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Roundup in my mulch!  RSS feed

 
Kate Alvo
Posts: 37
Location: Portneuf, Quebec
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Hi all,

I just wanted to post this as a warning to always ask your farmer about whether they treat their crops with Glyphosate (RoundUp). I unfortunately learned this the hard way this year. I used straw to make a lasagna garden bed last year in the Spring. That first season the garden did amazingly well. This year, when I seeded, almost nothing grew. The seedlings I planted grew, but were stunted. Luckily for me, I have a very good neighbour who specializes in plant pathology. He suspected RoundUp-contaminated mulch. After doing all the other usual soil tests on my garden, he took a sample of the straw and sent in for testing. He just got back to me today with a confirmation that the straw was indeed contaminated with Glyphosate.

We still have to confirm which source of straw it was that was contaminated, but I highly suspect it was the straw we used to build our house with. We had leftover bales, and they were used for mulch in the garden.

Anyway, the plan thus far is to remove the straw and put it in a pile and dump a whole bunch of humic acids over it to tie up the glyphosate, and then compost the whole thing.

Hope this helps someone avoid making the same mistake I did!

Kate
 
Andy Jones
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What are humic acids or how and where would they be purchased. How long would it take to break down the glyphosate?

Andy
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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There shouldn't be glyphosate in STRAW. Something else is going on, too.

 
Kate Alvo
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Location: Portneuf, Quebec
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Well, R Scott, there is glyphosate on the straw. It was tested in a lab and that's what they found. This is because here our climate is such that farmers can only get one crop of grains per season. Such a long growing season means weeds come up as they wait for harvest time and it appears that some farmers here will spray their fields before baling the straw in order to avoid having weedy straw bales. It is sad but true. Why do you think there can't be any Roundup on the straw? Seems to me it can be anywhere a farmer decides to put it. Alternatively, maybe their grain field was beside their potato field and some got blown over in the wind... Whatever the explanation, it is there. The straw was tested on its own, because they couldn't find any problems in the soil itself.

Andy Jones, humic acids are found in the soil or in compost. They can be easily extracted by placing compost over some cheesecloth and pouring water over it, which should drain through pretty quickly and come out the other side as a nice dark liquid in your bucket. You can also buy them, but be carful because the commercial ones are often extracted using strong acids, which can damage your biology. Not sure how long it takes to break down the glyphosate, but I imagine that if you have enough humic acids and then compost your material, it shouldn't take more that the amount of time for your compost to finish.

Hope this helps!

 
John Elliott
pollinator
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R Scott wrote:There shouldn't be glyphosate in STRAW. Something else is going on, too.



I could see how it could get into straw: a spraying to kill the growth, then being windrowed for an insufficient time to let the sun photolyze the glyphosate before it was baled. There are farmers out there that use glyphosate as a time saving step; if it takes too long to dry out naturally in the field, then they spray to save time.

Spreading the straw out to solarize for a couple weeks will reduce the glyphosate significantly, it's not a very light stable molecule. If you can't do that, then fungi can metabolize it as they break the straw down. But for that you would have to pile it up and keep it wet. Hose it down when the surface dries out. As soon as you can dig your hand in 6" or so and uncover some white fungal hyphae, then you know that mycological breakdown is occurring and then a test for glyphosate should come back with very low levels.
 
Kate Alvo
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Location: Portneuf, Quebec
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Interesting, John. Have you tried the sun thing? My straw has been sitting out in the sun all summer, in a very thin layer, and it is still coming out positive. Some of the straw we had and used as mulch had fungal hyphae growing in it, which is why I chose it to put on the garden, but I think I also used some fresher stuff. I still plan to take it off the garden tomorrow, so I will try the pie and keep wet method, and I will also throw on some humic acids, which are fungal foods, for good measure and to speed up the process.

 
John Elliott
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Kate, I'm one of the more active myco-culturists on here, so I rarely leave stuff to dry in the sun, I pile it and hose it down and inoculate it with whatever mushrooms I have available.

