Is Iowa in Need of a Windbreak Renaissance?
Iowa is in desperate need of a windbreak renaissance, that’s according to a forestry specialist Iowa State University’s Billy Beck.
Windbreaks are trees and shrubs that help reduce wind velocities.
And there's a lot of benefits that come with them. Like wildlife habitat, diversified income through things like fuelwood. They capture snow- that's a big one.
And if you raise cattle, Beck says windbreaks make it so they don’t have to use that extra energy to stay warm.
There's a lot of studies out there in the literature, looking around about cattle and weight gain and one that I found was about a 0.11 kilogram per day increase in weight gain versus nonprotected areas and that doesn't sound too much. But if you do the math with hundreds of head and the days that they're you're feeding them that all adds up.
And there are also benefits to your electric bill. According to Beck, a windbreak could give you anywhere between ten to thirty percent energy reduction.
A Windbreak Renaissance
Just like any living thing, windbreaks have a lifespan and once you near its end, its time to think about ways to renovate the infrastructure.
There's no cookbook recipe for renovation. It depends on the species, you've got your objective, the age the damage. So some things that could be possible through innovation would be fitting out the dead feces, patching large gaps.
This will also look different for farmers based on their location in the state. It even varies from farm to farm.
You have to really watch what soils you've got, what typography you have, what you're trying to protect, and then like the spacing, but like how far you're building spaced apart, you know, how big is your feedlot so all that stuff goes into how to design these windbreaks.
ISU will be holding Windbreak School on February 8th.
To hear more of my conversation with Billy Beck: