; Production Risk of using High tunnels for Organic Vegetable farming | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Production Risk of using High tunnels for Organic Vegetable farming

Justin Leslie


My poster proposal is based on the production risk of incorporating high tunnels in organic vegetable production. High tunnels have many benefits especially for small scale and specialty crop farmers. Among the benefits there are a few risks to consider. Three risks to consider are return on investment, rapid pest population growth, and increased water management.

Input costs such as labor, maintenance, and material to build the high tunnels substantially impact your return on investment compared to field crops. To offset these costs, there are programs through the NRCS, extension, and other agencies that donate, grant, or loan money to farmers interested in incorporating high tunnel technology into their farming operations.

Due to the controlled environment that tends to be humid during warm seasons, pests and insects can thrive if not managed properly. Scouting for pests regularly, using proactive pest management such as banker plants, and the use of organic pesticides can considerably reduce pest issues.

Proper water management is also very important when using high tunnels. The farmer must react to rapidly changing conditions by learning when to keep the soil dry to reduce root borne diseases. During warm seasons the farmer must also know when to increase irrigation flow to maximize plant growth, reduce cracks, and blossom end rot.

Overall, the reward is greater than the risk once the farmer exceeds the learning curve of implementing a new production process. This style of farming is beneficial for individuals that focus on quality and quantity while using less land.