The research was conducted..

The research was conducted in 2009 and 2010, before the current drought settled in. But many of the species used in the hedgerows studied—including ceanothus, California buckwheat, and Mexican elderberry—are highly drought-tolerant and can likely survive on rainfall and a small amount of summer irrigation after becoming established. While buying native shrubs costs more—a total of $4 a linear foot—than giving field edges over to weeds, the investment is a good one, according to a press release. Thanks to decreased pesticide use, a farmer can break even in 15 years and even more quickly if the hedgerows, which also provide pollinator habitat, help to reduce the amount of money spent on renting honeybee hives. Federal programs, including the Natural Resources Conservation Services, help farmers cover costs.

Materials on hedgerows from local cooperative extension programs and conservation groups always mention rodents, which like the extra cover, and there has been widespread concern that having anything alongside fields other than bare dirt could present a public health threat by allowing wildlife to transmit bacteria such as E. coli to crops. But a recent study found that clearing field edges had no food-safety benefit and destroyed habitat for beneficial insects.