French beans

Workers prepare French beans at a pack house in Kirinyaga County on March 6, 2019.

| File | Nation Media Group

ABCs of planning for a farm layout

Last week, we looked at what Farmer Irene was expected to pay to install a drip irrigation system on an acre. This week, she has continued with setting up her farm before she starts the farming process.

One of the things she first considered is the drainage of the farm, and the structures required. This helps in planning the farm layout.

The layout involves marking the extent of the farm showing the various physical features. These include the irrigation system, contours, water supply, paths and stores. It calls for good planning since farming is a business and farmers are expected to operate at optimum to get profit. Therefore, the farm should be designed in a way that increases efficiency of the farm operations.

The farm should have a grading or pack house. This could be a cold room or a simple structure for carrying the post-harvest management practices such as grading and sorting before the products are collected. This is very crucial for French beans production since the produce should immediately be kept in the shade after harvesting to prevent it from losing the moisture content which results in deterioration.

A farm layout is determined by various factors such as the topography of the land (landscape) and the soil type. One should also consider the farming system in place. For instance, if working on a drip irrigation system, consider the water flow, which is determined by the source of water.

Two blocks

Farmer Irene has, therefore, divided her farm into two blocks, an acre each, which are further divided into four blocks each. She plans to install drip lines on the entire farm but she has started with one acre.

On one side of the farm, she will set up farm structures such as stores, office, washing area, and the packing or the grading house. In case one has farm machinery, they should ensure there is a constructed shade for keeping them.

All farm structures should easily be accessible by ensuring there is adequate space between them.

While making the layout, plan well to ensure there is efficient utilisation of space.

Physical structures can be established on an eighth-of-an-acre, depending on the size of the farm and the enterprises to be carried out on the rest.

Consider the foot and vehicle paths. The distance from one farming block to another should be big enough to ensure machinery can easily move. The path should be approximately three metres wide.

The paths should be at the far end of the drip lines to prevent damage to the irrigation system. The drainage system should be done depending on the topography of the land and the type of soil.

For drainage, use surface ditches or subsurface permeable pipes or both to remove standing or excess water. This prevents soil erosion and leaching of the nutrients on the farm.

The ditches should be dug on the edge of the farm, ensuring that all surface runoff from the nearby farms does not affect farm production. The drainage system must be established during the initial farm setup.

In our next article, we shall look at land preparation.


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