Analysis of Organic Matter and Pipe Depth in a Geothermal Climate Battery High Tunnel

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2022: $14,955.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2023
Grant Recipient: T. L. Fruits and Vegetables LLC
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Tommye Rafes
T. L. Fruits and Vegetables LLC


Not commodity specific


  • Energy: geothermal

    Proposal summary:

    In our previous SARE grant entitled "Low Cost Self-Sustaining Year-Round High Tunnel Temperature Control", we analyzed the viability, components and benefits of a large self sustaining geothermal high tunnel. In performing that grant, our geothermal high tunnel was designed and constructed so that further research into ground organic matter and pipe depth could be performed.  Specifically, 90 pipes were buried in the ground at various depths with 45 of the pipes placed in gravel and 45 pipes in soil.  The design included the ability to identify the depth and organic matter surrounding each individual pipe. This project will determine the extent to which pipe depth and organic matter (soil vs gravel) can effect temperature outcomes during winter and summer months.  The research will help inform farmers wishing to invest in a geothermal climate battery high tunnel system as to the preferred organic matter and pipe depth to install in their high tunnels.  In most cases, a farmer will want to utilize existing soil and install pipes closest to the ground to minimize construction costs. However, farmers may wish to dig deeper or utilize in gravel instead of soil if those variations will significantly improve the heating and cooling within the high tunnel.   

    Project objectives from proposal:

    There are four principal objectives of this project. This project seeks to:

    1. Determine which organic matter (gravel vs soil) better absorbs and releases energy to heat and cool a high tunnel
    2. Determine whether installing piping deeper in the ground increases the air temperatures released from the pipes during the winter and provides cooler air temperatures during the summer.
    3. Enhance knowledge of optimum geothermal climate battery high tunnel design.
    4. Provide an economical and more effective design for geothermal climate battery high tunnel.

    With this information farmers will be able to utilize a more effective and cost efficient geothermal high tunnel design.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.