Planting Living Fencerows for 'Linear Forest' Habitat


| 11/3/2016 11:07:00 AM


Tags: land stewardship, natural farming, sustainable agriculture, habitat, wildlife, living fences, Mary Lou Shaw, Ohio,

black raspberry fencerow

The last ice age left our part of Ohio flat and covered with beautiful topsoil. In the last few decades, this combination has resulted in individual farmers planting thousands of acres with ever-larger farm equipment. Decades ago our rural county was known for having many pheasants and songbirds, but now wildlife is as scarce as the remaining fencerows which previously provided habitat. Fences and their greenery have been removed to make room for maneuvering huge farm equipment.

Farmers actually consider themselves “bad farmers” if there are still “messy” fencerows on their land. There are immense consequences to losing these fencerows - to soil, water, crops and wildlife.

Fencerows and hedgerows were ubiquitous when farm equipment was small. They are still common where terrain is hilly and fields remain small. Fencerows were originally constructed to contain livestock or demark property boundaries. Hedgerows, which lack man-made fences, served similar purposes while being made up of shrubs and trees. As these living boundaries disappear, we become aware of the many other purposes they served.

Benefits of Fencerows for Habitat and Erosion Control

Fencerows provide wildlife with shelter and food as well as a corridor for travel. Diverse species of animals assist farmers with a degree of insect control that rivals today’s insecticides. A great variety of plants are fostered that lure and support pollinators.

Fencerows and hedgerows control erosion which helps prevent loss of topsoil and pollution of streams. On our farm, a ten foot-wide fencerow around the meadow also provides shade and a windbreak for the cows.




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