Living snow fences (LSFs) are a cost-effective windbreak practice designed to mitigate blowing and drifting snow problems along transportation routes. Shrub-willows (Salix spp.) have been proposed as a LSF species to provide multiple benefits, given their potential to reach effective heights and densities soon after planting and provide a marketable biomass product. However, information regarding their establishment and snow storage capacity in LSF settings is limited. We investigated establishment and potential snow storage capacity of three shrub-willow varieties in LSF planting arrangements of two and four rows after one growing season post-coppice on a two-year-old root system in south-central Minnesota, USA. We found willows had an average survival of 89 %, an average height of approximately 1 m, and potential snow storage capacities ranging from 1 to 9 t m−1. Compared to the mean annual snow transport of the south-central region (39.9 t m−1), none of the willow LSF varieties and planting arrangements were able to trap all of the predicted blowing snow at the study site after two growing seasons post-coppice. However, using willow LSF models, we observed that willow LSFs could exceed local snow transport after 2–3 growing seasons post-coppice. Additionally, four-row willow LSF arrangements trapped approximately 20 % more snow than to two-row arrangements, and willow variety did not affect snow storage. These results add to the limited literature on shrub-willow LSFs and can guide the design of effective willow LSFs.
- Living snow fences
- Shrub willow