Green Farmstead Partner Program
Are you a farmer wanting to incorporate windbreaks on your farm? The Green Farmstead Partner program can help you out! Thanks to the help of Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association, we are able to provide this program to farmers across the state of Iowa.
With the help of 25 nursery professionals around the state, this unique initiative provides guidance to farmers who want to plant trees and shrubs.
All livestock farmers are eligible for the program, no matter the type or size of operation. The Green Farmstead Partner program offers assistance whether you are building a new site, have been in the business for years, or you simply want to update your existing grove.
Call 800.932.2436 to learn more!
About the Program
Why should I plant trees?
There are many reasons to plant trees – from snow control to wind protection to improving relationships with neighbors. Although there will be an up-front cost, have you considered the ways a properly-designed tree planting could pay for itself? If you don’t have to scoop snow out of feed bunks, off pit fans or a roof, trees pay for themselves quickly!
Additionally, trees can provide visual screening, reduce odor and improve relationships with neighbors. The cost of establishing trees is much cheaper than defending yourself in a nuisance lawsuit.
What type of trees should I plant? When should I plant them?
The type of trees you should plant depends on what you want to accomplish with a planting. The first step is to determine what you want the trees to do. If you want visual screening, you may want to consider a hybrid willow (or austree). They are a very cost-effective and fast growing tree and provide more immediate results. If you want to improve aesthetics and/or neighbor relations, consider additional ornamental trees and flowering shrubs in highly visible areas. For snow control and wind protection, think about evergreens. With a properly designed plan, the hybrid willow also can provide very effective snow and wind protection. If you have room, a multi-row, multi-species planting is an option.
The key to success is having the right plan in place from the beginning. The last thing you want to do is plant trees and/or shrubs in the wrong place, have them cause unintended negative consequences and have to rip them out in ten years.
The best time of year to plant is spring or fall – the two busiest seasons for farmers! The good news is there are several nursery professionals who offer services to make it easy for you!
Where should I plant trees? How far back do they need to be from my barn?
On the north and west sides of a livestock or poultry barn or feedlot, we typically recommend keeping trees 70-100 feet back. That distance allows for adequate airflow and provides room for snow drop (if there is going to be any – it all depends on the density of your tree planting). On farms with minimal room to work with, we have seen trees planted closer. Tunnel-ventilated sites are usually less sensitive to the distance recommendations than naturally-ventilated facilities.
Most summer breezes come from the south or southeast in Iowa. As a general rule of thumb, dense tree plantings on the south and east sides should be avoided for naturally-ventilated barns. However, a few strategically placed ornamental trees and flowering bushes for aesthetic purposes may work well on these sides (especially farms with unhappy neighbors).
Will trees negatively impact ventilation and airflow?
If planted in the right place with the proper spacing, no. If planted in the wrong place, yes, trees could negatively impact airflow. On naturally-ventilated barns, avoid planting dense trees on the south and east sides. The expert nursery professionals participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program (GFP) have experience designing plantings that won’t cause negative air flow or snow deposition impacts.
In some cases, trees may actually improve ventilation. Yes, you read that correctly, we’ve seen cases where trees can improve ventilation! How so? If a strong wind hits the tunnel fans head-on, they oftentimes struggle to keep the barn adequately ventilated. In a situation like this, a line of trees would protect those tunnel fans, and in doing so, improve ventilation in the building while reducing energy costs.
How much work are trees going to be?
The amount of time and labor you will need to put into tree maintenance depends on how the trees are planted. If you plant seedlings or smaller nursery stock, the up-front cost will be less. However, you may spend more time maintaining and replacing plants than you would with larger plants. You will also need to decide if you want to do the planting yourself or hire a nursery professional. If you plant yourself, be sure to properly prepare the ground to reduce compaction.
A new planting will need watering – the rule of thumb is 1-inch of water every 7 to 10 days, including rainfall. We have nursery professionals participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program who can install automatic irrigation systems, which can provide significant time savings (especially in low rainfall years).
How expensive will a tree planting be?
The up-front cost is highly variable, depending on how extensive the plan is, the size of trees you plant, and if you plant yourself or hire someone. Smaller, bare root plants will typically have a lower initial cost than larger, potted plants, but usually will then require more maintenance and will take longer to mature. Any of the nurseries participating in the GFP program can give you a cost estimate specific to your farm. Click here for a complete list of nurseries and their contact information.
Is there cost-share available?
By working through the Green Farmstead Partner program, the cost of your initial consultation and plan design from a participating nursery is covered by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers. Beyond that, the GFP program and partners do not offer cost-share dollars for trees and shrubs. However, there are numerous environmental-enhancement programs which may provide cost-share funds for tree plantings on your farm. Program rules and regulations vary, so you should carefully check to see if your plans will qualify.
