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Washington's EQIP High Tunnel Initiative

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High Tunnel System Conservation Practice 325

A High Tunnel System is an enclosed polyethylene, polycarbonate, plastic, or fabric covered structure that is used to cover and protect crops from sun, wind, excessive rainfall, or cold, to extend the growing season in an environmentally safe manner.

The PURPOSE for this Conservation Practice is to improve plant health and vigor.

The high tunnel structure must be planned, designed, and constructed from a manufactured kit in accordance with manufacturers’ recommendations.  The high tunnel frame must be constructed of metal, wood, or durable plastic; and be at least 6 feet in height at the peak of the structure.  If required for enclosure, end wall covering may be greenhouse-grade plastic, polycarbonate, wood, or other.  Use structures with the entry/exit point sized to facilitate movement of equipment and supplies needed for the production of planned crops. Raised beds are a maximum of 12 inches in depth.

Select the high tunnel covering material of a significant thickness to withstand the temperature change for the period required and shall have a 5-year-minimum lifespan.  For polyethylene covers, use a minimum 6-mil greenhouse grade, UV-resistant material.


Technical and Financial Assistance

Through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) High Tunnel System Initiative signup, Agricultural producers may apply for financial assistance and technical expertise to plan and install High Tunnels and other conservation practices that will facilitate in addressing a resource concern. See High Tunnel documents for practice payment and list of approved practices offered for this initiative.


EQIP High Tunnel System Eligible Practice and Payment Lists

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Check the EQIP Overview Page for practice payment schedule information.
 

Eligibility

For more detailed information, go to the EQIP Application Process FAQ. Eligible lands for the High Tunnel System Initiative apply only to exiting managed cropland.


Practice Requirements

  • The practice is intended to extend the growing season early and late in the growing year and be removed at the end of the growing season.
  • The practice must be sited on existing cropland that has a crop production history.
  • The crops grown within the high tunnel must be planted directly into the soil covered by the high tunnel system. The use of pots, growing racks or hydroponics is not eligible.
  • The high tunnel must be constructed in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations (including modifications). The frame for the high tunnel must be constructed of metal and be at least 6 feet high at the center, structure cover at a minimum will be made of 6-mil greenhouse-grade, UV resistant polyethylene and may include electrical, heating or ventilation system (provided by landowner). Expected life span of the seasonal high tunnel is a minimum of 4 years.
  • The high tunnel system has a payment hold down of $15,000 per high tunnel.

Landowners or operators responsible for the practice will follow the operation and maintenance plan for four years to maintain the effectiveness and useful life of the practice. The high tunnel system job sheet can be found in section IV, in the Washington Conservation Practices folder in the WA eFOTG.


How to Apply

Application for the High Tunnel System Initiative can be obtained at your local NRCS office. NRCS can also assist the applicant by developing a conservation plan that includes conservation activities and practices that address resource problems while improving farming operation on their land.


Funding Selection and Priorities

The High Tunnel System Initiative is a national initiative. However, funding and selection of applications will be determined at the NRCS state level.


Ranking Criteria

Check the EQIP Overview Page for ranking and screening tools.

 

For More Information

National NRCS High-Tunnel System web page


Contact

For additional information, contact your local NRCS Field Office for assistance or;

Bonda Habets
NRCS State Resource Conservationist

316 W. Boone Ave, Ste. 450
Spokane, Wa 99201
Phone: (509) 323-2961
Email: bonda.habets@wa.usda.gov