Story: Arable farming

Burning stubble

Burning stubble

After a crop has been headed by a combine harvester, the straw is left in rows. Stubble, the short stems left uncut, also remains. Some farmers bale the straw to remove it from the paddock and plough in the stubble. Others burn the field after the harvest to clear off both the straw and stubble. This paddock is being burned off. The edge of the paddock has been ploughed so the fire cannot spread to the surrounding countryside. Stubble burning is a controversial practice. In one view it is considered environmentally unacceptable due to the emission of particulate matter and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the loss of organic matter that could be returned to the soil. However, in another view, stubble burning is considered to be a rapid and economical method of dealing with crop residues, as it minimises the need for cultivation and pesticide use, and is particularly valued prior to drilling small-seeded crops such as ryegrass and clover.

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How to cite this page:

Sue Zydenbos, 'Arable farming - Harvesting', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 December 2021)

Story by Sue Zydenbos, published 24 Nov 2008