new videos
hot off the press!  
    more about rocket
mass heaters here.

more videos from
the PDC here.
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Bought a poisoned acreage  RSS feed

 
diana todd
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We closed on the property 2.5 months ago. We clean and clean and clean so much rubbish. All the outbuildings contained evidence of 1/2 full bags or bottles of weed killers, bug killers etc.

There are areas where nothing grows, not even weeds. The barns are 4 feet deep or more of hardened manure and we think let's spread this over the 13 acres but if it is full of pesticides maybe not a good idea.

My question is it possible to make this a permaculture haven? Can this land be healthy? Bought & read several books, the task seems impossible but we are determined to treat this land right.

 
cd shahan
Posts: 37
Location: N.W. Washington
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oyster mushroom have the ability to obsorb toxins from the environment. Search for paul stamets work.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 966
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
117
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congratulations on becoming a landowner! That's a big important step to take.

You may wish to determine if your land actually is contaminated or not. Just because there are areas that are bare doesn't necessarily indicate toxicity. Often other factors are the culprit. So sending soil samples to a lab may be in order. Be sure to tell the lab exactly the reason you are sending the sample and what you suspect.

Half empty containers are better than finding lots of totally empty ones. And it sounds like the previous owner wasn't a compulsive land tender, so that would also imply that he wasn't diligent about spraying herbicides and pesticides either. For example, my next door neighbor maintains a squeakily neat farm. It looks beautiful. He sprays roundup every month! And he's a big user of pesticides and commercial fertilizers.

I wish you the best. Sounds like you have quite a good project ahead of you.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
cd shahan
Posts: 37
Location: N.W. Washington
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Diana,
Here's some good info. on mycoremediation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycoremediation

Paul Stamets-6 ways mushrooms can save the world

chad

 
diana todd
Posts: 23
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you so much for the encouragement. We retired early and this is how we fill our days, tending this thirteen acres and our critters. Traveling around in an RV became boring for us. after a year an a half so we bought some land and sold the motorhome.

Will send samples for testing! Will look into mycelium. Thank you for the advice! I feel less stressed about it. Paul Stamet is awesome!
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Sorry to hear about the poisons but congrats on the land. here are some plants that bioaccumulate toxins too, so if they will grow at all that would be a help. Sunflower is a nice one.

wood ash dumped in the ground can keep plants from growing, it doesn't have to be something awfully toxic.

Sorry to hear about the poisons but congrats on the land. Best of luck.
 
Kim Hill
Posts: 78
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree in getting the land tested. I would think that in the mean time you could do some raised beds which would keep you out of the soil you are concerned about. It is a good start at least for some veggies and small fruits. After you get the soil tests back, you could then decide on where to plant more long term plants such as trees. Good luck on your new land!
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6680
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
252
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The best repair is abundant biological activity. Check out what Jeff Lawton has to say about pesticide residues and how to break them down. I avoid sprayed food but it's not so much about the spray that has largely broken down. I don't want the nutritionally poor food that chemical farming produces and I don't want to fund that sort of thing.

Testing makes sense. You might also want to pour through some technical stuff concerning the substances that were found. There will be half life information, water solubility, and other stuff. This literature is produced by the enemy, but still useful. Organic certification is usually allowed after three spray free years, for whatever that's worth. The products in question were designed to poison nature, but not the soil specifically. If you're testing, you might as well go all the way and test your well water. With aquifers, you often get pollutants from distant land, depending on your geology.

There's a reason why they spray that stuff every year. It disappears over time and is no longer active.

Spend a little to see where you stand and then get the whole place into some sort of abundant growth. You could grow a fiber crop or animal fodder to start.

Good luck.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 966
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
117
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Diane, we retired early too and got into creating a homestead style farm. Hubby got bored and went back to work. Retirement and farming didn't suit him. I stayed with the farm project. It's been ten years so far and I enjoy getting up each morning and working on one of my projects. It took years before I had steady food coming out of the gardens, but every season gets better. Working with neglected land takes time. It's been a long journey, but usually enjoyable.

Rather than seeing my formidable task as being work, a chore, or a battle ,I view it as an exciting challenge that is enjoyable to watch the results coming along one after the other. So have a good time with your land. It can be fruitful!

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2392
79
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Put out the welcome sign for any tree trimming services that need a place to dump their loads. What you need is lots of rotting organic matter to get the soil fungi working for you.

