Oklahomans reminded of the benefits of prescribed fire
The recent rain has not dampened the spirits of researchers from Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources or their mission to promote prescribed burning in Oklahoma.
A new video, The Effects of Fire, VT-9999, was recently produced to highlight the benefits of prescribed burning and provide information for landowners with different land management objectives. Fire is nothing new to the state as throughout its history, the landscape had been burned by natural causes and American Indians, resulting in a diverse plant community.
"When you start using prescribed fire on the landscape, you'll see that cattle and wildlife diets are much broader than you typically would imagine," said Dwayne Elmore, OSU Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist. "Fire really changes what plants animals can consume and makes a lot more plants available to wildlife and cattle."
Fire will burn off unwanted species from the land, remove plant litter from the surface and expose the soil to the sun. This will provide for warmer soil, which allows plants to grow back very rapidly. These new plants are a good source of food, higher in quality than the older plants they replaced.
"A lot of times in the late summer, the nutritional content in many of the grasses is declining rapidly," said John Weir, rangeland ecology and management research associate.
Increase in nutritional content equates to an increase in cattle gains for stocker cattle producers. Forage also is better for wildlife, not to mention how much more visually appealing the landscape is with the inclusion of prescribed burning in its management, in addition to the removal of Eastern redcedar.
"The video answers a lot of questions from Oklahoma land managers about prescribed burning," Weir said. "It details the many different options and management techniques that can be used to get he most from the land, regardless of the management objectives."
The video is available by contacting your local county Extension office, or NREM Extension personnel at http://nrem.okstate.edu.