As growers met to learn from experts at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, dust was never far from their minds.
Dust, an everpresent element of the farm landscape to be managed, was discussed, and as the crowds departed at the end of the day, massive plumes of dust swept through the parking lot as cars sped towards the highway.
Silvia Barber, an environmental scientist with Integral Consulting, presented the dust talk in Tulare, “Do You Have a Fugitive Dust Problem?”
At the top of this post, key factors for dust problems are shown, from Barber’s presentation.
“Farming is a dusty business. It’s just the nature of the business,” Barber said. “When we say fugitive, it used to be called nuisance dust—it’s suspended in the air and it travels offsite....you mean dust that is generated in broad areas, not a point source.”
Why is dust a more sensitive topic than ever? Sensitive new neighbors are the reason, Barber said.
“There are definitely competing interests between you as a farming operator and people living near you…the landscape is changing. You’re going to have new neighbors, and with new neighbors come new problems.”
Growers in areas that are non-attainment areas for particulate matter may face even more regulatory pressure, Barber said. You can find a map of those areas below.
So what is the solution?
Like any problem with many aspects, the dust issue has many factors that can lead to resolution.
Selectively paving the highest-traffic roads on a property is one recommendation Barber offered.
Another is simple: talk to the new neighbors.
“Do not underestimate the power of a farm tour, of bringing people in,” she said. “Many people don’t know anything about farming…if you talk to them, they will feel comfortable calling you and asking you before they call the regulator. If they know you and have your number, they’ll call you and say ‘Hey Joe, the dust has been very extreme, can you do anything about it?’”