The practice of using living fence posts to attach rows of barbed wire is widespread in tropical America although related scientific knowledge is relatively scarce. Besides holding wire, live fences produce fuelwood, fodder, and food, and act as windbreaks and protection for wildlife, but the greatest benefit is derived from the use of branches to establish more fences or to 'fill in' old fences. Many trees are used, depending on ecological zones, availability of large cuttings for planting, and special needs dictated by preferences and beliefs of the farmers. Planting practices also vary.
Farmers in the Kenya highlands use living stakes of Commiphora zimmermanni to support yam and passion fruit vines.
In southwestern North America, agriculture is limited by both arable land and available water supplies. In the upper Rio San Miguel, as well as in other narrow river valleys of eastern Sonora, Mexico, floodplain farming is dependent upon living fencerows for its environmental stability. Propagated fencerows of willow and cottonwood maintain, extend, and enhance floodplain fields. These ecological filters also protect fields from cattle, harbour agents of biological control of pests, and provide renewable supplies of wood. Traditional Sonoran farmers do not perceive cottonwoods and willows as pests, as their Anglo-American neighbours do. The stability of the upper San Miguel agroecosystem contrasts with severely eroded conditions within the region's other arid watersheds.