The Roundup -

County Agent Update

Why Are Windbreaks So important?

 


Windbreaks play an important role in North Dakota, but they help with more than just the wind. Recently North Dakota has been receiving well-needed moisture, but imagine if we hadn’t received any rain yet this spring. Without the rainfall we would be sitting at a threat of drought and blowing topsoil, but thanks to the rich history of windbreaks we thankfully do not have to worry much about those problems. Many of the 55,000 miles of trees planted in our prairie state are declining, because trees have a life cycle like all living organisms. As an option to simply let die and remove declining tree rows, consider renovating those plantings. There are four benefits we receive from trees that I am going to mention, of course there are many more. First, protection from the wind. Windbreak’s purpose is exactly what it sounds like, a break from the wind. It is protection from the cold winter winds, hot summer winds and the blowing snow. If trees protect your home, imagine what it would be like without the trees, possibly higher electric bills in the winter. Second benefit we receive from trees is the lessened effects of heavy precipitation events. A National Climate Assessment done in 2014 shows that over the last 50 years, the Midwest shows an increase of 16% in extreme rainfall events. Trees can protect your home from harsh winds, rain and possibly hail events. Trees are able to increase the amount of rain that filters into the ground and reduces the speed of runoff. The third benefit is improving income for farmers, windbreaks can net yields with increases of 10 to 20 percent whether it is a grain, vegetable or hay crop. Livestock also benefit from windbreaks because of the needed shade on the hot summer days and wind protection from cold harsh winter winds. The fourth benefit we receive from trees is beauty. Across the state the aesthetic value is increased with windbreaks, along with helping with the wildlife population. Some may think that windbreaks take up valuable farmland, but it can be quite the opposite. Well placed and designed windbreaks can increase yields, save energy, protect soil, air and water quality, provide wildlife habitat and beautify the landscape. This information was gathered from the Carrington Research Extension Center. Windbreaks are Multi-Functional Resources written by Gerri Makay, Community Forestry Program Manager for the North Dakota Forest Service.

 

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