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Reducing Wind Erosion through Agroforestry: A Case Study Using Large Eddy Simulations (2022)

van Ramshorst J., Siebicke L., Baumeister M., Moyano F., Knohl A., Markwitz C.

Sustainability, 14 (20), 13372



Wind erosion is seen as one of the main risks for modern agriculture in dry and sandy regions. Shelterbelts and agroforestry systems are known for their ability to reduce wind speed and, consequently, wind erosion. The current study considers temperate alley cropping agroforestry systems, where multiple tree strips (shelterbelts) are interleaved with either annual rotating crops or perennial grassland. The aim was to quantify the potential wind erosion reduction by alley cropping agroforestry systems and the effect of design decisions for a case study in Germany. By combining wind measurements and Large Eddy Simulations, the wind speed and potential wind erosion inside an agroforestry system were estimated. Our model simulations result in an average reduction in wind speed between 17% and 67%, and a reduction of average potential wind erosion between 24% and 97%. The most optimal reduction of the average potential wind erosion was larger than 92% for tree strips orientated perpendicular to the main wind direction, whereas for a diagonal orientation of the tree strips to the main wind direction we found an average reduction of 86%. Parallel orientated tree strips reduce wind erosion on average by less than 35%. Tree strips planted with ≤48 m distance provide a strong and constant reduction of wind erosion, even for tree strips of 2 m height the average reduction was 86%, when the tree strips were orientated optimal to the dominant wind direction. Our model simulations showed that alley cropping agroforestry systems in a temperate climate have a large potential to reduce wind erosion by more than 80% when the system is well-designed and managed. SIGNAL