Long-term herbicides are poisoning the entire composting stream.
Lyn Brookes writes:
We have discovered the effects of aminopyralid in municipal compost in Ireland. These are the places where people take their garden waste to be composted and then you can buy the resultant compost, which is a great idea and a renewable resource. They depend on grass clippings for the process, which we now think are responsible for contaminating this compost. A friend spread it round her garden and potted plants with it and the results are terrible, fern like foliage on tomatoes and legumes, and it has even affected a hydrangea. Commercial growers who use manure and municipal compost could find they lose all their crops. This has far reaching implications that we are starting to see. I believe that it is even finding its way into peat free growing mediums.
This is your regular reminder not to trust anything that has come in contact with Big Ag.
You cannot trust manure, straw, hay, mushroom compost, municipal compost, bulk potting soil or bagged manure.
The sellers of Black Kow bagged manure also have an idiotic canned response for people that write with concerns about possible contamination. It includes this ridiculous claim:
There are more concerns today about herbicides sprayed on pastures getting in Black Kow and then damaging plants. The herbicides creating most concern are (chloryralid or aminopyralids). These herbicides were mainly used on lawns on the west coast. So the residues have usually been found in yard waste composts. The residue from the herbicide will dissipate if it is aerobically composted over a period of time. We compost our products for 10 to 12 weeks. Then the compost is cured for an additional 6 to 8 months.
What a surprise. A company that sells bullshit responds with the same. Lawn waste on the West Coast didn’t kill my gardens back in 2012.
This is the real story in a nutshell:
Hayfields all over Florida are sprayed with Aminopyralid and similar toxins to control broadleaf weeds such as spiny pigweed and wild blackberries.
This hay is then sold.
Animals that eat this hay pass through the toxins in their manure.
That manure can then be composted for months and months without the toxin breaking down.
Whatever compost is made or garden is fertilizer with this manure will see the effects of the toxin. It is very hard to break down and lasts for as long as a few years.
If you compost Graon-contaminated hay, it will also kill your garden. It will kill your garden as mulch, as well.
If there is sprayed hay – or manure from animals that have eaten the sprayed hay – getting into to your composting program, you are in trouble.
This is toxic trash and should be illegal. Period. There is no good way to manage this product. Time and time again it has damaged the gardens downstream from its use.
Grazon delenda est!
Note to other readers – manure is used as an input for commercial mushroom growing medium, so when you get mushroom compost for your garden it can be contaminated with Grazon. Ask me how I know!
Yes! My mother killed her garden with a truckload of mushroom compost some years ago. Carnage.
Nasty. It’s such an awful thing.
On the plus side, now that we know about it, we can test for it– get a pot, fill it with the new stuff (bagged soil, mushroom compost), transplant something into it, wait and see what happens. I’ve got a little tomato transplant out by the door right now, waiting to see if some potting soil is safe.
Meantime, trying to figure out if I can get away from bagged soil altogether (it’s nice when I’m potting up plants to give away, and I have a few things in pots I haul inside for the winter)…. but we’re not there yet.
Be careful. Tomatoes can show delayed effects. See my reply to Warren.
The only sure way is to make your own potting soil, from ingredients the origin of which you are also sure.
I have used aminopyralid for broadleaf weed control in turf. It is incredibly effective for this purpose; extremely cost effective and very long-lasting. But using grass clippings for your compost? HUGE MISTAKE. I’ve done it, so I know. You can NOT use grass clippings from aminopyralid-treated grass for at least FIVE YEARS after the application. And don’t EVER lay it down within the dripline of trees or any other broadleaf plant…unless you want to damage or kill it.
Aminopyralid has its place…but that place is very restricted.
The problem we are facing is twofold.
First, there is the lack of sufficient practical experience with the way that aminopyralid actually works — and works differently upon different plants.
Second, there is the problem that many people, even if all the necessary details were known and placed on the information labels, would not be careful enough in learning these things, and so would use it in ways that would allow it to “get out into the wild”.
So far, I’m inclined to think that aminopyralid should be treated the same way as Picloram — at least until we get to know more about it.
Banning is an easy solution. It’s a way of protecting the ignorant from the unknown, and their own unwillingness to learn. I think a better way would be to require FAR more comprehensive and long-term testing of the product before putting it on the market, with the result that better labeling be produced, and as a last resort, that casual users not be allowed to use it.
It is brutal. But no, there’s no need to keep this stuff. Just ban it. It’s like meth… no good use for it.
