Reducing Open Agricultural Burning in Ukraine: Soil, Air Quality, and Public Health Paths for European Integration
Dr. Joanne Hall (Post-Doctoral Research Associate) was invited to travel to Ukraine by the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative (ICCI) to present on monitoring open burning and emissions using satellites (2nd March – 8th March 2019). ICCI’s goal is to help facilitate the reduction of agricultural residue burning for the potential integration of Ukraine into the European Union. Four experts from the United States (Dr. Dan Devlin, Kansas State University; Dr. Don Reicosky, USDA (retired); Dr. Thanos Bourtsalas, Columbia University; and Dr. Joanne Hall, University of Maryland) were asked to present to farmers and researchers from the Institute of Soil Science (http://issar.com.ua/en) in Kharkiv, Ukraine and to government officials, various stakeholders, and journalists in Kiev, Ukraine. Both events were very successful, particularly in Kharkiv, where more than 100 people (many of them local farmers) were in attendance.
Ukraine is made up of over 50% cropland area. Although open burning is banned, Ukraine has one of the highest numbers of detected fires in Europe and the surrounding countries. Burning before corn planting in the spring and after the wheat harvest in the fall is a culturally ingrained process. ICCI’s aim for this event was to help educate farmers on the benefits of no-burn and no-till agriculture while also facilitating connections between various stakeholders. A number of representatives from various waste-to-energy companies were in attendance in Kiev and showed interest in utilizing the excess agricultural residue after observing how much energy is being lost via open burning.
Hopefully, these workshops are a first step toward reducing open burning in Ukraine.