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where do I find organic straw  RSS feed

 
Posts: 70
Location: New Jersey
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I live in southern New Jersey and I am having trouble finding organic straw. I didn't realize that straw mulch was going to be such a problem for my chemical free garden until I went to a local farm to buy some bails of straw. Just after my truck was all loaded up I asked the farmer some question(I can't remember what the question was) and he happened to mention that they use round up to kill this grass and its seed and then they bail it and sell it as straw. Needless to say those bails did not end up in my garden. I asked the few local organic farms in the area but they "don't sell straw." Anyone have any suggestions?
 
pollinator
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May I suggest that you might be making a problem where one doesn't exist?

I know that Permies have the same relationship with Roundup that vampires do with garlic, but it doesn't need to be so. One of the saving graces of Roundup is that it does not persist long in the environment (not like, say organochlorine pesticides). The glyphosate molecule is not all that stable, and there are many pathways for it to break down, one of them being exposure to sunlight. If that load of straw was drying in a field, any glyphosate that was applied early in the growing season is probably gone from all the solar exposure.

If you get a good deal on a load of straw and are still suspicious that it might have glyphosate residues, just pile up the straw, inoculate it with fungi, and keep it watered. They will eat it for lunch and then you will have some nice mulch to work with. In fact, that's a good operating rule for all the biomass you import into your garden -- let the fungi in your garden have first crack at it before you start spreading it around. I never spread a load of wood chips as soon as it is delivered. You never know where it came from and where they have been spraying weed killers. I wait a couple months, and then, when I can dig in a few inches and see lots of white hyphae, I feel comfortable that it is ready to go to the garden.
 
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Location: Greybull WY north central WY zone 4 bordering on 3
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The amount of organic straw you will find in most areas is minimal. Very few are growing it by percentage of the farmers and those who are mostly keep it for their own soil improvement. Beyond that your best bet is to grow your own.


The herbicide classes would agree with the above that sunlight breaks down roundup fairly quickly. Without testing you couldn't be sure but I would say test before and after. Another answer in the same vein. Can you find people who maintain lawns that are not using chemicals. You might be able to mow them for the grass clippings.
 
pollinator
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I read somewhere that roundup is pretty persistent in the soil, but I don't remember were. However I do not even try to search for organic straw.
We pay about $14 a bale for the non organic and the guy at the produce store would say it's organic, because it's straw. I would go for a round of composting too. I think there is no way to get any hay, straw or lucerne which is organic in a sufficient amount.
 
Adam Buchler
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Location: New Jersey
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John Elliott wrote:May I suggest that you might be making a problem where one doesn't exist?

I know that Permies have the same relationship with Roundup that vampires do with garlic, but it doesn't need to be so. One of the saving graces of Roundup is that it does not persist long in the environment (not like, say organochlorine pesticides). The glyphosate molecule is not all that stable, and there are many pathways for it to break down, one of them being exposure to sunlight. If that load of straw was drying in a field, any glyphosate that was applied early in the growing season is probably gone from all the solar exposure.

If you get a good deal on a load of straw and are still suspicious that it might have glyphosate residues, just pile up the straw, inoculate it with fungi, and keep it watered. They will eat it for lunch and then you will have some nice mulch to work with. In fact, that's a good operating rule for all the biomass you import into your garden -- let the fungi in your garden have first crack at it before you start spreading it around. I never spread a load of wood chips as soon as it is delivered. You never know where it came from and where they have been spraying weed killers. I wait a couple months, and then, when I can dig in a few inches and see lots of white hyphae, I feel comfortable that it is ready to go to the garden.



John right now the bails are sitting in a wooded area behind a friend's house down the street. They have been there a few months now. I guess I could innoculate with fungi now and then grab them in the early spring for mulch.....they cost me 42$. I'm assuming I can find fungi in those woods to innoculate the straw with. What is the best way to go about doing that....how do I know what type of fungi I'm looking for?
 
John Elliott
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Adam Buchler wrote:

John right now the bails are sitting in a wooded area behind a friend's house down the street. They have been there a few months now. I guess I could innoculate with fungi now and then grab them in the early spring for mulch.....they cost me 42$. I'm assuming I can find fungi in those woods to innoculate the straw with. What is the best way to go about doing that....how do I know what type of fungi I'm looking for?