Available cost-share programs:
- Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)
- Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)
- Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
- Resource Enhancement and Protection (REAP)
- Trees Forever Working Watersheds—Buffers and Beyond Program
What exactly is the Green Farmstead Partner program?
The Green Farmstead Partner program was created to bridge the gap between farm families who want to plant trees and the nursery professionals who have expertise in tree plantings on farms and in rural areas. It is offered by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers with the help of Trees Forever and the Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association. The program provides information on tree and shrub plantings for livestock farms and offers the expertise of nineteen nursery professionals around the state. In other words, it is here to help you determine what you want from a tree planting, figure out how to accomplish it and get it in the ground and growing!
How do I get started?
The best place to begin is to personally assess your farm, determine your goals and develop a timeline of when you want to start and complete the project. The Coalition is here to help you through the process, answer questions and would be happy to come to your farm, at no charge, for a personal consultation. You can reach the Coalition at 800.932.2436.
The next step is to contact a nursery and landscape professional to discuss your needs, wants and options. Click here for a list of experts who have completed training with the Coalition—they will be able to design a plan for a vegetative buffer on your farm.
Once your planting is complete, you may qualify for a personalized Green Farmstead Partner program sign to display at the farm.
Planting trees and shrubs on your livestock farm is a great way to control snow during the harsh Iowa winter, cool air in the warm summer months, improve site aesthetics, provide a windbreak, improve neighbor relations and much more!
So how do you get started?
The best place to begin is to personally assess your farm site, determine your goals and develop a timeline for when you would want to start and complete your project.
However, we understand that it can be difficult to know how to start the process. That is why we are here! If you have questions, are unsure of what your best options are or would just like some ideas, call the Coalition at 800.932.2436.
The next step is to contact a nursery and landscape professional to discuss your needs, wants and options. The Green Farmstead Partner Program (GFP), in partnership with the Iowa Nursery & Landscape Association and Trees Forever, is training nursery professionals throughout the state who can be of assistance. They have the expertise and are available to design a cost-effective and time-efficient windbreak for your farm.
By using a GFP nursery, it will be easy for a farmer to qualify for the personalized GFP farm sign. However, if you have an established tree planting or have done the job yourself, you can still be a Green Farmstead Partner!
There are many benefits associated with planting trees on livestock and poultry farms, including:
- Control snow so it’s not deposited on driveways, feed bunks, pit fans or roofs
- Improve relationships with neighbors
- Improve aesthetics and provide visual screening
- Reduce odor
- Provide shade in the summer and protection from winter weather
- Conserve energy
There are other benefits, too. By participating in the Green Farmstead Partner program, farmers visually demonstrate to their neighbors and community their commitment to doing things right. For this reason, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers will also provide participating farm families a personalized Green Farmstead Partner sign for placement at the farm.
There are many things to consider as you design a tree planting for a livestock farm. Here are several resources to help:
- Will Trees Work on My Farm?
- Taking the First Step: Assess Goals and Site
- Species Selection
- Tips for a Successful Tree Planting (site prep, watering, mulching, staking, fertilizing)
- Soil Prep Tips
- Uses for Native Grasses on Farms
- Trees and the Master Matrix
- Considerations Before Planting Trees
- Top 10 Tree Tips
- Considerations for Establishing VEBs Around Livestock Farms
- Designing Your Buffer
- How Windbreaks Work
- Controlling Snow on Livestock and Poultry Farms
- Guidelines for Selecting Trees
- Windbreak for a hog farm
- Windbreak for a turkey farm
Landscapers and nursery professionals interested in helping green Iowa’s livestock farms can contact the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers (CSIF) at 800.932.2436.
CSIF will then arrange for you to participate in a Green Farmstead Partner program orientation workshop. It will familiarize you with the goals of the program and considerations to keep in mind when working with a farm family on the implementation of a vegetative environmental buffer.
As a professional participating in the program, the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers will provide cost-share dollars for the technical assistance you provide farm families. This money is intended to cover the cost of your time consulting and putting a plan together for the livestock or poultry farmer. Once you’ve participated in a Green Farmstead Partner orientation workshop, you’ll receive information about the program to display at your place of business and will be eligible for the $250 cost-share.
To apply for the $250 cost-share, please provide the following information to the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers in an invoice format (Attn: Brian Waddingham, email@example.com):
- Your name and company name
- Your address, phone number and email address
- Best Time of Day to Reach You
- Farmer Name
- Farmer Address
- Farmer Cell Phone Number
You’ll then be asked to mail/fax/e-mail a copy of the plan to CSIF:
Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers
P.O. Box 9127
Des Moines, IA 50306-9127