IU researcher, Jon Eldon, is working with the IU Campus Farm and funding from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture to investigate alternative strategies for growing vegetables and other specialty crops in Indiana. Plastic high tunnels have become popular among farmers as a way to passively extend the growing season and maintain higher temperatures for crops, but the production benefit can decline significantly over time.
This project compares standard stationary high tunnels against open-field production and moveable high tunnels, a recent innovation that may avoid the decline. IU faculty and students are monitoring climatic conditions, soil fertility levels, pest pressure, productivity, and other variables under each of the three strategies. The goal is to document the pros and cons of these different growing systems, identify limiting factors of stationary high tunnels, and help Indiana farmers make informed management decisions to improve the sustainability and efficiency of their production systems.