Become FireSmart: Farm and acreage
By integrating some basic FireSmart principles into regular farming and ranching practices, you can reduce the potential threat of a wildfire to start and limit the impact of a wildfire that threatens your property. FireSmart farming practice is all about managing vegetation.
Dry grass, grain fields, hay fields and pastureland
Give yourself, your neighbours, your livestock and the firefighters a chance against wildfire by reducing dry grass and stubble to prevent a fire from escaping from your property and prevent a wildfire from coming into your yard:
- Cut the grass
- Grain fields near or next to buildings sites should be worked up
- If you have hay fields next to the yard, cut them as late in the season as possible to minimize re-growth
- Mow a strip next to a building site to act as a fire guard
- Allow livestock to graze in the fields next to the yard
- Till the outside perimeter of pastureland to create a fuel break
Fence lines and ditches
Unmanaged fence lines and ditches or roadsides usually have a large accumulation of grass, weeds, and brush which can act as a wick, carrying intense and quick-spreading fires into your yard, fields, and building sites.
- Manage the vegetation along fence lines and ditches
- Mow these areas at least once in the fall
- Herbicide or a weed eater can help to minimize vegetation underwires and between posts
- Check your corral lines are free from vegetation
Dry barrels are a magnet for sparks and embers and are one of the first things to ignite as a wildfire approaches. No matter how you store bales, once they ignite, the fire spreads quickly and can be difficult to control or extinguish.
- Fires can start in stored hay from radiant heat or spontaneous combustion. Ensure hay is cured to proper moisture content before storing.
- Minimize spread of fire from straw and hay bales. Store them a good distance from any structure or other bales
- Store winter supply of bales in a couple of different locations to minimize losses in the event of a fire
- Clean up all the old hay and straw
Granaries, Barns, Outbuildings, Unused Land, Open Areas and Dug Outs
You can apply vegetation management strategies to any structure to reduce the threat of wildfire. If you cannot easily get into these areas to mow the grass, livestock can make a good job of cleaning up for you. Don’t forget to manage vegetation in old corrals and unused corners of your yard. Keep areas around dugouts and other water sources free of vegetation. This not only reduces the spread of wildfire but it helps provide ready access for firefighters and their equipment.
For more tips and suggestions check out the FireSmart Farm and Acreage Magazine (external link).