As for the ads, I use Adblock and


 
Su Ba
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First I shall state that I don't use roundup anywhere near my gardens or orchard, nor round up contaminated mulch. I am not a supporter of Monsanto. That being said...
I have seen a one acre field of grass and weeds killed using roundup. 2 weeks later the field was mowed. Another person came along and harvested those grass cuttings and used them as mulch in their garden. I was curious to see what would happen so I've checked her garden every time I drove past her house. Well not what I expected. None of her plants were damaged by the round up killed grass and weeds. In fact, her sweet potato vines thrived. She has been gardening for many years on the plot and constantly gathering manure and chopped brush and grass for mulching. So her soil contains quite a bit of organic matter. Perhaps that had an influence.

Kate, I wonder if something else is going on. I haven't the foggiest idea what it could be except I would consider other herbicides besides round up.

As for seeing Monsanto ads on permies.com? No, I've never seen one, ever. I don't have an ad blocker installed either. I don't know how the ad system works, so could it be something local to yourself, like your Internet provider? As I said, I don't know how those ads work.
 
Leila Rich
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While glyphosate is undoubtedly a nasty piece of work,
I don't think its chemistry causes visible, er, 'secondary poisoning'?
I don't know the right words
Is it possible there's been a misunderstanding and the contamination is from Clopyralid,
or one of its persistent cousins rather than glyphosate?
 
John Elliott
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Leila Rich wrote:
While glyphosate is undoubtedly a nasty piece of work,
I don't think its chemistry causes visible, er, 'secondary poisoning'?
I don't know the right words



The word you are looking for is chelation. Glyphosate is a very efficient chelator, with both a nitrogen and a phosphorous in the molecule. This super-chelator property is what makes it an effective herbicide, starving the plant it is sprayed on of necessary minerals.

In fact, it is so efficient a chelator that in places with a lot of arsenic and heavy metals in the soil, it scavenges them. This is turning out to be a problem in areas where farm workers are getting exposed to lots of glyphosate, because the glyphosate/heavy metal chelate is winding up in their kidneys, where it breaks down and the toxic element is deposited. Or at least this is what is hypothesized as the etiology of some strange new kidney diseases. I suppose Monsanto has plenty of excuses why they have no liability as this epidemic unfolds.
 
Alex Brands
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The word you are looking for is chelation. Glyphosate is a very efficient chelator, with both a nitrogen and a phosphorous in the molecule. This super-chelator property is what makes it an effective herbicide, starving the plant it is sprayed on of necessary minerals.
====================
I believe this is a myth started by Don Huber. Wether he believes it or not, I don't know. He has made some outlandish claims that don't stand up to the lightest pass of scrutiny. I don't doubt that glyphosate is a good chelator in vitro, but it is implausible that it kills plants in the way you indicate.

Glyphosate kills plants because it blocks the synthesis of aromatic amino acids, specifically by blocking the activity of the EPSP synthase enzyme. Genetically engineered "Roundup Ready" crops are resistant to the effects of glyphosate because they express a different version of the EPSP synthase enzyme that is not affected by glyphosate. If glyphosate really killed plants by starving them of minerals, it would not be possible to make glyphosate resistant plants this way.
 
S Haze
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Location: Southern Minnesota, USA, zone 4/5
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It sounds like the comments are on the right track. While there certainly could be glyphosate residue in the straw it's probably another chemical or factor causing the problems. Glyphosate causes disturbances in soil microbes who knows what other general nastiness it may be responsible for but to the best of my knowledge it has no direct residual (acute) effects on the plants that germinate after it has been sprayed. Farmers will spray it once and then have to spray again if they're trying to kill weeds and a crop hasn't canopied and shaded out potential competition.

I know that as permies we should just avoid the stuff but I think it's good to educate ourselves so when we talk to farmers they don't look at us like we're crazy. If a goal is to replace big mono-crop ag, it will likely be easier if the farmers trust us and we need to be able to speak the same language. Even knowing what pesticide labels claim is a good thing to know whether we believe it or not and we know it's certainly not the whole truth.

