Agriculture

Frequently Asked Questions About the Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program

  1. What is crop residue?
  2. What is ‘non-crop herbage’ and which burning controls apply to it?
  3. Is burning trees and bush from land clearing restricted?
  4. What is the main intent of the Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program?
  5. What are some of the controls on the burning of crop residue?
  6. What is a daily burning authorization?
  7. How do I gain access to the daily authorizations?
  8. At what time will new daily authorizations be available on the toll-free answering system?
  9. Why are the daily authorizations delayed until 11:00 a.m.?
  10. How is the regulation enforced?
  11. What constitutes a good smoke dispersion day?
  12. Which strategies can help producers reduce the need to burn?
  13. What are the crop residue burning zones in the province?
  14. Why is night time burning banned year round?
  15. What is meant by ‘Burning Permit Area’?
  16. Who qualifies for a stubble burning permit?
  17. Which safety precautions must be taken when burning crop residue?
  18. Are there exceptions for small amounts of straw?
  19. Who is responsible for fires?

1. What is crop residue?

Crop residue is the straw, stubble or chaff from any crop, including baled or stacked crop material, and the remains of any unharvested crop.

2. What is ‘non-crop herbage’ and which burning controls apply to it?

Non-crop herbage is the growth that occurs in areas such as yards, ditches, rights-of-way, native pastures and waste areas. These areas may be burned between sunrise and sunset any day of the year. The year-round night ban still applies to non-crop herbage.

3. Is burning trees and bush from land clearing restricted?

The Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation (PDF 129KB) does not restrict burning trees and brush from land clearing. However, Manitoba Sustainable Development requires a permit for any burning within the Wooded District between April 1 and November 15.

4. What is the main intent of the Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Program?

The control of smoke is the main intent of the program. If weather forecasts are not favourable for the dispersion of smoke, some municipalities or burning zones may remain closed for a particular day.

5. What are some of the controls on the burning of crop residue?

  • The nighttime burning of crop residue and non-crop herbage is banned year round.
  • From August 1 to November 15 each year, burning is prohibited unless otherwise authorized.
  • Safe burning practices, including adequate fire-guarding and proper supervision, must be followed.
  • Smoke from any crop residue fire must NOT obscure any public roadway or create problems for neighbouring residents.
  • Manitoba Sustainable Development requires a permit for burning within the Burning Permit Area (Forestry Primary Protection Zone).
  • Burning within the boundaries of the City of Winnipeg is controlled by permits issued by the City and is conditional on the adjoining rural municipality being authorized for burning that day.
  • From November 16 of one year to July 31 the following year, daytime burning is allowed in all municipalities between sunrise and sunset.
  • Nighttime burning is banned year round.

6. What is a daily burning authorization?

During the fall period (August 1 to November 15), daytime burning is prohibited unless authorized. Most often, the intent is to allow for daily burning for some part of each day in most municipalities. Control of smoke is the main intent of the Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation (PDF 129KB). Therefore, if weather forecasts are not favourable for smoke dispersion, some municipalities may remain closed for a particular day.

On some days burning may be authorized, but the hours for burning may be limited because of persisting smoke from previous burning or weather forecasts indicating an unfavourable change in weather or wind direction. Authorizations for burning are occasionally made on windy or rainy days, as smoke dispersion conditions may be favourable and burning may proceed in localized areas where conditions are suitable.

7. How do I gain access to the daily authorizations?

Phone 1-800-265-1233 toll free or view the authorizations in English and French.

Authorizations are also faxed or emailed to radio stations, RCMP detachments and Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Sustainable Development and Manitoba Health offices.

The Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation (PDF 129KB) places responsibility on farmers to determine whether burning is authorized for their area on a particular day and for which hours.

  • New authorizations are issued on a daily basis from August 1 to November 15. Hours for authorized burning may change from day to day, depending on weather forecasts. It is important for farmers to check the toll-free messages daily for openings and hours to ensure that they are legally authorized to burn.
  • At the beginning and the end of the authorization period (August 1 to November 15) authorizations are often made for three- or four-day periods, but again, openings and times may change with each message, so farmers should always call first for accurate information.

8. At what time will new daily authorizations be available on the toll-free answering system?

Daily authorizations are available on the toll-free answering system by 11:00 a.m.

9. Why are daily authorizations delayed until 11:00 a.m.?

  • Daily authorizations are based on the forecasts for smoke dispersion. By delaying the start of burning to 11:00 a.m., officials can assess weather measurements and observations taken that morning rather than relying on those taken the night before. It is particularly important to scrutinize up-to-the-minute forecasts on days when dispersion conditions may be marginal.
  • Another reason is to allow overnight atmospheric inversions to disperse for better smoke dispersion when fires are lit.

10. How is the Regulation enforced?

Environment Officers from Manitoba Sustainable Development, RCMP and municipal police enforce the Regulation. Burning infractions are normally dealt with by issuing an Offence Notice (a ticket) under The Summary Convictions Act. Enforcement may also be carried out by laying a charge directly under The Environment Act; this would most likely be for repeat or more serious offences.

Tickets and charges laid may be served on the date of the infraction or at some date following the infraction. Tickets may be issued or charges laid for burning outside authorized hours, burning within municipalities or zones closed for the day, burning at night (any time of year), burning in an unsafe manner that adversely affects roadways or public health, burning without proper supervision or burning without proper fireguarding of fields.