I appreciate David the (very ) Good–learned a lot from him. I’m fairly new to gardening (Opelika, AL) and am the latest victim of Aminopyralid…from store- bought bagged manure. Just sickening. Massive loss in time and money. Indeed, DowAgriScience serves the devil.
I am so sorry.
I’ve had this contamination from store bought Black Kow before. I’ve been extremely fortunate that I have been getting bulk compost in my area that appears clean. My buddy scoffed at the idea of contamination when I told him about it like it was completely a non issue. He had been buying commercial compost without any issues for a long time. In a tight spot to keep my nursery going he talked me into buying the compost in the realm of 2 years ago. Fortunate that it was not contaminated. I’ve been risking it ever since and so far so good. I was extra worried about the last batch I got with relatively fresh horse manure in it but again I was blessed. Unfortunately I’ll likely have to continue this game of roulette to keep my nursery flowing. I pray that everything will remain all good but I do have very real concern every time I buy. $80 a yard ain’t cheap and it’s not like I could return it if it was contaminated. However I don’t at all mean to downplay the situation at hand. I know this issue is real and have seen it first hand from store bought bagged manure from big box stores. Unfortunately I’m against the wall of needing bulk compost regularly to make money and grow food. Thank the Lord for how long I’ve been blessed with clean bulk supply but if you don’t have to buy compost don’t risk your gardens and money.
Good luck. I am ramping up my compost production this year, so we can make potting soil.
David, I’ve been hearing about free compost (Gin Trash) from the West FL Cotton Gin in Walnut Hill, FL. You can get as much as you want and they load it for you. I know they defoliate cotton plants with herbicides before harvesting the cotton (or at least they used to years ago) so would this compost be safe to use in our home gardens? I understand farmers get it by the trailer loads to amend their fields and call it BLACK GOLD. I’ve known some local home gardeners that get utility trailer loads and have had no problems with their crops.
In todays times where it is imperative to GROW YOUR OWN FOOD TO SURVIVE, I don’t want to risk contaminating my soil (as with Grazon) so would like your opinion.
I do have my own compost that I make but since I have to garden in containers due to my poor clay soil full of iron rock so I use a LOT of compost filling those big black cattle mineral tubs.
I would appreciate your opinion/advice on this Gin Trash Compost. (I’m your neighbor in Perdido AKA Deep South Bama GRITS on YT & Freesteading).
I will answer in tomorrow’s post.
I do understand the persistant nature of some herbicides and how devastating that can be and once one can, to make your own compost. I set up several raised beds and used a combination of black kow and miracle grow raised bed soil. It was pricey however the beds are flourishing.
I’m glad it hasn’t hit you!
I wonder if, best case, putting the toxic vegetation through this process https://youtu.be/JP4ob9RVklo would cause the toxins to degrade or become part of the gas and thus be burned off.
Or, worst case, it remains and becomes part of the liquid making that useless as fertilizer.
It would be an interesting experiment. I have read that soil organisms slowly break it down. Perhaps this would as well.
Thanks again for reminding us about this, it’s easy to forget and be complacent.
In the meantime, what would be a good hay substitute for subtropical areas?
I’m using vetiver leaves, but I’ve had to blend it with organic hay bought online for my projects.
This would also mean that one should be very careful when looking at any potential ground they might want to use for gardening.
Where I live there is a lot of ag land and a lot of areas not currently in production but sandwiched in between or on the edges of currently cropped parcels so I would have to assume that in the past they very well might have been in use so if I was looking to buy or rent I would certainly be wise to have the soil tested.
Even if a particular piece has never been planted it doesn’t mean that weed killer hasn’t been used on it, either directly or indirectly via over-spray or run-off from neighboring areas.
Good point. I can tell you from documented experience going back to 2017 that aminopyralid can be active in the soil for five years or more, depending on local conditions. A lot depends on what you want to grow. Most legumes, and tomatoes, are super hypersensitive to it. Peppers much less so, and watermelons much less than peppers — even though all are in the nightshade family.
As far as testing the soil, and as far as I’ve heard, the only test available is the assay test. That means simply trying to grow something in a medium which is suspected of contamination. There are two problems with this.
First, as mentioned, different plants have very different sensitivity levels to it.
Second, depending on the plant, that sensitivity may be DELAYED. Over several years, I have kept records of what I have used as a planting mix for tomatoes, peppers and watermelons. Using the same mix for all three kinds of plants, I have found that, in a mix known to be contaminated with at least very small amounts of aminopyralid, watermelons may do fine, hot peppers more or less so, bell peppers not so much, and tomatoes terrible — but the tomatoes do great until they reach a certain size, and then…destroyed.