Cattle feedlot dust is an annoyance and may be a route for nutrient transport, odor emission, and pathogen dispersion, but important environmental factors that contribute to dust emissions are poorly characterized. A general protocol was devised to test feedlot samples for their ability to produce dust under a variety of environmental conditions. A blender was modified to produce dust from a variety of dried feedlot surface and soil samples and collect airborne particles on glass fiber filters by vacuum collection. A general blending protocol optimized for sample volume (150-175 cm3), blending time (5 min of pre-blending), and dust collection time (15 s) provided consistent dust measurements for all samples tested. The procedure performed well on samples that varied in organic matter content, but was restricted to samples containing less than 200 to 700 g H2O kg(-1) dry matter (DM). When applied to field samples, the technique demonstrated considerable spatial variability between feedlot pen sites. Mechanistically, dust potential was related to moisture and organic matter content. An alternative protocol also demonstrated differences within pen sites in maximum dust potential and dust airborne residence time. The two protocols were not intended, nor are they suitable, for predicting actual particulate matter emissions from agricultural sources. Rather, the protocols rapidly and inexpensively compared the potential for dust emission from samples of differing composition under a variety of environmental conditions.