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Aminopyralid contamination in purchased composts  RSS feed

 
gary koch
Posts: 8
Location: Bellingham (NW) WA
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Hey all,

Whatcom Co, WA is coming down with a widespread case of contamination to purchased industrial soils from dirty dairy manure compost.  No news in the local paper...no surprise there but it is being addressed by the WSU Extension office.

It appears that Dow Chemical produces several related herbicides used on grasslands/hayfields to control broadleafed "undesirables" and the residues are deforming plants in home gardens .  The chemical passes quickly thru the animal gut and is deposited intact in the manure and urine.  The chemical appears to be only minutely borken down during composting.

So, now neighbors are scratching our heads and trying to regroup from this latest example of corporate/business malfeasance.  No one is in control of your welfare but you, unfortunately.

Our garden is affected but not devestated but some have been.  Here is a link provided by WSU.  Seems like it's one of the usual "no one is in charge" processes.  Whatever can be sold is sold.  Caveat emptor once again.

http://transitionwhatcom.ning.com/profiles/blogs/a-new-problem-with-commercial

g
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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Yes, it's important to run an assay on commercial compost, by planting some beans or peas in pots both with and without the suspect compost (Ideally, control samples will grow in similar compost, known to be un-contaminated).

I'm sorry to hear your garden has been affected. Will you be able to get by if the affected soil spends a couple years producing mostly monocots & fungi?
 
gary koch
Posts: 8
Location: Bellingham (NW) WA
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Hi Joel,

We are set to run the bio-assays on our beds and remaining purchased soils.  Thanks for the reminder.  We have been looking over other gardens in town to see what their plants look like.  They mostly all look subnormal.  But then, it's been a cold and subnormal summer here.  Even tomatoes under plastic have somewhat cupped leaves.

Another complicating factor is that the tomato in question is a Stupice, a variety I've never grown before; different leaf shape, different stem structure as well?  The super Lakotas look like everyone elses, which is to say passable.

So, we'll wait and see what turns out from the beds.  We'll do the bio-assays.  Maybe it's another tempest in a teapot, tho some places have been impacted.

One always gets by and half of our beds were not topped off with this mixture.  Is the produce of affected plants safe to eat?  Monocots and fungi as well?

Thanks,
g
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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It's tough to ever say that anything is completely safe, but from what I've read, tests haven't shown any harm to animals that have eaten feed directly sprayed with it.

Crops grown on contaminated soil will result in much less exposure than that, because it doesn't seem to accumulate in plant tissues themselves. The normal practice of peeling garlic is enough to remove all of the soil.

I searched for info on mushroom culture, and got no clear picture on that. I had expected it to be safe both for the fungi and the people eating them, but that issue might be worth looking into.
 
rose macaskie
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if paul stamets, who works in science laboratories with access to all the things scientist use to assure themselves of the correctness of their findings, and who has the discipline to send off things to other laboratories if his does not have the wherewithall to  do the needed tests, says that oyster mushrooms and some other fungi, plenty of others, have very good molecular breakdown powers, says that things that aren't other wise biodegradable are if it is fungi degrading them, ( being biodegradable is more a question of whether or not damaging molecules can be be broken down than whether an amphora goes on existing for two thousand and many more years). well it seems that it is a good idea to try  out fungi if you have a pollution problem. Not so much so as to eat the mushrooms produced on the trouble spots but just to degrade whatever is causing problems. Though when oyster mushrooms degrade hydrocarbides instead of carbohydrates there is no petrol found in their flesh fed on petrol,  the only problem with eating them is you should find out first if they had picked up any other poisons from the petrol lead maybe, so maybe you can eat them the fungi as well as using them to clean up  but you should do laboratory tests before doing so.

    Paul Stamets  is so enamoured of the intelligence of fungi that he believes in their powers in almost any situation, he says they have spent mileniums on the earth trying to digest things and that they put out hyphae and the head of each hypha end produces a different chemical and as there are a lot of hayphae they put out a fair arsenal of chemical dissolvents, till they find out what works and do for the substance they have before them, reduce its molecualr structure and that is to biodegrade it.  agri rose macaskie.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22616
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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I was in bellingham recently and managed to video some folks talking about this and ...




 
paul wheaton
master steward
Posts: 22616
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
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After posting this video, I have received heaps of feedback, so I recently wrote this in response to some of that:

Wow, this is so crazy frustrating.  Ever since I posted that video, I
am getting swamped by folks that refuse to believe what is right in
front of their eyes.  And then they contact me to try to help me
understand why I am wrong.

