The spatial and temporal distribution of crop residue burning in the contiguous United States
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): J. L. McCarty; S. Korontzi; C. O. Justice; T. Loboda
Publication Year: 2009

Cataloging Information

  • agriculture
  • agriculture
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado
  • crop residue burning
  • cropland fires
  • croplands
  • distribution
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • Florida
  • GPS - global positioning system
  • Idaho
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • MODIS - Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • range management
  • remote sensing
  • remote sensing
  • soils
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 27, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 48193
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24272
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Burning crop residue before and/or after harvest is a common farming practice however; there is no baseline estimate for cropland burned area in the contiguous U.S. (CONUS). We present the results of a study, using five years of remotely sensed satellite data to map the location and areal extent of crop residue burning in the CONUS. Our burned area approach combines 500 m Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) data, with 1 km MODIS active fire counts calibrated using coincident high resolution satellite data to generate area estimates. Our results show that cropland burning is an extensive and recurring annual event in several states in the CONUS. On average, 1,239,000 ha of croplands burn annually, which is equivalent to 43% of the annual average area of wildland fires in the U.S., as reported by the United States Forest Service for the same period. Several states experience high levels (>30,000 ha yr-1) of crop residue burning, including Arkansas. California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Washington. Validation with high resolution burn scar imagery and GPS data collected during targeted field campaigns showed a moderate to high-level accuracy for our burned area estimates, ranging from 78 to 90%. Our approach provides a more consistent methodology for quantifying cropland burned area at regional scales than the previously available U.S. National and state-level statistics on crop residue burning. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

McCarty, J. L., S. Korontzi, C. O. Justice, and T. Loboda. 2009. The spatial and temporal distribution of crop residue burning in the contiguous United States. Science of the Total Environment, v. 407, no. 21, p. 5701-5712. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2009.07.009.