Agricultural Consulting Service

Agricultural consulting. Technical audit. Up-to-date business creation turnkey. Business Consulting Consulting Services for agriculture, aquaculture, natural resources, environment, safe energy in industry and home construction

Казахстан, Узбекистан, Азербайджан, Грузия

Russian warship, go fuck yourself!!! Russia "a terrorist state"! As long as the russian federation exists, it is a threat and danger to the whole World! The collapse of the russian federation has already begun! Let's help it now! Glory to Ukraine!!! Sláva Ukrayíni!!!

Home    Contact Us    About Us    Presentation    Success Stories - Our Completed Projects

Geography of our projects    Our competitive advantages   Trainings for Agronomists

Technical audit and Due Diligence of farms, companies and business

Projects Management - business projects and creation of modern farms turnkey

Why investments in agricultural business is profitable   Policy of Confidentiality

Our publications


Last updated: 2022, June 25

How to trap snow and keep water in cold climate for agricultural and mountain regions?


Reduces drifting of snow in agriculture


Dr. Oleksii Orlov, PhD

Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

In this article, we will talk about snow retention for agriculture in cold climate

Photo source: CLAAS

Snow retention is a variety of techniques aimed to preventing of snow wind drifting and for keeping of snow of place of field for good crops wintering and for good moisture accumulation. At photo: snow plow in Kazakhstan


For what need the snow retention?

Snow provides water for the soil. The snow melts and water seeps into the soil, replenishing the moisture in the soil. This moisture will be used by plants during the growing season.

Thus, snowfall in winter can increase yields by increasing moisture reserves in spring and summer. This is especially important for climates with dry spring and summer. But a lack of moisture and spring droughts have often occurred in recent years, even in the cold and forested regions.

Also, the snow layer insulates and protects winter crops from the cold - feed croos and grasses, rapeseed, wheat, barley, durum wheat, rye, triticale, peas, garlic, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries. And in orchards and berry fields, snow helps to accumulate moisture and increase yields.


Where is snow retention commonly used?

Snow retention is commonly used:

  • in agriculture

  • to prevent snow drifts of infrastructures and at roads

  • for compacting snow at roads (especially in cold wind climate, forests and mountains where there is a lot of snow)

  • for the formation of ski trails and snow roads for skiers and snowmobiles and other equipment

  • other purposes...

Snow retention methods are used in countries and regions where there is a lot of snow in winter: Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada, USA & Alaska, Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, as well as in mountainous areas around of World.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

In agriculture, snow retention is used to accumulate snow in the field, to soil erosion control, to prevent winter crops from freezing due to the blowing of snow by the wind, and to accumulate moisture in the soil. At photo: snow wheat field in Ukraine

Many principles of snow retention also apply to the accumulation of rainwater during winter.

The accumulation of moisture in the fields in arid climates is especially important - this makes it possible to significantly increase the yield.

For snow retention, the following methods are used, as well as their combinations:

  • stubble in the field for all winter

  • Strip-Till & No-Till

  • cover crops

  • CTF

  • forest belts and shrubs

  • buffer zones

  • contour farming

  • soil crevice

  • strip farming or strip crops

  • contour farming

  • special shields and nets - snow fences

  • snow plows for shaping snow ridges

  • compaction of snow, formation of ridges with simultaneous compaction of snow, etc.

Snow retention, along with such techniques as the creation of forest belts, as well as strip-till soil cultivation (leaving high stubble) and subsoiling, are agricultural techniques that allow the accumulation of additional moisture in the soil due to the retention of snow in the field, and thus snow retention allows increase yields.

Snow is the same water, only frozen, so by keeping more snow on the field in winter, we will contribute to more moisture in our fields in spring and summer.

In the next planting of crops, crop plants provide an increase of productivity and yield as the moisture in the soil will be more.

Snow retention is especially important now, when the climate has already changed and already now it more arid - there is not enough moisture.

Next, we will consider the features of snow retention in modern conditions and additional factors that contribute to snow retention.

