Farmers must continue securing permits before burning stubble following the province’s decision last week to extend the requirement to Dec. 4.
The province announced the measure last Thursday after receiving complaints from the public about smoke billowing across parts of southern Manitoba and into Winnipeg from fires lit after Nov. 15.
That was the last day permits are ordinarily required under regulation governing crop residue burning in Manitoba.
Without the restrictions in effect after last Sunday, some farmers started burning in wind and atmospheric conditions that created smoke, provincial agricultural meteorologist Andrew Nadler said.
“There was some burning that shouldn’t have happened,” he said.
Burning this late in the year poses an additional risk for creating nuisance smoke, because smoke tends to stay lower to the ground and doesn’t disperse into the atmosphere as it will in August or September, the meteorologist said.
“This time of year smoke carries for long, long distances and we’ve seen that. We received quite a few complaints, mostly from Winnipeg, due to smoke.”
Nadler said he thinks this may be the latest the permit requirement has been extended since crop residue burning regulation came into effect in 1993.
Nadler said more burning than usual took place throughout the season due to this year’s weather and harvest conditions, but points out that during the permitted period – Aug. 1 to Nov. 15 – no problems were observed. That shows those farmers acting responsibly and using common sense don’t create the problems, he added.
Under the permit program, authorizations are issued for certain hours and in certain areas of the province based on
“I think farmers
definitely do not want to lose this as a tool in their tool box.”
– ANDREW NADLER, MAFRI METEOROLOGIST
weather, moisture and favourable smoke dispersal conditions. Night burning is banned year round.
“We all must use good judgment when burning and ensure that we act responsibly so that burning remains available as an option,” Keystone Agricultural Producers vice-president Rob Brunel said in a release, urging farmers not to create problems that could spell trouble for everyone.
“I think farmers definitely do not want to lose this as a tool in their tool box,” Nadler added. “But if issues like these do come about there will be more and more public pressure to not allow burning, or to keep increasing the restrictions.”
Burning permit forms and information are available by calling the MAFRI toll-free information line at 1-800-265-1233 or on the Internet at www.gov.mb.ca/agricultureunder “Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program.”
Meanwhile last week, Manitoba’s Fire Commissioner also issued a plea to landowners, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts to be extra vigilant about any fire setting during the tinderbox conditions Manitoba is experiencing during this snowless, windy November.
At week’s end the Office of the Fire Commissioner, Manitoba Conservation and the RCMP were investigating several human-caused fires causing problems in the region west of Lake Manitoba.
Residue burning in fields, as well as grassfires, appear to be causes, Chief Fi re Commissioner Chris Jones said last Thursday. The hot exhaust pipes from quads may have also ignited fires, he added.
Members of the public should check with their municipal officials to find out if any burning bans are in effect, he added. Municipalities impose burning bans on the advice of their own fire chiefs.
The R. M. of Alonsa posted a fire ban Nov. 18 after fire departments serving its area were kept extremely busy fighting fires in the municipality, said Alonsa’s CAO.
People who set fires they subsequently lose control of can be charged under the Fi res Prevent ion and Emergency Response Act and the Wildfires Act for their actions.