This training series provides an introduction to the knowledge, skills, and abilities to plan, design, and install Windbreaks and Shelterbelts (CPS380). Additional training may be needed.

Practice Specific


Training Type
Online Learning

United States


1. Knowledge of windbreak/shelterbelt design and function, including snow management if applicable

Tech Talk: Windbreak Planning ConsiderationsThis session includes an overview of the Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (CPS 380) practice standard and some of the additional planning considerations for windbreaks, shelterbelts, and living snow fences. Karin Jokela, Xerces Society, will be discussing wildlife habitat considerations, including those for pollinators and beneficial insects, and Dan Gullickson, MN DOT, will review porosity and setbacks as snow management considerations. This session also includes a demonstration on the use of Conservation Tree Shrub Groups (CTSG) and an overview of the Implementation Requirements worksheet.
Tech Talk: Windbreak FundamentalsGary Wyatt (UMN Extension) provides an overview of Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment (CPS380) practice and the windbreak design elements: height, density, and length. This session provides many examples of applications of windbreaks/shelterbelts as well as considerations for placement and design.
Windbreak Design: How Windbreaks WorkRichard Straight of the National Agroforestry Center discusses how different windbreak design elements influence wind speed and flow.  
Windbreak PurposesRichard Straight of the National Agroforestry Center discusses how windbreak design for specific purposes.  
Introduction to Agroforestry SystemsParticipants will learn about the five recognized agroforestry practices: Windbreaks, Alleycropping, Silvopasture, Forest Farming and Riparian. (Time: 00:58)
Multifunctional Shelterbelts: Considerations and Designs for Ecobuffers and Ecologically-based FarmingMark Wonneck and Gary Bank  of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada discuss the benefits, functions and design considerations for woody vegetation "eco-buffers" that provide ecosystem services for agriculture.
Pollinator Friendly Multi-functional Windbreak DesignMark Wonneck, of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada discusses the habitat requirements for pollinator species and how they can be considered and incorporated into the design of windbreaks.
Blowing Snow Control ToolsUniversity of Minnesota resources for design of Living Snow Fences.  This site includes a design tool, a video on how to run the design tool,  a cost benefit tool, and a video on how to use it plus many videos on the variations and benefits of snow fences for preventing snow drifts on roads.
Shelterbelt Renovation: Manitoba experienceRichard Warkentin of the Stanley Soil Management Association in Manitoba presents on their experience with shelterbelt renovations.
Windbreak Renovation: North Dakota experienceWells County (ND) SWCD Manager, Anne Ehni describes their experience with windbreak renovation.
Renovation: Experiences in the FieldVideo describes need for windbreak renovation, equipment and various techniques that can be used.
Assessment of Windbreak Condition and Indicators to RenovateSteve Rasmussen, a National Forest Service District Forester presents on evaluating the condition of an existing windbreak to determine if it needs to be renovated.


2. Knowledge of forest ecology and management for the local area

Introduction to Conservation ForestryThis course informs conservation planners about basic forest ecology and forest management practices to establish a foundation for implementing forestry and agroforestry conservation practices. Planners will learn about common objectives of forest landowners, threats to forests, the forest inventory process, forest management plans, and laws, regulations, and permits related to forest management. The course includes client stories to demonstrate the planning process with clients who have diverse forest types across the United States.
Enhancing Mast (food) Production for Woodland WildlifeFruit from trees and shrubs (aka mast) is a significant source of food for many wildlife species. This webinar will explore a variety of mast producing trees and shrubs found in eastern deciduous woodlands, as well as, their role in sustaining the wildlife species that depend on them. It will explore on some of the techniques, including crop tree management that can be employed to enhance the diversity and productivity of these woodland mast producers. (Time: 1:05)


3. Knowledge of crops protected by windbreaks and shelterbelts


4. Knowledge of silvics of tree species to be established

NPC Silviculture Strategies for Forest Stand PrescriptionsThe Division of Forestry has developed silviculture strategies to inform sustainable forest management in Minnesota. These documents include information on the following key elements for each native plant community (NPC) class:
• Vegetation, structure, and composition
• Landscape setting and soils
• Tree suitability
• Tree response to climate change
• Tree establishment and recruitment
• Stand dynamics and growth stages
• 2-page silvicultural strategies for each major natural disturbance agent
Emulating Forest Disturbance with SilvicultureThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has developed a Forest Ecology and Management course focused on advancing knowledge and skills for USFWS biologists, foresters and others who manage forests on refuges or partner lands to meet wildlife habitat needs and objectives. This webinar is an overview of the course which is designed to introduce biologists and others to the concepts of forest disturbance ecology, basic silvicultural approaches and the design of silvicultural prescriptions that will either emulate conditions more typical of natural disturbances or meet the needs for a particular set of species. The course covers field skills, stand exams, forest dynamics modeling, cruising, marking and harvesting. The course and presentation focus on using emulation of natural forest disturbances as a main thesis.


