Verification of shelterbelt crop yield improvements in the Great Plains region
In 1962, J. H. Stoeckeler summarized the impacts of windbreaks on agriculture in the Great Plains. This paper has been the standard by which windbreak benefits, particular crop yield benefits have been judge. Over the last 60 years, agricultural practices have changed dramatically. The use of minimum tillage and no-tillage practices has provided significant benefits in the control of wind erosion. Progress in hybrid genetics and the introduction of GMO crops have increased yields dramatically over the last 30 years. Many producers are asking if the benefits of field windbreaks are still economically viable. Can we still afford to divert land from production to field windbreaks? The availability of yield monitors, GPS systems and excellent satellite imagery may provide the technology to verify that the yield responses seen as a result of field windbreaks are still relevant today. Preliminary data will be collected during the summer of 2013 in at least five Great Plains States. Data protocols will be tested and refined during the late summer and funding sought in the fall. Our purpose in coming to the AFTA meeting is to seek additional input and suggestions from agroforestry professionals.