This is a picture taken during our latest prescribed burn. We were burning an area in our CP-33 in the creek bottoms in Dec ’08.
At the Louis Kappelmann Farm prescribed burning is an important tool in maintaining the diversity and succession in the areas where we have performed our restoration work.
For example in the areas where we have done NWSG and Wildflower restorations we will burn the area every three years. If it is a large area we will divide it into thirds and burn one third each year. That way the remaining two thirds is there to support animal life through the winter with food and cover. Burning helps by releasing nutrients into the soil and also clearing the dead matter collecting at ground level from year to year. This is especially important for the Bob
White Quail when they are raising their chicks which start out about the size of a bumble bee. They must have this open brood rearing cover that is open underneath but with overhead cover for protection. Without burning, the yearly accumulation of dead plants creates an impenetrable barrier through which the quail cannot navigate. This is one important component to good quail habitat. Another benefit to burning every three years is to set back the tree sprouts and other brush that will come up and eventually take over. If the fire isn’t hot enough to knock the sprouts back we will usually follow up by going over the area with a brush hog to keep the sprouts from getting any bigger. The seasonal timing of the burn will also have an effect on the results. Burning in the late summer or fall will decrease the native grasses while increasing the wildflowers and burning in early spring will have the opposite effect.
We also use prescribed burning in many of our wooded areas and where we have done Timber Stand Improvement. Here it helps to open up the woodlands providing more sunlight to the ground which promotes plant diversity and better wildlife cover.
Burning is a great tool but always make sure that you get either professional help or proper training before performing a burn on your property. You are responsible for the damages to your neighbors property should the fire get away from you. The MDC regularly offers burn workshops throughout Missouri which will educate you on properly conducting prescribed burns.