Working with industry to minimise impacts of stubble burning
24 September, 2013
Environment Canterbury and industry work to minimise impacts of stubble burning
A new report says stubble burning is an important tool for getting rid of crop residue on arable farms, but that more could be done to minimise smoke nuisance.
The report, entitled a Review of the role and practices of stubble burning in New Zealand, including alternative options and possible improvements was prepared by the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) for Environment Canterbury. The regional council is reviewing the Air Chapter of its Natural Resources Regional Plan and is investigating current approaches to stubble burning as part of that review.
Katherine Trought of Environment Canterbury says the FAR report was comprehensive and provided insight into the agronomic effects of stubble burning, the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives, and provided an action plan for improving good management practice when stubble burning. The next step in the Air Chapter review would be a science investigation into the impact of stubble burning on air quality.
Codes of practice for stubble burning exist and FAR will now work with Federated Farmers to share the report’s findings with growers and promote good stubble burning practices.
Poole, FAR’s Director of Research and Extensions, says
pooling resources between the council and the industry levy
body enabled FAR to assemble an expert panel with
international science input in order to review this
important cropping issue.
“Gathering together a wider scientific panel for the review has ensured that any findings have been set in the context of international experience.”
Mr Poole says the report found that stubble burning has a key role to play in New Zealand’s cropping industry as a rotational management tool for establishment of small seeded export crops, such as grass seed and vegetable seed, which cannot be grown in paddocks, which contain large amounts of residue from previous crops, particularly cereals.
“Some crops cannot be grown in paddocks containing large amounts of residue. Burning that residue enables timely and successful establishment of high value, small seeded crops with minimal cultivation in a more weed, pest and disease-free environment; and lowers the cost of production by reducing agrichemical usage, machinery costs and the amount of cultivation needed.”
Of the total national production of cereals in 2012, 87 percent of wheat, 66 percent of barley and 51 percent of oats were grown in Canterbury, meaning stubble burning is more commonly used in this region than anywhere else in New Zealand, he says.
“We believe that it is beholden on all cropping farmers using this important cultural (ie non-chemical) management tool to not only adhere to the current regulations and code of practice, but to go that extra mile in order to prevent the effects of smoke nuisance in residential areas.”
The report and further information is available from Environment Canterbury at http://ecan.govt.nz/our-responsibilities/regional-plans/regional-plans-under-development/air-plan/Pages/Default.aspx