Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops
According to NRCS practice standards a seasonal high tunnel is a structure, at least six feet in height, which modifies the climate inside to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetables and other specialty crops. Made of ribs of plastic or metal pipes covered with a layer of plastic sheeting, high tunnels are easy to build, maintain, and move.
High tunnels, also know as hoop houses, increase the availability of locally grown produce and other specialty crops. High tunnels are seasonal polyethylene covered structures, and are used to cover crops, extending the growing season in an environmentally-safe manner. High tunnels can help producers extend their growing seasons by providing protection for early or late season production and also expand the availability of healthy, locally-grown crops, benefiting both producers and consumers.
As part of the “Know Your Farmer; Know Your Food” initiative, Pennsylvania is one of 40 states participating in a three-year pilot project that will evaluate if high tunnels are effective in reducing pesticide use, keeping vital nutrients in the soil, extending the growing season, increasing yields, and providing other benefits to growers.
To receive assistance for high tunnels, applicants must be agricultural producers, producing at least $1,000 of agricultural product within the last year, and use commercially manufactured high tunnel kits. Producers can install heating, ventilation, or electrical systems at their own expense.
NRCS can provide financial assistance to fund up to 1/20 of an acre or 2,178 square feet of high tunnel per farm where there is a documented resource concern. Funds are also available for supporting practices associated with the use of high tunnels.
Examples of supporting practices include, but are not limited to:
- critical area plantings
- nutrient and pest management
- underground outlets
Financial assistance for the Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops practice is offered through EQIP.
To apply for funding or to get more information about eligibility and other NRCS programs, contact the NRCS office serving your county. Look in the phone book under “U.S. Government, Department of Agriculture,” or access this website: http://offices.usda.gov. You can also get information about NRCS programs online. For more information about USDA's conservation programs, click here or visit the nearest USDA Service Center.
For additional information:
Penn State Center for Plasticulture – High Tunnels