I think that when going to look at someone's farm, one of the things to look out for is to see how many brush piles they have. I think the amount of brush piles says a lot about the people who manage the farm and their approach to working with nature.
I think the primary benefit of brush piles is going to be habitat for all sorts of pest predators. But there are lots of other benefits too.
What sort of things have you learned by observing your brush piles?
Mine are wind breaks. What passes for soil will blow away without roots real quick. I’ve seen fire and livestock kill the grass, then watch the wind decimate the area in one season. I’ve used the piles to rehabilitate these areas. Around here the piles catch weeds and form a biomass. I do like having cotton tails running around.
Erosion control. It slows down the impact of rain or surface water. Pile holds some water in/on itself, while letting soil to have more time.
Solid filter. Similar to erosion control, if you have piles paralel and near a stream, water will be cleaner after a rain event.
Creates a humid safe-zone during hot noon hours for some critters, depending on how humid: hedgehog toads and such. If you have a brush pile covered with ivy or honeysuckle it is another plus for the wildlife (plant species are mentioned for europe). Some species prefer darker areas. Covered bigger piles can host temporally owl, fox, weasel and such.
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