I really don't think I can be more clear.  All I can do is repeat myself.

Here, I will try to say it a different way:

A bioassay can indicate certain levels of persistent herbicides.  So
if you do 100 bioassays with one type of compost, and then you do 100
bioassays with virgin topsoil with IDENTICAL FERTILITY, and you have a
50% death rate in the first set compared to the second set, then YES,
you most likely have a  persistent herbicide problem.

**BUT**

If you have 0% death rate, then you need to grow it out to adulthood.
If the samples in the first set are the same size, then your compost
is clean.

Here is the problem: nearly every bioassay I have ever seen done was flawed:

A)  There was no control at all.  If some peas germinate and grow,
this could indicate that there are persistent herbicides, but not
enough to kill the peas.  Just enough to stunt their growth - but you
have no control to compare to, so you don't know if the growth is
stunted.

B)  The control also has persitent herbicides, or the control is
crappy dirt.  The control must have soil that is equal in every way
with the exception that you KNOW for absolute fact that it contains no
persistent herbicides.  Getting this control soil can be very
challenging.  And I have yet to see ANYBODY doing a bioassay do this
step.

THEREFORE:  every bioassay I have ever seen first hand was useless.
Every single one.

Look at the raspberries in the video.  Note how the raspberries on the
left are NOT DEAD!  They are stunted.  Granted, there are far too many
variables here to qualify as a proper bio assay - but that is not what
she was attempting to do.  She ran out of contaminated material and
finshed the job with non-contaminated material.  She probably applied
the exact same amount both sides.  So this video shows typical
stunting of growth:  a level of persistent herbicide that doesn't
KILL, but stunts.

Summary:  nearly all commercial compost contains persistent herbicide.
If you can get peas to grow in it, then you have demonstrated that
the level of persistent herbicide is not high enough to kill your
plants, but I would say that there is a 98% chance that it is in there
and WILL stunt your plants.  Plus there is a 98% chance that food you
eat from it WILL contain herbicides.  Rather than bother with a
bioassay, I recommend that you not use commercial compost.

A bioassay that would be worthwhile:  test 20 different commercial
composts and 20 different home made composts.  I think those results
will be fascinating.  In theory, a "professional" compost should
greatly outperform an "amateur" compost (I could fill a book talking
about this space).  But I suspect that the #15 home compost will come
out way ahead of the #1 commercial compost.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
pollinator
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
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>In theory, a "professional" compost should greatly outperform an "amateur" compost

That sounds less like a theory, than an ideology.

Goods manufactured professionally can have a full-time staff dedicated to improving the quality of one particular product, making incremental improvements over many decades. Or the same process can be optimized to reduce cost, or any number of other goals.

Under that theory, it really matters what a producer is going for, and I'm not sure the business of selling compost has much of a place for those who maximize quality.

...

I happen to have a crack team that's been working in the compost sector for generations. With such a a small operation (about a cubic yard), I can ensure that my HR (humus resources) department has a much more enlightened hiring policy, tolerant of most any culture, race, or kingdom. While the staff aren't demanding at all in terms of salary, I think I get a better product out of them by offering better working conditions, particularly room and board, and by giving them more autonomy rather than constantly disrupting their work to try to push for faster results.
 
