High tunnels encompass a crop growing system that fits somewhere between row covers and greenhouses. They are relatively inexpensive (about $1.30/sq. ft, excluding labor), permitting entry into high tunnel crop production with limited capital. This system is particularly appealing to new-entry growers who utilize retail-marketing channels.
Plastic mulches provide many positive advantages for the user, such as increased yields, earlier maturing crops, crops of higher quality, enhanced insect management, and weed control.
Drip or trickle irrigation is an extremely efficient method of applying water and nutrients to crops. For many crops, the conversion from sprinkler to drip irrigation can result in water use reductions of 50% and can double yields.
In low tunnels plastic covers (1.0 to 1.5 mil thick) are supported above the crop by wire hoops made of No. 9 wire cut to lengths of 65 to 72 inches. A simple way to make hoops already in a hoop confirmation is to buy a coil of wire and use bolt cutters to snip the hoops at the desired length.