Photo source: CLAAS

One of the specific and not so effective methods of snow retention is the use of snow plows - a good tractor pulls a special snow plow - snow plows that  forming shafts of snow. Snow retention is usually carried out at the end of winter, when the snow has already packed. At photo: snow plow in Kazakhstan prairie



Why is snow retention necessary? Principles and rules of snow retention

Snow retention in agriculture is an activity to accumulate snow in fields and to protect snow from drifting by winds in winter.

In areas of insufficient soil moisture by autumn and winter precipitation, snow retention contributes to the accumulation of moisture in the soil and serves as one of the means to protect of drought.

In years with dry spring, snow retention promotes the active emergence of seedlings, since spring crops are sown in more moist soil.

Under a large layer of snow, the soil freezes less, and thaws earlier in spring and absorbs water better, as a result of which the surface runoff of spring melt water decreases.

With a thicker snow cover, winter crops, perennial grasses and young orchards suffer less from severe winter frosts and better resist the ice crust.

Snow retention is especially effective in dry years and after dry autumn.

When create of business plan for snow retention, it is necessary to take into account the distribution of crops in the crop rotation fields, autumn soil moisture and the condition of winter crops.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

First of all, snow should be retained on winter crops to protect crops from winter damage and death, as well as to soil erosion protect. At photo: snow field with wintering wheat  in Ukraine


Retention of snow significantly increases the yield of winter wheat. The accumulation of winter moisture is especially important if the lower layers of the soil dry out in late summer and autumn and the roots of winter wheat develop only in the surface, moist soil layer.

Snow retention also contributes to the accumulation of moisture in subsequent crops of spring crops with roots deeply penetrating into the soil: sunflower, sugar beet, corn, and others.

Snow retention increases the efficiency of the applied fertilizers, since fertilizers are applied in the spring to the soil, which contains more moisture.

Snow retention is based on the fact that wind-drifted snow is deposited near various obstacles, for example, near protective forest belts, straw of sunflower, corn and other tall plants, as well as shields and fences of brushwood, sheaves of sunflower and corn stalks, placed in the fields.

In this article, we will look at several snow retention techniques:

use of plows - snow plows

creation of special barriers to accumulate snow

agrotechnical methods - using strip-till and using the stubble remaining in the field


Snow plows

The use of snow plows has both its advantages and disadvantages and is used mainly in large fields where soil conservation tillage is not applied with the absence of stubble and in those fields, and where there are no forest belts. And another cases it not using but it very interesting.

In agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation, snow plows are still used - in those fields where there are no forest belts. In the photo - snow retention in the endless prairies of Kazakhstan

Snow plows are practically not used in agriculture in most countries, but they are still quite widespread in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan. Although there has been a significant decrease in their use.

Photo source: Soucy

In Canada, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, USA, Alaska and in Northern Europe and in mountainous areas, special machines are used to compact snow, but not in agriculture - for road preparation, snow removal for recreational purposes, for caring for ski slopes, cross-country skiing trails and snowmobile trails, as well as to prevent snow from drifting in certain areas, for example on roads

On large areas and fields in Kazakhstan, snow retention is carried out using special snow plows, which are compacted snow. Snow plows that work with CLAAS XERION tractors

Photo source: CLAAS

At the photo - a machine for snow retention - snow plow in Kazakhstan. The working bodie of it machine are in the form of undercut dumps, which are well buried in the snow and form relatively high snow rolls - ridges of compacted snow

Snow retention on agricultural fields and along roads can also be carried out by single passes of bulldozers or a tractor with a single snow plow, after which compacted snow belts remain.


Picture © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Snow retention scheme. A tractor aggregated with a special snow plow moves across the field and creates shafts from the compacted snow. Shafts made of compacted snow, contribute to the fact that snow from the field is not blown away by the wind, but accumulates in the field


In case of snow retention, the correct creation of snow belts on the fields is of great importance. On level fields, snow banks are created across the direction of the prevailing winter winds, and on slopes - across the slope.

Snow shafts are not blown by the wind, and trapped snow trails are formed near them: 1.5-2.0 m on the windward side, 1.0-1.5 m on the windward side. Taking this into account, the shafts must be cut at a distance of 4-5 m between their centers, and the strips of untouched snow after the passage of the coupling of snow plows should be 1.4-2.4 m wide.

