Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops
Are Seasonal High Tunnel Systems the same as Greenhouses?
No. Both seasonal high tunnel systems and greenhouses can depend on plastic covering and often heaters to raise temperatures within the structure. However, plants in greenhouses usually grow in containers. Plants in seasonal high tunnels grow directly in the soil. Unlike greenhouses, seasonal high tunnel systems are seasonal and are considered temporary structures. Greenhouses often have concrete floors and glass windows but seasonal high tunnels should not.
How can the EQIP help me install a Seasonal High Tunnel System?
Persons interested in participating in the USDA NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) should contact their local NRCS office. Individuals will be asked to submit an application and to show proof of ownership (deed) or control (lease lasting throughout the contract period) of the land on which the system will be installed. To meet land eligibility requirements applicants must have land currently in cultivation or presently capable of being planted to a crop (i.e. land in a fallow condition) on which they wish to place their seasonal high tunnel system.
Once individual and land eligibility are determined to meet the program requirements, the EQIP application will be logged into the NRCS system. Individuals will meet with NRCS personnel to evaluate their specific conservation needs and to determine what practices they would like to install on their land. Applications will then be finalized and submitted for ranking and funding consideration. Individuals will be contacted concerning the status of their application. Applications selected for funding will proceed into the contracting phase. Program contracts will be developed that outline practices to be installed, payment rates, time frame schedule for installation and operation and maintenance requirements. EQIP payments cannot be received for practices installed prior to contract approval or for existing conservation practices.
How are crops grown in the Seasonal High Tunnel System?
Crops can be grown by either using conventional tillage in the natural soil profile or by installing permanent raised beds under the tunnel. Seasonal high tunnel systems installed under EQIP are not designed for crops grown on tables/benches or in portable pots.
Are row covers and/or low tunnels considered a Seasonal High Tunnel System eligible for EQIP?
No. In order to qualify as a seasonal high tunnel system under EQIP the tunnel system must be 6 feet in height; therefore, row covers and/or low tunnels do not qualify under EQIP.
Can I build my own Seasonal High Tunnel System under the EQIP?
No. NRCS standards currently allow only for the installation of pre-fabricated, seasonal high tunnel system kits. Participants cannot make their own kit, such as bending pipes purchased from a hardware store.
What size Seasonal High Tunnel Systems are available?
Systems are available as "kits" in all sizes and dimensions. Under EQIP regulations, starting in 2014, NRCS does not have size limitations for high tunnels.
What factors should I consider when deciding where to place my Seasonal High Tunnel System?
Seasonal high tunnel systems should be placed perpendicular to prevailing winds to insure proper ventilation and if possible, with the long axis oriented in an east-west direction to give maximum exposure to the sun. Systems should be located in areas that are not prone to shade. An ideal location would be level, protected from the wind, and south facing. Look for sites with topography allowing adequate drainage of roof runoff away from structure. Many kits can be modified for installation on areas with a one to two percent grade along one axis (generally the length side)
Alaska NRCS Offices