Hedgerow installed by Solano RCD in Dixon, CA
Densely planted trees and shrubs around the perimeter of a farm have long been used as windbreaks, visual screens and much-needed wildlife habitat. In addition, long-lived, large trees can take up a significant amount of CO2 over their lifetime, contributing to on-farm carbon sequestration.
Populations of native pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths and other insects) and European honeybees have declined significantly in recent decades. One thing we can do to promote these essential species is create nesting, rearing and feeding habitat for them wherever possible. And the bonus is that this entails planting LOTS of flowers, so it looks great too! A diversity of flower types and flowering times ensures that a diversity of insects will have access to resources throughout the year.
Encouraging the right type of birds to nest and rear young on your farms is a win-win. Barn owl boxes are usually occupied soon after they are installed, and provide an instant rodent control service. This can be particularly beneficial in perennial cropping systems like orchards and vineyards, where rodent populations often become established.
Annual or perennial cover crops offer many advantages to farm systems, including increased percolation of storm water to improve groundwater recharge, increased soil organic matter and carbon sequestration, and the addition of nitrogen to the system.
At Wild Oak Vineyards, a perennial cover crop was planted in the vineyard alleys. This will keep the soil in place, contribute carbon and nitrogen to the system, and attract pollinators for years to come.
California's riverine areas once had vast borders of native trees and shrubs on either side of waterways. These vegetated corridors are critical for wildlife movement and habitat, and have become scarce as homes and farms have occupied the land right up next to streams. Planting natives in these areas, wherever possible, is a great way to improve wildlife habitat and sequester carbon.
Other Information Sources
University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Solution Center for Nutrient Management
Natural Resources Conservation Service: Cover Crops and Soil Health
California Department of Food and Agriculture: Practices eligible for funding through the Healthy Soils Program
Community Alliance with Family Farmers: Resource Guide Hedgerows for California Agriculture