Soil and Crop Quality Under High Tunnel

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2005: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Edward Carey
Kansas State University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil analysis, soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Soil and Crop Quality Under High Tunnels There is growing interest among vegetable growers in Kansas, the Midwest and the central Great Plains concerning the use of plastic covered houses as a means to either prolong the growing season or shelter more delicate crops. There is currently a limited base of knowledge about the effect plastic cover will have on soil over a number of seasons. There is concern about declining tilth and possible soil salination among growers who have used plastic structures for intense production over several seasons. The focus of this phase of the research is to determine and quantify differences between the field and high tunnels in organically and conventionally managed systems. This research will measure some of the environmental factors possibly influencing the soil and some field indicators of soil and crop quality comparing open field and high tunnel production. It may be that to maintain good soil tilth management adjustments should be made to intensive production in covered soil conditions compared to open field. Findings from the study will allow the development of recommendations for sustainable management of soils in high tunnels. The goal of growers and researches is to increase the profitability of growing healthy vegetables while sustaining soil quality.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Soil and Crop Quality Under High Tunnels

    The immediate goal of this project is to quantify some soil and crop quality factors influenced during vegetable production in soil under high tunnels. This will expand the information base available to farmers making decisions about the management of high tunnels. An intermediate goal is to help determine if management practices should be altered to improve soil quality in high tunnels compared to open field. Besides comparison of vegetable production in and out of high tunnels, comparisons will also be drawn between organic and conventional management. Findings and recommendations of the project will then be applicable to organic and conventional growers. We anticipate that findings of this study will guide efforts to ameliorate problem soil conditions in high tunnels, and will lead to recommendations for sustainable soil management practices in high tunnels. It is hoped that the assessment of soil quality presented at the end of this project will aid farmers making management decisions in light of the long term sustainability of their farms. Production in high tunnels is of advantage to local communities as these structures extend the season for locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. If well managed, production in high tunnels will increase the profitability of vegetable production while sustaining soil quality.

    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.