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gricultural producers face many challenges as they try to balance efficient production systems with increasing environmental demands. For these systems to be successful, they must optimize the balance between inputs and final production. Field windbreaks are one way to increase yields while at the same time reducing inputs and improving both environmental quality and production efficiency. Windbreaks reduce wind speed and alter the microclimate in sheltered areas. Field windbreaks reduce wind erosion and the damage to crops caused by wind-blown soil. They improve water use efficiency, reduce risks associated with drought, and manage blowing snow.
Field windbreaks provide positive economic returns to producers. For example, a 160-acre crop field can be totally protected within 20 years with four to six single-row field windbreaks spaced evenly across the field. These windbreaks will occupy about six acres and by the seventh year will begin to increase net yields and profits. In addition, field windbreaks provide opportunities to enhance natural controls of insects, provide valuable wildlife habitats, and add permanence and biological diversity to our agricultural systems.