Observations of sand accumulation and crop growth in arid lands were carried out at the Turpan Desert Research Station, Xinjiang located in the northwestern part of China from 1990 to 1992. It was demonstrated that the use of tamarisk forest windbreaks prevented wind erosion and exerted a beneficial effect on crop growth under very dry conditions. When buried in sand, tamarisk trees display elongation characteristics which enable them to emerge above the land. Tamarisk trees are suitable for use as windbreaks in the marginal agricultural region of Northwest China. Forest windbreaks decrease the total amount of water consumption over large areas, even if the trees consume irrigation water, due to the improvement of the microclimate, decrease of evapo-transpiration, etc. Production and quality of crops are improved by windbreaks and sand erosion can be prevented. Forest windbreaks are very effective for the prevention of sand accumulation and for crop growth in arid lands.