If they are sitting in a wooded area, they are probably already inoculated. Fungal spores are everywhere, that's why we get mold and mildew smells in the oddest of places.

First question I have is, are they wrapped with anything that keeps the rain and snow off? If not, if the rain and snow melt has penetrated to the center of the bale and it has started to rot, it's going to be really difficult to find any glyphosate in it.

Next question is what does it smell like? A nasty septic tank like odor indicates anaerobic activity going on, and while that will decompose glyphosate, you want to convert it to aerobic before you put it around any plants. This is just as easy as spreading it out so it can air out and the aerobes with gradually out-compete the anaerobes.

If it smells like a musty basement or a sack full of mushrooms, this is good, no further work required on your part.

If it smells like dried cut hay or grass, then decomposition has not gotten started yet and fungal inoculation is in order. Any mushrooms that you come across walking in the woods will work for this, you don't have to be picky. Just crumble them up on the bales, or you can whiz them up in a blender and drench the bales with mushroom gazpacho. In addition, you might want to loosen up the bales so they don't shed water. Tight bales that shed water are for feeding livestock. Loose bales that get waterlogged are lost as far as feed value, but they make for great mulch.
 
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I can't wrap my mind around why they would spray round up on the grass to kill it. Cutting it for straw will kill it, right? And chemicals cost money, right? Now I'm paranoid about the straw I've been getting. I know the farmer who grows it. I get it from him because he's very local, but he has not proven himself to be trustworthy especially when it comes to chemicals. Don't tell me I've been using roundup fungicide straw...

I talk about some of my experience with this farmer in this thread
 
Adam Buchler
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Location: New Jersey
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Matu Collins wrote:I can't wrap my mind around why they would spray round up on the grass to kill it. Cutting it for straw will kill it, right? And chemicals cost money, right? Now I'm paranoid about the straw I've been getting. I know the farmer who grows it. I get it from him because he's very local, but he has not proven himself to be trustworthy especially when it comes to chemicals. Don't tell me I've been using roundup fungicide straw...

I talk about some of my experience with this farmer in this thread



straw is grass that has already dropped its seed and lost most of its sugars....whereas hay is grass thats cut before it has dropped its seed. Straw is "brown" hay is "green". Apparently they spray roundup to kill the weeds/weed seeds in the field so your bail of "straw" doesn't have a bunch of weeds in it. I believe it kills the grass seed as well.
 
steward
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If round up was sprayed before planting wheat it was done weeks before seed was set in the ground . Wheat is grown usually at the tail end of a few corn , soybean cycles . It is planted at the end of the season early fall [ winter wheat ] after the harvest and is planted in the stubble of previous crop . Then it begins to grow , sets root , and flourishes in the spring into early summer . So if not Round UP Ready then it is 8-9 months at harvest since it came into contact with herbicides . Monsanto has introduced a Round Up Ready Wheat not in wide use yet . RUR corn is known to uptake Round Up into it's cellular structure and become persistent . I bet RUR wheat will also uptake the toxic gick . With the newer combines straw is not available anyway . All but the seed is chewed up and spewed back onto the field . Wheat straw is becoming less and less a commodity .
 
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Location: Red River Gorge, eastern Kentucky
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Matu Collins wrote:I can't wrap my mind around why they would spray round up on the grass to kill it.  Cutting it for straw will kill it, right?  And chemicals cost money, right? Now I'm paranoid about the straw I've been getting.  I know the farmer who grows it.  I get it from him because he's very local, but he has not proven himself to be trustworthy especially when it comes to chemicals.  Don't tell me I've been using roundup fungicide straw...


My understanding is that farmers spray Roundup on wheat just a few days before harvest to kill the plant so the seeds dry uniformly. The cash crop is the wheat, not the straw. If they don't use Roundup as a desiccant, they probably use something much worse, unless they are organic wheat growers.

As has already been mentioned, Roundup isn't a persistent herbicide, and it dissipates pretty fast. I'm personally not as concerned about using the wheat straw in the garden, though I would prefer and pay more for organic straw if I could find it. I'm more concerned that they spray the grain just before harvesting it. Is it any wonder that we have measurable levels of glyphosate in our food supply?

