herbicide-tainted compost

toad_ca(z7b Bellingham, WA)August 1, 2010

Here in Whatcom County, WA, some friends have been talking about how their plants had shriveled and died this season after using a formerly reliable commercial compost. Today this was the lead story in The Bellingham Herald: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2010/08/01/1549538/herbicide-tainted-manure-wilts.html

Unfortunately it doesn't specifically address how home gardeners (as well as commercial organic farmers) can avoid this problem in the future. Few of us can produce all the compost we need. Would it be best to avoid compost that has any manure in it? Seems the only solution I can think of unless companies can assure us that the manure they use is only from cows fed only on organically produced silage. Any thoughts?

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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

I can't imagine the herbicide is coming from the manure. More likely the compost. People put weed treated lawn clippings in the compost to be picked up for compost.
My neighbor treated his lawn with a broad leafed weed killer and when he mowed the lawn, he fed the clippings to his cows. They died. All three of them.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 5:08PM
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toad_ca(z7b Bellingham, WA)

Actually, it was coming from the manure. If you read the article (link posted above) you'll see the chain. The manure used in the compost was being taken from several different dairies. The suspect herbicide is aminopyralid. The cows from some of the dairies ate the silage that had grown where that herbicide was used to control weeds. It apparently doesn't hurt mammals, but it passes through them unchanged. So their manure carries enough of the potency to kill broad-leafed plants.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 5:20PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

It was said "mowed the lawn, he fed the clippings to his cows. They died. All three of them."

Are you absolutely certain? If so, what was the active ingredient?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 7:05PM
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toad_ca(z7b Bellingham, WA)

"It was said" ??? What are you referring to?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 7:34PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

I'm referring to the first response to OP's thread given by botann z8 SEof Seattle

    Bookmark   August 1, 2010 at 11:08PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

My neighbor told me he put WeednFeed on his lawn. I suppose it was 2-4-D that killed the cows.
I should have read the article.

Yes, I'd be concerned about aminopyralid in the manure. What about the milk? Is it in that too? It wasn't mentioned. I wonder why.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2010 at 10:27AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

"The Bottom Line
 The best sources for pesticide-free compost are those that have been analyzed and certified.
Home-made compost is also a good choice as long as you are sure your materials are
contaminant-free.
 Unregulated compost can contain pesticides, heavy metals, and other environmental toxins that
may be harmful to you and your plants.
 If you must have your lawn sprayed with persistent, broadleaf herbicides, be sure to use a
mulching mower and leave the clippings in place. Do NOT compost them or bag them for clean
green removal.
 Soil testing for heavy metals is crucial for any landscape where plants are grown for human
consumption"

Here is a link that might be useful: The Myth of Clean Compost

    Bookmark   August 4, 2010 at 9:18PM
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botann(z8 SEof Seattle)

My thoughts exactly.
Mike

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 12:24AM
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grrrnthumb(z8 WA)

One more reason to use real compost, instead of the manure-sawdust or manure-bark mixes that are becoming so common nowdays.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 12:19PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I would imagine that many people do put lawn clippings in their yard debris bins when they do use Weed n'Feed products instead of leaving them on the lawn.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 1:15PM
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