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How to Protect our Farms from Wildfires

I have previously stated in one of my previous articles that the world is witnessing a climate change era. And one of the impacts of climate is believed to be wildfires. It is an uncontrolled fire that is capable of wiping away land areas and crops.

Climate change can alter temperature and precipitation levels, making farmland areas drier. And once a fire is started by lightning strikes or human errors, the dried land areas (affected by climate change) may fuel and/or increase the fire’s magnitude, thereby causing severe damages to farm crops in surrounding areas

This issue can cause farmers to record financial losses if they are caught unaware or unprepared for it. Not only does it have negative financial impacts on farmers, it also damages land areas, making them lose their natural qualities, thereby rendering them unsuitable for growing farm crops.

The good thing is that wildfires do not mean the end of the world; it is just another form of environmental risks, which can be controlled or prevented.

How do we prevent them?

Wildfires can be prevented in many ways on the farm.

Weather check: Farmers do engage in land clearing and burning activities to clean and tidy up farmlands. Some of these involve the burning of farm materials such as dry leaves and trimmings. It is important for farmers to check the weather to ascertain the likeliness and unlikeliness of the occurrence of high winds before burning any item. This is because high winds fires can spread fires to far-away drier land areas, thereby increasing the magnitude of the fire and causing severe havoc.

Monitoring: If the need arises for farmers to burn farm materials, it is vitally important for them to pay close attention to the fire and never leave the site before the fire is completely out. Also, any burning activities should be done in a controlled environment.

Cigarette: Farmers should always create a safe collection for burnt cigarettes. This will prevent farm visitors or workers from littering them on farmlands. Littered cigarettes are sometimes not put-off completely and disposed improperly on ground surfaces. This can create wildfires if in contact with combustible materials in dried farmlands.

Land areas: The topography of the land where farms are located can have a real impact on wildfires. Fires tend to spread rapidly in uphill areas compared to downhill ones. Also, it is easier to combat a fire outbreak from behind than in situations, which require one to get in front of the fire.

It is noteworthy that gardens are treasures and treasured not only by homeowners but by neighbours and visitors as well. And these measures can be used to protect gardens in our homes against wildfires.

Spillages/Leakages: Commercial farmers use fuels for many agricultural activities and there is a possibility of these fuels spilling onto grasses. In the event a fire, such affected grasses might burn very fast and heavily, increasing the fire’s magnitude, and spreading to other farmland areas, causing severe damage to farm crops. As a result, fuels should be handled with ultimate care in the farm. Also, there should be close monitoring of fuel containers to ensure they contain no leakages.

4 Comments

  1. A key issue in any Permaculture plan includes-
    -initial property choice
    -the strategic planting of fire retardant plants and trees
    -browsing livestock use for grass overgrowth risk reduction
    -rubbish timber burial for Hugelculture construction
    -fire retardant building design and safe building provision
    -property exit strategies
    -fireproof water storage and firefighting equipment
    -removal of high fire risk vegetation

    1. Sad to hear of people still burning leaves. Apart from burning leaves in the country, being a fire hazard, leaves are natures way of protecting the top soil from drying out and becoming sand.
      Leaves are also the carbon component in compost making. They are mostly still organic and unsprayed too. If you need to clear leaves off drive ways and cement areas, put them on the garden and give the rest to people and places who use them. Easy to put an ad up on a notice board in a local library etc.

  2. Being from a country often devastated from fires, Portugal, often started illegally by men and due to both eucalyptus monocultures and climate change, i don’t see the usefulness of this article, I am sorry to say. Despite the very good intentions here.

    If you have a permaculture food forest surrounded by pine and eucalyptus monocultures, your food forest will still burn, irregardless of what you may design and do. Many of my Permaculture Portuguese friends lost their properties this here, to devastating fires. This summer had extreme heatwaves. A very sad story. Despite their best efforts.

    I guess this situation applies also to parts of south France, Australia and California. Especially as climate warms.

    Best thing is to purchase property in coastal areas and away from those monocultures, and plant thick edges of broadleaf trees (poplars, Holm oaks) and cypresses around as they might slow or stop the fire. Locating your property downhill in a river valley also helps. Putting as many swales and ponds as possible.

  3. Any property can be fire-safed with judicious plantings and removals. First, 30′ defensible space around buildings, ie allow no trees, brush or flammables. Second, Use fire-proof building materials, or at least painted white to repel radiant energy. Third, parallel to the prevailing breeze or to any fire approach direction, plant 3 rows of the less flammable type trees, 20′-30′ apart, to slow but not stop air flow. Wind can gradually filter through this windbreak whilst losing any traveling sparks in the green foliage. An abrupt windbreak causes turmoil which can fan embers and feed a fire. With nothing flammable near the buildings, and wind gradually slowed in its approach to them, your buildings cannot catch fire.

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