With landholders making use of cooler weather to get some burning done, Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is warning that the mistake of tossing waste into the flames when burning off can be costly for farmers and the environment.
EPA South West Regional Manager Carolyn Francis says many waste items turn toxic the moment they go into the fire.
“Farm waste items like silage wrap, chemical containers and old tyres don’t burn properly, but it will produce toxic smoke, and can send residue into waterways and create chemical contamination that persists in the soil. Send it to landfill or a recycling facility,” Ms Francis said.
Silage wrap, some chemical containers and tyres can be recycled into building and fencing materials and floor matting. There’s information on waste disposal and recycling at sustainability.vic.gov.au or on your local council website.
Fallen trees or other natural wood being burnt should be as dry as possible to keep down the volume of smoke, and farmers should make sure they have any relevant council or CFA permits. Timber from buildings, furniture or other manufactured products must not be burnt because it has probably been chemically treated.
EPA can fine offenders more than $8,000 for burning anything other than vegetation-sourced matter like timber and crop stubble.
“Most farmers understand the importance to their livelihood and their community of preventing contamination of the soil, water and air around them, and EPA uses a fine as a last resort,” Ms Francis said.
“By thinking twice about what goes onto the pile when burning off, you can protect the environment and the wellbeing of your farm, your family and your neighbours,” she said.
EPA urges people to report suspected pollution to the EPA on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).