Extension and research specialists from North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University will collaborate to train Northern Great Plains stakeholders in current high tunnel construction and management techniques that address the unique climate challenges and market opportunities within the Dakotas.
Government technical service providers, local foods-focused non-profits, tribal entities engaged in specialty crop production, educators overseeing farm to school activities, county and regional extension staff, and the next generation of specialty crop producers will engage in high tunnel education through local on-farm field days and research and farm experience intensive short courses. The project team will develop a Northern Great Plains High Tunnel Production Manual and regionally-specific high tunnel videos to create lasting educational resources for use beyond the life of the proposed project.
Project participants will increase knowledge and confidence in high tunnel management and be empowered to provide greater high tunnel production support and education within local communities to improve economic outcomes for growers and rural communities through increased farm sales, new market channels such as food hubs, and increased farm to school purchases within each state.
Project objectives from proposal:
Outputs of this project will include participation in educational activities, creation of educational presentations, print, and digital resources related to high tunnel production, and publication of needs assessment results and grant activity evaluations and reports.
One high tunnel training and research needs assessment distributed by NDSU will reach over 500 unique individuals across South Dakota and North Dakota with a response rate of at least 30%. Responses will inform project educational activities, and will result in 1 IRB-approved, published open-access peer-reviewed research article to inform future research and education within the Midwest. Educational activity evaluations collected in both states will be entered, analyzed, and reported out by SDSU resulting in 2 project progress reports and 1 final report. As assistants for these activities, 2 undergraduate students will be trained in collecting and analyzing survey and evaluation data.
The North and South Dakota High Tunnel Short Courses will provide in-depth research and farmer experience education to at least 100 technical service providers, non-profit and tribal staff, public school educators, extension personnel, and specialty crop producers. These events will result in the creation of 8 new high tunnel training modules (4 research and 4 farm experience-based) that can be amended and presented to future audiences in each state and at regional events beyond the life of the grant.
A total of 10 regional on-farm and campus field days across North and South Dakota will provide hands-on high tunnel training, research-based best practices and networking opportunities to 30 stakeholders representing 6 or more unique organizations per event. This will result in creation of 2 state-specific high tunnel field training curricula, empowerment of 5 farmer-presenters, high tunnel training for 300 professionals to share with their respective stakeholders, and the formation of at least 10 new partnerships.
Team members will synthesize recent Midwest high tunnel research, including research findings from NDSU and SDSU, and on-farm experiences to create one Northern Great Plains High Tunnel Manual containing detailed chapters on topics including: site consideration and construction; soil, fertility, and irrigation management; pest and disease management; crop rotations and management; food safety from field to consumer; and marketing and economic considerations. This manual will be published on the SDSU Extension website and cross-linked with NDSU Extension. 500 print copies will be distributed through events in North and South Dakota beyond the life of the grant.
NDSU and SDSU will work with their respective university technology teams to plan, film, and produce an on-farm video that details specific Northern Great Plains high tunnel production challenges, opportunities, and solutions. This will result in 2 unique, high-quality 20-minute videos to be published on each university’s respective Extension YouTube page and shared on relevant social media pages with an anticipated 500 views per video one year after the conclusion of the grant.