New research shows burning fields may not be the best option

Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 5:42 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - A hot button topic in the fall across Northeast Arkansas involves farmers deciding whether to burn their fields.

However, new research shows burning fields may not be the best course of action.

Content partner Talk Business and Politics said with a healthy amount of crop residue left over from your harvest, not burning the crops could benefit you.

Microbes in the soil thrive off leftover crop residue, making for healthier soil.

It is understood different types of crops grow across the state, but the research applies to everyone.

In Fulton County, farmers are encouraged to wait a little longer to burn their fields if they decide to.

County Extension Agent Cory Tyler explained finding the right time to burn is crucial.

“When things are dead, usually in January and February, when they’re at their most dormant stage, that’s the best time to burn,” he said.

Tyler said farmers aren’t left alone to decide about burning and encourages them to reach out to their local extension agent.

“For any questions regarding burning and how it may impact the soil itself, reach out to us, and we’ll try to help you out and answer those questions,” he said.

Tyler added there are resources to help you strategically burn if you choose to do so.

“Just like anything else, people are kind of scared to burn, but there are people out there that can help you do those things, especially if you contact your local forestry department or resources like that that can help you find people that do that as a job and do that to better protect the area and the place that they’re in,” he said.

Tyler ultimately said the choice of burning your crops comes down to asking a couple of questions.

“The first thing to ask is how long it’s been since it’s been burned last. Obviously, the less burning we do, the better off we are. If it needs it, the question is how bad is the field thatch, is it used for pasture or hay, that’s some questions we have to look into to see if burning is even necessary,” he said.