Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Using potash fertilizer to kill zebra mussels in Lake Winnipeg

An interesting project is currently underway in Lake Winnipeg. 
Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada
The Manitoba government is trying to stop the growth of the aggressive zebra mussel.  Zebra mussels, native to Eastern Europe and Western Asia, are extremely invasive and latch onto boats, buoys, rocks, and other structures.  

Zebra mussels are very difficult to control and previous attempts to halt their spread in the U.S. and Canada have largely been ineffective.  However mussels are sensitive to high potassium concentrations and it is hoped that this may be the key to slowing down their invasion.
Zebra mussels (Wikipedia)
A concentrated potassium chloride solution was recently added to the Winnipeg Beach Harbor and all of the zebra mussels were killed within ten days.  Potassium chloride does not have a negative impact on fish, other mussels, humans, or water quality as it gradually dissipates into the lake.
Zebra mussels (Wikipedia)
You will recall that Canada has the largest geologic reserves of potassium chloride in the world.  These mines harvest naturally occurring potassium minerals from the ground, wash away any impurities, and then sell valuable potassium fertilizer (potash) to agricultural regions around the world where soil reserves of potassium are too low to support healthy plant growth.  
Potash mine in Saskatchewan, Canada

You can read more about this in these news outlets:


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