[Market-farming] pressure treated organic?

road's end farm organic101 at linkny.com
Sat Nov 10 19:50:09 EST 2007

On Nov 10, 2007, at 7:20 PM, E C GRANATA wrote:

> Folks:  Does anyone know if pressure treated wood is acceptable for 
> organic production?  The label makes it sound lethal-- don't cut it 
> without a mask, don't burn it, dispose of it according to EPA  
> protocols!  I picked some up from Craig's list and didn't realize till 
> I got it home and found a label that it was treated.
> Thanks for any information.
> Elaine
> Denver_______________________________________________

This is probably not acceptable, though it might depend on exactly what 
you're proposing to do with it. The standards say (205.206 f):

"The producer must not use lumber treated with arsenate or other 
prohibited materials for new installations or replacement purposes in 
contact with soil or livestock".

If in doubt, check with a local certifier about the specific treatment 
and use. The label should say what it's been treated with. Some uses, 
such as materials for buildings when the treated wood doesn't come in 
direct contact with the crop, or fences not in contact with livestock, 
might be OK; but don't rely on me, I might be misreading the NOFA-NY 
guidance on this.

I think some of the more poisonous treatments are no longer legal for 
sale, even aside from organic production questions; but some of that 
stuff may still be floating around, even if it's supposed to be off the 
market. I don't know how toxic or nontoxic the newer materials are, or 
whether there are any newer materials that have been approved for some 
organic purposes; but the last time (a couple of years ago, I think) I 
asked whether there was any approved treatment for vineyard posts, I 
was told to use either untreated wood or metal for the posts.

Also, you might in any case want to be cautious about using any 
material with a label telling you not to cut it without a mask, if the 
wood will be where any humans, animals, or crops may be exposed; as the 
materials generally leach out of the wood for some time.

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