[Market-farming] Hi Tunnel innovations

Shoemaker, William H wshoemak at illinois.edu
Mon Jan 18 08:21:27 EST 2016


Thought I'd share this to stimulate the list a bit. Seems like its been pretty dormant this winter.

I first learned about tunnels for growing crops about 20 years ago, through the academic community I was part of, especially New Hampshire. I built my first one in 1998 and it changed my perspective on market farming enormously. Since then, tunnels have become well-established on market farms all over the world. I suspect almost all subscribers to this list who actually run or work on a market farm have at least one tunnel for growing crops. One of the great things that seemed to happen after growers began to use them was innovation. Growers had great ideas for how to adjust management of tunnels, or even make changes to the tunnel itself to better position themselves for success in the market. Keeping in mind that everyone has a unique market, I'm curious if anyone would like to share an innovation they adopted, or created, that gave them an advantage in their market.

While I'm not growing commercially, yet, I expect to. I'm selling my house and will look for a property where we can set ourselves up for sustainable living and a market farming operation. I'll be 64 in a few months but I'm in very good physical condition and will be looking to benefit from the work involved. However, at least one of my sons wants to be involved as well, so I'll be able to pace myself. But I want to be able to have product in the marketplace 12 months/year. I think that will have a great benefit to the business. So I intend to use row covers inside the tunnels to keep the crops thriving during the colder times of the year. I really like the design John Berbaum at Michigan State was advocating a few years ago, where he had the cover suspended above the crops and drawn from one side of the tunnel across a pipe framework that held it up. He could use twine to pull the whole piece of row cover uniformly across the crop, or back into the side. This reduced effort and time to use the cover, and improved the crop at the same time.

That's my contribution. Anyone have other ideas that improved their tunnel operation?

Bill

William H. Shoemaker

Retired fruit and vegetable horticulturist

University of Illinois

wshoemak at illinois.edu<mailto:wshoemak at illinois.edu>
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