In early spring, smoke from the burning of grasses takes over the sky in most parts of America. Most ranchers are usually busy burning their grasses, a development most individuals with breathing challenges have to manage carefully.
Finding such smoke all over the place will make you question the ranchers’ or farmer’s intent. You’ll start wondering why they take pleasure in burning down grasses.
In most people’s eyes, people burn down their grasses so they won’t have to spend time, energy, and resources clearing them. But other than this, there are other reasons why ranchers burn their grasses.
If you’re seeking the reasons people burn their grasses, you’re in the right place. After reading this article, you’ll have the in-depth information to make an informed decision. Read on!
6 Surprising Reasons For The Burning of the Grass
The burning of grasses is an age-long farm practice. But it’s still being done today. However, one thing you must forget is that people don’t burn grasses for no just cause. There are specific reasons for doing that. Let’s look at those reasons.
1. Encourage diversity
One reason burning is a great practice is that it helps to promote plant diversity. So, if you have a single plant in your field and would like to have others around, burning is a wise choice.
When you visit fields with diverse grasses, you’ll discover that diversity is why the field is looking captivating and beautiful. And there’s no quicker way to promote plant diversity than burning the existing ones.
2. Weed control
When people state that farming is challenging, one of the reasons is the presence of weeds. Weeds are unwanted plants growing in an undesirable place.
Weeds tend to compete with the main plant for everything. These include water, nutrient, sunlight, and space, etc. Weeds can make the primary plants encounter challenges growing to their full potential.
You can weed manually or apply chemicals. Both processes eliminate the weed. However, using chemicals to keep weeds off your garden or field can seriously affect the main crops. Rain may also wash and deposit the chemical in a nearby river or stream.
So, burning is a cost-effective way to control or get rid of weeds. You’ll not only have the option of controlling woody weeds but do the same to trees. You can also use burning to limit the growth of trees in certain areas.
3. Encourage the growth of fresher and tender grass
Every rancher’s wish is to feed their livestock with new grass. Nutrient concentration in such grasses is always high. And the livestock enjoys consuming such grasses the more.
So, how do you promote the growth of fresh and tender grasses in an area dominated by mature grasses? The simple answer is by burning down the existing grasses.
After burning, give the field 15 to 20 days. When you return, you’ll see fresh and tender grasses springing up. So, burning is a cost-effective and straightforward way to invigorate old farmland or a field that has been lying fallow for years.
4. Promote soil compaction and control erosion
If you have a piece of land that’s erosion-prone, burning can help you solve the problem indirectly. But don’t get it twisted. Burning won’t fix or make the soil less prone to erosion.
The role it plays is this. After you succeed in burning down the grass in a field, expect fresh, tender, and nutrient-packed grasses to spring up after a couple of weeks.
The presence of fresh and new grasses will encourage cattle to visit the area. And as they walk freely on the land, expect some form of soil compaction.
5. Boast growth of wildlife population
If you don’t understand the benefits of burning grasses, you’ll view it as destructive. On the contrary, that isn’t the case. And burning does help to encourage the growth of the wildlife population.
Observe a field that has remained standing for many years without burning. You’ll discover woody encroachment that provides a hiding place for predators. Most animals would not come to an area with tall trees or grasses. Why? Predators could be hiding behind those trees or tall grasses.
So burning can help clean up a field and enable wildlife to have clear views of the area. It will help boost the survival rate of animals that occasionally fall victim to predators.
6. Gives room for the use of little or no chemicals
You can use chemicals to eliminate tall grasses and trees growing among grasses. However, several factors make the use of chemicals a terrible choice.
The first is cost. If you plan to cover a large area, you’ll undoubtedly need more chemicals. And that means splashing out a considerable sum.
Another reason the use of the chemical is a wrong choice is labor. If you plan to spend lesser time applying chemicals on the field, you’ll undoubtedly need more workers’ help.
With burning, you don’t need a large group of people. The primary thing is to liaise with the local authorities to agree on an appropriate time to burn down the pastures.
Will Burnt Grass Grow Back?
Yes, it can grow back. But that would hinge on how far gone the grass is. So, factors that determine when, if and how your burnt grass will grow back include the soil’s moisture, time of the year the burning, including the amount of heat used.
There are tons of grass seeds within the soil. So, after a series of rain, you can expect the grasses to start growing. The rain and potassium help to form potassium, which the grasses need for their growth.
You should also remember that if you reseed your field and water appropriately, the grasses may start growing within the next 30 days. In 60 days, the grass would have emerged and become visible throughout the field.
A Handy tip: In the case of wildfire, expect lands that boast perennial grass to recover within a period of 2 to 3 years. And keep in mind that fire destruction mainly affects grasses that boast finer leaves and denser growth forms. Example of such grasses includes rough fescue and the needlegrass.
You must apply the proper technique when burning the grasses on your lawn. By so doing, you’ll lower the recovery time of your yard and ensure weed doesn’t occupy the damaged area.
However, have in mind that there’s a high possibility that badly burnt grasses could die back in several areas. In such cases, you’ll find bare spots here and there.
Is Burning Grass Good For the Soil?
Burning is great for the soil. But as the popular saying goes, “too much of anything is bad.” Burning helps in controlling weed and keeping pests at bay. Yields might increases in some seasons after burning. That’s the fundamental truth.
However, burning now and then can be bad for the soil. It can literarily destroy the soil. So, avoid long-term burning.
Burning grasses now and then leads to soil erosion and eliminates beneficial organisms in the soil. And what’s more, you could start experiencing low yield once the soil is badly damaged.
Long-term burning reduces the soil’s nutrient pool, organic matter, water retention ability, and soil aeration. The soil won’t be able to hold nutrients released from fertilizers or even the ash itself.
Is Burning Grass Bad For the Environment?
Yes, the burning of yard wastes like leaves, twigs, and grasses is terrible for the environment for many reasons. Let’s go through the various reasons.
1. Air pollution
The smoke from the burning of grasses releases harmful substances such as ozone-forming nitrogen and carbon monoxide. These substances can cause respiratory issues in humans or asthma attacks for asthmatic patients.
Research has also shown that the burning of grasses is as dangerous as the smoke from cigarettes.
2. Danger of instigating wildfire
The burning of grasses can quickly get out of control. And when this happens, it could start a wildfire or burn down a property.
3. Water and soil pollution
When you burn grasses, the smoke won’t rise and remain in the atmosphere. When the rain falls, it washes the smoke down and sends them into water bodies. This creates an unhealthy habitat for aquatic life.
Can You Burn Grass in a Fire Pit?
Yes, you can. But unfortunately, you can’t burn too much grass at the same time. Additionally, you can’t stick around to watch the grasses burn gradually or place the grass in the fire pit while it burns.
The primary reason you can’t stay near the fire pit while the grass is burning is smoke. You may develop respiratory problems over time.
Furthermore, if you decide to put too much grass in the fire pit simultaneously, the spoil over ones might direct the fire into your lawn. In a nutshell, this can be dangerous, so avoid it.
So, why do people burn their grasses? We hope you understand the reason why after reading this post. People burn their grasses for various reasons, as you can see from our explanation. However, grass burning is a dicey practice.
If you have an asthmatic patient nearby while burning your grass, that person could suffer an asthmatic attack. And burning the grasses in a particular field for the long term can destroy the soil. How you burn or the amount of heat applied will determine how quickly the grasses would re-grow.