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Home > Protecting Our Lands & Waters > Conservation > Conservation Practices > Field Windbreak

Conservation Practices
Minnesota Conservation Funding Guide


Field Windbreak

Field windbreak. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.
Field windbreak. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.

A system of connected field windbreaks. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.
A system of connected field windbreaks. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.

Multi-row windbreak. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.
Multi-row windbreak. Photo courtesy USDA NRCS.

Field windbreaks are linear plantings of trees/shrubs designed to reduce wind speed in open fields, preventing soil erosion and protecting adjacent crops from wind damage.

Field windbreaks are typically planted in multiple rows perpendicular to prevailing winds. On the downwind side of a well-established windbreak, wind is generally slowed for a distance of 10 times the height of the trees. Old field windbreaks may need renovation to function properly, including removal and replacement of selected trees/shrubs.

Why establish or renovate field windbreaks on your farm?

Environmental benefits

  • Reduces soil erosion from wind
  • Protects water and air quality by providing a barrier against airborne soil, chemical drift, odors and dust
  • Provides wildlife food, cover and travel corridors
  • Diversifies agricultural landscapes
  • Sequesters carbon

Practical benefits

  • Protects crops from wind damage
  • May increase crop yields by 10% or more, especially in dry years
  • May improve crop photosynthesis and water use efficiency due to micro-climate changes in temperature and humidity
  • Improves irrigation efficiency
  • Helps manage snow drifts and soil moisture by dispersing snow more evenly across cropland
  • Provides opportunities for additional income from salable tree/shrub products such as nuts, berries and decorative floral material
  • Adds scenic interest to fields and may increase property values

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Similar & related practices

More information

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

Other resources

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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