AlphaFire: A Unique Burn Experience

AlphaFire: A Unique Burn Experience

AlphaFire: Revolutionizing Tools for Prescribed Burning Efficiency Reading AlphaFire: A Unique Burn Experience 3 minutes

By: Mark Morales

I recently had the opportunity to assist with a unique prescribed burn, one that was a first for me. I helped the folks at Alpha Innovations burn a 95-acre pecan orchard for some of their friends.

Unlike a typical broadcast burn, this was burning quarter-mile rows of pecan leaf litter and small limbs and twigs. A tractor using a PTO-powered blower moved the leaf litter away from the trees, and then a tractor with a rake attachment created the rows. This system kept the fire away from the boles of the trees and made the rows easy to access. When we arrived the prep work was well underway.
We started at 11:30 to give the tractors a head start, and let the fuels dry more. This fun burn was also a great opportunity to film the AlphaFire in action, so we spent over an hour getting footage. Then it was time to get to work and get the orchard burned.

The prep work made it easy to use an AlphaFire to fire the long rows of leaf litter. Visibility was good and the rapid ignition provided good lift for the smoke. The only spotting potential was along the border with a neighbor. Once we lit that area we used the skid unit to spray out anything smoldering, then continued burning.
We caught up with the prep tractors with five rows left. We had one AlphaFire unit following them, and the other went back through the orchard to make sure everything was burning good. We were able to achieve nearly full consumption of the fuels.

The owner, Randy, told me in years past they would spend one whole day on the prep. Then, on the following day, they would use propane torches attached to a 20-lb tank to light the rows. This took them well into the evening, usually finishing around 9 pm.
Due to family events this year, Randy had a very narrow window to accomplish their orchard prescribed burn. They first started burning around 10 years ago after some of their research found that some potentially damaging insects could live in the leaf litter. In addition, the burning maintains a well-groomed orchard, which helps with harvesting in the fall.

We were done with the burn, loaded up, and gone by 3:30. We used the drip torches, fuel, and skid unit on the AlphaFire during the burn. Fortunately, we didn’t need the blower, chainsaw, or any hand tools on this burn.
Randy got the orchard burned in record time; we were able to help out a friend, get some good footage, and enjoy a fun day burning and learning about managing pecan orchards.