Optimizing Sustainable Integrated Pest Management Practices for High Tunnel Crops and Needs Assessment

Project Overview

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $44,318.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Delaware State University
Region: Northeast
State: Delaware
State Coordinator:
Dr. Rose Ogutu
Delaware State University


  • Fruits: berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, eggplant, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), okra, onions, other, peppers, tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: crop improvement and selection, crop rotation, grafting, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, irrigation, low tunnels, multiple cropping, relay cropping, varieties and cultivars, water management
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, chemical control, competition, cultural control, economic threshold, integrated pest management, mulches - general, prevention, sanitation, soil solarization, trap crops, weather monitoring, weed ecology
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health

    Proposal abstract:

    Despite high tunnels being semi-open structures with pest control benefits, crops are grown for an extended period of time, making them attractive to pests. Great work on sustainable practices has been achieved through research, some of which are beneficial for small farm growers who mostly use high tunnels for production. Packaging these important tips by incorporating the findings and sharing them with an eager populous expanding specialty crop production, is of priority.  More than ever before, there is the realization that local food systems with transparent supply chains that empower communities and boost local food security, are crucial, hence the tendency of small growers to opt for high tunnels as 'protected culture' for season extension.

    A survey carried out among attendees of a virtual program during the 2020 Delaware Ag week indicated that pest management remains one of the biggest concerns in horticultural crops production. Out of the 98 conference attendees, 47 out of 64 were involved in high tunnel production and ranked 'pest problems' as one of the two worst problems they faced in protected environment culture from a list of five problems. This project will begin with a robust needs assessment among Delaware agricultural service providers and farmers to determine the specific educational needs related to high- and low-tunnel production and/or integrated pest management.

    The goal is to enhance sustainability in small farms through delivery of carefully packaged training modules in relation to pest management, as determined by the results of the needs assessment. Through workshops, demonstrations, virtual conferences and print media, Ag service providers and farmer clientele will revamp their knowledge and increase skills in a wide spectrum of proven sustainable practices that lead to prevention and management of pests.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    This project is one year in length and therefore outcomes and a Performance Target are not required. Project Objectives are provided here instead:

    A needs assessment will be completed that identifies the needs of agricultural service providers and their clients as related to integrated pest management, high tunnels, and/or low tunnels. Needs assessment results and data will be used to inform this project’s educational activities and to design the 2023-2025 State Plan for Delaware State University.

    Thirty (30) Ag service providers from the region will participate in at least one of three virtual engagements involving training on recommended IPM practices in High Tunnels.

    Thirty (30) Ag service providers from the region will participate in at least one of three workshops that will be conducted with demonstrations pertaining to recommended crop management activities in high tunnel production.

    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.