5. Knowledge of soil health and management

Unlock the Secrets in the SoilA series of 41 videos, mostly under five minutes each that discuss various soil health topics and applications of soil health principles.
Soil Quality - the Foundation for Resource Management(Time: 1:55)  Participants in the webinar learn about Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation planning principles to improve soil health and the impact soil health has on other resource concerns, such as water quality.
Soil Health(Time: 57:21)  In this session, Dr. Jessica Gutknecht discusses soil health. When you think about the soil beneath your feet, or beneath your tractor, what does it mean for it to be healthy? What does it take for it to be healthy, and what are the results of those efforts? In this talk, we will explore the world below with a brief introduction to soils, how soil structure is built into a healthy soil, and some management options for building a healthy soil. We will also discuss the win-win of soil health for sustainable management and for adaptation to increasingly variable Minnesota weather and climate.
Living Soil Film(Time 1:00:22) Our soils support 95 percent of all food production, and by 2060, our soils will be asked to give us as much food as we have consumed in the last 500 years. They filter our water. They are one of our most cost-effective reservoirs for sequestering carbon. They are our foundation for biodiversity. And they are vibrantly alive, teeming with 10,000 pounds of biological life in every acre. Yet in the last 150 years, we’ve lost half of the basic building block that makes soil productive. The societal and environmental costs of soil loss and degradation in the United States alone are now estimated to be as high as $85 billion every single year. Like any relationship, our living soil needs our tenderness. It’s time we changed everything we thought we knew about soil.


Additional KSAs Based on Practice Phases

1. Inventory and Evaluation (I&E) planning

  • Ability to use soils information for tree/shrub applicability
Tech Talk: Tree/Shrub Establishment CPS 612In this session Callie Bertsch, NRCS State Forester, and Kelly Voigt, TTCP Training Conservationist, cover Tree/Shrub Establishment practice (CPS 612). This session covers the use of Web Soil Survey to identify Conservation Tree/Shrub Groups and using the CTSG group spreadsheet to select species of trees/shrubs to plant. This session also tree spacing specifications for different planting purposes and other tree/shrub selection factors. In addition, participants will become familiar with the Implementation Requirements worksheet for the 612 practice standard.  
Conservation Tree/Shrub Groups: A Tool for Matching Woody Plants to SoilsThis webinar provides guidance on how to develop and use Conservation Tree/Shrub Groups (CTSG) to match woody plants to soils. (Time: 00:39)

2. Design and development of conservation practice requirements

Developing the "Tree and Shrub Planting Plan": Getting those Boots in the FieldCraig Stange of the the National Agroforestry Center steps through the process of developing a tree and shrub planting plan for a windbreak/shelterbelt design.  
  • Ability to calculate tree/shrub numbers
  • Knowledge of planting dates for plant species used
  • Knowledge of operation and maintenance for vegetative establishment

3. Installation oversight and certification

  • Knowledge of planting methods and equipment
Tech Talk: Tree and Shrub Site Preparation (CPS 490)This Tech Talk is about tree/shrub site preparation (CPS 490) and tree/shrub planting methods. This session includes a discussion of planning considerations for site preparation and matching the site preparation techniques to the site conditions. Different types of tree stock and planting methods are discussed along with planning considerations for successful tree/shrub establishment. Available web soil survey reports are demonstrated and other resources for practice planning are provided.
  • Knowledge of Minnesota Seed Law
Selling Seed in Minnesota (Seed Law)The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has put together this video presentation to help retailers understand the requirements for labeling and selling seed in Minnesota. It provides basic information that seed retailers should know regarding the Minnesota seed law, seed inventory management strategies, and seed label requirements. Please contact with any questions or if you would like further information.
Minnesota Seed LawAll seed that is sold in Minnesota must be properly labeled to meet the requirements of the Minnesota Seed Law (Minnesota Statutes, sections 21.80-21.92) and the Federal Seed Act.   These laws are intended to protect consumers based on truth-in-labeling principles and promote fair competition among seed sellers through the establishment of minimum standards.
  • Knowledge of Minnesota Noxious Weed Law
Minnesota Noxious Weed LawThe Noxious Weed Law affects growing plants. Some plants are noxious because they can harm people, animals, the food we eat, and nature.  MDA, county, city, and township officials inspect land and ask owners to control and eradicate noxious weeds that are present in order to keep them from spreading and harming neighboring lands.
Minnesota Noxious Weed ListProhibited noxious weeds are annual, biennial, or perennial plants that the commissioner designates as having the potential or are known to be detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property. 
  • Skills in tree/shrub and plant identification of common plant and weed species
Tech Talk: Dendrology 101Callie Bertsch, NRCS State Forester, and Jon Sellnow, TTCP Coordinator, present the basics of tree and woody shrub identification of native Minnesota species. They look at identification by family groups, leaf structure, bark, when the trees bloom or leaf out and when they change color in the fall, and even take a look at common forest health issues that affect each species. All things to help you identify the species to better take inventory and identify resource concerns when working with private landowners.


Updated: 1/19/2024