Publication: Field Burning
Files in English
The practice of burning unwanted vegetation to prepare land for sowing crops or other farming activities is a worldwide and long-standing practice. Its tenacity, despite its harmful consequences for air quality, soil health, and the climate is a testament to its convenience and acceptance among farmers across a wide range of farming systems and agroclimatic zones. Burning is so broadly perceived as being natural that even its immediate toxicity is generally overlooked. Overall, there is no greater source of primary fine carbonaceous particles than biomass burning, and it is the second largest source of trace gases in the atmosphere. Yet while the polluting effects of burning are seldom a concern of agricultural producers, the act of burning often defies farmers’ own understanding of the multiple benefits of biomass residues, which include nourishing and improving soils. That said, the embrace in the past two decades of alternatives such as no-till farming on a fairly wide scale in parts of Europe, Asia, and especially the Americas, demonstrates that change is possible with the right mix of public sector support and regulation.
“Cassou, Emilie. 2018. Field Burning. Agricultural Pollution;. © World Bank, Washington, DC. http://hdl.handle.net/10986/29504 License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.”