For decades fabric structures in agriculture have become increasingly popular alternatives for a variety of reasons. When stacked up against more conventional housing units, they have been proven to be ideal for a multitude of usages like machinery and hay storage, livestock housing and on-site work like repairs and maintenance.
Agriculture is a fast-paced, multi-faceted, ever-changing industry – one that continuously places numerous daily demands on producers. At Calhoun Super Structure since 1992 we have been researching all facets of the fabric structure phenomenon.
So let’s start by looking at some of the major advantages of choosing this versatile structural option.
Most likely the cost factor is right at the top of the priority list when producers consider fabric-covered buildings as an alternative to the conventional post frame structures. Budgets can vary for those operating small, middle-size and even larger enterprises. So getting one’s money worth for such a substantial initial expense is vitally important.
When looking at fabric structures as opposed to more traditional post frame or stud frame buildings, a detailed comparison is essential. An accurate and thorough cost calculation must take into account all facets of the entire package like end-walls, doorways, ventilation choices, site preparation in terms of labour, time and how money is being spent on assembly.
What we’re finding is that cost-conscious producers are pleasantly surprised at the affordability of the fabric structure alternative. Doing their homework properly can mean real, tangible and immediate savings where the pocket-book is concerned – a must for any successful agricultural operation.
Appearance does count
Aesthetics may not be the primary motivating factor when looking for a farm structure but surprisingly it does count. In fact many producers who decide a real change is in order find their new fabric buildings – most of them with a clear, white fabric – to be both bright and airy. When one works in the great outdoors, that kind of lightness and openness makes perfect sense.
More air and light
An appealing appearance aside, there is of course the purely practical side. Clear fabric lets in more light, which is beneficial to farmers and, where applicable, their livestock. Adequate light is allowed in both winter and summer without the structure overheating during the hot seasons.
Some of the more conventional buildings which are open do not less necessarily mean they are well-ventilated. However, that is not the case with fabric structures which, because of their shape, have greater air volume which means more fresh air.
If livestock is housed in a fabric-covered structure, adjustable openings on both sides such as curtain such as curtain walls and exhaust walls like chimneys or open ridges are vital. According to information from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), the only exception would be a smaller unit less than 100 feet long.
A shorter structure can be ventilated successfully end-to-end using end opening doors for hot weather. In the colder months shade cloth in the gable ends breaks the force of the wind, allowing air to filter through. It can be covered with an adjustable curtain to control the amount of opening.
Fabric immune to corrosion
Steel-structured farm buildings exposed to the intensity and aggressiveness of the climate are susceptible to moisture damage. Rust and ultimately corrosion can be very costly to repair and in some cases, if not fixed properly, can also become a safety hazard to both producers and their livestock.
In many cases a sophisticated treatment is needed to ensure the longevity of these structures. However, such is not the case with fabric scrim and its protective layers, which is not affected by corrosion or rust. All steel, structurally weakened by exposure to pollutants, moistures and various natural and/or man-made elements, will corrode.
Greater energy efficiency
Fabric is airtight so that means a much better building envelope – the physical separator between the interior and exterior of the building. Studies show that fabric buildings are at least 20 per cent more efficient than their insulated metal counterparts in terms of heating and cooling properties.
The reason is simple– the non-conductive and airtight properties of fabric. In the end no corrosion means the end of leaks or drafts from rust holes.
The bottom line is that reduced expenses mean less money spent on heating, cooling and lighting. In addition some levels of government offer tax incentives or rebates to enterprising farmers who opt for energy efficient structures.
Time and money go in hand-in-hand with any successful agricultural operation. With many steel structures, proper installation of countless fasteners, bolts and screws can take hours to complete. That’s not the case with the easier, more efficient and expedited construction of fabric units.The job is completed with the building ready for full usage often many weeks ahead. Meanwhile, time-conscious producers don’t have to continually dip into their pocket-books to cover those extra labour costs or lose precious hours or even days due to unwanted downtime.
Improved structural engineering
Over the years architects have made impressive technological breakthroughs in structural engineering. By the 1990s structural design techniques were consolidated with more reliable fabrics developed. Today’s structures are far more versatile than the average hoop barn, manufactured to withstand strong winds, heavy rains and massive snow loads. Showcasing great flexibility and built with an open floor plan, fabric structures offer maximum space with no obstructions.
There are many other benefits and advantages to fabric structures so if you have more questions we’re here ready to answer any and all your inquiries. For further information contact us today.
To learn more, read Cost-Effective and Durable: Upgrading Your Farm With a Fabric Building.