This year at the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s 39th Summer Conference, Keith Zaltzberg presented on ways to create agriculturally productive hedgerows and windbreaks in northern climates.
Hedgerows are living fences designed to separate or protect one element in the landscape from another. These lines of plants might keep the cows out of the corn, shelter the cows themselves from cold winter winds, or even protect the neighbors from the pastoral perfume of a farm’s bovine inhabitants.
Usually planted of woody species, hedgerows can be categorized into four functional groups:
- Screens for privacy and separation of uses
- Laid Hedges fro livestock fencing and crop protection
- Windbreaks and shelter belts
- Riparian hedges and waterbreaks for stream bank stabilization
These patterns can be woven into the fabric of most farms and homesteads to reduce stress on crops and livestock, limit soil erosion, attract pollinators and improve working conditions. With some creative thinking and use of permaculture principles, the primary function of these plantings can be enhanced to generate an agricultural yield, increase soil carbon (fertility) and create habitat for wild animals and plants.
Click here to view an introductory presentation on productive hedgerows drawing on examples from Regenerative Design Group’s experience throughout the Northeast and the work of the National Agroforestry Center.
Here are a few resources on design theory, establishment strategies, and management practices for those of you who want to learn more.
- Can Windbreaks do more than Slow the Wind?
- National Agroforestry Center: a great resource for multifunctional woody agriculture.
- Example NRCS Hedgerow Establishment Form (VT): This is the type of form a farmer can file with the NRCS to apply for funding of a hedgerow project.
RDG has helped clients throughout the Northeast implement productive, multi-functional hedgerows and windbreaks. If you need advice or design support with your project, contact us anytime to speak with one of our staff.