The 2016 growing season brought various challenges to producers across the province and in Leduc County. Extremely wet conditions resulted in many crops remaining in-field throughout the winter.
As of Jan. 2017, approximately 25 per cent of crops remain in-field in Leduc County. Some of these crops will be harvestable in the spring, but many of them won’t be, and producers will need to dispose of what’s remaining so they can move forward with seeding for the 2017 season.
Crop residue management through burning has been brought to Leduc County’s attention from various producers.
Understandably, some producers may want to burn the swaths or lodged crops left in their fields. Burning crop residue may be a reasonable option for some producers, but there are many things to be aware of prior to burning, including environmental effects, effects on soil, keeping the fire under control, disposing of debris properly and possibly dealing with insurance companies.
If the crop is insured through Agriculture Financial Services Corporation (AFSC), please contact them before you make your final decision regarding burning. Additionally, if there is considerable damage to the crop due to wildlife grazing, please contact AFSC and make an inquiry into the Wildlife Damage Compensation Program (WDCP).
Leduc County Fire Services and Leduc County Agricultural Services have drafted the following guidelines for those considering burning crop residue:
- Fire permits: those considering burning crop residue must obtain a fire permit from Leduc County Fire Services.
- Effective immediately, permits for crop residue burning must be issued by the Fire Marshal or a Deputy Fire Chief. Fire Guardians cannot issue permits for crop residue burning.
- A fire advisory has been issued on the Alberta Fire Bans website. Please check the website at ca for updates and changes to fire conditions.
- Landowner responsibility: landowners must take into account and plan for the total amount of fuel load in the area they will be burning (bushed areas, creeks, low-lying areas, peat areas) prior to burning.
- Burning can endanger property and life, and there may be a liability associated with fire and smoke hazards.
- Landowners must ensure they have the necessary equipment at the burning site to create an emergent fire guard if necessary (disc, cultivator, etc.).
- Landowners are encouraged to work with Leduc County Fire Services to come up with a proper burning plan.
- Outdoor fire precautions: landowners must follow section 22 of the Forest and Prairie Protection Act, which states that no person shall:
- Light an outdoor fire without first taking sufficient precautions to ensure that the fire can be kept under control at all times
- Light an outdoor fire when any fire hazard or burning hazard is conducive to a fire escaping out of control
- Fail to take responsible steps to control a fire for the purpose of preventing it from spreading onto land other than the person’s own
- Deposit, discard or leaving burning matter or substance in a place where it might ignite other matter and result in a fire
- Agricultural debris disposal: landowners must follow the rules set out by the Forest and Prairie Protection Regulations, part II, section 14, which states the following rules regarding agricultural debris disposal:
- No person shall cause or permit the broadcast burning of grass or stubble until a fire permit has been issued specifying thereon the terms and conditions under which the fire may be set.
- Before the fire is set, every person preparing to burn windrows or piles of brush and debris must ensure the following setbacks are met:
- The area containing the debris to be burned is surrounded completely by a guard cleared of inflammable material to a width no less than 45 feet
- No windrow is closer than 75 feet to uncleared land
- Windrows are separated from other parallel windrows by no less than 45 feet.
If you have any further questions regarding burning crop residue, please contact Leduc County Fire Services at 780-955-7099.
If you’d like to discuss other options for crop residue disposal, please contact Leduc County Agricultural Services at 780-955-4593.