Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Hannah Stevens
High Tunnels Provide Pest and Disease Control Benefits in Tropical Climates
High tunnels in subtropical environments reduce pest and disease pressures in organic vegetable cultivation. Using high tunnels can help control pests and diseases in cherry tomato plants. Also, high tunnels were used to determine if they could extend the growing season.
Vegetable growers in subtropical climates such as Florida are subject to high levels of heat, humidity, and rainfall. This can lead to severe pest pressure and disease risk. Organic and sustainable practices will be a challenge for them. Season extension presents many unique challenges due to climate. Production is at its highest in the winter months while it drops during the summer.
High Tunnels can protect crops from heavy rains, which can bring down pests and diseases. They also extend the growing season, which can provide additional income to farmers.
“Season Extension & Increased Economic Sustainability for South Florida Growers” by Kashem
He compared yields and pest pressures of an open and a high tunnel. The results showed that the high tunnel trial had a 15% decrease in the incidence of bacterial spot, and that there was a 20% decrease in pest damage. He observed that there is no prolongation of the growing season due to the high tunnels. Instead, he observed a decrease in flower production during the summer months which led to lower fruit production. The yields of high tunnel and open field production were similar.
High heat is the primary reason for the reduced flower production and fruit set in high tunnels. Therefore, it is suggested that shade cloth could be an option to lower the temperature.
High tunnel use in the normal growing season (September through April) is still an option. Normally tomatoes are the most pest-ridden crop on organic farms. They can spread pests and diseases to other crops like eggplants, okra, and peppers. High tunnels can make tomatoes more affordable to grow, and allow other crops to grow without being subject to the same pests and diseases.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University are collaborating to facilitate the Florida SARE program. Our collaboration aims to create a program that improves the state’s environmental, social and economic sustainability through education and research. Florida SARE works with extension faculty, farmers, community organizations, researchers, and producers to find and implement science-based practices in all areas of Florida’s agriculture system. SARE provides education in sustainable agriculture through a variety of training each year.
You can also read more about Farm Certifications – SARE Southern.
- $8.1 million in funding since 1988
- 174 projects funded since 1988
Professional Development Program
In each state, agricultural educators work directly alongside farmers and ranchers to promote sustainable agriculture production and marketing. SARE state agricultural coordinators offer support in sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies through a program called “The Professional Development Program” (PDP).
The Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program is offered by SARE and NACAA. It enhances Cooperative Extension staff’s knowledge of sustainable agriculture and gives them broad-based national exposure to unique and successful sustainable agriculture programs.
SARE State Coordinators play a vital role in expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS and other agricultural professionals. This will help producers transition to a more sustainable farming system.
Interim Director, Center for Water and Air Quality
Florida A & M University
Email | (850) 599-3594
Marilyn (Mickie) Swisher
Dept. of Family, Youth & Community Science
University of Florida
Email | (352) 273-3538
SARE Funded Projects in Florida
Southern SARE provides grant possibilities for individuals or institutions across the Southern region. Below is a comprehensive list containing the currently funded SARE projects in Florida. You may search the Project Database to find complete reports on Florida’s previously funded projects. Before you apply for a grant, it is helpful to read through the reports in order to understand the types of projects SARE funds and supports.
Research and Education Grants
- LS20-342 Enhancing Hedgerow Systems in Fruit Tree Production to Improve Beneficial Insect Diversity and Abundance
- LS30-334 Optimizing Nutrient and Water Management for Organic Mixed Vegetable Production Systems
- LS19-315 Enhancing Seed Production of Regionally Adapted Crops in the Southeastern Farmers Seed System
- LS19-308 Harnessing Microbes for Sustainable Food Production
- LS18-302 Educational Materials for Cover Crop Adoption and Use in the Subtropics and Tropics
- LS18-297 Shade and Ground Cover Growing Systems for Tea Production in Florida
- LS18-291 Managing Plant-parasitic Nematodes and Promoting Beneficial Soil Organisms Through Sod-based Crop Rotation
Graduate Student Grants
- GS19-210 Toward the Development of a Push-pull Strategy to Control Whiteflies in Florida Vegetables
- GS19-206 Developing Efficient Probiotics for Microbiota of Diarrhea-resistant Livestock
- GS19-203 Evaluation of Cladosporium cladosporioides and its Extracts for the Management of Pathogenic Bipolaris Species
- GS19-199 Sustainable Strategies to Combat the Papaya Ringspot Virus
- GS18-195 Elucidating the Effects of Organic vs. Conventional Cropping Practice and Rhizobia Inoculation on Peanut Yield and Rhizosphere Microbial Diversity
- GS18-191 Developing Attract and Reward Strategy to Control Thrips and Whiteflies in Florida Tomato
- GS18-184 Evaluation of Biopesticides for Managing Silverleaf Whitefly in Tomatoes in Florida
- GS18-181 Integrated Weed Management for Long-term Nutsedge Control and Its Economic Impact in Florida Vegetable Production
- GS17-178 Overcoming Microclimate Challenges to Improve Organic Spinach Production in Florida
- GS17-170 Companion Planting of Native Insectary Plants to Benefit Crop Plants: The promotion of beneficial insects in agricultural communities via trophic resource enhancement
On-Farm Research Grants
- OS20-137 Combining Non-crop Habitat and Semichemical Lures to Increase Natural Enemy Recruitment and Retention in Florida Vegetable Crops
- OS20-135 On-farm Evaluation of an Innovative Anaerobic Soil Disinfestation Practice for Improving Organic Carrot Production in North Florida
- OS20-132 Fertilizer Mismanagement Impacts on Pasture Health
- FS20-323 Evaluating Mobile Slaughter Access for Producers and Local Partners
- FS19-319 Sweet Potatoes and Their Vines: A Nutritional and Sustainable Alternative for Food and Livestock Feed
- FS19-317 Analysis of the Antioxidant Qualities of Flowers and Fruits of Several Commercial Varieties of Sambucus nigra ssp. Canadensis (The North American Black Elderberry) in Florida
- FS19-314 Season Extension and Increased Economic Sustainability for South Florida Growers: Using High Tunnels to Extend Tomato Production
You can see more Farm Grants for Females elsewhere on this website.