GIS approach to estimate windbreak crop yield effects in Kansas–Nebraska

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Springer Nature
Windbreaks were originally promoted across the U.S. Great Plains to reduce wind erosion. A review paper published nearly 30 years ago showed yield increases for a variety of crops associated with windbreaks. However, with the widespread use of no-till cropping systems and advanced crop genetics, the question is “Do windbreaks still provide a yield benefit?” This study compared data from protected and unprotected fields over multiple years across Kansas and Nebraska looking at relative soybean (Glycine max L.) and winter wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) yield differences. Farmer’s pre-existing georeferenced data, generated by automated combine yield monitors, were analyzed with ArcGIS 10.3.1 to visualize windbreak interaction with crop yield. Statistics were conducted to determine if the yield in protected areas of the field was significantly different from the yield in unprotected areas. Also, yield loss was estimated from the windbreak footprint to assess if yield increases were enough to compensate for the area taken out of crop production. Results showed: soybeans (57 crop/years) presented the most positive response to windbreak effect with significant yield increases 46% of the time, with a 16% (283 kg ha−1) average yield increase. Wheat (44 crop/years) yield increases were significant 30% of the time, with a 10% (319 kg ha−1) average yield increase. Narrow windbreaks (1–2 tree rows, average width of 13 m) and those on the north edge of fields resulted in yield increases that compensated for the footprint of the windbreak more often (71%) than wider windbreaks on the south edges of fields (38%).
© The Author(s) 2018. This article is published with open access at and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License - . The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agroforestry Systems, 2019, available online at: . Keywords: windbreak effects; soybeans; wheat; shelterbelts; agroforestry; North America; United States of America; U. S. Great Plains.
Osorio, R.J., Barden, C.J. & Ciampitti, I.A. (2019). GIS approach to estimate windbreak crop yield effects in Kansas–Nebraska. Agroforestry Systems, 93, 1567–1576.