[permaculture] Polluted manure ruins gardens (hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid

Dick Pierce dickpiercedesigns at gmail.com
Sun Jun 29 21:03:59 EDT 2008

............from those wonderful folks who gave you Grazon and Picloram -
another monster gets out of its cage. I've been asking in New England and it
doesn't seem to be used here but Texas gardeners and composters are told not
to use Bermuda hay as mulch or compost because it is sprayed with a
broad-leaf weed killer, Picloram, that will kill weeds, stay on grass, pass
through the cow/horse and into the manure, and the compost and into your
garden - where almost all of your veggies are broadleaf plants. My personal
experience was to stop a nice little garden in its tracks for 4 seasons
after using manure from a local cattle feeding operation.

I just thought I'd check on the US web site for aminopyralid mentioned in
your post from the UK and guess what the enhancer to Picloram is in Grazon
II - you guessed right, its aminopyralid! It boasts double the weed killing
with a half-life in the soil that's half of Picloram - looking closer, it
appears that it is 4 years instead of 7! And it's debatable whether real hot
composting will neutralize either one.

I always ask the supplier/grower about weed/herbicide treatments of any hay
or manure I get for mulch/compost/garden - in the NE or South. A test that
Malcomb Beck suggests is to make a quick tea from manure (or hay in the
blender) and try it on a peanut plant - they are very sensitive to it (just
pot up an un-roasted/unsalted nut or two as a house plant, if your in the NE
and frost). Alfalfa hay is my more expensive alternative - but no hay or
manure unless I know its Momma and Poppa.

