With careful planning and management, prescribed burns can be beneficial to grazing pastures and wildlife management.
“Don’t just go out and burn – think about what you are wanting to improve,” explained Warren Valenti, private land conservationist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Burn Plans
Before you burn consider talking to your local Conservation Department, Natural Resource Conservation Service or Soil and Water Conservation District to establish a burn plan. A burn plan will consider the burn’s objectives, set requirements for weather conditions, determine a plan for smoke dispersal and include contingency plans in case the fire escapes.
Stick to your plan and call the burn off if anything isn’t right. “If you follow the burn plan as it is written you should not have a problem but you will always want a fire escape plan,” said Valenti. There is always a slight chance that something will not go according to plan and having a fire escape plan is very crucial.

Weather Conditions
The most important factor determining the success of your burn is weather. Wind direction and speed, frontal passage, precipitation, humidity and temperature will all affect how the burn will be conducted, how the fire will behave, how difficult it will be to control and how well smoke will disperse. You should follow weather forecasts to determine the appropriate date and time to burn.

Train, plan and equip for your prescribed burn prior to fire ignition. Safety is the number one thing to consider when conducting a prescribed burn. Protective clothing is a must. Wear only clothing made of natural fibers and cover the body, legs, arms and hair. “Because prescribed burning can be a strenuous and stressful task people who have health problems, such as heart conditions, high blood pressure and respiratory diseases, should not be a part of the burn crew,” warned Valenti.

Burn Crew and Equipment
Everyone involved in the burn crew should be briefed on the burn plan. Each person should be familiar with basic prescribed burning and firefighting techniques. Crew size should depend on the area to be burned – more people are needed the bigger the burn area.
Two types of equipment are needed: something to ignite the fire such as a drip torch and something to repress the fire including one to two good units of water, rakes and fire swatters (a thick, flexible runner pad on a long handle for swatting out flames).  

Why Burn in the Spring?
Spring burning will promote warm-season grasses and will stump cool-season growth. Native warm-season grasses, such as Big Bluestem, Indiangrass, Eastern Gammagrass and Switchgrass, respond with increased vigor, growth and competitiveness when they are burned with 1” to 1 1/2” of new growth.


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