Snow retention is usually carried out in the second half of winter, with light frosts in calm weather with a depth of snow cover of at least 12-15 cm and more. Such conditions most often in the second half of November - early December.

In some winters, a single snow retention is not enough to accumulate the required amount of snow. Then a re-snow retention should be carried out by directing the snow between the initially swaths.

Moreover, in case of thawing and subsidence of the rolls, the re-cutting is carried out along the first track, and if there is a lot of snow, the snow plows are repeated between the old snow belts, doubling their number.

Higher blocky snow belts are formed when there is a crust 3-5 cm thick on the surface of the snow cover. Snow belts formed from snow with blocks from the crust, as well as from wet melted spring snow, are not drifted by wind. Therefore, if there is time, after a snowfall, where there is no crust (crust) 3-5 cm thick on the fields on the snow surface, you can wait a little so that under the influence of wind and frost a dense crust forms on the snow surface, contributing to the better formation of a snow belt that is resistant to drifting.

The most common snow plows in the Russian Federation and Kazakhstan: СВУ-2,6, CBШ-7, СВШ-10, СВШ-14 or similar machines.

Photo source:

At the photo - snow plow СВШ-14 is designed for snow retention on-farm roads cleaning from snow, as well as to work as part of a snow plow coupling, Russian Federation

Photo source:

At the photo: this snow plow is used in the Russian Federation. The implement automatically adjusts the operating parameters as the snow depth changes


Sometimes, in addition to snow plows, especially on slopes and roads, special machines are used to compact the snow - snow growers.

Graders and single dozers and plows are also often used, especially to create protection fences near  highways.

In some cases, using snow plow will not be effective and will be harmful:

  • strong wind or loose snow - if from the plowed  fields, the bulk of the snow is drifted into ravines by strong winds or there is no continuous snow cover on the fields

  • small 8-10 cm snow do not allow create of good snow belts

  • in this regard, snow retention by snow plows on plowed and not leveled fields since autumn is considered ineffective

  • also in the case of light snow cover, snow retention by snow plow will not be economically justified

  • in the fields sown by winter crops - as plants can be significantly damaged

  • very deep snow

  • correct planning of the territory - forest belts and bushes, roads

  • stubble or backstage left in the field, cover crops and Strip-Till & No-Till

The possibilities for effective snow retention have expanded significantly with the introduction of modern Strip-Till systems in combination with cover crops, which preserves stubble in the fields. If high stubble is left in the field, the use of snow plow will not be justified from an economic point of view.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Plowing without re-leveling of soil, with a small amount of snow, contributes to soil erosion, since humus is blown off the field by a strong wind. On plowed fields that have not been leveled since autumn, snow retention by snow plows is considered ineffective, since small 8-10 cm snow do not allow making continuous snow rolls. At the photo - a snow-covered field that was plowed in autumn, Ukraine

There are winters when a lot of snow accumulates by the end of winter, and even for a powerful tractor it can be very problematic to drive into the field. Therefore, it is better to use other methods of snow retention, protection from winter erosion and moisture accumulation.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

But in modern agriculture, snow plows are practically no used, since this work has a not an economic efficiency, and there are more effective methods - for example, leaving stubble in the field using Strip-Till. At the photo - wheat stubble left in the field for the winter in Ukraine

The use of plows - snow plows often requires the use of powerful equipment, and in most cases it is not effective!


Features of using machinery in winter

Machinery start in the cold season. If you prepare the equipment and machines for operation in the winter since the fall, then usually there are no problems with cold starting in the winter and the work is performed even at temperatures of -30°C and below.

But of course it is better to carry out winter work when the frost is not strong.

When snow plows are used on frozen soils, the mass and traction force of the machine increase, it becomes difficult to control mechanisms and units due to a decrease in the temperature of condensate in the articulated and movable joints. Therefore, in severe frost, it is necessary to smoothly perform working operations in order to avoid destruction of welded seams and metal structures. It is recommended to frequently clean the undercarriage from frozen ice and soil so as not to break the tensioning mechanisms, support and guide rollers.

