Is commercially made compost tested for chemical residue?

Im on a veg growing forum and many swear the failure in their crops is due to chemical residue in their compost. But is this the case now in 2020? I just need to find the facts on this.

If fields grasslands are sprayed for say thistle control then will the residue be left in the grass and how long after spraying should the grass be cut?

Whats the residue life on the cut grass?

Same question about straw.

What about wormers and other Pyrethroid controls when housed. whats the life of these when indoors?

Is slurry ever incorporated into a compost mix?

Muck left for 1 year adequate to rid of all the chemicals if made correctly and turned regularly?

How safe is it to animal health consuming all these in a small trickle?

Ive never met a compost maker so all the compost made in the UK where is it coming from I know a lot of it must come in some part from municipal because the amounts of plastic and bits even when they have apparently been put through a sieve.

I would of thought high end compost makers are doing random lab tests to check quality control? I bought 2 tons from a compost direct company and had no issues. We do make compost here but it wasnt ready and all ours is organic. I need to make my own compost area for my veg.
 

CPF

Member
Arable Farmer
Im on a veg growing forum and many swear the failure in their crops is due to chemical residue in their compost. But is this the case now in 2020? I just need to find the facts on this.

If fields grasslands are sprayed for say thistle control then will the residue be left in the grass and how long after spraying should the grass be cut?

Whats the residue life on the cut grass?

Same question about straw.

What about wormers and other Pyrethroid controls when housed. whats the life of these when indoors?

Is slurry ever incorporated into a compost mix?

Muck left for 1 year adequate to rid of all the chemicals if made correctly and turned regularly?

How safe is it to animal health consuming all these in a small trickle?

Ive never met a compost maker so all the compost made in the UK where is it coming from I know a lot of it must come in some part from municipal because the amounts of plastic and bits even when they have apparently been put through a sieve.

I would of thought high end compost makers are doing random lab tests to check quality control? I bought 2 tons from a compost direct company and had no issues. We do make compost here but it wasnt ready and all ours is organic. I need to make my own compost area for my veg.
This all sounds too fishy
 

Bogweevil

Member
Im on a veg growing forum and many swear the failure in their crops is due to chemical residue in their compost. But is this the case now in 2020? I just need to find the facts on this.

If fields grasslands are sprayed for say thistle control then will the residue be left in the grass and how long after spraying should the grass be cut?

Whats the residue life on the cut grass?

Same question about straw.

What about wormers and other Pyrethroid controls when housed. whats the life of these when indoors?

Is slurry ever incorporated into a compost mix?

Muck left for 1 year adequate to rid of all the chemicals if made correctly and turned regularly?

How safe is it to animal health consuming all these in a small trickle?

Ive never met a compost maker so all the compost made in the UK where is it coming from I know a lot of it must come in some part from municipal because the amounts of plastic and bits even when they have apparently been put through a sieve.

I would of thought high end compost makers are doing random lab tests to check quality control? I bought 2 tons from a compost direct company and had no issues. We do make compost here but it wasnt ready and all ours is organic. I need to make my own compost area for my veg.


This is down to clopyralid or amininopyralid residues in manure (amininopyralid) or green waste used in growing media (clopyralid from composted lawn mowings). The good news is that these materials breakdown in the soil in a few weeks and plants recover, the bad news is they persist in compost and manure for some time, at least 9 months untl the manure/compost is incorporated into the soil.

It is very rare to find issues with other crop protection chemicals and amateurs nowadays.

If users follow the label instructions on how to use these every powerful herbicides there would be no problem. But some, probably only a few, don't, either because they are inept (householders and landscapers) or unprofessional (farmers, agronomists and landscapers). Aminopyralid manure, bedding or forage should not leave the farm and lawns treated with clopyralid should be mown in a way that does not result in clippings being collected or if they are the clippings are not composted.

I understand that composters do test each batch of composted green waste, but each batch is 5000 tonnes, and growing media manufacturers test every 500 pallets of potting compost. As contamination is sporadic it is very hard to detect in big batches.

The test is thus:

STEP 1: Fill two clean pots with suspect growing media (fresh, not used) and label.

STEP 2: Fill another two clean pots with another brand of growing media or John Innes potting compost as a control (i.e. a standard to compare to) and label.

STEP 3: Into each pot sow four broad bean seeds or insert four tomato cuttings (use sideshoots from healthy tomato plants). Water well with clean water.