If the hardened manure is "full of pesticides" it won't be for long once it is spread out and inoculated with fungi. Take a look at my mycoremediation thread and let's see how we can jump start your soil fungi. Where are you? Do you notice any mushrooms growing in your area? Are there undisturbed old growth forests or nature preserves in your area? With a little bit of effort, you can collect enough fungi in your local area to inoculate your property and in a few months time, the poisons on your acreage will be just a memory.
 
Andrew Millison
Instructor
Posts: 112
Location: Corvallis, Oregon
17
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you find through testing that there are areas of high toxicity, there are many productive uses for land other than food production:

You could plant long-term high value timber species, or trees like nut pines that will take many years to fruit. The idea is that a tree won't take a toxic material all the way through it's vascular system and into a fruit or nut, that those toxins will be bound up in the wood, or broken down through fungal activity like others have mentioned. I don't know if this leaves open the possibility of growing fuelwood there as well, it depends just what is in your soils and how persistent it is. Bamboo is useful as well

If you dedicate more toxic areas to long term tree crops, then you create the perfect fungal environment for all the mycoremediation everyone else is mentioning. Hopefully any toxic areas are more remote from the homesite, so you can concentrate more intensive food production closer in.

I had a student design a farm in Oklahoma that was an old drive-in movie theatre. Several decades worth of dripping oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, spilled beer and pepsi It seems like anywhere there are vehicles over time ends up with some level of toxicity. Planting a useful forest that can transition into food production in the distant future is one option.

 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When testing, distinguish between chemicals and elemental toxins.

Something that is an element, such as lead, arsenic (both common in old orchards due to use of lead-arsenate use), mercury, cadmium, cesium, etc. will not break down. Hope you don't have any of these, bioremediation of that sort would be a major labor of love, though not impossible.

Manmade chemical compounds break down, some quickly others more slowly. The more 'life' in the soil the faster that will happen. As others have noted, fungi are great helpers. Bacteria are also amazing at breaking down chemical compounds, for example gut bacteria are known to break down BPA. The majority of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, vetinary meds & plastic junk fit in this category of chemical stuff that will break down.

So, yes, innoculate the whole place with fungi, lactobacillus and compost teas. And get as much organic matter going as you can. If you're in a dry place, a bit of supplemental water will help the microbes thrive. These are nature's way of breaking stuff down and they can turn around many toxic situations in a matter of weeks or months, rather than years.
 
David Wechsler
Posts: 9
Location: St. Louis, MO
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First of all, congrats on your new land... I was also concerned about similar things on a piece of dream-land that we were looking at a couple of years ago where we saw pools of rainbow-colored oils floating in holes in the ground.

I would like to build upon what Yukkuri said, regarding the elemental and chemical toxins. It turns out that in addition to the great suggestions the others have made, you can take advantage of phytoremediation (using plants to help with clean-up). Certain plants known as hyperaccumulators can suck out many elemental (heavy metal) contaminants.

Furthermore, in addition to using various home-brew soil microbes, you can purchase specialized microbial inoculant blends that are designed to consume various types of hydrocarbons, radioactive substances, and other materials (known as bioremediation). These are collections of naturally-occurring organisms that will help with cleaning, or potentially transforming very toxic substances into less toxic derivatives.

Lastly, I'd like to mention that while the treatment with inoculants can be pretty fast compared to phytoremediation, the process can be sped up using a couple of technologies - biostimulation microbes (another class of microbes than enhance plant growth), or electro-horticulture (using electricity to speed up plant growth, increase biomass, and increase uptake rates). Applying these technologies can result in a big speed-up that will help with not only improving ecological balance, but will also help you make the land productive again, faster.
 
Dale Hodgins
garden master
Posts: 6680
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
252
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
David Wechsler wrote:First of all, congrats on your new land... I was also concerned about similar things on a piece of dream-land that we were looking at a couple of years ago where we saw pools of rainbow-colored oils floating in holes in the ground.


Those pools of oil may have been perfectly natural, created by agents of decay, I believe. ---- I predict that John Elliott will swoop in like a green super guy and explain the whole thing by this time tomorrow. Thank you in advance John. I'm going to message him now, through telepathy only.
 
Emily Brown
Posts: 61
Location: Maine
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When we bought our land we had a chunk of ground where nothing could grow. For reasons I cannot comprehend, the previous owners had buried a ton of tiles right there. Some were broken and others were not. Dig around. There might be something there blocking any roots from getting established.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1413
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
18
forest garden trees urban
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Buried tile can be a way to drain land of excess water. Not saying that was true in your case.
 
please buy this thing and then I get a fat cut of the action:
Systems of Beekeeping Course - Winterization Now Available
https://permies.com/t/69572/Systems-Beekeeping-Winterization
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!