Greetings everyone, I hope everyone is doing well and feeling well. Thanks again for your continued following.
This week I will answer a question that has come up repeatedly: dust control in non-agricultural settings. This year we seem to be having more dust issues than other years due to the drought conditions.
There are several methods to combat dust issues from roads and driveways, and it is important to do so not only for health reasons. Dust is a leading contributor to machinery break downs from clogged air filters which reduce the overall life of equipment.
Chemical dust control
There are several brands of product on the market today for dust control that all share one of two active ingredients.
Magnesium Chloride: This product (with several trade names like Dust Off) is sprayed directly onto surfaces like dirt roads to keep dust down. This product works by pulling moisture out of the atmosphere, creating a lightly damp road surface but not damp enough to cause mud.
Calcium Chloride: This works the same as magnesium chloride.
Both these products work very well but also have their drawbacks. The main drawback is cost from labor, equipment, and product. They also are considered restricted-use pesticides and, in my opinion, will cause harm to the soil by changing the pH levels. I do not recommend these as a good solution to dust issues.
Water-based control measures
Irrigation: Some dust control can be accomplished using an irrigation-type system which utilizes mister nozzles. The other option is water trucks.
Both applications are very expensive in terms of cost of labor, machinery, equipment, and the cost of water. They also use up water resources we need for drinking water, crops, and livestock. I do not recommend these options.
Mechanical and environmental solutions
No solution in this list of options is a quick fix; and in some cases it’s the quick fix that has caused the problems. As our climate and environment change, we must responsibly adapt to ensure clean water and soil for generations to come.
Over time the following activities will improve dust control. Some work faster than others.
One, change direction of and type of crop rows: Sow cover crops on fields and implement organic farm practices that incorporate erosion control as part of the standard IPM. An IPM is an Integrated Pest Management plan; and a pest is anything that takes away from desired outcomes. Two, build up planted mounds and tree or shrub plantings to slow wind erosion — as dust problems are really erosion problems.
I think if we go back to the techniques that worked 100 years ago and helped end the dust bowl, we may be able to avoid another event like that. But if we continue to follow the status quo, we will repeat history again and again.
We must get away from chemical solutions and solutions that waste water. We all now know there is only a finite amount of water to go around; and when it’s gone, it’s gone. We don’t get it back.
Due to humans’ actions, the planet’s natural water-recovery systems are no longer working as they did. So we must do what we can to reverse the damage humans have done. This means big and sometimes painful changes, or we face worse scenarios in the future.