PFRA Shelterbelt Planting Program

As a component of the AAFC-PFRA Agroforestry Division, the Prairie Shelterbelt Program (PSP) provides technical services and tree and shrub seedlings for establishment of shelterbelts and other agroforestry, conservation and reclamation projects on agricultural and eligible lands in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and in the Peace River region of British Columbia. Tree and shrub seedlings are provided to eligible landowners at no charge.

The seedlings provided are an incentive to producers adopting beneficial management practices and environmental stewardship. The aim of the Prairie Shelterbelt Program is to improve the performance and sustainability of the agricultural sector by helping to achieve the social, economic and environmental benefits of agroforestry.

Agroforestry systems such as shelterbelts conserve soil and water, manage snow and wind, improve air quality, protect yards and livestock, provide income for landowners, stabilize crops and enhance habitat for wildlife.

The AAFC-PFRA Prairie Shelterbelt Program is administered out of the Shelterbelt Centre at Indian Head, SK. The program has been on-going since 1901.

Eligibility Information

The program is open to landowners with rural landholdings of 5 acres or more.
In years gone by trees were allocated on a first come, first serve basis. For 2008 all applications will be subject to a rating system taking into account: type of plantings (riparian, wildlife, etc), number of trees and species ordered. The plastic mulch program has been discontinued. The applicator is still available to producers who are able to source plastic mulch elsewhere.

To date, 7464 applications have been entered and 3.2 million seedlings have been allotted.  Applications for the 2011 Shelterbelt Program will be accepted starting in June 2010.

For more information click here.

Maintaining Tree Health

It has been said that the best time to prune trees is whenever the blade is sharp.  This is true to some extent.  Routine pruning can be done at any time of the year but growth is maximized and wound closure is fastest if pruning takes place before the spring growth.  Heavy pruning after the spring growth causes stress to the tree.  This is because the tree has just used all of its energy to produce leaves and shoots and may not be able to recover.  All pruning cuts should be made outside of the branch collar.  Parent branch or trunk tissue must not be damaged.
When you are pruning a tree, be careful not to remove too much of the tree at one time.  Leaves produce food for the tree and removing them will temporarily starve the tree.  In response, the tree will force the rapid growth of multiple shoots below each cut. 
Be sure to regularly inspect your trees throughout the growing season for disease, insect and environmental problems.  Often by the time a tree shows obvious signs of infection, infestation or stress it is too late to do anything about it.
Please remember that in order to prevent the spread of Dutch Elm Disease it is illegal to prune elm trees in Alberta between April 1 and September 30.