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Fire is a tool that has been used in farming for centuries.
In nature, wildfires in forests and prairies clear away brush and establish fresh
habitat for wildlife. In some pine forests, fire is necessary to free seeds from resin-sealed
pine cones to enable the trees to reproduce.
In agriculture, controlled burns are used in forestry, forage and lawn management
as well as row crop production.
It is just one of several tools, along with flood and tillage, used in agriculture
to manage stubble and straw leftover from the harvest. What tools are used when depend
on the crop and the conditions at time of harvest and the farmer's plans for the following
In times of drought, farmers can also bale the straw to be sold to livestock producers.
Listen to the audio interview with Dr. Jarrod Hardke below for more information about
the use of fire in managing rice and other crops.
The Arkansas Department of Agriculture has a set of guidelines to help ensure a safe
burn with minimal impact to the surrounding areas. They can be found here: Arkansas Voluntary Smoke Guidelines.
Learn about prescribed fires in Arkansas and why they are beneficial for forests.
Research is ongoing
The Division of Agriculture is conducting research on other methods of managing stubble to help farmers avoid the expense of adding
high-priced fertilizer to the soil and improve soil health.