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EQIP Seasonal High Tunnel Initiative

EQIP High Tunnel Initiative in New Mexico

Seasonal High Tunnel System for CropsSeasonal High Tunnel System for Crops







NRCS is currently accepting applications.  The application deadline to be considered for funding in Fiscal Year 2018 is January 18, 2019

High tunnels are enclosed polyethylene, polycarbonate, plastic, or fabric covered structures that are used to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, or cold, to extend the growing season in an environmentally safe manner.   High tunnels are easy to build, maintain, and move; they provide an energy-efficient way to extend the growing season, reduce or avoid use of pesticides and reduce run off and leaching of nitrogen. Unlike greenhouses, they require no energy, relying on natural sunlight to modify the climate inside to create favorable conditions for growing vegetable and other specialty crops.  The NRCS conservation practice for high tunnels is High Tunnel System (325).

The High Tunnel Initiative provides financial assistance for High Tunnel Systems (325) and supporting conservation practices to address natural resource concerns on cropland, such as, degraded pollinator habitat, soil erosion, nutrients in groundwater, pesticides in surface waters, inefficient use of irrigation water and depletion of organic matter.

The High Tunnel Initiative requires that a High Tunnel System (325) be contracted.  Supporting practices can be contracted on the same field as the high tunnel or on adjoining non-cropped land to address resource concerns that have been identified during the planning process. 

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The payment rate for contracted practices is the same as other New Mexico EQIP fund accounts and can be found in the New Mexico Field Office Technical Guide, Section 1, Cost Data, 2016 found here:


Eligible applicants include individuals, legal entities, Indian Tribes, or joint operations engaged in agricultural production. Producers who grow agricultural commodities on eligible land and have natural resource concerns which may be addressed by a seasonal high tunnel may participate in the New Mexico High Tunnel Initiative.  Applicants must all EQIP program requirements. For detailed information, go to: EQIP Eligibility

Eligible lands for the NM High Tunnel Initiative apply only to existing cropland and associated agricultural land.

High Tunnel System (325) Practice Requirements

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The practice is intended to extend the growing season early and late in the growing year.  High tunnels can be used to improve soil health by allowing farmers to increase the diversity of crops that are grown, reduce bare fallow periods and plant cover crops.   High tunnels can reduce energy use and improve air quality by producing locally grown food that reduces the amount of transportation needed to supply fresh produce.  High tunnels can conserve water, allow for better management of nutrients and reduce pesticide use.

For the High Tunnel Initiative the high tunnels must be placed on existing cropland.  There is no minimum acreage or minimum amount of crop production to qualify.  Cropland can be located in urban areas.  The crops grown within the seasonal high tunnel must be planted directly into the soil covered by the seasonal high tunnel. The use of pots, growing racks or hydroponics is not permitted.

The High tunnel must be a pre-fabricated kit and constructed in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations. The frame for the seasonal high tunnel must be constructed of metal, wood, or durable plastic and be at least 6 feet high at the center. The plastic structure cover at a minimum will be a material of a significant thickness to withstand the temperature change for the period required and shall have a 4-year-minimum lifespan. For polyethylene covers, use a minimum 6-mil greenhouse grade, UV-resistant material.  The structure cover can be periodically removed to control temperature and the high tunnel can be moved as long as it remains in the contracted field for the lifespan of the practice.  The life span of the High Tunnel System (325) is 5 years.

These and other requirements are described in the High Tunnel System (325) Practice Standard (PDF; 61 KB).

In addition to meeting the practice requirements for the High Tunnel System, contract participants must comply with all other contract requirements: Contract Participant Responsibilities

How to Apply

To apply, please contact the local NRCS office that provides service to the geographic area where the property is located. The local office can assist with completing the necessary application forms and will provide technical assistance in developing a conservation plan.

Ranking Criteria

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The local Field Office collects information about the applicants’ agricultural operations through maps, on-site visits, and personal communications and works with the applicant to develop an EQIP Conservation Plan.  The information collected is used to answer the ranking questions developed for the High Tunnel Initiative which results in a numerical score.  Applications are selected according to the ranking score in order from highest to lowest.  The number of applications selected depends on the amounts of funds available for 2016.  Applications that are not funded can be considered in the next funding period.

For More Information


Kristin Graham Chavez
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4404

Kenneth J. Branch
Resource Conservationist for Programs
(505) 761-4454 voice
(855) 538-6003 fax