STEP 4: Place the pots in a greenhouse or warm windowsill in winter, or for beans outdoors in summer. Keep the compost damp but ensure the drainage water from pots containing the suspect growing media cannot contaminate the control pots.

If after three weeks the seeds fail to emerge, the seedlings or cuttings are distorted, show less growth than in the controls or exhibit fern-like growth in the suspect growing media, while control plants are normal, there are strong grounds to believe weedkiller residues are present.

I have advised Defra/CRD/WRAP/HSE/Corteva about this but they seem unable to enforce better 'stewardship'.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
Im on a veg growing forum and many swear the failure in their crops is due to chemical residue in their compost. But is this the case now in 2020? I just need to find the facts on this.

If fields grasslands are sprayed for say thistle control then will the residue be left in the grass and how long after spraying should the grass be cut?

Whats the residue life on the cut grass?

Same question about straw.

What about wormers and other Pyrethroid controls when housed. whats the life of these when indoors?

Is slurry ever incorporated into a compost mix?

Muck left for 1 year adequate to rid of all the chemicals if made correctly and turned regularly?

How safe is it to animal health consuming all these in a small trickle?

Ive never met a compost maker so all the compost made in the UK where is it coming from I know a lot of it must come in some part from municipal because the amounts of plastic and bits even when they have apparently been put through a sieve.

I would of thought high end compost makers are doing random lab tests to check quality control? I bought 2 tons from a compost direct company and had no issues. We do make compost here but it wasnt ready and all ours is organic. I need to make my own compost area for my veg.

I would of thought almost all compost being sold these days would be coming from municipal waste. Most muck on farms will be staying on farms, not put into bags for allotment holders (although some will get a bit of muck delivered from local farmers, if there are any).

There was a problem, about a decade ago, with chemical residues from a herbicide called Forefront ( amininopyralid), where it had been sprayed on grassland (it’s a superb, albeit expensive, herbicide), the grass cut for hay/haylage, sold to horse yards, then the resulting muck used for growing veg. There was still enough residue left in that muck to kill veg.

As a result, that herbicide was taken off the market for a couple of years. It was reintroduced in 2013 (iirc), but you now have to sign a declaration that you will abide by the new application regs, whichinclude only grazing those fields for that year, and any fodder (& resultant muck) taken the following year stays on farm. I did read on here recently that application of Forefront means that planting spuds on those fields is a no go for several years afterwards, so it does hang around a long time.

I’m not aware of any other herbicides having a similar effect, but that won’t stop any chattering organic leaning gardeners & allotment holders from taking a bit of a story they heard and extrapolating it to all ‘pesticides’.
 

renewablejohn

Member
Location
lancs
Definetly think there is something in this. Never had a problem with compost until this year. Always used erin multipurpose but told they had been taken over. The replacement seems to include mosaic disease.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
From the outset,pre harvest glyphosate was expected to carry over in the straw. As strawberry growers we insisted the straw was not from treated crops.
In latter years that insistence was dropped and I never saw any irregularities in crops where I thought glyphosate in straw was to blame. That definitely does not mean it can't happen but I don't think many use straw these days.
 
ive had some well dodgy compost I did buy some cheap stuff from Morrisons once - it was black, it stuck to my hands. It was a very poor medium but for that price what did I expect. So is there much farm manure in compost now? Or is all of it municipal? I know you can buy animal based direct usually in the tote bags. So if it is municipal waste then commercial spraying and grasscutting could be the only way it gets into the mix - say the landscapers who do sports fields and big grounds would be the only people that could bring contaminated waste and not farm?

What about the high end producers who make the more expensive composts. I also cant see any mention of animal manures?
 

delilah

Member
We collected garden waste at the kerbside for many years, it was on site for a minimum of 12 months before it went back out as compost because we were small enough to do it that way. I think much of the problem is with large scale sites pushing it through in a short timeframe to maximize their annual gate fee. It needs looking at in the same way as withdrawal periods for veterinary drugs.
 

Kidds

Member
Horticulture
The protection of peat bogs lead to reduced/ no peat in compost (retail stuff) which saw municipal used as replacement. There are all sorts in there, plastic, glass, foil etc. No doubt dog mess goes in there too. That may well not be an issue but damned if I want to grow anything in it.
Not convinced that chemical use in lawns being particularly widespread but you can be fairly confident it gets crazy amounts when it is used. A quick google of lawn treatments will give you an idea of what is most likely used.
 

delilah

Member
The protection of peat bogs lead to reduced/ no peat in compost (retail stuff) which saw municipal used as replacement. There are all sorts in there, plastic, glass, foil etc. No doubt dog mess goes in there too. That may well not be an issue but damned if I want to grow anything in it.
Not convinced that chemical use in lawns being particularly widespread but you can be fairly confident it gets crazy amounts when it is used. A quick google of lawn treatments will give you an idea of what is most likely used.

