[Market-farming] herbicides for use in a cut flower garden

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Mon Aug 27 09:24:04 EDT 2007


On Aug 27, 2007, at 8:27 AM, Wiediger, Alison wrote:

> I’d like to weigh in on this also.  We trialed it this year.  From 
> what we understand, it is a corn based product, fully biodegradable – 
> not like the photo-degradable petroleum product we used only ONCE many 
> years ago.  In our production system, it starts to degrade in about 45 
> days and is basically gone in 90.  To succession plant a new crop, all 
> we need to do is pull the drip tape and turn the rest, including crop 
> residues, under.  In our small, very diverse, labor poor (just the two 
> of us) system, plastic that needs to be removed is a real problem.  By 
> the time the crop is finished, it has degraded enough to be hard to 
> get up.  Even with hand – rather than mechanical – digging and 
> pulling, we can always find pieces of plastic remaining.  With this 
> new biodegradable product, that is not happening.  So, succession 
> planting gets done on time, crops get removed in time for cover crops 
> to be planted, and our fields aren’t full of pieces of plastic of all 
> colors and sizes.  It is pricey – about 3 times the price of regular 
> black plastic.  So far, we have only found it in black (we’d like a 
> white on black product for mid-summer plantings). It does degrade 
> quickly in UV if there is no canopy to protect it and you must protect 
> it in storage.  It is a little more fragile and has to be handled more 
> carefully when laying it.  For instance, we had to reduce the tension 
> on our mulch layer because the clods in our early spring soil were 
> tearing holes in the plastic.  Once we did that, it worked much 
> better. Since we are not certified organic, we haven’t had to worry 
> about it being OMRI labeled. 
>  

If it's not acceptable for certified use, you might want to find out 
why. Then, as you're not certified, you can make up your own minds as 
to whether the reason it's not certified is a problem for you, However, 
if it is actually entirely biodegradable, leaving no residue of heavy 
metals or other unacceptable materials, it ought to be accepted by 
certification agencies; so there might be something about it you do 
want to know.

It's possible the manufacturer just wouldn't disclose something; and, 
if so, it's possible that the something they won't disclose isn't a 
problem, even if the material's in repeated use over many years. And 
it's possible that it's not acceptable because of something that 
doesn't bother you. And it's possible that it is acceptable, but just 
hadn't been through the approval process (which isn't necessarily OMRI, 
a certifying agency can allow materials that aren't OMRI listed if they 
can confirm that all ingredients are on the generic materials list). 
But a number of years ago I did some further investigation on a product 
that was at the time being listed by reputable suppliers as entirely 
biodegradable; when I contacted the actual manufacturer and asked for 
test results, the results they sent me were entirely unacceptable: for 
one thing, they showed that the manufacturer had been unable to get any 
very high percentage of the product to actually degrade (as opposed to 
breaking into minuscule bits) even under greenhouse conditions with 
very high soil biological activity and warm soil; and for another, the 
tests had been done on what they said was a similar material, and not 
on the material they were actually selling, for which they provided no 
test results whatsoever (and my further requests got no reply at all).

This is years later, presumably a different product, and quite possibly 
a different manufacturer (the name of the one described above is buried 
somewhere in my old paper records). But it is a reminder that 
advertising and reality don't always match; and that even reputable 
resellers don't always do the research.

Even if you're not certified, if you ask a certifying agency whether 
the stuff is acceptable, and if not why not, you can probably get an 
answer; and then you have more information with which to make up your 
own minds.


-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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