As the climate changes, growing seasons in the Northeastern United States are getting longer. The fall and spring shoulder seasons are also getting shorter and more unpredictable.
To address these shifts, the University of Rhode Island is conducting research and doing outreach on high tunnel production, use of cover crops, and risk management. This work can help farmers tackle both the risks and opportunities posed by climate change. Research and outreach at the URI Gardner Agronomy Farm is aimed at helping farmers adapt to variable weather and climate change. Here we showcase high tunnel production of tomatoes and the use of summer cover crops at the farm.
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High tunnels are valuable real estate on a farm because they can enhance crop productivity. Growing crops in high tunnels offer farmers many advantages, such as an extended growing season, better pest management opportunities, and protection of crops and soil during severe weather events and fluctuating temperatures. Organic matter helps to keep soils healthy in an unpredictable climate. In agricultural soils, planting cover crops can be a cost-effective way to maintain and enhance the organic matter. Farmers have planted winter cover crops for many years. Yet winter crops planted after the cash crop season that begins in April and ends in November do not provide much additional organic matter. As the climate changes and growing seasons become longer, farmers will also be able to plant a summer cover crop. URI is working to identify plant species that can produce large amounts of organic matter in a 6 week period during the summer. This would allow farmers to integrate the benefits of cover crops with spring or fall vegetable crops.
Available Resources from URI's Agronomy Farm:
Hub Video Interviews
- Summer Cover Crops
- Risk Management for Vegetable Growers
- Season Extension and Protection in High Tunnels
- Risk and Nutrient Management in High Tunnels
Risk Management Resources
- USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA)
- USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA)
- Northeast Extension Risk Management Education Center
- Tomato Trellising for a High Tunnel Environment
- Tomato Health for a High Tunnel Environment
- Tomato Varieties for a High Tunnel Environment
- Cover Crops for Summer: Japanese Millet
- Cover Crops for Summer: Mustard
- Cover Crops for Summer: Teff