Air Resources Board staff reported Thursday that open agricultural burning dropped by 25% in 2021 compared to the prior year.

This follows a CARB mandate last February to phase out ag burning in the San Joaquin Valley by 2025. The governor’s budget last year boosted that transition with $180 million for incentives grants.

This helped to finance the valley air district’s now oversubscribed program for purchasing chippers and grinders as alternatives to burning. Most of that chipped biomass has been incorporated back into the soil onsite, according to CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey.

“We have aggressive air quality targets and substantial challenges,” said Corey, in sharing his 2022 outlook for the board. “But I'm optimistic about our chances of success.”