Read the full story from California Public Radio.
Driving through Yolo County, you’ll see the expected wide expanses of farmland. That’s nothing unusual for an agricultural area like this one, but Heather Nichols has an eye for one particularly interesting feature that others might miss: Hedgerows.
These rows of California native trees and shrubs are planted strategically alongside farmland. As the executive director of the county’s resource conservation district, Nichols has gotten familiar with their history.
“All these big fields have trees around them,” said Nichols, gesturing at them as she drives by. “That’s not always the case in agriculture, right? Sometimes it’s just crops and nothing else.”
In the past, these rows have been used by farmers for a variety of reasons. They can offer habitat for animals and attract pollinators, for example.
But while hedgerows have been around for a long time — centuries in Europe and introduced in recent decades to California — they’re now looked at through a new lens. Nichols said that they’re particularly good at sequestering carbon. All woody vegetation, trees and shrubs included, draw in and sequester carbon, even helping store that carbon in the soil around them.