All About Prescribed Burning
Rural Life - Nov 15, 2021

All About Prescribed Burning

Learn about Controlled Burning Practices and Get Certified to Perform Them

Did you know that 34.41 million acres of Mississippi and Louisiana are forestland? That makes up 65 percent of Mississippi’s land base, and 50 percent of Louisiana’s. That’s a lot of vegetation, environment, and animal life to keep healthy. And fire is a big part of that.

The Benefits of Prescribed Burning

It’s rare that we hear about fires as a good thing, but they are an important and vital tool used by trained professionals to keep forests and woodlands healthy. The fact is, there are several ecosystems that depend on fire to flourish. The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that a prescribed fire can:

  • Reduce hazardous fuels
  • Minimize the spread of pest insects and disease
  • Remove unwanted species that threaten species native to an ecosystem
  • Provide forage for game
  • Improve habitat for threatened and endangered species
  • Recycle nutrients back to the soil
  • Promote the growth of trees, wildflowers, and other plants

Prescribed fire, also called a controlled burn, is performed during particular times and under certain conditions to limit any threat to the public, or uncontrollable spreading. These burns are carefully planned by burn managers. Plans include maps, the best times to burn, and burn targets. Burn targets usually include dead grass, fallen branches, dead trees, and thicker sections of undergrowth. 

Types of Controlled Burns

According to National Geographic, there are typically two types of prescribed burns: broadcast burning and pile burning. Broadcast burning includes large, controlled fires across hectares of land. Pile burning, on the other hand, is focused on smaller, individually burned piles of vegetation or debris. The second is more commonly used when conditions for broadcast burning aren’t safe, or to burn remnants of forest thinning and logging operations.

Performing a Prescribed Fire

If you own a tract of land that could benefit from a prescribed fire, the first step is to call a professional. Controlled burns are carefully planned and executed by trained personnel with specific goals. Nobody should start lighting fires on their land without the guidance of a trained burn manager.

Interested in becoming a burn manager? There’s a training program for that.

Prescribed Burn Trainings


The Mississippi Forestry Commission offers the Prescribed Burning Short Course several times a year. This class allows anyone in Mississippi to become a Certified Prescribed Burn Manager.

Though the class is normally for several days, it has been condensed to a one-day session due to COVID-19.

To complete the one-day Prescribed Burning Short Course, participants must first complete the online delivery of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group’s (NWCG) course “S-190 – Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior.”

Visit Mississippi Forestry Commission to learn more.


The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry offers a Certified Prescribed Burner Program. Act #589, passed in 1993, instructs the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to conduct the training required for people to meet the standards for identification as a Certified Prescribed Burner. 

In order to meet the standards for identification as a Certified Prescribed Burner, an individual must:

  • Have received either formal or on-the-job training in prescribed burning
  • Have conducted five burns as the supervising professional
  • Burn with a written prescribed burn plan
  • Adhere to all Louisiana Voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines and Voluntary Best Management Practice Guidelines
  • Meet the Louisiana Notification of Burn directives
  • Successfully pass the certification exam with a score of 70% or higher

If you’re interested in completing the program, contact your preferred contractor from the prescribed burning contractor list provided. Visit Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry to learn more.

Financing For Your Future Forest

If you own land, and you’re looking to utilize a prescribed fire to better nourish your land, please be safe. Get the training you need and leverage control fires appropriately. If you’re looking for land to care for, whether as a timber and forest product, hunting and recreational land, or country home, Southern AgCredit can help! Get in touch with us today and let’s explore your financing options.