Implementing High Tunnel Technology

Jerry DeWitt, Faculty, Entomology


Farmers in Iowa are seeking alternative sources of income through adoption of new technology and practices. Inexpensive, practical, part-time enterprises are needed to supplement farm income. New farmers, also, are interested in opportunities in agriculture that allow entry into the agricultural work force. New opportunities must be identified, and technology and information needs to be delivered to increase farmer awareness, understanding and knowledge so that decisions can be made for enterprise adoption.

The ISU Extension Sustainable Ag Program contacted Iowa stakeholders (11/04), Extension field staff (1/05), and Campus Faculty (6/05) concerning new enterprise needs of farmers in SW Iowa. Stakeholders identified information and technology awareness was needed for high tunnel production systems for alternative horticultural crops. The ISU Extension Sustainable Ag Program developed a response (2005 PDP POW) for a High Tunnel Workshop to be held at the ISU Research and Demonstration Farm in Lewis IA in September, 2005. Program planning was developed through farmer and key staff leadership (L. Naeve and E. Everhart). An interactive workshop and field tour of technology was planned with participation by farmer presenters, multi-state faculty involvement (Kansa State University), and industry. Seventy-nine (79) participants participated in the workshop (output).

The individual behavioral changes of 34 participants were measured through a Retrospective Pretest as described by Rockwell and Kohn (1989 Journal of Extension; vol. 27, no.2) which leads to credible indications of program impact and behavioral change. This evaluation showed that base-line knowledge of participants was low (avg. 2.8) ranging from 1-7 (on a 1-10 scale; 1= little knowledge to 10= very knowledgeable). As a result of the Extension response, knowledge gained by the field tour of the high tunnel structure and the interactive workshop was assessed at 7.1 (avg) and ranged from 4-10. The most frequently reported score for initial knowledge was 1.0 (mode) while the change in behavior expressed as knowledge gained was 7.0 (mode). These data suggest that participants behavior was modified dramatically through education. Learning was documented as a behavioral change.

147 -- Sustainable Agriculture

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