Field-burning season is upon us

Field-burning season is upon us

We are now approaching that time of year when you may notice there is more smoke in the rural areas of our district.

Row crop farmers use prescribed fire in August and September as part of crop management plans to remove stubble following the harvest of rice, soybeans, corn, and cotton.

Prescribed burning is an efficient and economical control method of eliminating pests and diseases that can be detrimental to future crops, and of preparing fields for the next growing season. Burning crop residue also allows for no-till or reduced-till planting during the next growing season.

Smoke management planning prior to the application of prescribed fires helps to reduce smoke impact on roadways, nearby towns, and sensitive areas like schools, nursing homes, churches, and other facilities.

The Arkansas Agriculture Department is reminding farmers to report your crop burn to Dispatch Center at 1800-830-8015 before you burn.

Reporting the burn to the AAD Dispatch Center provides a full understanding to the farmer of weather conditions, information about other burns in the area, and proximity of nearby smoke sensitive areas like schools, nursing homes, and highways. Reporting the burn also provides notice to the public by having the burn added to a publicly available list at www.arkfireinfo.org.

Farmers are also reminded of the following:

• DO NOT BURN if winds exceed 15 mph.

• DO NOT BURN if humidity is below 20 percent.

• DO NOT BURN when the wind direction could send smoke directly into roadways or communities.

• DO NOT leave your fire unattended.

Air quality is monitored in our state to ensure these burns are not causing a health hazard.

When farmers use the voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines it helps to assure that air quality and human health are not compromised by smoke. In 1997, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that the fine particles contained in smoke (commonly called PM2.5) can cause health effects when breathed at high concentrations and also contributes to the haze that sometimes interferes with visibility conditions in scenic parks and wilderness areas. For these reasons, the EPA established a National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5. Air quality around Arkansas is monitored to assure that the standard for PM2.5 is protected and good air quality is maintained.

For more information visit: www.agriculture.arkansas.gov.

From State Representative Deborah Ferguson

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