SC State 1890 Receives $ 450,000 for Construction of High Tunnel Management System for Small Farmers | Agriculture

Special to T&D

South Carolina State University 1890 Research & Extension received a $ 450,000 grant from the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to increase farm viability and extend the growing season of locally grown fresh crops through the construction of high tunnel systems (hoop house).

In collaboration with the NRCS, the SC State 1890 Extension Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources Program will work to establish a high tunnel demonstration site at the SC State 1890 Research and Demonstration Farm in Olar, SC The research and training provided through the grant will bring economic and environmental benefits to farmers seeking to improve soil quality, reduce disease and meet the state’s demand for cooler local crops.

“The Hoop Houses will strengthen the capacities of smallholder farmers by extending the growing season of scarce produce during seasons when opportunities are often limited,” said Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director of 1890 programs. grown locally are not only perceived by many to be fresher and taste better, but their sales also have indirect environmental benefits by reducing fuel consumption, pollution and transportation costs, which is why our farmers must have resources like a hoop house. at their disposal.”

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Researchers will work with sustainable agriculture and extension workers to raise and transplant leafy vegetables, such as green vegetables (turnip and mustard), specialty crops, selected fruits and other crops, including okra, beans, broccoli, onions, peppers, squash, spinach, tomatoes and eggplant. The results of the studies will help identify efficient crop selections, planting arrangements and spacing to maximize crop production in high tunnel systems.

In addition to the planned research and construction of high tunnels, SC State 1890 and NRCS will coordinate and promote various statewide outreach programs and activities for smallholder farmers and will also work with county officials to develop a technical manual of the high tunnel system in South Carolina. Simplified for all ages, the manual will provide a wealth of knowledge on best practices for operating and managing a high tunnel.

“A common problem among the state’s smallholder farmers is the lack of knowledge, which can often be intimidating when trying to understand the agricultural sector,” said Dr Joshua Idassi, state program manager for the sustainable agriculture and natural resources. “We believe that by providing a manual and implementing hands-on training, farmers will receive a basic understanding of the effective management of their high tunnel systems and will also become aware of best management practices to maximize the productivity of their plant. their crops, throughout the year. “

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The three-year grant will cover expenses for an agronomist and student assistant to monitor crops and perform data collection, as well as finance supplies and equipment needed to build and operate the plant. three elevated tunnel systems on the farm.

High tunnels protect plants from inclement weather such as high winds, heavy rains, hail and drought, allowing farmers to extend their growing seasons all year round. High tunnels are also considered more affordable than greenhouses. On September 23, SC State 1890 Extension Upstate Region hosted a tunnel production management workshop for farmers. To see the recap of the event, visit 1890.info/3Gl35U4 or visit youtube.com/scstate1890.

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For more information on the High Tunnel Management Program, contact Dr Joshua Idassi, State Program Manager for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources, at [email protected]

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