A recent story by KARE 11 highlighted how farmers around Minnesota may be leaving more corn standing this year as living snow fences. These standing corn rows aim to prevent snow from drifting across roadways, reducing maintenance costs and improving safety.
But standing corn rows aren’t the only strategy that can help keep roads drift-free. A new design module on the Blowing Snow Control Tools website offers transportation agencies another tool to help keep blowing snow off of Minnesota roads.
The tool allows users to create two types of mitigation strategies for drifting snow: a proper road design and a snow fence design.
On a suitably designed roadway, snow is deposited in ditches rather than on the road, and blowing snow that does reach the road will move across without drifting. Snow fences, including living snow fences like standing corn rows, capture blowing snow upwind of a problem area and store that snow over the winter season.
With the tool, users can enter a site-specific blowing snow problem and examine solutions.
The tool was created by partnering staff at the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota State Climatology Office, with technical support from the University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences.
The design tool is one of the components of the Blowing Snow Control Tools website. The site also includes:
- Cost-Benefit Web tool: This tool allows transportation agencies to estimate the return on investment of implementing blowing snow control practices such as living snow fences or standing corn rows on private lands.
- Webinars demonstrating how to use both tools.
- Videos, including Fences that Save: Cost-Effective Snow Control Tools. This video describes the standing corn row program. It was produced by MnDOT Video Services.