If you buy straw from a farmer, ask if he used a desiccant to dry the wheat, and if so, what did he use.

 
gardener
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A couple of people have apparently not fully researched one of the most used herbicides on the planet that is being found to be far worse than the makers want to let on.

One of the saving graces of Roundup is that it does not persist long in the environment (not like, say organochlorine pesticides). The glyphosate molecule is not all that stable, and there are many pathways for it to break down, one of them being exposure to sunlight. If that load of straw was drying in a field, any glyphosate that was applied early in the growing season is probably gone from all the solar exposure.



This molecule has been found to be far more persistent than any of the literature states. Seven countries in Europe have already banned it from use or even import because of studies showing that it lasts for years in the soil, is taken up by plant roots and deposited in the seeds and stems of those plants and most disturbing it shows links to several cancers. In the EU it is listed as "Probable to possible carcinogen" for many cancer types and it has been shown to cause cancer in rats already. The fact that these studies list persistence at 5 years or more is enough to show that the manufacturers have lied about the product enough that the bans were put in place.

Glyphosate Research

USDA paper on Glyphosate

NCBI paper

REUTERS paper

Mercola report
 
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excellent post Redhawk.  I was going to write something similar but I'm glad you beat me to it, as you have all the good there!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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To find non sprayed wheat or oat straw you can check with co-ops, government organic programs, occasionally seed suppliers will have and be willing to give you farm names or you can place an advertisement for farms that sell their straw that grow organically.

Some times you can get lucky like I did and find a farmer on your own that uses a no spray methodology. You might even be able to locate one by going to farmers markets and asking the producers there if they know anyone with the product you want (organic or no spray straw).

If you can't find it, like John mentioned you can start a fungal network in the straw with mushroom slurry and that will take care of the problem once the straw is fully occupied by the mycelium (oyster is the mushroom to use for this).

Redhawk
 
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I had this trouble as well, when looking for organic straw.  Ultimately, I gave up.  I learned a couple of things that might be helpful. 

Ignoring roundup, which may or may not degrade quickly, you also have to be concerned about persistent broadleaf herbicides [1].  Farmers sometimes spray this to kill non-grasses in their fields or pastures.  These poisons are designed to persist in the soil, often lasting for years in concentrations that can be harmful to garden plants (beans are particularly sensitive).  Even worse, these herbicides pass through the guts of livestock mostly intact, making compost created with their manure also harmful.  Since these are sprayed on pastures, they can show up in non-organic HAY as well as straw and manure.

I don't know how well the fungal techniques mentioned will break down these chemicals.

You didn't say what you needed the straw for, but my conclusion was that wood chips were the safest form of mulch from a herbicide/pesticide perspective at least.  However they do take a long time to turn into soil if you are trying to build it up.

[1] https://compostingcouncil.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/USCC-PH-Fact-Sheet-1-for-web.pdf
 
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I get waste straw+hay from a nearby alpaca keeper (so in bits and pieces, not bales, and free, so am hugely grateful for free regular source of biomass while starting out-- I also get their alpaca manure which is another reason not to turn down the hay). I am convinced by the research on potential carcinogenic effects enough to never want to use glyphosate on our crops, but it's hard for me to weigh the benefits of biomass against the risk of harm/cancer. My middle ground is to lay all the straw along paths and areas regular scratched up by our chickens/pooped on by our ducks. it rapidly improves the soil and in the chicken coop itself we get very good compost. I also do encourage mushrooms by spreading spawn. I also use the straw in our composting toilet (all sawdust I've come across is treated with much worse chemicals than glyphosate), my logic is that after a year of composting the amount persisting should be low.

I use the gently composted straw as mulch for vegetables, and the well rotted compost around trees-- although perhaps I should be doing the reverse. I imagine there may still be some residue, and that over time, as the soil improves, I might get more picky. I don't have access to woodchips (or they're super duper expensive here in South Africa) so that also drives my acceptance of an imperfect carbon source.
 
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There is a farm around here, that sells "Certified Organic" straw.

You know that gas station deli that's filled with farmers at 9 AM every morning for coffee? You might visit, and ask them who is growing organic...
 
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