I hope I'm not stepping out of bounds here but I work on a large chem. ag farm (so I know the biz, at least for this region) and would love to see it transform into something much better for the people and all other life we share the world with.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I agree with the need to know about competing ideas in every field. I don't respect the intelect of those who only are knowledgeable about what they are selling. This is true whether they are selling poison, machines, some methodology or religion. For me to take them seriously, they must display an understanding of the ideas that compete with their own.
 
al bloom
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Hey,
old topic but hope someone can help.
I've moved into a place and am making a no dig garden. At the last house I used straw, but don't have a car to transport it in. There are about 5 dead banana trees, killed with roundup/glyphosate a few months ago.
Looking for opinions on using this in my no dig garden in layers along with the soil/compost layers.
Got cardboard down at the moment, looking to put the leaves/branches on top as a bottom layer (as there's heaps of weeds and grass underneath, cardboard's doing ok to keep them down), and then layered throughout.
For a veggie garden. Wondering mainly about the glyphosate getting through to my veg/in the soil. Extended answers welcome!
Thanks Al
 
Steve Farmer
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Location: South Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain)
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This from Wikipedia so depending on your trust of crowdsourced info treat with appropriate caution..

"It is absorbed through foliage, and minimally through roots,[6][7][8] and translocated to growing points. Because of this mode of action, it is only effective on actively growing plants; it is not effective as a pre-emergence herbicide."

For the sake of a few dead banana plants, my decision would be to bin/burn them and avoid any risk, in lieu of being an expert on the subject. Preferably tho, research it some more and report back to us, some interesting comments earlier on this thread from people who know more than I. I like it when knowledgeable people get stuck into a topic, particular if it involves busting or confirming myths.
 
Michael Cox
Posts: 1678
Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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We had a spate of problems here in the UK a few years ago. The culprit ended up being contaminated manure.

The farmer sprays the pasture.
The cattle graze the pasture and absorb the pesticides ("harmless" to them!)
The pesticides pass through and when the manure is bundled up and sold after composting the pesticide is still active.

This was not roundup related.

Manure and Compost Contamination

To my knowledge roundup has not been associated with the problems described here, but there are many other culprits that can be responsible.
 
al bloom
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That sort of cycle was what I was wondering about.
Couple of links referring glyphosate as 'possibly carcinogenic' from earlier this year..
http://www.nature.com/news/widely-used-herbicide-linked-to-cancer-1.17181
http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/apr/21/glyphosate-probably-carcinogenic-pesticide-why-cities-use-it
http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/france-bans-sale-of-weedkiller-roundup-over-un-fears-it-may-be-carcinogenic/story-e6frflp0-1227399297482

Have seen some other banana trees that haven't been killed.. ill use those leaves.
Cheers
Al

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've seen so many gardens killed/damaged by mulch/compost/straw that I won't import organic materials onto my farm. The risk just seems too high to me. Without access to a laboratory I can't prove that it is herbicide related, but based on decades of experience as an analytical chemist studying -cide metabolism, I highly suspect herbicides.

When green material such as thistles, or bindweed, or grasses get into a combine, is can be a nasty mess. Combines are designed to work with dry materials, not damp ones. When I was a boy, we would drive the combine around patches of still green weeds to avoid clogging up the combine.

In recent decades, farmer's have learned that they can spray a wheat field with glyphosate shortly before harvest to kill all the weeds and other plants in the field. Then when they have dried down, the combine can easily handle whatever plant matter happens to be in the field.

If glyphosate is sprayed on wheat plants that are already dead, then it seems to me like it will simply stick to the dried plant material rather than being moved into the soil. Biologic activity requires water, so I don't expect much degradation of dehydrated glyphosate on straw.

My experience is that it takes about 3 growing seasons for glyphosate treated fields to start acting like organically managed fields.
 
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