Smoke's about to get in our eyes
Smoke will start rising from fields this month and next as peak burning season begins for Marion County and the rest of the Flint Hills.
According to extension agent Rickey Roberts, March and April are the best times to do controlled burns because plants have not started putting out burn-resistant fresh growth.
“April is the time to go get it here,” Roberts said.
To prevent potential air quality problems, Kansas Department of Health and Environment will activate a smoke modeling tool. It has been used for 12 years to calculate how smoke from controlled burns affects air quality. Humidity, wind speed, cloud cover, and other conditions are considered to determine whether smoke will dissipate without affecting urban areas.
Controlled burns are used to clear out dead matter that could fuel uncontrolled fires in fields. They also eliminate invasive species that aren’t as adapted to fire as are plants naturally found in the Flint Hills.
Burning also prevents trees from encroaching on open areas and provides better forage for cattle.
“It would be a disaster if we lost the privilege to be able to burn that grass,” Roberts said. “The burning of the Flint Hills is critical to the health of the plains, but it does create a lot of smoke. We’re just trying to help producers make decisions to not lose that right to be able to burn.”
KDHE recommends limiting outdoor activity, closing doors and windows, and keeping hydrated when farmers are doing controlled burns.
Last modified March 2, 2022