Strategizing for the present and the future

As exciting as it may be to jump headfirst into a new construction project on the farm, pausing to plan for the current project and prepare for any future additions can save time and money in the years to come. Construction specialists encourage producers to develop a masterplan for their operation.

Build in Flexibility

Experts recommend producers think ahead to what their ultimate goals are for their operation. Then proceed with projects, keeping in mind what they want to accomplish now and in the future. “Producers should consider, ‘How does this fit in not only my current operation, but have I left the door open for flexibility for future expansion?’” Rodney Jones, Ph.D., Oklahoma State University Agricultural Economics Professor, said. “You always want to build in as much flexibility as possible.” 

Jones recommends producers evaluate a variety of factors that a particular project might impact. For example, looking at how the new construction or future projects will impact traffic flow on the farm. Consider how the construction will affect drainage.

If farmers are building a shed or barn, assess whether it will be big enough in five years. If not, evaluate if there is room for expansion. “That is always true for a grain handling facility as well, build it for what you need now, and then for whatever reason you need more capacity five years from now, you don’t want to have to start over. You want to be able to build on to what you already have,” Jones explained.

Master Planning

A producer’s masterplan should be as detailed as possible. “We always recommend sitting down first and writing out your specifications,” Jim Crawford, University of Missouri Extension Field Specialist in Agricultural Engineering, explained. The written masterplan should include what you are looking for in the project. The size, shape, location, plans for use and electrical needs should all be included in the plan.

If producers are planning for a shed or barn, they may want to incorporate specific items in the plan such as ceiling height, number of doors, type of flooring, potential heat and air-conditioning systems and the building’s proximity to water or electricity. 

The masterplan should also include any ideas for future projects or expansions of current facilities. In addition, the masterplan should contain where the producer would like for the new structure to be constructed on their property. Farmers should look at the layout of their property and contemplate how the new addition will work with current facilities and future additions. Construction specialists recommend completing a masterplan prior to meeting with potential contractors.

Though it may seem like a lot of work to create such a detailed plan, construction experts state it will pay off in the future. “If you just use a little bit of thought and think about it, not only how are you going to use it today but how are you going to use it in five years and 10 years, in a lot of cases you will save yourself aggravation and money,” Crawford said.


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