii) It is used as index of efficient decision making on the farmstead.
(ix) The document collated from surveying a farm apparently solves the problem of trespasses, thereby secures the land over a long period.

Common Surveying Equipment
Some common equipment used in farm surveying includes: ranging pole, arrow or pin, Gunter’s chain, measuring tape, prismatic compass, offset staff, theodolite, beacon or pillar.

(i) Ranging pole: This can be made up of either wood or metal. It usually has different length ranges from 1.8m, 2.4m, 3.0m and it can be constructed in either circular or octagonal shape to suit a purpose. Ranging pole is normally painted with different colours of black, red and white. This is done to enable it to be seen from a distance. This equipment is used for marking spots. It has a thin pointed end which allows it to remain firmly in a position. This equipment can also be used for straight lines.

(ii) Arrow or pin: This is a very useful surveying equipment that is composed of steel wires. It has a length of about 30cm with one end curved into a ring and other part terminates as thin pointed end. Arrow or pin is used for making spots or stations accurately.

Arrow of a Pin

(iii) Gunter’s chain: This is the surveyor chain that was used before the discovery of measuring tapes. It is made of steel wire that is constructed into a dumb-bell shape. The successive chain is attached to the other at a point with the aid of three small rings. Gunter’s chain is a surveying equipment that is about 20.130m long. Successive chain is composed ofabout100 links and each successive link is about19.80cm. The handle at both ends of the equipment is made of brass. The equipment is used for the accurate measurement of the length and breadth of land. A link is the distance between two centre rings.

Gunter’s Chain

(iv) Measuring tapes: The two types used are either steel tapes or linen tapes, the side of a measuring tape is marked in metric units and the other in imperial units. The metric unit is the measurement done in acre or hectare, while the imperial unit is that which is carried out in metres. For example, a school farm of one hectare is equal to ten thousand square metres that is, 1 hectare = 10,000m square. A measuring tape is of different lengths and types depending on the dimension it is obtained from the manufacturer. It is used for the accurate measurement of length, breadth and height of land from different spots.

Measuring Tape

(v) Prismatic compass: This surveying equipment is composed of a prism and a compass card. The latter is marked in degrees, half degrees, minutes and seconds, in a clockwise direction. Sighting slot in the equipment enables the surveying crew to see ‘spots’. It is used for the determination of bearings. It can also be used in measuring angular distances. Prismatic compass is usually placed on a stand to raise it to a substantial height above the ground. It is a portable surveying equipment.

(vi) Offset staff: This is a surveying equipment which is composed of graduated rod of about 3m long. A hook may be attached to the top. This is done to enable chains to pull through hedges. It is used for taking short offset measurements. There is a telescopic link, which is 0.3m in length.

(vii) Theodolite: This is a surveying equipment which is placed on a tripod stand. The tripod stand forms the base of the equipment usually, a lower level plate that contains a graduated horizontal circle. This horizontal circle is either made of glass or brass. The equipment normally contains spirit. The presence of this spirit enables the surveyor to determine the horizontal plane, which helps in the accurate measurement of angles of elevation or depression of the land topography from a particular spot that the equipment is mounted. A theodolite is an essential equipment used in farm surveying. It consists of tripod, tribach, lower plate, upper plate, trunion axis, telescope, circles and altitude bubble.

(viii) Beacon or pillar: This is a hard block made from concrete and mortar, it is normally rectangular in shape. Beacon or pillar usually has a range of height of about 2ft -3ft. Inscriptions such as the dimensions, or the land number of the surveyor, are indicated in the upper part of this vertically laid surveying equipment. Paste of mortar is often used in the inscription of data on the beacon or pillar surface because this helps to prevent the scraping or washing of the vital data from the surface over a long period.

This equipment is normally buried about three-quarter of its original size so as to enable it to anchor to the ground firmly.

Planning of farmstead
Farmstead is the valuable areas where crops and farm animals are kept. These farmsteads are designed to attain the improved level of outputs from agricultural production. The farm is partitioned into units. Each unit is used for a specific purpose.

Factors Considered for Planning of farmstead

(i) Climate: Climate is a vital factor which is considered in the stage of planning a farmstead. Elements of climate include rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, air movement and light intensity. These factors prevailing in an area have to be favourable for farm planning to be carried out. Where adverse climatic conditions tend to prevail in an area farm, planning will be stalled.
(ii) Topography: The nature of the land affects the gradient and elevation of the farm. The topography of the land of a particular area greatly affects the planning of a farmstead. Flatlands are easier to plant than steep or slopy land. This is the reason why flatlands are preferable to steep or sloppy land.
(iii) Nature of soil: The nature of a soil in a given area affects the level of planning. Farm planning is normally carried out in loamy or sandy loam soil. But not on clayey soil because there is good soil structure; high porosity and low water retention in loamy and sandy-loam soils. Clayey soil retains the greatest amount of water due to its low porosity which results in water logging in an area. Areas with good irrigation schedule owing to the controlled level of water infiltration and percolation into the soil. Thus, adequate irrigation schedule is a necessary requirement in farm planning.
(iv) Good road network: In the process of farm planning, the farm-layout must be accessible in order to promote better transportation of inputs and outputs in and out of the farm.
(v) Economic factors: The availability of adequate capital layout, profit margin, implicit and explicit costs on the investment and necessary economic factors are considered in farm planning. Where these economic factors are favourable, it tends to facilitate the pace with which farm planning is carried out.

