Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 44, Issue 2–3, pp 313–331 | Cite as

An assessment of windbreaks in Central Wisconsin

  • C. A. David
  • V. Rhyner


Soil erosion by wind is a persistent problem in central Wisconsin. The extent and effectiveness of windbreaks in erosion-prone areas are unknown. We investigated the potential effectiveness of windbreaks established for soil erosion control in Portage County, Wisconsin. Our objectives included quantification of their extent and condition, development of a routine method for field assessment, and compilation of a reference database of windbreak information. We used aerial photographs to identify the windbreak population, and a two-stage, stratified random sampling technique to obtain samples for field evaluation. Variables and attributes examined included species, number of gaps, height, width, porosity, spacing, live crown ratio, crown condition, and a condition rating. Methods included simple photo-interpretation techniques, field measurements, optical scanning techniques, and data manipulation in geographic information systems. We identified over 2600 windbreaks comprising a total extent of 834 km; only a small proportion of this may offer effective protection at critical periods. Collectively, field windbreaks protect a very small proportion only of the county‘s agricultural land area from wind erosion. These results imply a need for increased planting rates, explicit maintenance or renovation of existing barriers, and windbreak designs that are both sustainable and compatible with current agricultural production efforts.

geographic information systems sampling soil erosion 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Natural ResourcesUniversity of Wisconsin-Stevens PointStevens PointUSA

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