US Composting Council Asking EPA to Stop Sales of Persistent Herbicides That Contaminate Compost

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Picloram damage on lettuce. Photo by Sue Colucci

Picloram damage on lettuce. Photo by Sue Colucci

5/12/2023 – The article below was written about ten years ago, but this problem with carryover herbicides damaging farms and gardens is still a big problem. There is an updated link to the US Composting Council’s page on this topic.

5/17/2013 – I know the issue of persistent herbicides contaminating manures and composts is important to many of you because you contact me by phone and email, send me pictures, and have lengthy on-line forum discussions about it, so I thought many of you would be interested in this:

The US Composting Council has a position paper posted on their website where they outline the damage caused by persistent herbicides in manure and compost. They are asking the EPA to address this issue by halting sales of persistent herbicides in the U.S. (update: this page is no longer available)

This is a reminder to all of you who use manure, compost, straw, straw bales, hay, and grass clippings in your gardens and on your farms. Know where your material comes from before putting it on your soil. Ask questions. If in doubt, do bioassays. How to do a bioassay is described in the NC State Herbicide Carryover leaflet. Katie Jennings, weed scientist, and I are in the process of updating that leaflet. Updates will include removing fluroxpyr and triclopyr from the herbicides of concern AND expanding the length of time that the bioassays should be done (at least five weeks). You can read my blog posts on the bioassay experiments with tomatoes.

Manure and composts made from manure are wonderful soil amendments, but some people are steering away from using them because of the herbicide concerns and the difficulty in finding out of the materials they want to use is clean or not.

Aminopyralid damage on tomatoes

Aminopyralid damage on tomatoes. Photo by Jeanine Davis