Hedgerows, windbreaks, filter strips, grassed waterways, riparian areas and beetle banks are increasingly being planted on farms and can have multiple functions: they can serve as habitat for beneficial insects, pollinators and other wildlife; provide erosion protection and weed control; stabilize waterways; serve as windbreaks; reduce nonpoint source water pollution and groundwater pollution; increase surface water infiltration; buffer from pesticide drift, noise, odors, and dust; act as living fences and boundary lines; increase biodiversity; and provide an aesthetic resource. Many plants attract native bees and other pollinators, and some hedgerow and windbreak plants, such as citrus or other fruit trees and herbal plants, can have economic returns.


Studies into hedgerows and farmscaping show that these plantings can offer a myriad of benefits such as increased infiltration rates, carbon storage, wildlife and pollinator habitat, and decreased runoff, nutrient leaching, pest pressures, and greenhouse gas emissions (5) Young-Matthews 2010; (13)(10). Hedgerows in particular help promote healthy soils as they provide long term ground cover and roots in the soil that help reduce erosion and keep soil in place, build soil organic matter, improve soil structure, and lend to reduced tillage (6). Perennials, with their woody stems and more extensive root systems than annuals, are an effective way to store carbon both above ground and in the soil, making them climate-friendly choices for farmscaping. Hedgerows have been shown to reduce the on-farm GHG footprint by reducing CO2 and N20 emissions while acting as a carbon sink (3)(4). 

Perhaps the most well-known benefits of hedgerows relate to their ability to provide habitat for pollinators and beneficials, thereby increasing biodiversity and promoting biological pest control (2) (6)(7)(12). A study of hedgerow plantings in the Sacramento Valley showed that hedgerows attracted more beneficials than pests, whereas weedy field margins were more attractive to pests (11). At the same time, hedgerows can attract native bees in production areas rather than detract pollinators from nearby crops (9). A common concern among growers is that added vegetation like hedgerows provides habitat for pests; however, a California study demonstrated that a typical (300m) hedgerow planting costs approximately $4,000 and takes 7 years to break even, as insecticide applications are actually reduced while pollination is increased (8).

Hedgerows and filter strips can also be effective tools in the prevention of soil erosion. Windbreaks, which provide a physical barrier from wind, are known to modify wind patterns, thereby protecting crops from wind damage, reducing evapotranspiration, and blocking incoming dust (1). Vegetative filter strips along waterways are useful to control runoff, prevent erosion, and trap contaminants, pathogens, and even certain pesticides (14).

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CAFF's Guide to Hedgerows

Hedgerows & Farmscaping for California Agriculture, 2nd Edition (2018)

This manual will help you choose and care for regionally appropriate plants that attract beneficial insects and prevent erosion. This publication is an updated revision of the original, 2004, Hedgerows for California Agriculture: A Resource Guide for Farmers.

You can find the manual here for free download.

To purchase a copy ($20, shipping included):

1) By check, payable to CAFF (preferred payment method): CAFF, Attn: Hedgerows, PO BOX 363, Davis, CA 95617


2) By credit card, click here.


Hedgerows: Enhancing Agroecological Services

Hedgerows are linear assemblages of trees, shrubs, herbs and grasses densely planted along the borders of fields. Hedgerows provide multiple services including windbreak, erosion control, restoration of biodiversity, pollination, and

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‘What Does the Research Say?’ References:

  1. Bentrup, G. (2008). Conservation Buffers—Design guidelines for buffers, corridors, and greenways. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS–109. Asheville, NC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 110 p., 109.
  2. Brodt, S., Klonsky, K., Jackson, L., Brush, S. B., & Smukler, S. (2009). Factors affecting adoption of hedgerows and other biodiversity-enhancing features on farms in California, USA. Agroforestry systems, 76(1), 195-206.
  3. Falloon, P., Powlson, D., & Smith, P. (2004). Managing field margins for biodiversity and carbon sequestration: a Great Britain case study. Soil Use and Management, 20(2), 240-247.
  4. Follain, S., Walter, C., Legout, A., Lemercier, B., & Dutin, G. (2007). Induced effects of hedgerow networks on soil organic carbon storage within an agricultural landscape. Geoderma, 142(1-2), 80-95.
  5. Kremen, C., Williams, N. M., Bugg, R. L., Fay, J. P., & Thorp, R. W. (2004). The area requirements of an ecosystem service: crop pollination by native bee communities in California. Ecology letters, 7(11), 1109-1119.
  6. Long, R. F., and J. Anderson. 2010. Establishing hedgerows on farms in California. Agriculture and Natural Resources Publication 8390 (available from http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8390.pdf).
  7. Morandin L, Long RF, Pease C, Kremen C. 2011. Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley. Calif Agr 65:197–201. 
  8. Morandin, L. A., Long, R. F., & Kremen, C. (2016). Pest control and pollination cost–benefit analysis of hedgerow restoration in a simplified agricultural landscape. Journal of Economic Entomology, 109(3), 1020-1027.
  9. Morandin, L. A., & Kremen, C. (2013). Hedgerow restoration promotes pollinator populations and exports native bees to adjacent fields. Ecological Applications, 23(4), 829-839.
  10. Morandin, L. A., Long, R. F., & Kremen, C. (2014). Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on adjacent tomato fields in an intensive agricultural landscape. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 189, 164-170.
  11. Morandin, L., Long, R., Pease, C., & Kremen, C. (2011). Hedgerows enhance beneficial insects on farms in California’s Central Valley. California Agriculture, 65(4), 197-201.
  12. Ponisio LC, M’Gonigle LK, Kremen C. 2015. On‐farm habitat restoration counters biotic homogenization in intensively managed agriculture. Glob Change Biol 22:704–15.
  13. Smukler SM, Jackson LE, O’Geen AT. 2012. Assessment of best management practices for nutrient cycling: A case study on an organic farm in a Mediterranean-type climate. J Soil Water Conserv 67:16–31.
  14. Tate KW, Atwill ER, Bartolome JW, Nader G. 2006. Significant attenuation by vegetative buffers on annual grasslands. J Environ Qual 35:795.