Potato Duster - Cardigan River Heritage Centre
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This hand-cranked dusting device was worn by the farmer while working in garden plots or small areas of field crops, to treat broad leafed plants such as potatoes. This duster was used to deposit dry pesticides onto local fields. “Paris Green” was a common pesticide used on PEI for many years. Dry powder is added at the top of the machine where the screw cap is located, the wearer straps it over a shoulder, and walks through the fields. Turning the handle causes the fan to rotate, blowing powder onto the plants. Application occurred when there was dew on the potato plant leaves, as it would stick to the surface. Paris Green, an arsenical poison, was the pesticide of choice against Potato bugs in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. “Paris Green”- common name for Copper (11)- Acetoarsenite, or C.I Pigment Green 21, an extremely toxic blue green chemical with four main uses. 1- It was sued as a pigment, in painting; 2- An animal poison- mainly rodents; 3- Insecticide and 4- A blue colorant for fireworks. When used in North America as an insecticide, it was blended with lead arsenate. By the 19th century the need for insecticides had intensified, due to the increasingly large scale cultivation of single crops and to the exportation of species, on cargo ships and passenger steamers, far beyond their natural habitat. Among the most important insecticides developed in the 19th century was “Paris Green”, developed in 1868, it soon became the best known arsenical insecticide and the first chemical insecticide to be applied on a large scale.