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Monitoring the dust on the Heretaunga Plains

Hawke’s Bay Regional Council will soon have a much better idea of the amount of dust circulating around the Heretaunga Plains.

It is installing 10 dust monitors on productive land around the Plains to measure how much soil is lost through wind erosion and to keep an eye on what affect it is having on the region’s air quality.

HBRC Principal Land Scientist Barry Lynch says while they are aware soil is being lost to wind erosion they currently have no way of quantifying it.

“This monitoring will allow us to estimate how much soil we are losing off the land and what areas are worst affected. We can then look at ways of working with the community to improve the situation,” says Dr Lynch.

Meanwhile, HBRC’s Principal Climate Scientist Kathleen Kozyniak says having a better idea of the amount of dust circulating around the region will provide more depth to the Council’s air quality monitoring work.

“The dust monitors will broaden our network and capture larger particles than our urban monitors currently measure. We’ll use them to assess levels of wind-blown, nuisance dust, which can produce visual soiling of surfaces, reduce visibility and affect amenity values,” says Dr Kozyniak.

Dr Barry Lynch says the 10 dust monitors are a very simple design, which need to be physically checked on a regular basis. The plan is to replace them with more high tech monitors in the next financial year, which will provide real time digital information.

22 December 2017

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