Impacts from Three Years of an Integrated High Tunnel Project in Mississippi

Thursday, July 25, 2013: 12:45 PM
Desert Salon 13-14 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
William B. Evans , Truck Crops Branch, Mississippi State University, Crystal Springs, MS
Guihong Bi , Mississippi State University, Crystal Springs, MS
Mengmeng Gu , Texas AgriLife Center, College Station, TX
Vasile Cerven , Truck Crops Branch, Mississippi State University, Crystal Springs, MS
High tunnels are unheated structures for growing high value crops over an extended season. Over the past few years, researchers at Mississippi State University (MSU) have studied several aspects of high tunnel production. Our program started out with a grant to investigate using secondary covers in tunnels for production of warm season crops over the winter.  The research portion of this study included three replicate tunnels at two university locations, plus training tunnels at two grower sites.  A critical aspect of this research was strict adherence to the temperature control protocol for venting the tunnels and using the secondary covers.  The main research finding was that we could significantly improve crop survival and overall performance with secondary covers in our climate.  We also learned that proper management of the openings of the tunnels could reduce but not eliminate high wind damage to these temporary structures. The project was successful in terms of its extension and teaching outcomes and impacts.  It resulted in thousands of contacts, more than a dozen field days, several individual tours. The state of Mississippi now has more than 200 high tunnels at least in part due to this project, and several enduring partnerships between MSU scientists and those in surrounding states were forged out of this project.  The project PI has appeared on national television, and the team has partnered in the creation of several web outreach sites and publications, and made over twenty scientific presentations to five different scientific societies.
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