Wednesday, May 2

canola fire

Visitors to the wheat belt in late autumn may believe they have arrived in a wide spread pagan ritual, as parallel lines of fire zebra the treeless paddocks.  Either that or an OCD pyromanic is lighting organised and controlled fires for a night time thrill.  No, it is the common practice of burning canola windrows for weed control as part of a no-till practise on sandy loam soils.  Canola is used in a mixed crop rotation to break the cycle of pests and diseases hosted by cereals. This year the same paddock will be seeded with wheat.  Burning the canola swath is an effective form of weed management, and lessens the reliance on herbicides while minimising the disturbance of top soil.  While the romantic vision may be of a farmer walking the windrows with a box of matches, the scale of broad acre cropping sees a ute hugging the windrows, and a flame thrower fuelled by a potent mix of petrol and diesel hung off the side to ignite the parched stems. 

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