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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Conservation > Conservation Practices > Tree/Shrub Planting

Conservation Practices
Minnesota Conservation Funding Guide


Tree/Shrub Planting

Farmer planting trees on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.
Farmer planting trees on land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.

Farmer planting conifer seedlings for a shelterbelt. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS
Farmer planting conifer seedlings for a shelterbelt. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS

Christmas tree farm. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS
Christmas tree farm. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS

Woods in an agricultural setting. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS
Woods in an agricultural setting. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS

Tree and shrub planting for conservation purposes is establishing perennial woody plants for reforestation, habitat restoration, tree or forest farming, riparian buffers, windbreaks, floodplain wetland restoration and—less commonly in Minnesota—other agroforestry practices such as alley cropping and silvopasture. Tree/shrub planting is appropriate in areas of Minnesota that were historically forested or mixed grassland/woodland ecosystems such as oak savanna.

Examples of tree farming in Minnesota include Christmas tree and other woody crop plantations. Of particular interest are fast growing trees like hybrid poplar or hybrid cottonwood that can be harvested every 10-15 years and sold for pulpwood, biomass and other wood products.

Forest farming involves managing woodlots to produce high quality timber, firewood or specialty forest products. Examples of high-value woodland specialty products in Minnesota include edible nuts, berries and mushrooms; medicinal plants such as ginseng; native tree, shrub or wildflower seeds or seedlings; and woody floral products such as basket willows and evergreen boughs.

Why plant trees/shrubs on your land?

Environmental benefits

  • Reduces soil erosion from wind and water by slowing wind speed and providing year-round ground cover
  • Improves water quality by trapping sediment and taking up nutrients, pesticides and heavy metals
  • Provides long-term wildlife food and shelter and may help connect fragmented wildlife habitat
  • Helps conserve energy by providing shade and slowing wind speed
  • Improves soil quality by replenishing soil organic matter
  • Sequesters carbon due to deep-rooted, year-round vegetation

Practical benefits

  • Creates recreational opportunities such as fishing, hunting, birding, hiking and camping
  • Offers a productive alternative for neglected or grazed woodlots, river bottomlands where crops are frequently flooded, pivot-irrigation field corners and other small or hard to reach parcels
  • Provides opportunities for significant additional income from timber, firewood, woodland specialty products, biomass production or leasing land for hunting or other recreational uses
  • Reduces fuel, fertilizer, chemical and irrigation costs relative to growing crops on marginal cropland
  • Serves as a barrier against nearby dust, odor, noise or light pollution
  • Adds scenic beauty and may increase property values

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Similar & related practices

More information

Guidance from USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

National Agroforestry Center

Other resources

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

     Other

    Minnesota Post-CRP Options - Minnesota Department of Agriculture

      See Forestry/Woodlot Management resources also.

      Contact

      See contacts for specific programs that fund this practice in the side-by-side payment comparison or contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District