On Sun, Jun 29, 2008 at 9:21 AM, Lawrence F. London, Jr. <lflj at intrex.net>

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [SANET-MG] Polluted manure ruins gardens  (hormone-based herbicide
> aminopyralid)
> Date: Sun, 29 Jun 2008 07:54:43 -0400
> From: jcummins <jcummins at UWO.CA>
> Home-grown veg ruined by toxic fertiliser
> Gardeners across Britain are reaping a bitter harvest of rotten
> potatoes,
> withered salads and deformed tomatoes after an industrial herbicide
> tainted
> their soil. Caroline Davies reports on how the food chain became
> contaminated
> and talks to the angry allotment owners whose plots have been destroyed
> Caroline Davies The Observer, Sunday June 29,  2008
> Gardeners have been warned not to eat home-grown vegetables
> contaminated by
> a powerful new herbicide that is destroying gardens and allotments
> across the
> UK.
> The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has been inundated with calls from
> concerned gardeners who have seen potatoes, beans, peas, carrots and
> salad
> vegetables wither or become grossly deformed. The society admitted
> that it had  no
> idea of the extent of the problem, but said it appeared 'significant'.
> The
> affected gardens and allotments have been contaminated by manure
> originating
> from farms where the hormone-based herbicide aminopyralid has been
> sprayed on
> fields.
> Dow AgroSciences, which manufactures , has posted advice to
> allotment holders and gardeners on its website. Colin Bowers, Dow's UK
> grassland
> marketing manager, told The Observer that links to their products had
> been
> proved in some of the cases, but it was not clear whether aminopyralid
> was
> responsible for all of them and tests were continuing. 'It is
> undoubtedly a
> problem,' he said, 'and I have got full sympathy for everyone who is
> involved  with
> this.'
> He said the company was unable to advise gardeners that it was 'safe' to
> consume vegetables that had come into contact with the manure because of
> pesticide regulations. 'All we can say is that the trace levels of
> aminopyralid  that
> are likely to be in these crops are of such low levels that they are
> unlikely to cause a problem to human health.'
> The Dow website says: 'As a general rule, we suggest damaged produce
> (however this is caused) should not be consumed.' Those who have
> already used
> contaminated manure are advised not to replant on the affected soil
> for at least  a
> year.
> Aminopyralid, which is found in several Dow products, the most popular
>  being
> Forefront, a herbicide, is not licensed to be used on food crops and
> carries
> a label warning farmers using it not to sell manure that might contain
> residue to gardeners. The Pesticides Safety Directorate, which has
> issued a
> regulatory update on the weedkiller, is taking samples from affected
> plants for
> testing.
> Problems with the herbicide emerged late last year, when some commercial
> potato growers reported damaged crops. In response, Dow launched a
> campaign
> within the agriculture industry to ensure that farmers were aware of
> how the
> products should be used. Nevertheless, the herbicide has now entered
> the food
> chain. Those affected are demanding an investigation and a ban on the
> product.
> They say they have been given no definitive answer as to whether other
> produce
> on their gardens and allotments is safe to eat.
> It appears that the contamination came from grass treated 12 months ago.
> Experts say the grass was probably made into silage, then fed to
> cattle during
> the winter months. The herbicide remained present in the silage,
> passed through
>  the animal and into manure that was later sold. Horses fed on hay
> that had
> been  treated could also be a channel.
> Bryn Pugh, legal consultant at the National Society of Allotments and
> Leisure Gardeners, said he was preparing claims for some members to
> seek  financial
> compensation from the manure suppliers. But it was extremely difficult
>  to
> trace the exact origins of each contaminated batch. 'It seems to be
> everywhere.
>  From what I know, it is endemic throughout England and Wales. We
> will be
> pressing the government to ban this product,' he said.
> Aminopyralid is popular with farmers, who spray it on grassland
> because it
> controls weeds such as docks, thistles and nettles without affecting
> the grass
> around them. It binds itself to the woody tissue in the grass and only
> breaks
>  down when exposed to bacteria in the soil.
> Shirley Murray, 53, a retired management consultant with an allotment
> near
> Bushy Park in Hampton, south-west London, said several of her allotment
> neighbours had used the same manure bought from a stables and all were
> affected.  'I
> am absolutely incensed at what has happened and find it scandalous
> that a
> weedkiller sprayed more than one year ago, that has passed through an
> animal's
> gut, was kicked around on a stable floor, stored in a muck heap in a
> field,
> then  on an allotment site and was finally dug into or mulched on to
> beds last
> winter  is still killing "sensitive" crops and will continue to do so
> for the
> next  year,' she said.
> 'It's very toxic, it shouldn't get into the food chain. You try to be as
> organic as you can and we have poisoned ourfood. I've been everywhere,
> emailed
> all the right people, but nobody will speak on the record to guarantee
> what is
> safe to eat. We all think it is a scandal. Not to mention what it has
> cost in
>  time and money.'
> Pesticide expert Professor Vyvyan Howard, a toxico-pathologist at Ulster
> University, said it was 'a very powerful herbicide' but in his opinion
> was
> 'unlikely to pose any human health risks'. However, advice about its
> use should  be
> strengthened, he said. 'I think the thing that is going to drive this
> is the
> commercial damage that could be done to market gardeners,' he said.
> Guy Barter, the RHS head of horticultural advisory services, said they
> were
> receiving more than 20 calls a week. 'Our advice is not to eat the
> vegetables
> because no one seems to have any idea whether it is safe to eat them
> and we
> can't give any assurances,' he said. 'It is happening all over the
> country. A
> lot of cases we are seeing is where people have got manure from
> stables and
> the  stable have bought their hay from a merchant, and the merchant
> might have
> bought  hay from many farmers, possibly from different parts of the
> country.
> So they  have no idea where the hay came from. So finding someone to
> blame is
> quite  difficult.' Weedkiller in the soil should dissipate by next
> year, but in
> stacks  of contaminated manure it might take two or more years to
> decay, he
> added.
> Dow is planning a major publicity campaign to reiterate warnings to
> farmers
> over usage, and to encourage allotment holders to check the provenance of
> manure  that they put down in an effort to prevent the problem
> escalating. On
> compensation, it was less forthcoming. 'There is no easy answer to
> that,' said
> Bowers. 'The first port of call is always where the manure comes from.
> From
> that  point on, I can't really comment.
> 'The chain is horrendously complicated. In the cases we have managed to
> trace back, we might find that the farmer who supplied the manure
> didn't spray
> anything himself, but he might have bought in a couple of bales of
> silage from
> one of his neighbours, and that farm might have sprayed.'
> Robin and Christina Jones spread a large amount of manure over their
> flower
> garden and vegetable patch at their home in Banstead, Surrey. When the
> potatoes  failed, Robin took a sample to the RHS, which identified
> aminopyralid. His
> neighbour, who bought from the same source, suffered the same
> problems. 'We
> have  lost 80 per cent of our vegetable patch,' said Jones, 65, a
> retired sound
>  engineer. Raspberries, French beans, onions, leeks, even a newly
> planted
> robina  tree were all affected. 'We are distraught. But what worries
> me is that
> the  courgettes look very healthy. Had we not had the problem with the
> potatoes, we  might never have realised. Now we are advised not to eat
> them.
> 'This is a very serious issue, and people must be made aware of the
> advice
> not to eat vegetables grown in contaminated manure.'
> Sue Ainsworth, 58, an education consultant, said around 20 allotments
> at  her
> site in Hale, Cheshire, had been affected. 'We first noticed with the
> potatoes. As they came through, they were deformed, all curled over
> and rotten
> underneath. But the worry is that the courgettes also planted on the
> manure are
> fine - but are they safe to eat? This must have affected thousands of
> people. I
>  am really worried about this product and really think it should be
> withdrawn.'
> She said the farmer who supplied the manure said he had used nothing
> unusual. 'But he may have bought in the straw and genuinely knew
> nothing about  the
> herbicide used.'
> Susan Garrett, 57, an IT consultant, said 20 plots were affected at her
> allotment in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. 'And that is just the plants
> we can see
> are damaged. We are angry it has been allowed to happen - not with the
> chemical
>  company, but because there doesn't seem to be any protection for us or
> anything  to stop it happening again.'
> How to deal with the problem
> Do you have contaminated manure?
> Tell-tale symptoms of crop damage include distorted foliage, with
> cupping of leaves and fern-like growth. There are no remedies once
> damage has occurred. Susceptible crops include potatoes, tomatoes,
> beans, peas, carrots and lettuce.
> How should you deal with the affected area?
> Experts say rotavation is the best practice, or forking over several
> times as soon as possible. This incorporates the plant tissue into the
> soil, where it will decompose and the chemicals will eventually be
> degraded by soil microbes. Repeat the rotavation in late summer/early
> autumn.
> Should you replant this season?
> No. The plant residues need to be given time to break down. The advice
> is not to replant for a year.
> Why has the chemical lasted so long?
> Aminopyralid, like other herbicides, works by binding strongly to
> plant tissues. Once the plant's tissues decay, the chemical breaks
> down in the soil. If manure is stacked it takes far longer.
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