J500 Media and the Environment

Hedging Your Bets With Hedgerows by meganr21
February 13, 2009, 12:06 am
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , ,

Clean farming, or the mode of removing by mowing, disking, or ‘herbicide spraying’ all vegetation down to bare dirt, is a common agricultural practice today. While bare edges, corners, ditch banks and the odd piece of land are common sights, there is a drive in some communities to ‘bring farm edges back to life’.

The notion of a bare edge is popular because this part of the field is most prone to accumulate weeds. The resulting actions create voids in the landscape in an attempt to combat said weeds, but according to the Anderson family of Hedgerow Farms, clean farming should mean ‘weed-free, not vegetation free’.


This was taken in 2003 at UC Davis and shows how farmers have left native vegetation instead of ripping everything out.

This was taken in 2003 at UC Davis and shows how farmers have left native vegetation instead of ripping everything out.

The idea of hedgerows isn’t new; in fact they date back 1000’s of years. Farmers who grow hedgerows spend less time and money mowing, scraping, disking and spraying each year. Using native grasses and self-sustaining perennials not only out-compete and suppress weeds; they also stabilize soils, decrease annual maintenance, improve water quality by filtering surface runoff, and save on labor and chemical costs. Hedgerows also act as a buffer zone between crops and fields providing protection from wind. This extra vegetation provide homes for wildlife drawing in beneficial birds and insects important to many farming operations. 

So why aren’t more farmers planting hedgerows? Time, education and money. The benefits of hedgerows are astounding, they have the possibility to provide a higher quality of life for animals and people too, it will just take time to change general practices.


Megan Richards


5 Comments so far
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From the field trip we went on to the urban farm, it seemed like a good meeting place and idea exchange for farmers. But where do farmers in other places have to meet and gather? How are ideas exchanged?

Comment by Lauren Keith

I think this just goes to show that there isn’t one way to farm. That may seem obvious, but so many people have the notion that there is really only one way to do things.

You are dead on about the lack of time, education and money. There needs to be some way to let people (not just farmers) know that there is and should be many ways to farm depending on where you live.

Bryan Dykman

Comment by bryand09

I think this is a good example of how getting back to the basics can seem difficult because of all the technological innovations in farming in place. Cuba had to live virtually free of oil for a while because of the embargo, and because they couldn’t use pesticides they created really amazing ways to ensure high yields of food using natural insect pesticides and loads of other things. Farming and natural pesticide development even became popular college majors. But only does something like this happen when there’s a forced lack of oil. I think that speaks volumes about world society in general.

Comment by amandat09

Topsoil vegetation is the only thing keeping that soil from simply washing away. Although surrounding grasses may take away some nutrients and water, they absorb rainwater runoff, protecting the field from erosion.

Comment by matthewtb

My experiences going to an ag school taught me that farmers meet and exchange ideas at places like hedgerow farms, county meetings, and conferences (I loved the idea of tractor or seed conferences). In Yolo county there was a lot of involvement with the university and farmers. Plus there is the whole internet giving farmers a different sort of opportunity to communicate and exchange ideas.

Comment by meganr21

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