Windbreaks and Sustainability

While windbreaks can often enhance the aesthetic appeal of an area, their main purpose is to reduce the impact of wind on crops and soil and make an agricultural operation more sustainable.

How Windbreaks Work

Windbreaks act as a buffer between wind and areas where crops are grow. They usually involve rows of trees or shrubs (though artificial materials are sometimes used) and lie perpendicular to prevailing winds. The height of a windbreak determines how much area is protected.

Though one might assume that the denser the windbreak the better, the ideal windbreak actually lets some wind pass through it. This produces less turbulence on the other side of the barrier and helps better protect crops.1

Windbreaks and Sustainability

Windbreaks help protect crops and soils in several ways, making production more sustainable2:

  • Reduce soil erosion, which leaves more nutrients available to plants
  • Help mitigate water losses and thus reduce the amount of water needed to grow the crop
  • Protect crops from damage due to wind and wind-blown particles
  • Help prevent agricultural chemicals from drifting into unintended areas
  • Reduce the spread of diseases such as citrus canker
  • Provide habitat for animals that prey on agricultural pests

Though windbreaks are not as commonly used in Florida as they are in other parts of the world, they are gaining more attention, especially in the area of citrus diseases.3 Learn more about windbreaks and sustainability with these UF/IFAS Extension resources:

  1. Bijay Tamang, Michael G. Andreu, Melissa H. Friedman, and Donald L. Rockwood, Windbreak Designs and Planting for Florida Agricultural Needs, FOR227, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2015,
  2. Michael G. Andreu, Bijay Tamang, Melissa H. Friedman, Don Rockwood, The Benefits of Windbreaks for Florida Growers, FOR192, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014,
  3. “Living and Artificial Windbreaks for Citrus,” UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, n.d.,

Photo credits: Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS


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Posted: February 22, 2016

Category: Agribusiness, Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Pests & Disease, SFYL Hot Topic, Water
Tags: Chemical Drift, Erosion, Sustainable Hot Topic, Windbreaks

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