Agricultural fires continue to burn in the Indochina region as evidenced by this true-color image captured on April 22, 2014 by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite.
Red hotspots and plumes of smoke, typical of actively burning fires, speckle the green areas of Bangladesh (west), India (center) and Burma (southeast). Compared to earlier images, the number of fires burning seems to have lessened in this late-April capture, but smoke and haze still hangs heavily over the region.
Fire is used in cropland areas for pest and weed control and to prepare fields for planting, as well as to freshen pasture and open land for agricultural use. Crop residue burning helps farmers as it is a cheap and effective method to remove excess residue. If this excess residue is not removed, future seeding is prevented by shading out the next crop and facilitating mold growth. Crop residue burning also provides a short-term ash fertilization effect.
Although this seasonal burning helps farmers with their crops, it has detrimental effects as well. Vast amounts of smoke are released into the atmosphere causing air pollution and adversely affecting health, especially to those with respiratory concerns.