The benefits of good farm infrastructure are numerous. Labour efficiency is possibly the greatest benefit, with good handling facilities and well-designed animal accommodation having the ability to significantly reduce labour input.
There is also a strong correlation with optimum animal performance, with animals that are exposed to lower stress levels capable of recording higher performance and less prone to health issues.
It is also likely that health issues are kept in line by the fact that good handling facilities encourage strategic health treatments or vaccination programmes to be administered in a prompt manner.
While decisions regarding introducing improved farm infrastructure are generally voluntary, the implementation of many elements are governed by policy or best practice guidelines.
This is now true of farm roadways, with new rules introduced in January 2021 pertaining to the prevention of soiled water runoff gaining access to water bodies.
These rules are detailed here. There have been calls by some farmers to include farm infrastructure elements, such as the installation of new roadways and improved grazing infrastructure, under future grant aid schemes. Another feature that has support for inclusion in future grant schemes is the construction of road underpasses.
As Aidan Brennan reports, road underpasses have become much more common. The key to a successful project is investing time in the planning phase.
This applies to any farm infrastructure project and as outlined here, it has delivered for Roscommon sheep farmer Shane Moore, who has built a sheep shed that doubles up successfully for handling sheep during the summer months.
This investment was significant, but is vital in maintaining a good work-life balance, which is another huge benefit of improving farm infrastructure.