High tunnels are unheated polyethylene-covered structures that protect crops grown directly in the soil, allowing earlier planting and extending the spring and fall growing season. Reported benefits include keeping pest, disease, and weed pressures to a minimum and offering producers the potential to expand into new markets.
In 2008 the SWROC constructed a high tunnel and began a research and outreach program. Soil fertility and plant nutrient studies are important because high tunnels have relatively high production rates. In the organic system used by the SWROC's vegetable production research, synthetic fertilizer cannot be used.
As public demand for locally and organically grown food increases, future plans include building two more high tunnels to replicate experimental research, continued focus on fertility, and determining best practices for managing high tunnels in Southwestern Minnesota.
View the SWROC's report High Tunnel 2009: First Year of Organic Vegetable Production (.pdf)
Food Safety and Nutrition: Microbial Safety