MCSE Annual Spring Burn
In use from 1997-03-31
The Early Successional treatment (T7, starting in 1997) and the prairie strips of the Reduced Input (T3) and Biologically Based (T4) treatments (starting in 2021) of the LTER Main Cropping System Experiment (MCSE) are burned annually in the spring to inhibit the growth of woody species. Burning occurs as early as conditions allow each spring, typically between mid-March and early April, and is usually done between 10am and 3pm.
Prior to starting burn:
Early Successional Treatment (T7):
All six replicate plots of T7 are burned annually. Each 1 ha plot is 87m by 105m, surrounded by 9m wide turf alleyways.
Personnel required: At least 8 people need to be present to burn the T7 plots, though 10-12 people are preferable. This allows for 2 people with drip torches, a person to accompany each of those people, and then at least one person monitoring each side of the plot.
Procedure to set fire:
1. Determine the wind direction.
2. Start with a backburn by first lighting two sides of the plot that are downwind. For example, if the wind is out of the northwest, then start by burning the south and east sides of the plot.
3. Typically two people with drip torches start at the same corner and work away from one another. With a NW wind as an example, burning starts in the SE corner of the plot. One person with a torch walks to the north along the east edge, dripping burning fuel along the east perimeter of the plot. The other person walks west along the south edge of the plot, dripping burning fuel along the south perimeter of the plot. Adjust corners and walking directions according to the prevailing wind direction.
4. Once the backburn has burned several meters into the plot, then fire can be dripped along the other two sides of the plot. The fire will move quicker at this point because the wind can help carry it across the plot.
Prairie Strips of the Reduced Input (T3) and Biologically Based (T4) Treatments:
Prairie strips run down the center of all six replicate plots of the T3 and T4. They are 4.5 meters wide and run the full length (north-south) of the plot (105m). The northern most 3m (10 feet) of each strip is left unburned.
Personnel required: At least 8 people need to be present to burn the prairie strips, though 10-12 people are preferable. This allows for 1-2 people with drip torches and at least 3 people spread along each side of the strip for monitoring and containment. One person should remain with the water trailer.
Procedure to set fire:
1. Prior to burning, measure 3m from the northern plot edge into the strip and mark with plastic flags at each corner.
2. Park the water trailer in the alleyway just north of the prairie strip to be burned. Spray water all along the southern edge of the 3-meter no-burn microplot between the marking flags to help ensure the microplot remains unburned.
3. Determine the wind direction.
4. Start with a backburn by first lighting the side of the prairie strip that is downwind. For example, if wind is out of the west, then start by burning the east side of the strip.
5. Typically two people with drip torches start together in the longitudinal center of the downwind side of the prairie strip and walk away from one another toward the north and the south.
6. Because the prairie strips are only 4.5m wide, a backburn should be all that is necessary to carry the fire across the entire strip.
Date modified: Wednesday, Dec 06 2023