Agricultural structures and mechanization

Last updated on January 8, 2021

Regardless of the type of operation, all farms and ranches will have an array of structures for specified purposes and will rely on equipment to maximize economic potential.

Farm structures are designated as principal buildings or accessory buildings. Principal structures are essential to create environments that protect animals and crops from the elements and to maximize productivity. Most accessory buildings are typically used for storage or equipment working areas.

Mechanization covers a wide variety of equipment from labour-saving tractors to sophisticated electronic sensors and robotics.

Farm mechanization

Agricultural mechanization was one of the key societal factors responsible for the development of urbanization and industrial economies.

Agricultural structures

The importance of farmstead planning cannot be overemphasized when considering new building projects or substantial renovations. The integration of agricultural structures on a farm site is a critical design component of an operation that is to be run efficiently. Incorporating features and practices that contribute to economic viability, environmental sustainability and social license should be the goal of every agricultural enterprise. The involvement of experienced engineers, equipment suppliers, contractors and other specialists will help in laying out plans that allow for future expansion and will result in good management practices. In addition, attention to detail at the planning stages of any project contributes to the protection of soil, water and air quality.

Agricultural structures include, but are not limited to, produce storage and packing facilities, livestock and poultry housing, milking centres, manure storage facilities, grain bins, silos, feed preparation centres, farm workshops, greenhouses, farm retail centres, and horse riding, exercise and training facilities.

Agricultural structures, more commonly referred to as farm buildings, are defined in the National Farm Building Code of Canada as structures that do not contain a residential occupancy and that are subject to the following qualifications:

  • They must be associated with and located on land devoted to the practice of farming
  • They must be used essentially for the housing of equipment or livestock, or the production, storage or processing of agricultural and horticultural produce or feeds
  • They are typically considered to be low human occupancy buildings, meaning that the occupant load is not more than one person per 40 square metres of floor area during normal use

Siting and management of agricultural structures

Proper siting and management of farm buildings and operations play a crucial role in ensuring good relations with neighbours within rural areas and along urban-agricultural boundaries.

Farm building engineering

Good building practices includes proper design and engineering, selection of the correct materials and good construction practices. Are your agricultural buildings structurally sound?

B.C. Agricultural Fencing Handbook

Fences are structures for the purpose of livestock control. Examples of applications include movement of animals outdoors or within barns to desired locations, containment on designated properties, and management of fields through grazing rotation. Fences also provide a critical role in protecting crops and farm animals from wildlife. A series of fencing factsheets is available to provide the agricultural producer with information on fence planning, fence materials, braces, gates, and special fence designs.

Feed storage

A variety of considerations need to be examined in planning and constructing feed storage facilities, including the type of storage, location and site preparation, sizing, and structural requirements. Because some feed storages can be subjected to high structural loads, it is important to engage with designers and equipment suppliers who are familiar with such structures.

Ventilation of agricultural structures

Good ventilation is an extremely important component of any agricultural structure housing livestock and poultry.

Modern B.C. dairy

Modern B.C. Dairy

Farm practices

Read the Farm Practice factsheets related to agricultural structures and mechanization in B.C.

Manure management

Farms and ranches of all types and sizes often have structures for the storage and handling of manure.  Read more:

Contact information

AgriService BC

Have a question?  Call or email and a staff person will assist you.

Telephone: 1 888 221-7141