Welcome!!! We are extremely interested in straw bale building systems. Also, we would love to be able to source clean material in GA. We have animals and use it around the property so it would be nice to have it unsprayed.
By "clean" and "unsprayed" I think you mean organic? If so, you might be able to find local organic grain farmers willing to part with straw. Organic famers like to incorporate straw back into the soil, but in some parts of the country like the arid west there's a limit to how much organic matter can break down in a year given the lack of precipitation when the temperatures are just right for composting!
One of the book's contributors, Dennis LaGrande, was a rice and wheat farmer in the N. California Sacramento Valley, and he wrote a section on just how much fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides are used on grain crops. Not much, at least in California, and usually applied early in the plant's growth so that there isn't any residue in the harvested material.
Ask around for organic straw, and if you can't find it, ask about how conventional crops are grown. If it's like California, it may not be ideal, but the straw isn't laced with nasty chemicals either. You might be able to work with that.
We are currently trying to design alternative buildings, for a home/house as well as a restaurant (on the same land).
As we are living in Thailand, we can find rice straw. Unfortunately the Thai Farmers are known to use an excessive amount of herbicides, pesticides as well as synthetic fertilizers. On a positive note we are living in a province known for it's use of less toxins than other areas, but still...
Is there any way to conduct a DIY testing for toxins ? The s.c. "Organic Farmers" usually are quite small, so that means several different samples must be tested.
There are good Labs in Bangkok, but the cost of shipping (600km, ~400miles), plus test reports, would be excessively high...
Thanks for any answers/ideas that might be helpful.
I'm sorry I can't help you with that Chris, beyond to suggest you find out just what kinds of pesticides are being used, then do a search to learn if those same pesticides are subject to testing in another area. For example, the recent legalization of marijuana for recreational use in parts of the U.S. has created an entire industry that produces test kits for all manner of contaminants people don't want in marijuana. If the chemicals Thai farmers use are the same chemicals that might be found as residue in marijuana, you may be able to inexpensively acquire a test kit that analyzes for that pesticide.
Hi Jim !
Excellent tip ! Thailand has now approved Medical M. (Even my Daughter has got approval for 1,600m2 (~1/3 acre) of M. growing. This means that we will, hopefully soon, have testing kits for toxins....
Thanks a lot, didn't think of that...
This crude test method for herbicides is fairly straightforward.
1) Determine what the herbicides are meant to kill, and get/grow some plants that fall into this category. I've used sweetpea when testing garden straw for persistent broadleaf herbicides.
2) Divide the plants into test and control groups.
3) Soak a bunch of the test straw in water, I did so for 24 hours and just left it in there; use this water for test group and your regular water for control.
4) Observe! It was not subtle when I did it.
I suppose in theory a very similar method could be used for pesticide residue, assuming it is the effective ingredient that is the concern.
'Theoretically this level of creeping Orwellian dynamics should ramp up our awareness, but what happens instead is that each alert becomes less and less effective because we're incredibly stupid.' - Jerry Holkins