Analysis of the various factors to consider in site selection should be the first step to be undertaken before deciding finally to go into actual farming. This also applies where the crop to be grown has already been decided and what remains is the finding of a suitable land where it is to be grown. 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 to consider are water supply and those which make the farm suitable to a wide choice of crops and investment opportunities. Author provides an update in relation to labor based on lessons earned the hard way.
1. Soil, topographic, 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. Biotic factors and the prevalence of pests and diseases. Site selection may consider the natural population of certain organisms like bees and other pollinators. Where the agriculture venture involves the production of civet coffee or kape alamid, farmlands adjacent to forested areas may be preferred. But places with a long history of the presence of serious pests and diseases may be avoided. Likewise, caution should be exercised in choosing farm sites dominated by weeds which are difficult to eradicate.
3. Cost of acquisition or lease and in preparing the land. Where financial feasibility or affordability is a consideration, the cost of procuring or leasing the farmland is a limiting factor. This may take into consideration also the cost of modifying the physical features of the land such as in flattenning or modifying the landscape if so desired, the removal of barriers like unwanted trees, clumps, stumps and boulders, diversion of floodways, construction of drainage, roads and fire lanes; and in preparing the land for crop growing including the eradication of major weeds and disease-causing organisms, soil amendment, and provision of irrigation water.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
This factor should be a main consideration for those individuals who may entertain the idea of spending hard-earned money to acquire a low-cost but raw farm to be developed, at the least, into a family retreat or a quiet place to entertain friends. A thorough dissect should be undertaken and the analysis ought to start with the community surrounding the prospect farm land from where labor may be hired.
The honesty and dishonesty of the general populace, their lawfulness or lawlessness, their helpfulness or indifference in eliminating thievery, their work ethics, their sincerity to educate the young, their diligence or lack of it in achieving self-sufficiency, their customs and traditions, their attitude towards newcomers and the reach of the law, all of these should be considered. The same ought to apply to the engagement of farm caretakers.
The bottomline is to be able to live in peace and to continue development works without having to worry so much about untrustworthy workers and neighbors.
7. 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.
Conversely, places with history of unrest, interfamily, interclannish and intertribal feud, political turmoil, banditry and lawlessness tend to be avoided in site selection.
8. 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, edited Mar. 2, 2019)