rose macaskie
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[font=Verdana]While the staff aren't demanding at all in terms of salary, I think I get a better product out of them by offering better working conditions, particularly room and board, and by giving them more autonomy rather than constantly disrupting their work to try to push for faster results. [/font]
joel hollingsworth i would have been with you on talking about sharing untill a short while back when i perceived that such talk took us back to the old days to a small elite and big hungry mass south ameriaca style the catholics lve to say how wicked the materialism of america is when they have to their discredit south america an dthe poor spain and italy of yore. You say the staff in your small business yourself i imagine aren't demanding in terms of salary? They should be tha tis the road to the old seething millions of poor in twll ocuntries of the world  and race prejudice is only defeated by long arguements that desentangle the web  of prejudice and fear and riches and education for the underpriveledged parts of society so tha tthe frightening reality that  they are steeped in crime and vice and violence stops existing and stops being attached to their race as a real examplle of the reason to fear them.
  One the most imporatnt bits of Dickens is when Oliver Twist asks for more and the beadle is outraged, it repeats itself so often in th eform of the outrage from the fat right when the poor or the parties wh most support the poor ask for more. and don't think of the charities the charities have not yet suceedied in making the por of any country rich only the state can do that one that gives lots of benefits to the poor so the rich aren't the only ones with advantages. TH ewhole business of charities is the poor.
  Have you read "Germinal" Zolas book on an anarchist in a mining village in France, the miners did not have enough money to fill the stew pot and that with the father and all the  children working down the mineand the rich said give them more and they will drink it, drink as in buy beer.
    There is an english book the autobiography of a stone mason daughter  called Akenfeild about the farm workers of the village, in the begining of last century they had the house and a garden in exchange for their work, to grow vegetables to feed thaemselves in, in  English villages there is a tradition of eating from one small plot of land, the back garden. They hardely got paid, their meat ration was  a pig a year for the whole family and they had big families though as th echildren went to work at fourteen the whole family didnot usually live together. They had one pig but as they often found it hard to buy the feed it ended up as half a pig, the other half went to the feed suppliers. They wore clothese  past to them by their daughters working as kitchen maids nurse maids coks etc., who got handmedowns from the women who employed them. They ate puddings as in suet and flour outside with a stew inside if their was meat meat a meat stew and if not well a vegetable one and if there wer no vegetables well salty water. In spain they ate pulses with a bit of pig fat maybe to flavour them and bread .
  i remember how thin an d undergrown the english poor could be after all born in 54 there were plenty of old men and women around that would take things back a fair way. i knew to families of underfedd children of my own age. Ask Dolly parton about it if you have forgotten, luckily she has made a village to keep the reality in peoples memories. WHat about the book the grapes of wrath.
  In the village i new with mines fairly close in Radstock, there were men who had started going down the mine at fourteen. When the poor have no power to ask for more, as in trade unions, things get pretty rough for them and you can tell me how much liberty a person has who starts off working in a mine at fourteen, they are trapped without the right sort of laws untrap por people what about no money to help your children. and if their were poor in england well in spain htings were much worse. 
  There are mines in south america were you are paid to little but can borrow money to buy food which the mine shop sells to you, that was the way things worked in the book germinal too the workers were enslaved by low wages.  ON the other hand i think the rich are pushed to it to think how to pay workers mor ethe rule is that if forced to they find a way. They are the ones with the money htat allows fo rcreativity. Look wha tactors do when they hav emoney pay for and orchastrate an enterprise that designs a machin tha twill separate oil from water. Become directors . Yuni smoon lend s ppeople money so htey can be creative and make things it is the multiplication of energy that makes enough and money gives hope nad energy not the multiplication of spreading thin.
Women to are enslaved by low wages no choice about holidays or getting up and out,  or simply having so much money tha tlosing your wife becomes a real pain so tha tmen try harder for you so as not to lose the money you bring home. people can't even be bothered to converse with the poorer than them and that includes their wives.
  THe owner of a business has the power to employ or sack people the only power that the poor have is what trade unions give them, if we whittle away at trade unions we will be back were we were at the begining of last century. Religouse communities have extoled the virtues of sharing for centuries charitiy has always meant millions of poor people even if it meant some rich giving and gettign saintly, the only thing that changed the position of the poor was trade unions, and  equal oportunities which means a good education and the vote. Charitable intentions have never worked they are a way back to what south america is only just now climbing out of.
  Town planning is another part of the business, you have the poor comunity all locked up with each other and they find themselves in a place where there is no one to sell anything too.
  It is to the advantage of the filthy rich to talk of sharing and such high sounding, low functioning, principles. agri rose macaskie.
 
David Good
gardener
Posts: 522
Location: Equatorial tropics
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books forest garden
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My nightshade plants are having some serious curling problems this year... they're pretty much all toast. Eggplants, tobacco, peppers and tomatoes. And the beans are now having the same issue.

Blackberries out front also had some curling last year after they were put in. It seems the cow manure I bought from a local farm has aminopyralid contamination.

I'm sick over it. Anyone else dealing with that this year? I'm concerned that the crap may even be in our goat's hay, since it seems to have little restriction in the US. (Thanks a LOT, EPA.)

Frustrates the living daylights out of me. No tomatoes this year... and I can only wonder how much better some of the less-effected plants and trees might be doing if it wasn't for the bad manure.

What should I do?
 
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