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May 26, 2021

Maximizing Bentonite Sulfur Fertilizer Safety

Degradable elemental sulfur fertilizers have long been used to provide a high-analysis source of sulfur to crops. The challenge is that excessive or improper handling can produce sulfur dust in the air. If an exceedingly high concentration of airborne dust is present in a confined space (such as a leg) and a spark is generated – it may be prone to ignition in extremely rare cases. This can also be a concern if there is a lack of quality control during the bentonite sulfur manufacturing process.

Fortunately, today’s manufacturers of degradable sulfur fertilizers take extensive measures to produce products that ensure the safety of their customers and the public.  New dust control technologies are helping to increase elemental sulfur popularity in agriculture to levels never seen before.

Reducing dust is a must

For elemental sulfur manufacturers, dust is the enemy. That is why they go to great lengths to prevent dusting during normal handling. There are several ways to achieve this.

1. Bentonite clay

Bentonite clay plays two important roles in degradable sulfur fertilizers. Not only does the clay facilitate the breakdown of the pastilles to fine elemental sulfur particles in the soil, it also serves an important safety function.

The higher the clay content, the more stable the product. Adding more clay to bentonite sulfur pastilles increases crush strength. This is why 85% products are less apt to generate dust with handling than 90% products.

In laboratory conditions, Keg River tested pulverized Keg85S and Keg90S to compare airborne dusts in an ignition chamber. The goal was to try igniting the products by creating the optimum conditions for ‘an event’. It found that with 50% more premium bentonite clay, Keg 85S (0-0-0-85) lowered the risk of ignition by an average of 18.2% compared to Keg90S dust. The Keg85S is more durable and less likely to generate dust with handling, but if there is dust, it is less apt to ignite versus 90% sulfurs.

2. Dust Suppressants

When degradable sulfur is loaded onto trucks and railcars, dust suppressant is usually applied by the manufacturer. This ties up dust that may be present and provides an added layer of protection when the product is unloaded at the dealer. At Keg River, this is standard practice.

It is important to achieve uniform coverage when applying a dust suppressant. Keg River has improved on conventional dust suppressant systems, perfecting a process to achieve consistent 360° coverage on all pastilles.

3. Dust removal measures

During the manufacturing process, it is to be expected that a small amount of dust will be produced. Keg River has taken the unprecedented step of installing a state-of-art, multi-point dust removal system in its facility – to ensure that dust does not make its way into customer shipments.

This unique measure has allowed Keg River to set the industry standard for low dust content. It has directly resulted in the industry’s best user experience when it comes to comfortable, worry-free handling.

 4. Low disturbance handling

Whenever loading, or blending a bentonite sulfur fertilizer, it is recommended that conveyors be used in place of augers. This reduces dust generation from abrasion and fracturing of the product. 

Degradable fertilizers have never been safer

North America’s top bentonite sulfur manufacturers continue to raise the bar when it comes to setting best safety practices for the industry. Choosing an established, reputable supplier will provide the peace of mind you, your staff, and your customers demand.

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