High tunnels for specialty crops: The hope and the hinderance

phys.org | 3/22/2019 | Staff
normanorma (Posted by) Level 4
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A study out of Indiana and Purdue Universities sought to gain a better understanding, from the perspective of farmers, of the challenges and advantageous opportunities associated with using high tunnels for specialty crops in Indiana.

Analena Bruce (Indiana University), Elizabeth Maynard (Purdue University), and James Farmer (Indiana University) researched the application of this season-expanding growing technique in order to provide an in-depth understanding of farm-level challenges associated with high tunnel adoption and usage. Their results are detailed in the article, "Farmers' Perspectives on Challenges and Opportunities Associated with Using High Tunnels for Specialty Crops," published in HortTechnology.

Tunnels - Greenhouses - Farmers - Season - Profitability

High tunnels are essentially unheated greenhouses that can help farmers extend the growing season so that they can improve profitability and productivity of their farms. They provide protection from extreme weather such as high winds, heavy rain, hail, snow and drought.

Unlike greenhouses, high tunnels are simple structures over bare ground and its natural soil. They function without elaborate heating or cooling systems and are generally basic frames set into the ground and covered with one or two layers of greenhouse-grade plastic.

Tunnels - Part - Infrastructure - Farms - Market

High tunnels are an increasingly popular part of the infrastructure among small and diversified farms that market their products directly to consumers. In addition to extending the growing season, research has strongly indicated that high tunnels can increase yield, enhance shelf life, and improve the quality of crops grown.

Initial observations into the use of high tunnels revealed that the additional labor and time requirements of high tunnel production, the increased complexity of transforming farming habits to high tunnel usage, soil fertility and management considerations, disease management, and limited winter markets all comprise the greatest challenges facing farmers adopting this technique.

Ability - Products - Quality - Shelf - Life

The ability to differentiate their products based on higher quality and longer shelf life, the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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