It's January, and blustery winds blowing. Some days it's difficult to imagine that spring's not far away.
No, it's not too early to begin planning a new windbreak or an addition to an existing one. In fact, time is running out to apply for cost-share.
Windbreaks are a great way to conserve energy! According to Iowa State University, a windbreak that is well designed and located can reduce a home's energy costs by up to 20-40%.
Livestock protected by a windbreak are more able to gain weight, as less feed is needed to maintain their body heat. Feedlots, pastures calving areas and confinement buildings all benefit from windbreaks.
Snow control is another great windbreak benefit by keeping snow away from critical areas in a farmstead. This is especially critical when livestock or stored grain need to be moved during winter months. Windbreaks become even more efficient at stopping and storing snow with the addition of more tree and shrub rows.
Windbreaks provide benefits to wildlife as well. They supply habitat for feeding, shelter, nesting and breeding. Larger windbreaks and varying species selection are especially beneficial, and certain plant species are more favorable to wildlife than others.
Lastly, windbreaks improve the aesthetics of a property and can increase the value of a farmstead. In the case of livestock, they can also aid in odor control and provide a visual screen to vehicle traffic.
Interested? Contact Vinton's USDA Service Center at 319/472-2161, ext. 3 immediately for planning and cost-share assistance.