Hi Grant, I was just thinking a bit about design approaches and the importance of modularity-- a crucial concept for farm resiliency, as well as quality permaculture design.
First, my take on it-- Modular systems often lead to intuitive stacking of functions and the versatility that allows for low-impact farm management (rotational grazing systems being a prime example). One shortcoming to modular design is the initial high investment cost. For example, using 16' hog panels for a permanent perimeter fence increases the fencing cost by 2-300% that of field fencing. But the advantages far out-weigh the cost in many situations. Panel fencing allows for a fluid relationship to the land, since any panel can become a gate at any time and the fence can be more easily rerouted or removed (e.g., replaced after time by a mature hedgerow fenceline). It also creates a more resilient design, since any damage to one panel (fallen tree, etc) can easily be repaired without damaging the whole fence. Another great example would be the gravity feeding of stacked pond terraces and swales on a hillside for water storage. The initial outlay is far more expensive than a standard drainage ditch, but the benefits are huge.
I am interested in the theme and what other good modular approaches are out there, as well as learning useful strategies for grant proposals that can account for the future ROI of unorthodox management strategies that often have relatively little precedent in my area and that require a larger investment than what the USDA/FSA/NRCS are used to.
We'll start with EQIP as a source of grants to accomplish your goals.
Scenario: 2014 North Carolina, 40 acre farm
Assumption: You qualify as an HU beginning farmer (Historically Underserved - have filed less than 10 years of Schedule F - farm taxes)
Perimeter Fence option 1: Practice 382 Electric exclusion fence. 5,280 lineal feet (one mile) PAYS $1.98/ft ($2.33 if mountain site) total grant funds: $10,454 ($12,302 if mountainous)
option 2: Practice 382 Confinement fence (panelized or taller for deer). 5,280 lineal feet (one mile) PAYS $4.75/ft total grant funds: $25,080
I would then use one of several options to plant a multifunctional windbreak/hedgrow/living fence directly inside of your new perimeter fence (also using a grant program). As the fence inevitably decays, your new modular hedge apple/black locust/conifer fence is growing up. You may ley a hedge/pollard for new posts/ or (my pick - lash electric to living trunks). Needless to say, another $5k for planting trees is available for this theoretical site. - I've got to keep up with all the questions though!
It's important to approach NRCS folks with respect and a clear plan for conservation. I'd also encourage hiring a pollinator Conservation Activity Plan