Prairie burns held on campus will benefit plants and students alike

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A man carrying chemicals sprays a surrounding area in the aftermath of a prescribed burn. Photo by Andrew Hartnett

 

by Graciela Becerra

Features Editor

gbecerr1@jccc.edu

The Kansas Studies Institute and Center for Sustainability held two prairie burns on campus today.

Rebecca Layne, adjunct professor of environment science spoke about the benefits of burning prairies. 

“One thing that we’re trying to do at the JCCC prairie is to get rid of invasive species,” said Layne. “There are some invasives that have been coming in [and] we haven’t been able to burn [the prairie] since it’s been out here.”

An invasive called Lespedeza had moved into the field and getting rid of it was a large goal during the prairie burn, according to Layne.

“A couple other benefits of burning prairies would be things like adding carbon to the soil and other nutrients from the plants that burn,” she said. “Nitrogen comes out of the soil when you burn it and there’s an advantage to that because the native species are more adapted to it.”

Layne also explained that the warmth of the freshly burned area will aid in helping new plants grow. Additionally, environmental science students will also benefit from the experience.

“Once a year we come out here and do a little bit of measuring prairie plant diversity,” she said. “[Students] can look at things like dominance of certain plants [and] the effects of invasives. We’re just trying to advance what we’ve been doing so far with some comparisons for [students].”

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