https://extension.psu.edu/are-the-soluble-salt-levels-in-your-high-tunnel-limiting-yield

Categories: Vegetables

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Great article. As one might expect, northern regions are very reliant on high tunnels as a season extender. The University of Maine have conducted studies on the soluble salt levels, and have recommendations concerning how often to open up the high tunnel and permit rain/snow melt-off to assist in leaching soluble salts back down into the soil horizons. While I will have to dig some to find that, here is a link that references this (https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/1026e/). I found it interesting that here in Tennessee, the NRCS Agent I am to deal with for veteran high tunnel programs, had never heard of this. This same professional told me that the government forced farmers to use chemical fertilizers after WWII. If you have read #AgHistory, you know that this isnt correct. High tunnels create a microclimate akin to deserts. To illustrate, I took this picture in Maine inside the high tunnel I was working when it was 20 degrees outside (yes, 20 degrees, but it was just after noontime and sun was shining). The counter to this is that I have recorded temperatures in excess of 120 degrees at 8 feet high during the height of summer (mid 70’s outside). High tunnels are evolving technology, where even pests and pathogens are adapting to this new environment (so you may face challenges not normally expected during certain points in your growing season). This is one area it would behoove the farmer to conduct additional research in lieu of assuming that these are the silver bullets for agricultural relief. These take a certain level of expertise; no different than other specific crop production systems.

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https://www.nacaa.com/journal/index.php?jid=170

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Winter high tunnel; you can see the snow pile along the sides outside of the high tunnel. I was heartbroken when one season snow load collapsed this, so consider roof design if required. Also recommend positioning with ability to blow snow outward. Subsequent snowfalls will pile on top of previously sluffed snow adding weight to increasingly higher portions of the structure. I cant find the paper at this time; if memory serves it was recommended that after 4 years maximum (2 ideally), the tunnel be moved or opened up and left fallow to permit rain/snow melt-off to slowly leach the salts back down into the lower horizons. Flooding of the tunnel was tested to prevent moving or leaving fallow, and was unsuccessful. I have seen roller wheels on smaller tunnels to permit rolling forward/backward to facilitate addressing soluble salts. Hope this helps someone.
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