At this time of year, some farmers elect to burn off their stubble. Stubble management is a complex issue. Traditionally, grain growers have burnt stubble to manage weeds, diseases and reduce biomass to make sowing easier. According to Agriculture Victoria, this is no longer the preferred option for a variety of reasons; and numerous other methods can be used to manage stubble.
Retaining stubble, rather than burning or cultivating, protects the soil from erosion. It also conserves soil moisture and organic matter to sustain crop production. This is particularly beneficial in dry areas or in dry seasons.
There are many factors to consider when making decisions regarding stubble; and to assist in that process, Agriculture Victoria has produced the following document – summarising the pros and cons (also available with other information on their website).
Consideration also needs to be given to the protection of paddock trees and other native plants. Another Stubble Burning Fact Sheet was produced last year by DELWP, and can be found on their website.