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Department of Agronomy

Kansas State University

1712 Claflin Rd.

2004 Throckmorton PSC

Manhatan, KS 66506



Extension Agronomy

Prescribed burning resources

The last scheduled Prescribed Burning Workshop will be held March 22, in Reserve, KS.  It will be held at the Community Building located at 305 N Main and will begin at 10:00 a.m.  Please RSVP to Taylor Hall by Wednesday, March 20 at 785-288-0189 or taylor.hall@sacfoxenviro.org.

Weather is a critical factor that influences fire behavior. Weather forecasts can be obtained from a number of sources, but the national weather service is a preferred source.  Go to http://www.weather.gov and click on Kansas.  Select a site on the map near the location you plan to burn.  Find the hourly weather forecast.  Good conditions for conducting a prescribed burn and minimizing the impacts of smoke include:

  • 45-70 degrees F temperatures
  • 40-55% relative humidity
  • 5-15 mph winds
  • mixing height >1800 feet
  • 30-50% cloud cover.

Next, check out the website http://www.ksfire.org and use the smoke dispersion model to determine where your smoke will go.  Click on the icon titled “Click Here to Access Smoke Model” to access the smoke model (Figure 1).

A color coded map showing the cumulative effects of burning in the Flint Hills area will appear (Figure 2). Green means small impact, yellow medium impact, and red large impact of smoke from burning on major cities. To determine the direction of the smoke, select “Your Fire Impacts”, followed by the county, fuel load, size (acres to burn), and date. The model will give a smoke plume over a 48-hour period. The smoke model only predicts where the smoke is likely to travel.  It does not mean environmental conditions are safe to burn.


Figure 1. Kansas Flint Hills Smoke Management homepage (www.ksfire.org)


Figure 2. Landing page for the Smoke Model resource.

Temperature inversions, which occur primarily in the late afternoon, at night, and in the early morning can also impact smoke dispersal. Consult the Kansas Mesonet at http://mesonet.k-state.edu/agriculture/inversion/ to determine the likelihood of a temperature inversion. The site indicates temperatures at 2 and 10 meters as well as wind speed and direction for various reporting stations.

Prescribed burning is an essential tool for maintaining the integrity of our prairies in Kansas. Plan well, burn safely, and remember smoke from your fire can have negative impacts downwind.



Walt Fick, Rangeland Management Specialist