The Benefits of High Tunnel Growing

The Benefits of High Tunnel Growing

11th Jun 2024

A high tunnel can provide numerous benefits for your growing operations, whether you are a backyard vegetable grower, a homesteader or a market gardener providing crops for your community. For small growers, a high tunnel greenhouse can be the key to profitability by guaranteeing a more consistent harvest season after season.

Whether you are looking for a reliable food source for your family or hoping to make some extra money with better crop yields, a high tunnel can help you reach your goals. And with funding opportunities for high tunnels available through the NRCS , it does not have to be expensive or complicated to get started.

Here are some of the key benefits of high tunnels to consider if you are thinking about getting started with high tunnel greenhouse growing:

Extend your growing season

By protecting your crops from the harshest weather conditions in the early and late seasons, high tunnels extend the growing season significantly. High tunnel growers can plant earlier in the spring, harvest later into the fall, and even grow through the winter. An extended growing season produces higher yields and a more diverse crop by enabling you to grow plants that do not typically thrive in your climate. This is one of the most known benefits of high tunnel greenhouses, but its impact cannot be overstated.

Plant and harvest on a more predictable schedule

With open air farming, your planting schedule is at the mercy of the weather. A high tunnel allows you to plant crops on a more predictable schedule rather than waiting for Mother Nature to decide when your season begins. In a tunnel, you can hydrate the ground or dry it out as needed, warm the ground for tomatoes, or blanket it to keep it cool for greens.

In turn, this enables you to be more predictable when it comes time to harvest. If you are growing for a CSA, delivering to restaurants or trying to plan out your family’s food supply, this reliability is essential.

Larger and better-quality harvests

Most crops have better yields when grown in a high tunnel. This means you can earn a better cost per square foot for your investment and quickly grow your profits, if you are bringing your crops to market.

High tunnels also produce a higher percentage of top-grade produce, since there is less variability with environmental conditions. By protecting your crops against unpredictable weather, high tunnels are a proven way to improve crop production and increase your yields of marketable produce.

More efficient and effective management

Crop management is more efficient in a high tunnel. Irrigating, fertilizing, trellising, raising beds and weed control all become quicker and easier. High tunnels can also provide better protection from pests and pollen drift, reducing the amount of time and energy spent on pest control.

High tunnels also offer easier temperature and humidity management. It may require additional equipment , but high tunnels enable many options that give you greater control over the growing environment, such as roll-up sides, fans and shutters, or a digitalized environmental control system.

Low cost and NRCS funding opportunities

A high tunnel can be relatively low cost, quickly providing a strong return on investment. A structure like Rimol’s Bobcat greenhouse can expand your growing potential at a startup cost that is reasonable for even a backyard grower.

Additionally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) operates programs that provide financial assistance to agricultural producers. EQIP is one such program that allocates funding for high tunnels – meaning your start-up costs to begin high tunnel growing could be zero! NRCS is size neutral , so farmers of any size, including subsistence and backyard producers, are welcome to apply for funding opportunities.

If you are pursuing funding through the NRCS, Rimol can help you through the process . All of our high tunnel structures are NRCS-approved, and our team has extensive knowledge and experience in working with the NRCS.

Non-crop benefits and uses

High tunnels also offer many benefits for the management and profitability of your farm that go beyond growing. Tunnels can help you manage farm labor better, enabling workers to move inside the tunnel when it is rainy or windy and work in the fields in milder weather. During the off-season when in fallow or cover crops, a tunnel can also double as a place to work on farm equipment out of the weather.

Finally, a high tunnel can also be used in alternative ways to make more money for your small growing operation. Host events or workshops during the off season, or turn it into a meditative space with some plants and a nook for reflection. There are many different uses for tunnels that go beyond just growing.

If you would like to discuss a customized solution for your farm, business or homestead, Rimol Greenhouse Systems will serve as your trusted partner. We will design a high tunnel with your needs in mind, ensuring that you get the most value from your investment. Contact us today!