In conjunction with the D.A.B. Farmers Group, the Ulster Farmers’ Union recently organised a ‘Controlled Heather Burning’ demonstration in the heart of the Sperrin Mountains.
With the deadline for controlled burning fast approaching on the 14th April, the event came at an opportune time and in near ideal weather conditions.
The centre of attention on the day was the practical heather burning demonstration kindly provided by the NI Fire and Rescue Service, with additional advice on hand from DARD and NIEA officials on considerations required before conducting a controlled burn.
The Fire Service explained that they are keen to help farmers focus on three key principles; managing flame length, flame speed and ensuring that an effective fire break boundary is in place when controlled burning is to be conducted.
The Fire Service would also encourage farmers where possible to work in a small team to monitor weather conditions and to ensure that the burn is done in as controlled a manner as possible.
Further advice can be sought by contacting the Fire Service Headquarters on 028 9266 4221 and speaking to one of their Wildfires Safety Officers.
UFU Hill Farming Chairman Ian Buchanan said: “This was an informative demonstration conducted by the Fire Service and came at an ideal time for those considering controlled heather burning by the 14th April.
“Some new controlled heather burning techniques and tools that can be used were on show and this will certainly help as farmers assess their options over the next few weeks. Controlled burning is a very effective management tool for overgrown heather and helps promote a fresh source of forage for livestock as well as safe habitats for wildlife in upland areas.
“We must however also keep health and safety at the forefront of our mind when conducting this work and we appreciate the initiative taken by the Fire Service to develop closer links with farmers on this important matter.”