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Organic High Tunnel Bramble Production and Vegetable Interplanting


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Organic High Tunnel Bramble Production and Vegetable Interplanting

  1. 1. - Organic High Tunnel Bramble Production & Vegetable Interplanting Feb 2 2012
  2. 2. Overview• Scenic Valley Farm• Scenic Valley Green Energy• High Tunnel Construction and Comparison• Bramble Spacing, Varieties & Nutritional Value• Soil Preparation• Irrigation and Fertigation Systems• Trellis System• Bramble Management & Fruiting Period• Growth Characteristics & Winterization• Market Potential & Blackberry Economics• Intercropping• SHARE Farm• Payback
  3. 3. Scenic Valley Farms• Designs and manages high tunnels, climate control systems, and solar thermal heating technology• Five high tunnels in Minnesota and Wisconsin• Produces organically certified tomatoes, peppers, blackberries, raspberries, herbs, and leafy green produce• Decades of agriculture and engineering experience
  4. 4. Scenic Valley Green Energy • Solid, long-term investment • Generate income from electricity • Promote sustainability by reducing C02 emissions • Gain energy independence and protection from volatile electricity prices • Offset tax liabilitiesAffordable,Clean Energy fromSmall Wind Turbines forHomes, Farms,Businesses, PublicFacilities and Investors
  5. 5. Bramble Spacing and Varieties• Spacing in High Tunnel • Four rows per 30’ wide tunnel • Each row 7’ apart and 4 ½’ from side walls • Brambles 3’ apart with 132 plants per 30’x96’ tunnel• Bramble Varieties • Primocane (thorny) – Prime Jim and Jan • Floricane (thornless) Arapaho, Apache, Natchez, Navaho, Chester, Triple Crown, Ouachita, Doyle
  6. 6. Blackberry Nutritional Value• Healthiest food that rank highest in antioxidants- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2006)• Blackberry extract is a rich source of Anthocyanins • Anthocyanins are a group of naturally occurring phenolic compounds related to the coloring of plants, flowers and fruits. • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties • Fruits produce these compounds to protect themselves from UV damage• The good: Very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Good source of Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Folate, Magnesium, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese. The bad: A large portion of the calories comes from sugars. But they’re GOOD TASTING !!!!
  7. 7. Soil Preparation• Composted ½ mushroom compost and ½ dairy manure• Mixed one wheelbarrow per ten foot of row and tilled into soil• Perform soil nutrient analysis• Mulched around plants with mushroom compost or woodchips
  8. 8. Irrigation System• Installed drip irrigation • Emitters within 8” on either side of bramble • Each emitter releases ½ gallon per hour.• Semi automated system • Sensor and controller provide 6 zones with 6 irrigation times per zone • Sensor provides moisture content (%), soil temperature, and EC • Irrigation cycle suspended above pre-set soil moisture content • Irrigated in 1.5 hour cycles at 7 am and 6 pm • Irrigation increased to three 1.5 hour cycles during fruiting
  9. 9. Fertigation System• Installed EZ Flow (1 gallon) inline fertigation system• Applied organic liquid fertilizer containing fish • Fish Aqua – OMRI approved• Discovered fish emulsion based fertilizer clogs emitters • Drip tape not clogged by emulsion but emitters too close = wasted water and fertilizer • Install drip tape future high tunnels • Plan to fertigate one time per week • Perform soil analysis beginning and end of season, leaf analysis during growing season
  10. 10. Weed Management• Three Techniques Employed: 1.Wood chips, saw dust 2.Layer of cardboard boxes and wood chips 3.Mushroom compost, straw 4.Black polyester material (14- 24 mil) in 3’ and 6’ wide sections 5. One mil black plastic within rows - tomatoes• Polyester generally most effective and least labor intensive
  11. 11. Trellis System• Modified V/T system with bottom “T” 36” and top “T”66” above ground• Run two strands of wire at tip of each crossbar• Alternative: 4x4 non treated posts that are notched. Insert 2x4 “T”s• Space posts 10’ apart• Year 1 canes tied to one side of the strand and will bear fruit in year 2• Fruit bearing year 2 canes will be pruned to ground to make room for the year 3 primocanes.
