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Snow and Wind Harvesting Online Resources


Wind Map
A dramatically visual, real-time map-in-motion of wind patterns and speeds in the continental U.S.

Moving Windmills: The William Kamkwamba Story
A short video documentary about how William, a 14-year-old school drop-out from a poor family in Malawi, taught himself from library books how to build a wind turbine primarily out of salvaged junk and locally-available materials such as wooden poles for the tower. At a total cost of US$15, the turbine powered lights, radio, and cell phones. He then went on to build a windmill, again, primarily from salvaged materials, to pump water.


PHOTOS: What Snow Tells Us About Creating Better Public Spaces on E. Passyunk Avenue, by Jon Geeting
Great imagery in which snow on streets shows us the seldom-driven-on sections of streets which would make great spots for stormwater- and snow-harvesting rain gardens planted with trees and other pollutant-filtering, food-bearing, beautifying living green infrastructure.

Snow & Ice

Yakhchals. A yakhchal is a Persian refrigerator or domed ice cellar. I  saw many of them from the highway during my travels in Iran. The looked like earthen mounds or melting domes. To create a yakchal, first a pit is dug. The resulting soil is used to make unfired earthen (adobe) bricks. The bricks are then used to construct an incredible dome structure around the pit. Beside the dome, earthen brick walls are built on an east-west axis to cast the maximum amount of winter shadow on shallow ponds situated north of the walls (this is in the northern hemisphere). Qanat water is diverted into the ponds in the winter months (on average there are 60 freezing days per year in the area). The water freezes into ice, which is then collected and placed in the dome, layering straw atop each batch.
To see photos from my trip and more of my observations, scroll down to the “Yakhchal” section of my blog at

Snow & Wind

Wind and Snow Control Around the Farm, by Don D. Jones, William H. Friday, and Sherwood S. DeForest, Agricultural Engineers
A great illustrated document with principles and examples of wind-borne-snow harvesting and deflection, summer cooling with ventilation, winter heat conservation with wind deflection, and how these strategies work.

Shelterbelts for Dugouts, by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada,
Tips on shelterbelt design to harvest snow for farm-scale ponds, reservoirs, and dugouts.

Snow Management and Windbreaks, by R. L. Jairell & R. A. Schmidt of USDA Forest Service (1999). Range Beef Cow Symposium. Paper 133.
Great guide on permanent and temporary wind- and snow-harvesting and -diverting strategies to protect livestock, feed, water resources, and infrastructure. Techniques include snow fences, snow berms, shelterbelts, stock ponds (dugouts), vegetative stubble in fields, lines of grasses and shrubs, and stacking hay for animal protection and easier winter feeding.

Farmstead Windbreak, by Vernon Quam, Forestry Specialist, NDSU Extension Service; Bruce Wight, National Windbreak Forester, USDA Soil Conservation Service; and Harvey Hirning, Agricultural Engineer, NDSU Extension Service. F-1055, May 1993 (Reviewed and reprinted April 1996).
Well-illustrated guide on design and placement of shelterbelts and integrated access roads and driveways that direct snow and wind where it is a resource for individual and neighboring farmsteads.

Using Shelterbelts to Reduce Odors Associated with Livestock Production Barns, by Todd Leuty, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs, 2004
Good illustrated guide to design of shelterbelts to reduce livestock barn odor, dust, and wind-borne topsoil loss from fields.
and a similar resource

Managing Snow to Irrigate Shelterbelts and Abate Salinity, by Harold Steppuhn
Report on techniques used to divert excess water from areas too wet with high saline groundwater, to areas otherwise too dry, while reducing the salinity of the root zones within the high-groundwater areas with the harvest of salt-free snow via tall-wheatgrass windbreaks.

Snow Fence Guide, by Ronald D. Tabler, Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP), National Research Council, Report H-320, 1991.
Very thorough illustrated guide on how snow fences work, their design and placement, and different types.

Living Snowfences, Inside Agroforestry, Winter 1997–1998 newsletter of the USDA’s National Agroforestry Center
A number of short articles by practitioners across the U.S. Great resource for illustrating the effectiveness of an integrated snow-harvesting approach.
a similar resource

Snow and Wind Harvesting