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High Tunnel System Initiative

High Tunnel Overview

A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  With high tunnel systems, no summer is too short or winter too cold because high tunnels:

  • Extend the growing season
  • Improve plant quality and soil quality
  • Reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation
  • Improve air quality through reduced transportation inputs
  • Reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce

Danny Perich from Full Plate Farm in Washington uses high tunnels.

 


“We have really cold, wet springs with a lot of rain. High tunnels allow people to get into the ground and start producing crops earlier. They can also help people extend the growing season later as we go into the rains in the fall.” 

--Danny Perich, Full Plate Farm, WA


 

High tunnels protect plants from severe weather and allow farmers to extend their growing seasons – growing earlier into the spring, later into the fall, and sometimes, year-round. And because high tunnels prevent direct rainfall from reaching plants, farmers can use precise tools like drip irrigation to efficiently deliver water and nutrients to plants. High tunnels also offer farmers a greater ability to control pests and can even protect plants from pollen and pesticide drift.

A number of soil health practices can be used in high tunnels, including cover crops and crop rotations, which also prevent erosion, suppress weeds, increase soil water content, and break pest cycles.

Perhaps the best thing about high tunnels is that they help farmers provide their communities with healthy local food for much of the year – food that requires less energy and transportation inputs.

Check out the high tunnel topic to learn more. 

High Tunnel Supporting Practices header

 

Supporting practices may be needed to ensure that resource concerns associated with implementing and managing high tunnel systems are addressed. These conservation practices may include:

  • Critical Area Planting
  • Diversion Grassed Waterway
  • Mulching
  • Irrigation System, Micro-irrigation
  • Subsurface Drain
  • Surface Drainage, Field Ditch
  • Underground Outlet

Ready to make a high tunnel system part of your operation?  Check out Apply for EQIP.