Impact of the Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program

The Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program has been in operation since the fall of 1993. Since that time the incidence of smoke events in the province has been greatly reduced. This reduction is the primary result of producer willingness to comply with the Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation. The occurrence of smoke events has been further reduced by producer compliance with the year-round ban on night burning. Although producers would prefer to burn their stubble at night (conditions are such that the fire is easier to control and they are able to burn only the swaths), the majority of producers recognize the implications for human health and safety associated with this practice.

Furthermore, there are more farmers that do not burn than there are farmers that do burn, in all areas of the province. It has been estimated that only about five percent of producers in the province actually burn excess straw.

Although compliance has been satisfactory, there have still been a number of occasions where illegal burning has created some difficult and dangerous situations. Compliance with the program is in the best interest of the producer. Crop residue burning is a practice with environmental and social implications and producers must seriously consider adopting alternative practices for crop residue management, leaving crop residue burning as a last resort when wet soils and excessive amounts of straw make the practice necessary. The result of non-compliance could be a province-wide ban on crop residue burning.