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Science Backs Use of Stubble Burning

30 September 2013

NEW ZEALAND - Federated Farmers welcomes the Foundation of Arable Research’s & Environment Canterbury’s report on stubble burning.

The ‘Review of the role of stubble burning in New Zealand, including alternative options and possible improvements’ reports that crop residue/stubble, burning is a key tool used on arable farms and that the tool is used for good reason,” says Ian Mackenzie, Federated Farmers Grain & Seed Chairperson.

“Federated Farmers was involved in the research, which confirms what we already know; that crop residue/stubble, burning is not simply an indiscriminate tool to dispose of unwanted material, but a key cultural tool used for sound agronomic, economic and environmental reasons.

“New Zealand has some of the highest grain yields in the world, and that also translates to a lot more straw than is present in other countries. This unique challenge means that we need all tools available to arable farmers to control weeds and establish crops.

“It doesn’t mean that we have to burn every paddock every year, but it does mean that we can use it rotationally in order to avoid using more chemicals and more cultivation, which can damage the soil structure.

“The report also indicates that farmers are, by and large, using this tool responsibly and feedback from local councils is that most farmers are acting in accordance with regulations.

“There is a code of practice, developed by Federated Farmers, to manage some of the possible adverse effects of stubble burning and our members need to ensure that they are keeping to that.

“Above that, we also need to be good neighbours. There is a saying that where there is smoke there is fire and the opposite is also true. Growers who are using this tool must be considerate of wind direction and strength before lighting, particularly those close to built up areas.

“Federated Farmers is working with FAR leading up to harvest season to make sure that farmers are aware of their obligations, and to engage with rural communities, explaining just how vital to arable farming stubble burning is,” Mr Mackenzie concluded.

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