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Field Windbreak

Learn about field windbreaks, including primary Field Office Technical Guide practices, primary purposes, key design elements, and tree/shrub species requirements.


One or more windbreaks or shelterbelts of closely spaced trees and/or shrubs planted perpendicular to the prevailing troublesome winds. "Wind shadows" created to the leeward side of these barriers achieve desired purposes. A single windbreak may consist of one to many rows to insure adequate density of branches, stems and leaves.

Some Primary FOTG Practices for this System

  • Conservation Crop Rotation (328)
  • Residue Management (329, 344)
  • Cross Wind Ridges (588)
  • Cross Wind Trap Strips (589C)
  • Herbaceous Wind Barrier (603)
  • Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (380)
  • Mulching (484)
  • Irrigation System (441), Irrigation Water Management (449)
  • Nutrient Management (590)
  • Pest Management (595)

Primary Purposes

Reduce wind velocity in the wind shadow area to: 1) control wind erosion, 2) deposit snow uniformly, 3) increase crop quality and production, and 4) improve water use efficiency.

Key Design Elements

35-60% density barriers (during the erosion period) with the windbreaks at intervals across a field from 5H to 20H (agricultural fields between windbreaks are generally greater than 200 feet wide).

Tree/Shrub Species Requirements

  • Adapted to the soil and climate of the planting site.
  • Low to moderate root and crown spread to minimize competition with adjacent crops.
  • Resistance to pests and herbicides.
  • Resistance to stem and branch breakage from high winds, ice, snow.