HIGH TUNNEL PLANNING PROJECT

HT overview
Three-bay high tunnel at the UF Plant Science Research and Education Unit in Citra, FL

PARTNERSHIP TO EXPLORE INTEGRATED SYSTEMS FOR SUSTAINABLE HIGH TUNNEL ORGANIC VEGETABLE PRODUCTION IN THE SOUTHEAST REGION

We completed in-depth interviews with a group of eight organic farmers with extensive experience using high tunnels. Participants identified six related sets of decisions that organic high tunnel users must make and for which there are few, if any, science-based recommendations:

  1. Decisions about the cropping system (crop selection, cover crops, and crop rotations)
  2. Management of the high tunnel environment through ventilation and heating
  3. Soil and nutrient management
  4. Pest and disease management
  5. Economics
  6. Attracting pollinators and beneficial insects

HIGH TUNNEL INTERVIEWS REPORT

We summarized the major needs expressed by the expert panel and sent a questionnaire to the panel members. We asked them to rank the six broad topical areas in terms of importance as an area for research and to identify the three most important crops to include in the research. Respondents clarified two points:

  1. Pollinators and beneficial insects are a subset of the topic pest and disease management.
  2. Economic issues are specific to each key decision that growers make and are a major factor in assessing the biological research.

HIGH TUNNEL FOLLOW UP QUESTIONNAIRE REPORT

We then developed and distributed a questionnaire to all organic vegetable growers using high tunnels in Florida and Georgia. We asked respondents to rank specific research topics on a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 5 (extremely important). The findings will direct our research objectives in future high-tunnel projects focused on improving organic vegetable production and management.

View high-tunnel grower questionnaire report HERE
View 2018 ASHS poster HERE

TEAM MEMBERS

Xin Zhao (PI) – UF
Jeff K. Brecht – UF
Nicholas S. Dufault – UF
Mickie Swisher – UF
Jesusa C. Legaspi – USDA-ARS
Zhifeng Gao – UF
Blake R. Thaxton – UF
Alex Bolques – FAMU
Robert L. Meagher, Jr. – USDA-ARS
Suzanne O’Connell – UGA
Marty Mesh – Florida Organic Growers
Alice Rolls – Georgia Organics