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Hoophouse Stormwater Research Project

The Ventura County Resource Conservation District, in partnership with University of California Cooperative Extension and University of California, Riverside researchers, is studying how management practices on macrotunnel operations (plastic covered agricultural hoophouses) affect stormwater runoff quality. The project focuses on developing macrotunnel stormwater management practices, with raspberry as a model crop. Raspberries, strawberries, and cut flowers are typically grown in these structures and the technique is rapidly expanding to other high-value crops. This effort will evaluate the extent to which management practices commonly used for soil conservation and pollution prevention in open-field crops help macrotunnel growers reduce their environmental impacts.

Treatments are: 1) wood chip mulch layer, 3 inch-depth, single commercial source, approximately ¾ inch diameter, C:N between 20:1-30:1 (NRCS Practice Code 484); 2) anionic polyacrylamide (PAM) mixed to a final concentration of 10 ppm, or 7 lbs./acre (NRCS Practice Code 450); 3) barley, cover crop seeded at 400 lbs./acre and maintained at 10 inch height by mowing (NRCS Practice Code 340); 4) weed barrier, single layer, standard weight, applied according to manufacturer recommendations; and 5) bare, weed-free soil, following grower standard post-row practice.

Practices will be assessed for pollution reduction, ease of use, and cost benefits. Additional benefits, including soil moisture retention and pest suppression, will be assessed on a practice-specific basis.

Funding for this research project was provided by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program.

The following images depict the four post-row treatments under study: barley, mulch, fabric, and polyacrylamide (PAM). The fifth “treatment” is our control.

The following images depict typical on-site project conditions.

View inside a typical plastic-covered macrotunnel operation.

Post-rows, which are between macrotunnels, receive the rain water flowing off the macrotunnel plastic cover.

Weed Control Fabric




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