A farm needs more than just good soil to thrive. As an ag lender who’s had the privilege of working alongside farmers for nearly 25 years, I’ve observed again and again the importance of good infrastructure in helping farms succeed. Below, I’ve identified six infrastructure tips to help you build the most stable farming operation possible.
1. Mentality lays the foundation: Just like every successful building project begins with a solid foundation, a mentality that focuses on infrastructure lays significant groundwork for your farm’s success. Take some time to consider your operation’s current infrastructure and needs. Questions like “What do I have?”, “What do I need?”, “How do I get where I need to be”? and “What does it cost?” help cultivate a mindset for strategic growth.
2. No substitute for access: Dependable, all-weather roads in and around the farm ensure your ability to work in all conditions. These also allow you to save time and money by being able to plant, harvest, deliver crops and evaluate and manage inventory in an efficient manner.
3. Farm shops and equipment sheds pay dividends: A farm shop and equipment sheds are a must for any operation. In addition to allowing you to store tools and farm equipment, along with seed, chemical and fuel, your farm shop can also serve as an office location to meet business partners ranging from bankers and insurance agents to consultants and seed salesmen. Equipment sheds help ensure safety and good working conditions for equipment year-round, especially when it comes to valuable motorized items. The ability to maintain equipment pays off even more when you’re ready to trade in, boosting resale values.
4. On-farm grain and silo facilities go a long way: The ability to store harvested grain increases the efficiency and marketing options on your farm. First it eases logistics by allowing you to harvest earlier and faster with less dependency on local grain buyers and dryers and delivery times. Next, the cost of drying your grain is cheaper than what the dryer charges, while an on-farm grain facility can also help with grade premiums and shrinkage. The capital cost of grain bins is a long-term investment that can generate immediate returns, opening many opportunities to sale and market crops. Bins can also be used for livestock feed that can be purchased at a discount and stored for later use.
5. Irrigate, irrigate, irrigate: No one knows better than farmers that water is the key to growing anything. Your ability to create a sustainable source to irrigate crops and water cattle and poultry directly increases profitability. Don’t be afraid to invest in irrigation wells and pivots, surface water irrigation (aquifers, reservoir, ponds, streams, rivers and bayous) and underground piping to move water to different locations.
6. When it comes to land improvements, lean in: Whether you identify benefits to your farm such as fencing, leveled land for more efficient operation or the addition of solar panels, improvements like these go a long way in setting up your farm for success.
Chad Pittillo is Simmons Bank’s lending manager for Pine Bluff, Ark.