Aminopyralid: Know Your Manure Source

Posted on Aug 10 2011 - 2:23am by Mike Lieberman

I read a story in the Guardian UK about a plant disease called aminopyralid and how it’s affecting small growers and home gardeners. Even though it’s a disease that seems to have just hit the UK, how it happened is what’s alarming to me.

What is aminopyralid

Here is what happened. The chemical company, Dow Chemicals, produced a hormone based herbicide, aminopyralid, that started being used in the UK back in 2005.

According to the Guardian article:

It is used by farmers to kill broad-leaved weeds growing in fields of grass. It locks onto the cellulose in the plants, passes through the guts of the animals that eat them, and retains its potency in their manure, sometimes for two or three years or more. It is not believed to present a risk to human health.

How it affected growers

What wound up happening is that the small growers and home gardeners like you and I who were using animal manure instead of chemical fertilizers were being hit hard because the chemical was being passed through the manure into the gardens. Plants were shriveling up and dying. You can read more about the whole story on the Guardian web site.

This is why we need to not only get as close to our food source as possible, but also do our best to know the source of all/most things that we are using.

In the case of aminopyralid, they are having a hard time tracing it back to the exact source. There is all kinds of paperwork and redtape that needs to be filled out to prove that your manure is safe, etc.

It’s not easy to separate conventional and organic

This just shows that it’s not as simple as having conventional farming over here and organic/sustainable practices over there. There will be cross contamination through run-off, wind and other means. We don’t live in bubbles. Everything affects everything.

As an individual it’s disempowering because you think you are doing something that you believe in by using animal manure, but then it results in plant disease from chemical companies. The worst part is that there is no retribution that can be sought against the chemical companies.

In this specific instance, this is a problem that is happening overseas. I would think that similar instances with other chemicals and diseases are occurring here in the States as well.

The responsibility is on us

It puts more of the responsibility on us the consumers and individuals to question and really know the source of what we are buying. What’s your thoughts on the situation?

Photo courtesy of John Mason, on Gardeners’ Alert: Aminopyralid-contaminated manure – a problem that has not gone away.