A High Tunnel System, commonly called a “hoop house,” is an increasingly popular conservation practice for farmers, and is available with financial assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). With high tunnel systems, no summer is too short or winter too cold because high tunnels:
- Extend the growing season
- Improve plant quality and soil quality
- Reduce nutrient and pesticide transportation
- Improve air quality through reduced transportation inputs
- Reduce energy use by providing consumers with a local source of fresh produce
High tunnels protect plants from severe weather and allow farmers to extend their growing seasons – growing earlier into the spring, later into the fall, and sometimes, year-round. And because high tunnels prevent direct rainfall from reaching plants, farmers can use precise tools like drip irrigation to efficiently deliver water and nutrients to plants. High tunnels also offer farmers a greater ability to control pests and can even protect plants from pollen and pesticide drift.
A number of soil health practices can be used in high tunnels, including cover crops and crop rotations, which also prevent erosion, suppress weeds, increase soil water content, and break pest cycles.
Perhaps the best thing about high tunnels is that they help farmers provide their communities with healthy local food for much of the year – food that requires less energy and transportation inputs.
Have a resource concern you are ready to address or a management system you want to try? We are ready to help. Applications for EQIP financial assistance are accepted throughout the year. Specific deadlines are set for ranking and funding opportunities within each state. Download and complete the EQIP application form.
Contact your local NRCS field office for more information.
Applications will be accepted for all eligible lands and persons. Eligible land includes:
- Cropland and Hayland
- Non-industrial private forestland
- Other farm or ranch lands
- Environmentally sensitive areas
Eligible person(s) include:
- Agricultural producers
- Owners of non-industrial private forestland
- Indian Tribes
- Those with an interest in the agricultural or forestry operations
Additionally, farm records must be established or updated with the Farm Service Agency for both the person(s) and the land for your application to be eligible and evaluated. Farm records for the person must indicate the applicant:
- Controls or owns eligible land;
- Meets adjusted gross income (AGI) and payment limitation provisions;
- Is in compliance with highly erodible land and wetland conservation requirements
- If you are an Historically Underserved Farmer or Rancher, you may be eligible for the advance payment option.
In addition to these requirements, approved participants, through consultation with NRCS conservation planners, must develop an EQIP plan of operations that addresses at least one natural resource concern.
Note: Additional restrictions and program requirements may apply. Contact your local office for information specific to your application.
Evaluating Your Application: Once your application has been filed and both you and your land are determined to be eligible for EQIP, the local NRCS conservation planner will have a one-on-one consultation with you to evaluate the current condition of the natural resource conditions or concerns on your land. An NRCS conservation planner will present you with a variety of conservation practices or systems to address your concerns or management goals while improving and protecting the natural resource condition of your land.
Once you have chosen the practices to apply to your land, your application will be evaluated in the national, state, or local funding pool in which you have applied. Funding pools allow EQIP to target funding to specific natural resource concerns, locations or operations, nationally, by state, and locally.
Applications for conservation practices and systems that will result in greater environmental benefits for national, state, and/or local natural resource priorities will receive a higher score and higher priority to receive an offer for a financial assistance contract.