I’ve been doing some research lately – I’m actually always doing research, I really enjoy digging for the truth – and thought I should publish my research in case someone stumbles upon it and it can help them, too.
As I was saying, I’ve been doing research lately, this time into purchased soil (also sometimes sold as compost). I’m not really talking about those small bags at the hardware store, as I’m not sure if they contain this problem or not. I’m talking about those wonderfully large ‘bags’ that are shipped to your door, of beautiful black compost. Or, the bulk ‘topsoil’ or ‘compost’ you can have sent to your home, or pick up in your truck.
What’s happening to many gardeners this year is soil poisoning. Can you believe that? It’s not an issue our great-grandparents dealt with, that’s for sure. Of course, I doubt they purchased soil…I can imagine the look on my farming grandfather’s face if I told him I bought soil!
Here’s how the soil gets poisoned:
- Field gets sprayed with an herbicide to make only certain plants grow
- Horse or cow is fed the hay. The animal is just fine.
- The herbicide goes through all four ‘stomachs’ (not the technical term) and the digestive system of the animal, and still it is effective as a poison.
- An unsuspecting gardener (or a soil or compost company) uses the manure for gardening.
- The garden’s plants grow at first, but then they twist and curl in stunted growth, and do not produce seed or fruit.
I emphasize: Even though the poison has gone through an animal’s digestive system, gone through composting, gone through packaging…even if it has gone through months or even a year in transit, it is still poisonous to gardens!
Does the company that produces the herbicide know about its effect on gardens?
Yes. They even wrote a letter waaay back in 2009, to a “garden enthusiast” who wrote them about “damage to garden plants.”
They admit the herbicide – aminopyralid – “can harm the growth of many garden vegetables such as tomatoes, beans and peas.”
Does the company plan to do anything about this? Or, do they care?
In the interest of being unbiased, I’ll just quote them (ie. I have nothing nice to say).
“In those rare cases where garden plants have been damaged by aminopyralid, the herbicide was introduced through animal manure that should not have been used as a garden fertilizer soil amendment. Any introduction into a garden is due to a failure to follow label directions.Dow AgroSciences
Here’s where I get caps-mad:
BUT WE CANNOT “FOLLOW LABEL DIRECTIONS” WHEN WE DON’T EVEN KNOW IT WAS SPRAYED ON THE FIELD THAT CONTAINED THE HAY THAT WENT INTO THE COW THAT SENT OUT THE MANURE THAT WENT INTO MY GARDEN.me
Who is responsible?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, of all the irony. They accepted and approved the registration of this herbicide. The responsiblity is on their shoulders.
Big Ag is bad, too, but Big Ag is Big Money and Big Ag will always try to take what they can to get what they want. It’s the EPA that We the People fund and it’s the EPA that tells us they care about the environment and who think we should listen to them as they “protect” us and the Earth.
Which garden plants are affected by aminopyralids in manure and compost?
This list is provided by the Poisoners Themselves:
- Peas, beans, and other legumes
- Carrots and other umbelliferae
- Lettuce, spinach, and other compositae
- Some species of roses
THEY SAY THE POISON IS “AT A LEVEL LOW ENOUGH THAT YOU CAN EAT THE PRODUCE.”
“If aminopyralid has been introduced into your garden, and plants are showing symptoms of herbicide damage consistent with aminopyralid, but produce a harvestable yield, these inadvertent aminopyralid residues are at a level low enough that you can eat the produce from the garden.”
Did you notice the distancing word “inadvertent” in there?! After this paragraph, they deflect by going on about how you should be careful of “other contaminants” also, like e.coli.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR SOIL IS POISONED
Perhaps you purchased soil and you want to know if it is poisoned without losing your entire crop to it. The perpetrator has the answer even for that; you can click through to their letter — I’ll link it at the bottom of this post as a “source.” But the short version is: plant some peas or beans in the soil. Both of these grow quickly, and both are affected by aminopyralids, so you’ll know if the poison is in your soil.
If the plants look yellow and curly and weird, they’re poisoned. If they look normal, they’re normal.
Okay, let’s have some solutions:
Gardeners who have spoken about their poisoned soil in the past (mostly Europeans – they were hit hard), have said it took two years for their soil to produce again. Dow says, “in many cases [it] dissipates by the following year.”
I don’t yet have any conclusive research from gardeners as the ones I’ve seen just removed the poisoned soil off to a pile far from the garden. However, both Roots and Refuge Farm and Perma Pastures Farm say they are going to attempt to amend their soil (I’ll link to the videos where they spoke of their poisoned soil; it only just occured, so we don’t know the results of their attempts yet).
Dow AgroSciences says (and we should hold them accountable for this statement), “Aminopyralid decomposes with the help of microorganisms found in soil. Residues in manure or compost break down if rototilled into the soil and turned over regularly.”
It’s infuriating to me that Dow AgroSciences has known of their product’s effect on gardens since at least 2009! In the dozen years since then, can you imagine the tens of thousands of affected acres, and the unthinkable amount of poisoned soil there is by now?
Even more infuriating is that the Environmental Protection Agency has done nothing to stop this poisoning of our Earth.
I’m not sure how, but we need to hold them both accountable. I’m beginning by writing their names here, and saying “this is wrong.”
If you have a poisoned garden, I’m so sorry. I think if I had one, I would probably look into anything that could increase microbial action, such as compost teas and manure from our own farm animals, and leaf litter, etc. Let me know if you’re affected, and I’ll pass on what I find out.
If you do not have a poisoned garden, it’s time for us to learn how to compost, and how to make soil right where we are, right off our land. We do not need to be impatient; we do not have to bring in soil. God made the Earth able to heal itself and we can definitely create soil from what it provides.