A composite hedge is a linear agroecological infrastructure, made up of several vegetation strata, associating different species, compatible with each other. The complementarity of these species (where the characteristic “composite” comes from) allows the hedge to provide varied ecosystem services for a long period of the year.
Indeed, the vegetation species comprising the hedge often have morphologic characteristics and varied complementary development cycles: root depth, bearing, foliage persistence, vegetative state duration, flowering and fructification time. This diversity contributes to an optimal use of the soil resources and is part of the varied functions of the hedge.
By contributing to the speed reduction (slowing run-off), the composite hedge limits soil erosion. It is also a windbreak. Thanks to its shade, the hedge reduces evapotranspiration and increases the fertility of the soil. By supplying a habitat for varied fauna, the composite hedge favors the protection and reproduction of beneficial species thereby allowing the conservation biological control of crops. The hedge forms a wildlife corridor (being part of the green and blue infrastructure which preserves biodiversity and reduces water pollution).
The composite hedge also provides production services: timber, firewood, fruit and fodders. It increases animal welfare (supplying shade and protection against bad weather). Lastly, the hedge provides an esthetic service by being part of the landscape layout.
The varied services of the composite hedge make it a key element of the agroecology transition.
Published on 15 April 2020
Baudry, O. 2001. Composite hedges as a factor in biodiversity . Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation. pp 39-41.
Cui Y., Feng Y. 2020. Composite hedge and utility maximization for optimal futures hedging. International review of economics & finace, Volume 68, July 2020, pp 15-32. Consulted on February 29th. 2020. doi.org/10.1016/j.iref.2020.03.002.
Lien D. 2008. A note on estimating the benefit of a composite hedge. The Journal of Futures Markets. Vol 28. No 7. pp 711-716. doi.org/10.1002/fut.20329.
To quote this definition or part of it :
Mathilde Fontaine, Marine Dorcus, Stella Delaunay, Adeline Bouvard. 2020. Composite hedge : Definition. Dictionnaire d'Agroecologie, https://dicoagroecologie.fr/en/encyclopedia/composite-hedge/