Rainwater Catchment from a High Tunnel for Irrigation Use
High tunnels are simple, plastic-covered, passive solar-heated structures in which crops are grown in the ground. They are used by fruit and vegetable growers to extend the growing season and intensify production in cold climates. The covered growing area creates a desert-like environment requiring carefully monitored irrigation practices. In contrast, the exterior expanse of a high tunnel generates a large volume of water with every measurable rainfall. Each 1,000 ft of high tunnel roof will generate approximately 300 gallons from a half inch of rain. Unless the high tunnel site is elevated from the surrounding area or drainage tiles installed, or other drainage accommodations are made around the perimeter, the soil along the inside edge of the high tunnel is nearly continuously saturated. High volumes of water can also create an erosion problem.
The objective of this project was to design and construct a system that enables growers using high tunnels in their production operation to reduce drainage problems, erosion, and crop loss due to excess moisture in and around their high tunnel(s) without permanent environmental and soil mediations.