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Fire Ecology

Why Implement Patch Burning?

Why Implement Patch Burning?

In several of the comparisons between patch burning and traditional management, no differences were found between the two practices. So, if patch burning and traditional management do not differ, why use patch burning?

We have found we can achieve more consistently the following outcomes with patch burning than with traditional management:

  • Dependable use of prescribed fires
  • Greater fuel loads for prescribed burning
  • Ability to use prescribed burning without deferring grazing before burning
  • Does not require gathering or moving cattle before burning
  • Control of invasive plants without chemical or mechanical methods
  • Creation of a heterogeneous landscape that provides economic, environmental, and ecological benefits
  • Provides rest for each portion of a pasture for 2 to 3 years
  • Achieve uniform distribution of grazing use over the entire pasture (over a period of years)
  • Manage for drought by stockpiling forage
  • Requires feeding less protein supplement in the winter
  • Provide habitat for species of wildlife native to grassland, shrublands or forestlands

With patch burning all of the above mentioned benefits are attainable. So remember there may be several aspects of patch burning that show no difference to traditional management, but the overall benefits to the land and animals that use it are greater with patch burning.

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With patch burning, land managers can control invasive plants without chemical or mechanical methods, create a heterogeneous landscape that provides economic, environmental, and ecological benefits, rest each portion of a pasture for 2 to 3 years, and achieve uniform distribution of grazing use over the entire pasture (over a period of years). Photo Stephen Winters.

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