Site selection is the first step in starting a farm when the crop to be grown has already been decided. It also includes the selection of the right geographial location. This is so with corporate investors and enterprising individuals with sufficient capital. They would have realized that engaging in the commercial production of certain crops is a sound business venture. The farm may be located within the country or region of their residence or elsewhere.
Examples of commonly pre-decided crops prior to site selection are sugarcane, banana, pineapple, rubber and oil palm. These are mostly high-value crops and are widely preferred for commercial planting in plantation scale.
The selection of a suitable farm also follows when an individual decides to go into farming, the purchase of a farm lot being considered as a better alternative of investing hard-earned money rather than depositing it in a bank. Here one of the most important considerations is the value of the property, that is, the selling price is as low as can be reasonably possible. Other factors being considered are water supply and those which make the farm suitable to a wide choice of crops and investment opportunities.
Where the crop to be grown has already been decided, some factors to consider in both location and site selection are the following:
1. Soil and climatic requirements of the crop. Consistent with the rule know your crop first then select the farm, the first part in the planning stage before site selection is to learn everything about the crop to be grown. This involves a thorough identification of the environmental adaptation of the crop, particularly its soil, topographic, and climatic requirements.
With such information, the selection of a suitable location and farm can proceed. Assuming, by way of example, that the crop to be grown is lowland rice, an upland farm will not be suitable. However, it is difficult to find a specific farm that possesses all the requisites of the crop in which case it is necessary to make modifications such as correcting soil pH by liming, applying soil amendments, and providing irrigation water.
The soil requirement of a particular crop includes such specific characteristics as soil type, depth, drainage, texture, organic matter content, pH, and fertility with respect to the macronutrient and micronutrient content of the soil. The topographic requirement of a crop refers to its natural adaptation or tolerance to land features such as elevation, slope, and terrain.
The climatic factors that can influence the growth and yield of crops include temperature, water or rainfall, light (including photoperiod or light duration), relative humidity, and wind. These factors may vary with geographical location and, as to microclimate, from farm to farm. Plants are also distinguished into various classification according to climate adaptation such as temperate, sub-tropical and tropical crops.
2. Frequency of typhoon and other calamities. The frequency of typhoon and the possible occurence of other calamities like flood, drought and volcanic eruption are always considered in both location and site selection because they can cause severe loss in investment or total crop failure. In particular, some crops like banana are prone to injury due to strong winds.
3. Accessibility. A farm that is managed as a business must have access to supplies, equipment, and the market. It must be provided with infrastructures (e.g. roads) and, if the product is intended to be marketed elsewhere, shipping facilities or airports. Moreover, there is a general preference for farms in familiar locations and which are easily accessible to owner-managers.
4. Labor supply and cost. Skilled labor must be available at reasonable cost. Otherwise, laborers from other parts of the country may have to be imported.
5. Security and political stability. The farm should be secure from thieves and astray animals. Otherwise, additional investment may be provided for fencing or security personnel. In addition, farms are preferred in locations where the local and regional populace is compliant to the rule of law and where there is stable existence of peace and order.
6. Bureaucracy and investment benefits. Site selection favors those locations where bureaucratic red tape is minimal so that business permits and other papers if so required can be processed with haste. Likewise, countries and localities which offer incentives, like tax exemption, are preferred.
(Ben G. Bareja. October 2011)
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