  12. 12. Bramble Management• Pruned Prime Jim and Jan to ground in winter.• Tip when new canes reach five feet in summer • New blossom supporting laterals appear within weeks • Continual pruning generates new blossoms• Secure floricanes to two wires. Tip at 5’. Cut 4’ laterals back to 18” and secure to two wires.• Prune to ground as soon as done bearing
  13. 13. Fruiting Period• Primocanes • Fruiting began early August • Blackberries averaged 6-15 grams • Temperatures over 100° F hindered drupelet formation • Brambles consumed large amounts of water • Difficult to harvest berries at optimal ripeness due to softness • Thorns required gloves and heavy flannel shirt • Last harvest on Nov 18th (turned off supplemental heat) • Numerous berries and blossoms still remained on plant • Total yield from 12x40’ tunnel = 100 pounds• Thornless Floricanes – All bore some fruit – Rabbits girdled canes on new first year growth. Reduce production by 50% – HT1 Readstown fruited June 15th to August 6th – HT1 Rosemount fruited August 1st to September 7th – HT1 Readstown = 12 cases (one case = 12 5.6 oz clams) – HT1 Rosemount =10 cases – Yield lower than expected for 2nd yr canes – 2nd year primocanes 20 times lateral growth as first year – Natchez largest, sweetest and most berries by volume
  14. 14. Fruiting PeriodThe blackberries on November 14th
  15. 15. Growth Characteristics• Brambles not shaded in Wisconsin  • studier canes • experienced faster growth • developed more laterals• Higher blossom counts and yields on primocanes in west vs. east end of high tunnel due to two extra hours of direct sunlight• Better growth on root stock vs. culture stock• Inconsistent growth of same variety frequently observed
  16. 16. Winterization• Winter Protection  • Installed thermostatically controlled 170,000 BTU propane heater that fires at 5° F and deactivates at 9 ° F (minimum temperatures of zone 7b climate) • Forcing dormancy is lengthy process due to elevated temperatures and snow insulation• Pest Issues • Rabbits girdled floricanes over several days • Trapped the critter but would have destroyed crop in two weeks or less • Rabbits avoided primocane variety• Final irrigation cycle on November 7th • Heavily watered previous week • No moisture over winter is a concern• Elevated February temperatures may promote premature budding. • Ventilated conventional high tunnel thru the use of exhaust fans and monitor signs of budding • Cooled solar thermal high tunnel with fans
  17. 17. Market Potential• Wholesale MSP food brokers usually pay $7-8/lb. organic June 1 thru Nov. 30 – Potential Dealers: Sun Belle Inc, Bergin Fruit and Nut Company, Organic Valley Farms, J & J Distribution• Direct Market – Supermarkets/Retail Outlets – Grocer Cooperatives – Restaurants – Farmers Market’s ≈ $3.50 a half pint (6 oz)• Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)• Value Added Products (e.g. jams, jellies, pies, candies)• Schools and Universities
  18. 18. Economics- Blackberries Expense IncomeHigh tunnel (30’x96’) , not including installation $8000Irrigation and controller, trellis, fertigation tank $1400Blackberry plants, tomatoes, spinach $400End walls, side boards, door hardware, screws $800Motorized rollup sides w/thermostat $900Heater w/thermostat $350Ventilation & Circulation w/thermostat $650Plastic mulch $300Income (2000#s per tunnel* at $8/organic 16000blackberries pound - wholesale)Total $12800 $3200 *production levels reached in year four
  19. 19. Future Tasks• Submitted SARE proposal to research methods to extend the season into September and October – Install shade cloth – Use various mulches – Adapt pruning methods
  20. 20. Intercropping• Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity• Important not to have crops competing with each other for physical space, nutrients, water, or sunlight• SVF – blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, melons, eggplant, herbs• Blackberries do not generate significant revenue until third growing season
  21. 21. Irrigation Layouts Tunnel 1. This tunnel is 30’x96’ planted with fourThis tunnel is 30’x96’, three zones (Zone A(rows # 2,3,4) rows of blackberries on one zone and three rows ofZone B (row #1) Zone C (row #5) , one EZ flow constant tomatoes on another zone with one EZ flow constantpressure fertigation tank pressure fertigation tank Tunnel 2(solar thermal).This tunnel is 30’x96’ planted with blackberries, tomatoes and peppers, three zones(one each for red, purple and green rows) , one EZ flow constant pressure fertigation tank.
