If you have questions or need help due to a violation notice, please contact the Illinois EPA’s Agricultural Advisor at (217) 558-6818.
Environmental Laws Affecting Illinois Agriculture contains a quick reference guide to permits that may be necessary for agricultural operations. The reference guide is a project of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Research Foundation.
The definition of “agricultural waste” includes: any refuse, except garbage and dead animals, generated on a farm or ranch by crop and livestock production practices including such items as bags, cartons, dry bedding, structural materials and crop residues but excluding landscape waste. (35 Ill. Adm. Code 237.101)
Agricultural waste may be burned if five criteria are met.
No, the agricultural exemption on open burning is limited to structural materials not whole buildings.
No. Agricultural, domicile, and landscape waste, may be burned without notifying the Illinois EPA, paying a fee, obtaining a permit, or reporting. However, landscape waste that is also a trade waste may only be burned with the aid of an air curtain destructor (ACD). As discussed above, if the owner or operator is using an ACD, they must obtain a permit(s) from the Illinois EPA.
The Illinois EPA regulates open burning, and local governments, including towns and counties may also regulate this type of activity.
The burning of non-agricultural waste materials including tires, dead animals and asphalt roofing materials or siding are the most frequently reported open burning violations. Fines vary according to the severity of the offense and the suing jurisdiction.
As discussed above, landscape waste may be burned both in and outside of incorporated areas. Domestic and agricultural waste may be burned outside of incorporated areas, so long as the other requirements are met. However, local areas may adopt more stringent open burning prohibitions that regulate different types of waste in unincorporated areas. These more stringent restrictions must also be complied with. Please see “What Can You Burn on a Farm?” above for further information.
Under Illinois law, tires may never be burned, except at a permitted incinerator. Illinois is recognized nationally as a leader in the management of used and waste tires. Disposal of used and waste tires is regulated by the IEPA's Used Tire Program.
Pursuant to Section 9(c) of the Act, construction/demolition debris is a trade waste and may not be disposed of through open burning. Trade waste must be disposed of by taking it to an incinerator or landfill that is permitted to accept this type of waste.
To burn with reduced smoke, the fire must be hot. Dry fuel, high temperatures, and plenty of oxygen help reduce the amount of smoke generated during burning. The recommended elapsed time between cutting and burning should be 3 to 6 weeks for vegetative material smaller than 6 inches in diameter and 6 weeks for vegetative material greater than 6 inches in diameter. Stumps greater than 12 inches in diameter should be split and dried for at least 6 weeks prior to burning. We recommend using an air curtain destructor.
Consider the following alternatives to the open burning of agricultural or landscape waste: chipping, shredding, mulching and composting waste. Composting waste and using leaves and grass clippings for mulch are alternatives. Composting agricultural waste produces soil fertilizer through decomposition. Compost piles are simple to begin and maintain. Branches and trunks larger than 3 inches can be used for firewood.
Answers to well water protection and testing questions can be found at The USEPA's Private Drinking Water Wells FAQ page.
The Illinois Department of Public Health produces a number of fact sheets about private sewage systems. U.S. EPA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Septic Systems provides information about septic system maintenance.
There is a Frequently Asked Questions page about leaking underground storage tanks on the IEPA website.
Citizens can report open dumping complaints by completing the online Pollution Complaint Form.
Alleged violations may be reported to the Illinois EPA’s field offices, the State’s Attorney Office, and the Pollution Control Board (citizen complaint), as well as local town and county officials.