GROWING ON THE PRAIRIES
The severity of weather patterns that occur on the Canadian prairies can lead to many challenges in our industries and everyday lives. Extreme winds, erratic temperature fluctuations and flooding caused by strong thunderstorms and powerful snow events lead to excessive soil erosion and damage to infrastructure. Shelterbelts can benefit by preventing soil erosion, improving air and water quality, enhancing habitat for wildlife, keeping our highways safer and beautifing landscapes.
Shelterbelts are an agroforestry practice. They contain linear plantings of trees and shrubs. It incorporates trees into farming systems to accomplish environmental, economic and social goals, and allows for the production of trees and crops on the same parcel of land.
Different shelterbelts are used for different purposes;
Farmyard Shelterbelt - for protection of a yard, residence or other buildings.
Field Shelterbelt - for soil erosion control of cultivated fields and for protection of crops.
Roadside Shelterbelt - for snow control along roads or lanes; also for privacy and dust reduction.
Livestock Shelterbelt - for protection of livestock and livestock facilities; also odor control.
Wildlife Planting - for improvement of wildlife habitat, including enhancement of field shelterbelts.
Riparian Buffer - to buffer between agricultural land and bodies of water, including floodplains and wetlands.
Shelterbelts are affective because of their height and density. Blowing snow can be controlled and directed away from and to a particular area. They stop erosion, drought, strong winds, and can increase the safety and visibility on our highways drastically.
There are many steps to consider before planting your shelterbelt. Make sure that you take the time to plan, identify your needs, design, and choose plants according to the conditions that you are planting them in.
Selecting your trees and shrubs is important, you want to make sure that you are choosing plants according to the conditions that you are planting them in to guarantee good growth. Here are a few other things to keep in mind.
- The denser the shelterbelt, the greater the wind protection.
- Shrubs provide excellent snow trapping and wind protection over short distances due to their density and limited height. In areas prone to water erosion, you may not want to use dense shrubs since too much snow will be trapped in a short distance.
- Trees with an upright, narrow growth habit provide the most protection relative to the area of land occupied by the shelterbelt.
- Herbicide tolerance, especially to glyphosate, is important and is a major factor limiting the suitability of some tree species for field shelterbelts.
- In reduced-till or zero-till agricultural fields with adequate moisture, tall and narrow trees are the most effective at distributing snow evenly.
- A mixture of tree and shrub species will provide height and density in a shelterbelt planting for maximum protection. Fruit-bearing species will also provide food and habitat for wildlife.
Shelterbelts started from whips are the most conscientious and cost effective. If you are considering starting a shelterbelt, we can assist. Please follow this link here to view the available varieties and prices.
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If you have any questions about shelterbelts or would like to further discuss it with us, please contact us.