Optimizing Soil Conditions for a Re-emerging Iowa Grape Industry

Success Story Template                                            5/2011
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Linda Naeve, Extension Program Specialist – Value Added Agriculture Program
1111 NSRIC, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
Andy Larson, Extension Program Specialist, State Sustainable Agriculture Coordinator
2303 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

Your Position


POW # and Team

 ­­­­­­­­­­130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer­­­­

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­­­­­­Regional Food Systems
­­­­­Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship­­­­­

Title of Success Story

Introduction to High Tunnels Training for Educators

Continuing Story


Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Desired Changes

  • Educators will learn the about the benefits and unique productions strategies associated with high tunnel for fruit and vegetable production.
  • Educators will take what they learned to improve fruit and vegetable production and profitability in their region/county
  • Educators will understand when and where high tunnels can be profitable tools for fruit and vegetable producers in Iowa

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

High tunnels have become important tools for fruit and vegetable growers in the Midwest to extend the season, increase productivity, profitability, and quality of their produce. It is very important that extension educators, FFA instructors, and NRSC staff are aware of the production systems in a high tunnel to assist clients and educate their students. A new NRCS EQIP cost-sharing program (Conservation Practice Standard CODE 798 Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops) was introduced in December 2009 and with many NRCS staff making decisions with very little knowledge of high tunnel use in agricultural production. By providing educators with resources and basic information on high tunnel construction, maintenance, and crop production, as well as the basics of local produce marketing, they will be able to assist new and expanding fruit and vegetable growers make wise decisions. This information will also assist NRCS staff make decisions regarding applications for the cost-sharing program.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

Four, six-hour workshops were held around the state in June and July: Ames, Lewis, LeMars, and Mt. Pleasant, with a total of 86 participants. The workshops included a visit to a high tunnel in production. Each participant received the Iowa High Tunnel Fruit and Vegetable Production Manual and a CD of addition resources. Of the participants, 7% were Extension staff, 44% NRCS, 17% from other USDA agencies, 6% from NGOs, 17% high school or college educators, and 13% were farmers or others interested in learning more about high tunnels.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

In an exit survey of participants:

  • 47% developed new contacts and/or partners
  • 63% said they will use the information and experiences from the workshop to answer client questions
  • 30% intend to incorporate new ideas and /or information from this program into their regular programming or events
  • 12% (likely the teachers) said they would include high tunnel production in their curriculum

After learning about the benefits and production systems in high tunnels, NRCS staff reviewed and revised the state EQIP program requirements.

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

Educator training programs have a rippling and long term benefit to many. High school and college students will benefit with information on non-traditional crop production systems. Knowledgeable and informed NRCS staff will be better equipped to evaluate and assist farmers applying for the EQIP high tunnel program. The workshops built partnerships and networks between Extension staff and staff from NRCS and other USDA agencies.

Major Partners or Collaborators

State NRCS officials and county offices

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Multi-region: regions 8, 20, 6, 18

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Professional Development Program


High tunnels, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), commercial fruit and vegetable production, local produce marketing


Page last updated: June 22, 2011
Page maintained by Julie Honeick, jhoneick@iastate.edu