Preparing the field – spring burns

As we work to expand our vegetable field this year, we decided that a spring burn would be in order. The lower portion of the field had had some cover crops, but still a lot of grass, and burns can remove some of the dead material while contributing to soil fertility. In addition, given our goal of restoring our pastures to a more natural native prairie ecology, working with fire will be a necessity to suppress invasives and encourage natives. So on a calmish day, shortly after rain, and late enough that some greening had occured, we burned our lower vegetable field and a test patch of pasture above:

We hit the conditions perfectly, as there was enough fuel remaining to keep the fire moving, but enough greening to suppress any extensive growth. We had recently trenched the future fenceline, which provided a nice firebreak, and I had back-burned along parts of this first to give extra protection. The fire just quietly licked its way along the front, consuming what was left and leaving better ground behind. In years to come, we’ll move toward a regular cycle of burns in the pastures, but this was a good start. In months to come, I’ll post some paired photos of the burned areas’ condition compared to non-burned.

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