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Brothers aim to banish icy winter roads

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Corey Bossuyt (right), with nephew Riley and niece Alexis, stands next to a container of Beet 55, the liquid de-icer that Bossuyt and his brother Brad make, use and market.

ANDREA GEARY

Corey Bossuyt (right), with nephew Riley and niece Alexis, stands next to a container of Beet 55, the liquid de-icer that Bossuyt and his brother Brad make, use and market. Photo Store

Corey Bossuyt, 44, and brother Brad, 39, want to make your winter drive safer and your footing more secure.

The two, who are the fourth generation to farm the family’s land located next to McGillivray Boulevard in the RM of Macdonald, are working to make Beet 55 the de-icer of choice for roadways, parking lots and sidewalks in Manitoba.

Originally developed by Smith Fertilizer & Grain in Iowa, Corey said, Beet 55 is a natural product made of de-sugared sugar beet molasses mixed with brine in a proprietary blend. He and Brad can make up to 200,000 litres per day using sugar beets grown in North Dakota.

"It will not kill grasses and will not kill trees," he said.

One of the main differences between Beet 55 and other liquid de-icers or the commonly used salt and sand mixes is that it is applied directly to paved surfaces a few days before any snow falls. Corey said it doesn’t allow the snow particles to bond with the underlying pavement thereby preventing snow from packing and turning into ice. This makes it much easier to clear away the snow, and leaves a drier surface.

It lasts from three to four days after application, and 200 millilitres can cover a square metre of paved surface. It can be used in temperatures as low as -28C.

"It’s such a unique concept that people are having a hard time accepting it," Corey said.

The Bossuyts have run a snow-clearing business, now called Bracor Environmental, for about 40 years, and have used Beet 55 for some clients over the last two winters. Corey said most clients required nine applications during the long, harsh winter we had last year, and about five the previous year.

He said using Beet 55 ends up being about 25 per cent less expensive than using salt and sand because money can be saved on equipment and manpower costs as well as spring cleanup.

The RM of Macdonald has contracted with the Bossuyts to spray Beet 55 on intersections within Oak Bluff and other communities.

Beet 55 can be used in salt-free zones where having salt tracked into buildings, such as schools, is a concern. Corey said the loading ramp at the MTS Centre is an example. When salt and sand were being used on the ramp, traces of the sand were found as far inside the building as the dressing rooms. During last winter’s Roar of the Rings curling bonspiel, officials banned the use of salt and sand on the ramp, fearing there would be a negative effect on the ice.

"We will be working in the city this coming winter on a small scale," Corey said.

The Bossuyts, who also do metal fabrication on their farm, have created a sprayer that can be attached to a half-ton truck to spray Beet 55 on parking lots and roadways. They also sell plastic containers as small as four litres for residential use.

Beet 55 can also be poured into plastic road safety barricades for winter use since, unlike water, it won’t freeze in moderately cold temperatures.

The brothers have hired a salesman to help them spread the word about Beet 55 and plan to attend trade shows in hopes of attracting more customers across the province.

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