CSIF In-Depth: Green Farmstead Partner Program

07-10-2020 in Green Farmstead Partner

The Green Farmstead Partner program was created in 2009 to bridge the gap between farm families who want to plant trees + the nursery professionals who have expertise in tree plantings on farms + in rural areas. It’s offered by the Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers with the help of Trees Forever + the Iowa Nursery + Landscape Association. The program provides information on tree + shrub plantings for livestock farms + offers the expertise of 28 nursery professionals around the state.

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 + improve relationships with neighbors. The cost of establishing trees is much cheaper than defending yourself in a nuisance lawsuit.

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 + fast-growing tree + provide more immediate results. If you want to improve aesthetics +/or neighbor relations, consider additional ornamental trees + flowering shrubs in highly visible areas. For snow control + wind protection, think about evergreens. With a properly designed plan, the hybrid willow also can provide very effective snow + wind protection. If you have room, a multi-row, multi-species planting is an option.

We typically recommend to plant trees on the north and west sides of a livestock or poultry barn + to keep the trees 70-100 feet back from the barn. That distance allows for adequate airflow + 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 + east sides should be avoided for naturally-ventilated barns. However, a few strategically placed ornamental trees + flowering bushes for aesthetic purposes may work well on these sides.

The cost of planting trees are highly variable, depending on how extensive the plan is, the size of trees you plant, + 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 + will take longer to mature. Any of the nurseries participating in the GFP program can give you a cost estimate specific to your farm.

The Coalition recommends the best place to begin your windbreak plan is to personally assess your farm, determine your goals + develop a timeline of when you want to start + complete the project. The Coalition is here to help you through the process, answer questions + would be happy to come to your farm, at no charge, for a personal consultation. You can reach the Coalition at 800.932.2436 or  bwaddingham@supportfarmers.com.

Once we have established your goals for your tree planting, we will refer you to one of the 28 nurseries participating in the GFP program + they can give you a cost estimate specific to your farm. For a complete list of nurseries + their contact information, please visit our website.

Once your planting is complete, you will qualify for a personalized Green Farmstead Partner program sign to display on your farm.

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