Advantages of using tracked vehicles. The use of any tracked vehicle in winter saves money, because allows technology to work more efficiently. Slip and fuel consumption are significantly reduced, and tractive effort is increased.

Photo source: Soucy

The equipment must be specially prepared for winter use. Tracked vehicles have many advantages and significantly reduce costs. Also, this technique can be used on very deep and loose snow


In the event that it is not possible to use tracks, increase the grip of the wheels and use tractors with large wheels, such as the CLAAS Xerion. On wheeled tractors, the tire pressure should be reduced to a minimum to improve the grip of the tires.

When using wheeled tractors, it is advisable to use special snow chains to reduce the level of slip.


Snow fences

Snow fences for snow retention are made with a height of 1-1.5 m. In the field, shields are placed in rows at a distance of 15 - 20 m from a row, 5 - 6 pcs. in each row. Between groups of fences in a row, gaps of 25 - 30 m are left. Groups of fences of each next row are placed against the gaps between groups of fences of the previous row.


Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Special artificial fences for snow retention. The traditional Ukrainian version is a rare wicker made of twigs of medium thickness. The modern version is a special polymer net for snow retention. In the photo - ecological friendly snow fence in Ukraine

On flat areas, fences are created across the prevailing winds in winter, and on slopes - across the largest slope. The distance between the rows of fences should be no more than 20-35 times the height of the fence. So that the snow is evenly distributed on the field, it is better to use fences with gaps, rather than solid ones. Clearances should be 60 - 75% of the working surface of the fence. It is better to put fences and other obstacles not one by one, but in groups, 8 - 12 pieces in each group.

Usually, snow fences are arranged in areas that are subject to strong winds, gaps between forest belts, areas along roads. Also, such barriers are used to prevent snow drift to entering houses, farms and other outbuildings


Using the remaining stubble and strip cultivation of the field - Strip-Till

In dry years, fields with high stubble left in the fall can show a significant increase in yield. Leaving tall stubble standing in the field winter can increase yields by 17% by collecting moisture in the soil.

Standing stubble over 30 cm tall can increase water storage tenfold by trapping snow and reducing soil water evaporation. The taller the stubble (up to a reasonable level), the more efficiently the water is used and the greater the yield. And high straw will be protect winter crops from frost more efficiently!

As the snow builds up and the wind drifting and blows away the snow - the stubble traps the snow and the stubble will fill with snow.

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

Many have probably observed that in severe strong winters, when all winter wheat or oil rape crops freeze, very often the plants remain alive in those places where high stubble was left in the field. Therefore, it is very beneficial to use such tillage systems (Strip-Till & No-Till and cover crops), in which stubble remains in the field. Stubble contributes to snow retention and helps plants survive even during winters when conventional fields die. Photo - stubble left in field, Ukraine


Even just leaving strips of high stubble can get a very good effect in dry years.

In humid climates, when there is no snow in winter, but it rains, stubble and cover crops also contribute to the accumulation of moisture, prevent winter soil erosion and nitrogen leaching.

Therefore, sowing cover crops for these purposes, for example winter rye or mixtures, is very beneficial not only for field crops, but also in orchards and vineyards.

Strip-Till with leaving high stubble in the field, contributes to snow retention and moisture accumulation in the soil. In this case, there is no need to use snow plows

Photo © Dr. Oleksii Orlov

For the accumulation of moisture, Strip-Farming of various crops - corn, several meters wide, which are placed across the direction of the winds blowing in winter, is also very effective. Also, such crops help wild animals survive in winter. In the photo - corn left in the field, Ukraine

Thus, there are many effective methods for retaining and accumulating snow in the field, which significantly increases crop yields, prevents soil erosion and nitrogen leaching in winter.




Contact us for consulting and creation of profitable projects!


We guarantee the best quality of services


Contact Us





© All rights reserved. Copyright protection and site rules

© Agricultural Consulting Service. Technical audit of agribusiness. Agricultural business projects and agricultural companies turnkey. Consulting services for agriculture, aquaculture, natural resources, environment, safe energy in industry and home construction. Increasing the profitability of business, obtaining additional profits