What are high tunnels?
High tunnels are unheated greenhouses that can help commercial farmers extend their growing season so that they can improve the profitability and productivity of their farms.
High tunnels are also an integral part of local food production systems in many parts of the United States. They aid fruit and vegetable crop production by extending the cropping season, providing protection from the elements (wind, storms, heat, etc.), and result in a more-stable production system that poses less risk of crop failure (hightunnels.org).
For more information about high tunnel construction, use, and Jacobsen lab research at UK, please watch these videos or continue reading.
Where is the UK High Tunnel Research Facility located?
The UK High Tunnel Research Facility is located on the University of Kentucky Horticulture Research Farm in southern Lexington, Kentucky off of Man O' War Boulevard.
What are the types high tunnels and things you should consider when constructing one?
High tunnels offer growers an innovative way reduce risks, increase yields, and protection from extreme weather conditions in Kentucky. However, high tunnels are no "silver" bullet solution and require significant financial investment, can be labor intensive to manage, and may be damaged or destroyed by extreme weather such as high winds, heavy snow, or hail (hightunnels.org). This is why it is imperative to choose a high tunnel kit that best fits your production needs while still within your budget. The most important step when constructing your tunnel is to read and understand the instructions that come with the kit your are building. All designs implemented at the UK High Tunnel Research Farm are heavily based on manufacturer's instructions. The following are some considerations to make before selecting a high tunnel of your own (information from Dr. Shubin Saha's Presentation, "Structures and Site Selection," from the 2014 KFVGA Conference):
Free standing single tunnel
Gutter connected multiple tunnels
Types of Covering Materials
Rigid or flexible
Variables: cost, durability, longevity, light transmittance, heat retention
Location- Is there an established market for a high tunnel in your area?
Strength and design
Initial investment cost
Maximize light intensity and uniformity
N-S orientation to maximize light uniformity
E-W orientation to maximize total light