Under The Summary Convictions Act, conviction carries a fine in excess of $2,000. For charges under The Environment Act, first-time fines for individuals may be up to $50,000.

View the Burning of Crop Residue and Non-Crop Herbage Regulation (Regulation 77/93 of The Environment Act) (PDF 129KB).

See also information about Enforcement of the Regulation.

11. What constitutes a good smoke dispersion day?

A good day for burning may not necessarily be a good day for smoke dispersion. Smoke is dispersed by mixing it with clean air. Generally, the greatest amount of clean air is available during the warmest part of the day and during periods of unstable weather (rainy or windy conditions). Warm, sunny days, often associated with high pressure systems, indicate that there is a limited amount of clean air with which to mix the smoke. While these conditions may be ideal for burning, smoke is often trapped near the ground and is unable to disperse.

See also Smoke Dispersion: the Key to it All.

12. Which strategies can help producers reduce the need to burn?

  • Do not over-fertilize with nitrogen.
  • Seed early.
  • Use cereal varieties that produce shorter straw.
  • Plan to bale.
  • Chop or harrow straw so that burning is not necessary.

13. What are the crop residue burning zones in the province?

There are four burning zones in Manitoba. The Red River/Southeast Zone, the Southwest Zone, the Northwest Zone and the Westlake/Interlake Zone. See the map of Manitoba Crop Residue Burning Zones.

In addition, maps outlining the four residue burning zones are available from district Agriculture and Conservation offices. They are also published in farm papers each fall. Crop Residue Burning Zone boundaries correspond closely with the Public Weather Forecast Regions of Atmospheric Environment Branch, Environment Canada, but have been adapted to follow municipal boundaries.

14. Why is night time burning banned year round?

Due to the occurrence of overnight inversions nearly every night, the smoke dispersion capabilities of the atmosphere at night are extremely limited. At night, smoke tends to linger close to the ground where it can cause health and safety concerns, rather than being mixed with clean air higher up in the atmosphere.

15. What is meant by ‘Burning Permit Area’?

The Burning Permit Area, or Primary Protection Zone, under The Fires Protection Act refers to specific forest areas the Manitoba government wishes to protect. In general, the Burning Permit Area includes areas within three miles of boundaries of Provincial Forests in Agro-Manitoba, municipalities east of Range 8E in southeastern Manitoba, municipalities north of Township 24 in the Interlake, the Municipality of Mountain (South) and unorganized areas of Manitoba.

The Burning Permit Area excludes much of the Swan River Valley, other than lands within three miles of the boundaries of the Duck Mountain and Porcupine Provincial Forests. Details regarding Burning Permit Area boundaries may be obtained from Manitoba Sustainable Development District Offices.

Manitoba Sustainable Development requires a permit for any burning, including crop residue, within the Burning Permit Areas between April 1 and November 15 each year. The permits for burning crop residue are conditional on the daily authorizations for that municipality and subject to the hours set in that authorization.

16. Who qualifies for a stubble burning permit?

All those requesting a permit must first complete a Permit Application Form obtained from a Manitoba Agriculture Office or Centre. You must identify the piece of land you are requesting a permit for (if the piece of land is a river lot, be sure to include the river lot number, Parish and acreage). A safety reason must also be clearly stated at the bottom of the application. For example, ‘I require a southwest wind to prevent smoke from traveling across PTH 1. The more clear and concise your application the more quickly it can be processed.

All permit applications should go through a Manitoba Agriculture Office or Centre. Try to have your permit requests sent in early, rather than on the same day you would like to burn. Manitoba Agriculture staff must carefully evaluate each permit request to ensure that the field does qualify for a permit and to determine the appropriate wind conditions. The permit must then be written up and distributed to the appropriate authorities and the applicant. Staff may be dealing with more than one request at a time, so if your request is received early (a few days prior to when you are ready to burn), the permit can be issued when you are ready to burn a field and when conditions are appropriate for doing so.

17. Which safety precautions must be taken when burning crop residue?

  • Cultivate a fireguard around the field.
  • Ensure windrows are dry to minimize smoke.
  • If winds are very light, ignite windrows at intervals of 30 to 40 feet (10 to 12 metres). If winds are moderate, burn against the wind.
  • Do not burn at all if the wind is likely to blow smoke toward nearby roadways, neighbours or communities.
  • Keep a constant watch over the fire. If fire or smoke creates a hazard on adjacent roadways, or if any other dangerous situation develops, call your local RCMP immediately.

18. Are there exceptions for small amounts of straw?

The Regulation provides for burning of small amounts of straw outside authorized hours, if the straw is immediately impeding field operations such as seeding or tillage. The straw accumulations may result from wind, rain or water (floats), a broken bale, a windrow less than 100 feet long or from stopping equipment. No more than three floats, windrows, bales or piles with a combined area of one acre may be burned at one time.

The exemption is not intended for finishing windrows after hours. Burning must be done at the time when seeding or tillage is underway in the field. If the straw accumulations are not impeding immediate seeding or tillage operations, burning must take place within authorized times. There are no exemptions for flax straw.

19. Who is responsible for fires?

The Regulation places responsibility for fires on the owner or occupier (including lessee) of the land on which the fire is burning.