Principles of Farm Layout
The important principles that are normally considered to ensure the proper layout of a farm include:

(i) Isolation of administrative block: The administrative block, which is otherwise called the office building, should also as a matter of rule be isolated from other structures in the farm. This is done to prevent the environmental disturbance of the animals in the pens and shed, as excessive noise affects the animals’ disposition. In the same way it prevents the release of offensive odour, which contaminates the air of the office building by also locating the processing units away from the administrative block. The major advantage of isolating the administrative block is to promote the effective noise control and pollution.
(ii) Cultivation of crops on fertile land: In the course of ensuring proper farm layout, crops are cultivated on fertile land in the farm. This is to promote the optimum yields of crop plants. Infertile land with deficient nutrients and organic matter results in low yields.
(iii) Avoidance of erosion prone areas: In order to lay out the farm accurately, the areas to be used for this purpose must not be prone to erosion which could lead to wastage of capital, animal, crops and labour resources involved in the investment. Based on this, the area that is meant for agricultural production should be located on a safe area that is not liable to erosion.
(iv) Good accessibility: There is the need for good accessibility to areas which serve as farm cultivated with crops, keeping of animals and storing equipment, and accommodation of labour. Farm layout can be done in rectangular plot, block or fields using the 3-4-5 method according to the specific design needed at a particular period.

Different Farm Structures
There are different types of farm structures: These include:

(i) Residential quarters: These are the structures in the farm where the labourers dwell.

(ii) Administrative block: This is the structure where the staff and communication facilities are installed. It is also the area where the effective administration, which involves organising, managing, policy-formulation, purchase and supervision strategies are initiated to improve the level of profit margin and also promote the effective operation of the farm as well as avert the syndrome of insolvency which leads to discontinuity of a farm business.

(iii) Pens: Pens are the housing units that are mainly constructed for keeping goats, sheep and pigs in the farm. The pens in which animals are kept are usually  demarcated into units for specific breeds of animals. For instance, goats, sheep or pigs are essentially kept in different pens within a given farm. This is done to enhance  the efficient maintenance of the animal nutrition and health as well as avoid outbreak of certain pathogenic diseases in a farm.

(iv) Poultry house: This is the exclusive area where poultry are kept using cages. Feeding troughs, and drinking water troughs are attached, under California intensive system. Wood shaving is used as absorbent of droplets of the poultry under deep litter system of animal production.

(v) Paddock: This is a structure in the farm in which cattle are kept in a typical cattle ranch. Paddocks are constructed under hygienic conditions to function as the housing system mainly for these cattle. This is done to enable the animals to relax at the end of the day. Different breeds of cattle are normally kept in separate paddocks for easy identification and maintenance of the animals, for optimum yield of products.

(vi) Hutches: These are the farm structures that are mainly designed for the keeping of rabbits in the farm. The rabbits are fed using ad libitum feeding in which additional feeds are continuously supplied to them to stimulate their prolific rate of production. The hutches are normally maintained under hygienic condition. Faecal matter of rabbits are recycled at night by rabbits through eating their faeces. This serves as source of protein and vitamins for them. This process where rabbits eat their faecal matter is known as coprophagu.

(vii) Stores: These are the structures in the farm where valuable items normally used in the farm are kept for safety. It is usually dry and cool devoid of moisture which causes rusting of equipment. Stores are properly designed to contain specific items which can be traced without delay. Some important items kept in the store include farm implements such as tractors, spare parts, plough, harrow, ridger, cultivator, spanner, nuts and bolts and other useful parts of farm equipment. Produce store is the specific place where produce that are harvested are properly stored. The produce store may either be barns or silos with good underground storage facilities. Farm stores are built in large hectares of land to contain the different sections that constitute the stores in a large-scale farm.

(viii) Medical centre: This is the structure in a farm housing the specialist Medical Personnel consisting of medical doctors, radiologists, biochemists and medical laboratory scientists. These medical personnel render valuable services to the workers in the farm to improve their level of individual productivity. In the medical centres, there are trained nurses employed to assist the medical doctors in the diagnosis and treatment of patients’ ailments.

(ix) Processing and handling units: These are the structures which are located in the farm in order to facilitate the processing of the harvested produce from the farm and the packaging of the processed farm produce for sale at the designated area of the farm. The processing unit usually contains different types of processing machines operated by trained engine operators.

(x) Farm shops: These are the shops where farm produce are sold to prospective customers, as well as tourists that visit the farm on recreation and picnic spree. The farm shop normally has cool relaxation spots for their customers. Pineapple and other fruits harvested from farm orchards are displayed for sale in the farm shop. Farm orchard is the main area in the farm that is meant for the cultivation of fruits. Students on excursions may also visit the farm shops for individual entertainment.

Farm surveying is the process of measuring and mapping out of the position, size and boundaries of a farmstead. Farm planning is the laying out of a farmstead and the arrangement of land for optimum benefit devoid of loss due to degradation. Surveying and planning play vital roles in the proper use of land for maximum agricultural production and improve the level of output and speed up the pace of development in the farm due to appropriate siting of structures at the desired spots.

Some common surveying equipment include ranging pole, arrow or pin, gunter’ s chain, measuring tape, prismatic compass, beacon pillar. The useful life of these equipment is prolonged through proper maintenance to prevent the rapid depreciation of the equipment. Depreciation is the loss in the value of an asset due to wear and tear in the course of its use.

Farmstead is a parcel of land where farm buildings and structures are located. The factors that are considered when planning farmstead include climate, light intensity, topography, and nature of soil, water supply, good accessibility and economic factors. Farm structures are the actual buildings sited in a farm.