Helping the grass seed industry douse the flames of a burning conflict


Oregon is the world’s number-one producer of cool-season forage and turf grasses. Grass seed growers used to burn the stubble left after harvest to remove straw and kill disease organisms. But back in 1969, on a hot August afternoon, smoke from field burning resulted in a 12-car collision on Interstate 5 and the death of a pedestrian. Field burning became an issue of public safety as well as public health.

Since then, AES and Extension agronomists have worked closely with the industry to develop grass seed varieties and field management techniques that do not require burning. The result has been a 10-fold reduction in acres burned. Dave Nelson of the Oregon Seed Council called it “one of the greatest political redirections of agriculture in the U.S.”

Media Image: 
field burning
Credit Text: 
Lynn Ketchum
Caption Text: 
Grass seed field burning, Silverton. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)