  22. 22. May 18th May 18thHigh tunnel 1 High tunnel 1 June 12th June 12th
  23. 23. June 24th High tunnel 2 July 3rd High tunnel 1
  24. 24. July 3High tunnel 2High tunnel 1
  25. 25. July 24thHigh tunnel 2
  26. 26. Oct 1st July 21thHigh tunnel 3 High tunnel 2 Nov 15th High tunnel 3 Heirloom tomatoes & Basil
  27. 27. Dec 31stst High tunnel 2 (solar thermal) 15 varieties of spinach, lettuce, Asiangreens, bok choi planted the middle of October
  28. 28. Boosting Produce Yields SVF Weekly Determinate Tomato Harvest (2011) • Yields 4 typically 200- 300% higher 3.5 in high tunnels 3 Our organicAverage marketable lbs per plant SVF High Tunnels • 2.5 determinate tomato yields 2 in 2011 = 20+ Total = 19.5 lbs per 1.5 plant lbs per plant in solar 1 thermal HT • Established 0.5 goal of 25-30 0 lbs/plant in 7/15/2011 8/15/2011 9/15/2011 10/15/2011 2012
  29. 29. Boosting High Tunnel Revenue 30x96’ high tunnel Organic All Berries + Berries + Wholesale berries Tomatoes Tomatoes Pricing (MSP) + Blackberry=$8/# Peppers Tomato=$2.25/# (red) Red Pepper=$3.5/#Revenue yr 1 $0 $0+ $0+ Green $8775 $8775+ Pepper=$2/# $7280Revenue yr 2 $900 $900+ $900+ $4400 $4400+ 2080Revenue yr 3 $10500 $10500+ $10500+ $0 $0+ $0
  30. 30. Sustainable High Tunnel Agriculture + Renewable Energy (SHARE-d) High Tunnels
  31. 31. Sustainable Agriculture. Clean Energy. • Joint venture high tunnel greenhouses • Environmentally and financially sustainable • Provides reliable supply of locally grown, organic produce • Excess produce sold on the open market • Harvest fruits and vegetables at optimum ripeness and flavor • Increases yields and extends the growing season • Merges the technologies to earn a rapid return on investment
  32. 32. Environmental Management System (EMS)• Inexpensive climate control system for high tunnels• User monitors and controls the climate from touch screen PLC, laptop, or Smartphone• Ventilation, irrigation, and heating are monitored and controlled on-site or remotely • SVF awarded $100,000 USDA Small Business Innovation Research Grant • Testing at SVF high tunnels in both Minnesota and Wisconsin • Expected operational date: March 2011 • Potential SBIR Phase II Commercialization Grant in 2013
  33. 33. Solar Thermal Heating • Qualifies for 30 percent Federal Investment Tax Credit • Reduces active income tax liability• Solar panels collect heated air• Fans circulate heated air below ground• Warms soil and air temperatures• Extends growing season to allow for additional crops and harvests• Reduces propane fuel usage and greenhouse gas emissions
  34. 34. Data Logger Conclusions• Double poly layer raises night time air temps ≈ 7 F• Solar thermal with double layer raises night time air temps ≈ 20 F• Solar thermal soil temp reached 55F by March 15th• Tomato Planting Schedule • Outside May 23 • Conventional HT April 10 - some heat • Solar Thermal HT March 15 – some heat• Final Tomato Harvest Dates • Outside Sept 23 • Conventional HT Oct 23 – some heat • Solar Thermal HT Nov 24 – some heat
  35. 35. Estimated Return on Investment Solar Thermal High Tunnel
  36. 36. Contact Us Erik Gundacker (563) 650-3654 Craig Gundacker (612) 961-3871