Establishment and potential snow storage capacity of willow (Salix spp.) living snow fences in south-central Minnesota, USA

Eric J. Ogdahl, Diomy S Zamora, Gregg A Johnson, Gary J Wyatt, Dean A Current, Dan Gullickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-809
Number of pages13
JournalAgroforestry Systems
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Minnesota Local Road Research Board (LRRB) and Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT Contract 99008). The authors are thankful to David Smith (University of Minnesota research assistant) for useful suggestions throughout the study, as well as Justin Heavey and Tim Volk of the Willow Program (SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry) for helpful suggestions and information regarding willow and porosity measurements. The authors are also grateful to Felipe Acosta (Statistical Consulting Service, University of Minnesota) for providing helpful assistance and suggestions during the data analysis. Special thanks is also given to Benjamin Katorosz, Alex Mehne, 4-H student groups, Don Baker (MnDOT), Tom Hoverstad and Paul Adams (SROC), and SROC field assistants for assistance in planting and data collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Living snow fences
  • Salix
  • Shrub willow
  • Transportation
  • Windbreaks


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