Methyl Bromide till 2015/

Alex McGregor waldenfarm at
Thu Jun 15 11:00:27 EDT 2000


Hugh may be outside right now.  I'll answer what I can and Maybe Hugh will share some of
his knowledge.

Methyl Bromide is injected into the soil as a gas to kill all life.  This results from
the thinking that if you kill everything, you kill the "bad guys."  This is widely used
by strawberry growers and some monocrop vegetable growers.  It's used with annual crops.

The problem is that the only life forms that recover rapidly after sterilization are the
"bad guys," like fusarium, resulting (they think) in the use of more sterilant. Sort of a
self-perpetuating system- sterilization increases the problem.

Hugh refers to an Acres USA article as an attachment to his letter.  I'm assuming this is
the issue containing the interview with Elaine Ingham.  She has worked with California
strawberry farmers who had used methyl bromide for years and were looking for
alternatives.  Her bioassay of their soil showed that the soil ecology was dominated by
the "bad guys" and that the "good guys" were few or not present.

She had them add compost with a balanced soil ecosystem present to inoculate the soil and
balance their ecosystems- with great success.  These growers are no longer using methyl
bromide and are producing above average crop yields while decreasing their cost of

The moral of the story is, encourage a healthy soil ecosystem through proper soil
management and add beneficial organisms through good composting practices and/or
Biodynamic preparations to suppress disease rather than trying to kill everything and
hopefully get the "bad guys."

Current research on methyl bromide centers around finding another sterilant.  The methods
being tested are other chemicals, solarization and injecting steam.  All follow the same
flawed logic of killing all life.  Dr. Ingham's work is an exception.  It follows the
proven theory that a healthy soil ecosystem results in healthy plants.  The "technology"
is available to stop using methyl bromide right now.  But the chemical companies have law
makers convinced that they have to come up with a chemical alternative before it's
banned.  They have also convinced the farmers who use it that they have to use a
sterilant or suffer crop losses.

The only reason I can see for pursuing sterilization techniques is that it keeps farmers
dependent on supply companies.  Dr. Ingham's work moves farmers towards independence and
economic sustainability.

Alex McGregor
Walden Farm

Jill Taylor Bussiere wrote:

> Hugh,
>     Is this the substance that is used on strawberries?   Can you tell what
> it is used for, on what fruits and vegetables, and if there are any other
> ill effects besides the sterilization of the soil?  Or some relevant web
> sites?

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