High tunnels, commonly known as hoophouses, are passive-solar greenhouses that can help growers extend their growing season and improve the profitability of their farm sales through higher quality produce ready for sale before field-grown produce.
The Nebraska Cooperative Development Center, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension collaborated on a webinar and workshops series focused on High Tunnels. These venues provided participants with information on: site and high tunnel selection, construction, soil management, season extension, irrigation, pest management, bed design, cropping systems and marketing. Program funded in part by a Speciality Crop Block Grant administered by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.
The webinars took place online in April and May of 2011 and the workshops occured in Lincoln in June 2011 and North Platte in September 2011.
Information on High Tunnels in Nebraska
Nebraska Fact Sheet: Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops: "A seasonal high tunnel is a polyethylene covered structure with no electrical, ventilation, or heating system, at least 6 feet in height, which modifies the climate to create more favorable growing conditions for vegetable and other speciality crops grown in the natural soil beneath it." -USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Nebraska Fact Sheet: Expanding or Transitioning to Organic Agriculture with EQIP: "According to the USDA Census of Agriculture’s 2008 Organic Production Survey, organic production is poised to grow over the next five years. In 2008, organic farms had $3.16 billion in total sales – $1.94 billion in crop sales and $1.22 billion in sales of livestock, poultry and their products. Organic farms had average annual sales of $217,675, compared to the $134,807 average for U.S. farms overall." -USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
High Tunnel Project Video: UNL Assistant Professor of Practice Stacy Adams and student Elias Bloom talk about the benefits of using high tunnels or cold frames to extend your gardening season.
Introduction to High Tunnels:Nebraska Extension online article by Kristin Pool and Alex Stone of Oregon State University, on the basics of high tunnels, the types of high tunnels, and the advantages & disadvantages of high tunnels.
Season Extension Topic Room by SARE: From low covers to high tunnels, from hoop houses to greenhouses – producers are finding ever more innovative ways to extend the growing season, and their income stream. Topics include: types & construction, variety trials & selection, fertility; pest; and water management, energy, amd marketing & economics.
Rainwater Catchment from a High Tunnel for Irrigation Use: "High tunnels, also referred to as “hoop houses,” are simple, plastic-covered, passive solar-heated structures in which crops are grown in the ground. High tunnels resemble greenhouses, but are less expensive to construct and maintain. Fruit and vegetable growers use them to extend the growing season and intensify production in cold climates." -Iowa State University Extension & Outread
High Tunnel Webinars: Part 1 & 2
High Tunnels & Cold Frames: Tools to Extend the Growing Season
From Wednesday April 20th, 2011. This workshop is part of a Specialty Crop grant the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society received in partnership with the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center. "Increasing the Availability of Nebraska's Specialty Crops through High Tunnels" aims to increase the number of producers in Nebraska using these high tunnel technologies. The objectives of this project are to: Increase awareness about high tunnels and how they can be used to extend specialty crop production in Nebraska. Increase the technical skill level among specialty crop farmers growing or starting to grow crops in high tunnels. The webinar series will kick off with UNL Assistant Professor of Practice Horticulture Greenhouse Production & Management Stacy Adams with an intro to High Tunnels including site selection and types of structures.
To view the webinar click this Link: High Tunnel Webinar Part 1
Choosing the Right High Tunnel: Components and Design
From Wednesday May 18th. 2011. Presented by Stacy Adams, this was the 2nd in the Nebraska High Tunnel Webinar Series brought to you by the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society & UNL Nebraska Cooperative Development Center. This workshop is part of a Specialty Crop grant the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society received in partnership with the Nebraska Cooperative Development Center. “Increasing the Availability of Nebraska’s Specialty Crops through High Tunnels” aims to increase the number of producers in Nebraska using these high tunnel technologies. The objectives of this project are to: Increase awareness about high tunnels and how they can be used to extend specialty crop production in Nebraska. Increase the technical skill level among specialty crop farmers growing or starting to grow crops in high tunnels. The second in the webinar series will be once again with UNL expert Stacy Adams with an in depth look at High Tunnels in Nebraska.
To view the webinar click this Link: High Tunnel Webinar Part 2
High Tunnel Workshops: Increasing the Availability of Nebraska’s Specialty Crops through High Tunnels
The workshops begin with a welcome and introduction from William Powers of NSAS and then continues with a presentation and then a tour of a local, working high tunnel (Lincoln East Campus & a local North Platte producer) with information provided by Stacy Adams and local producers. The workshop finishes with a question and answer session where participants can ask questions of all the available presenters. All participants also recieve a binder with information on:
- Selecting a Growing Stucture Right For You by Stacy Adams & Kim Todd
- High Tunnel Site Selection, Positioning, & Preparation by Stacy Adams, Kim Todd, & Lauri Hodges
- High Tunnel Components & Design by Stacy Adams & Kim Todd
- High Tunnel Construction by Stacy Adams
- Early Season Extension Using Hotcaps by Laurie Hodges
- Good Agricultural Practices for Food Safety of Fresh Produce by Laurie Hodges
- Food Safety for Farmers' Market Vendors by Julie Albrecht
- Weights and Measures Guidelines for Sales at Farmers' Markets by Laurie Hodges
- Direct Marketing Channels by Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska
- Stacy Adams, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture
- Laurie Hodges, UNL Agronomy & Horticulture
- Elaine Cranford, Nebraska Cooperative Development Center-UNL
- William Powers, Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
- Elaine Cranford, Buy Fresh Buy Local Nebraska-UNL
- David Lott, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator
- Dale Lindgren, UNL Extension Horticulture Educator