Farmers resort to burning miscanthus

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 6:14 PM CDT
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GREENE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Farmers in Northeast Arkansas are making sure they eliminate one type of grass, but the attempts have led to their fair share of issues.

Miscanthus was first brought to Arkansas years ago because of its use in biofuel.

However, after the USDA cut the project, it left some farmers with fields full of the grass.

As of now, there is no market for miscanthus, and farmers are now burning it in an attempt to eradicate it.

“That is not the safest option, because there is so much biomass that the plant produces, a fire could get out of hand real quick,” said Chris Grimes of the Craighead County Extension Office.

Over the past two weeks, the Western Greene County Fire Department has responded to at least four calls regarding the burning of the crop that got out of control.

“We usually respond to two or three a year, last Friday we had four in one day, we had one the Saturday before that, so it has been kind of busy this year,” said Chief James Potter.

“Well they have no, there is no processing facility around to process the Miscanthus into the biofuel,” Grimes said.

Miscanthus grows on the ground which would be deemed unfit for some crops. This allows the farmer to grow miscanthus on excess land while still growing their primary crop.

While farmers are trying to get rid of the grass, that is easier said than done.

“It is very difficult to get rid of, you got to be very diligent on it,” Grimes said.

Once the farmer is able to kill the grass, Grimes added many will convert their land back to row crops.