Keith Zaltzberg presented on ways to create agriculturally productive hedgerows and windbreaks in northern climates at this year’s NOFA/Mass Summer Conference.
Hedgerows are living fences designed to separate or protect one element in the landscape from another. They can help keep the cows out of the corn, shelter animals 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 for livestock fencing and crop protection
- Windbreaks and shelter belts
- Riparian hedges 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. The primary function of these plantings can be enhanced to generate an agricultural yield, increase soil carbon, and create habitat for wild animals and plants.