It was a huge mistake for the UK to go down the line of wheeled bins for green waste, contamination levels are much lower with a sack system.
 
It was a huge mistake for the UK to go down the line of wheeled bins for green waste, contamination levels are much lower with a sack system.
I agree but these waste sites must be taking millions of tons and some slight contamination surely wont effect the mass batching of compost? If landscapers are dumping contaminated grass cuttings it would need to be in huge huge amounts which isnt possible as we could be talking a few tip fulls at one time. Family roadside compost bins are full of food, meat & veg waste, prob the hamsters sawdust. Plastic contamination must be the biggest issue though.
 

neilo

Member
Mixed Farmer
Location
Montgomeryshire
ive had some well dodgy compost I did buy some cheap stuff from Morrisons once - it was black, it stuck to my hands. It was a very poor medium but for that price what did I expect. So is there much farm manure in compost now? Or is all of it municipal? I know you can buy animal based direct usually in the tote bags. So if it is municipal waste then commercial spraying and grasscutting could be the only way it gets into the mix - say the landscapers who do sports fields and big grounds would be the only people that could bring contaminated waste and not farm?

What about the high end producers who make the more expensive composts. I also cant see any mention of animal manures?

There are some very iffy chems used on sports fields, and those grass cuttings obviously get disposed of somewhere, usually off site. We have a cricket pitch on the farm and, whilst I am doing my utmost to increase worm numbers, they spray a residual chemical on the pitch that drives the worms down/away for the season in order to prevent worm casts on the field. Apparently it doesn't work as well as the chem they used to apply that killed all the worms and lasted the whole season.

Obviously it's only farmers that cause all the real, and made up, environmental destruction though. :censored:
 

Bogweevil

Member
The protection of peat bogs lead to reduced/ no peat in compost (retail stuff) which saw municipal used as replacement. There are all sorts in there, plastic, glass, foil etc. No doubt dog mess goes in there too. That may well not be an issue but damned if I want to grow anything in it.
Not convinced that chemical use in lawns being particularly widespread but you can be fairly confident it gets crazy amounts when it is used. A quick google of lawn treatments will give you an idea of what is most likely used.

I too am surprised but I suppose the extreme sensitivity of certain garden crops mans the tiniest trace has an effect. I wonder if lawn service companies might be involved.
 

Bogweevil

Member
I would of thought almost all compost being sold these days would be coming from municipal waste. Most muck on farms will be staying on farms, not put into bags for allotment holders (although some will get a bit of muck delivered from local farmers, if there are any).

There was a problem, about a decade ago, with chemical residues from a herbicide called Forefront ( amininopyralid), where it had been sprayed on grassland (it’s a superb, albeit expensive, herbicide), the grass cut for hay/haylage, sold to horse yards, then the resulting muck used for growing veg. There was still enough residue left in that muck to kill veg.

As a result, that herbicide was taken off the market for a couple of years. It was reintroduced in 2013 (iirc), but you now have to sign a declaration that you will abide by the new application regs, whichinclude only grazing those fields for that year, and any fodder (& resultant muck) taken the following year stays on farm. I did read on here recently that application of Forefront means that planting spuds on those fields is a no go for several years afterwards, so it does hang around a long time.

I’m not aware of any other herbicides having a similar effect, but that won’t stop any chattering organic leaning gardeners & allotment holders from taking a bit of a story they heard and extrapolating it to all ‘pesticides’.

Picloram, very similar to aminopyralid, used to cause problems in cereal straw but is now withdrawn. Regulators like aminopyralid because being bound to the lignin in grass and forage it is unlikely to pollute water courses unlike say 2,4-D.

As you say, high profile organic gardener Charles Dowding has suffered probs at his Somerset smalholding - I feel organic growers should be self-sufficient and not boost fertility with bought in organic matter from conventional farms. I call that cheating.
 

Exfarmer

Member
Location
Bury St Edmunds
I to am very concerned about compost issues, but I do not believe it has much to do with chemical misuse.
I believe strongly that the material supplied is a very unsuitable medium for planting small seeds. I have had a fair few failures but far less since we have started using a John Innes no. 4. This is a mix of load and sand.
The problem is that most gardeners have become so used to the ubiquitous peat and think that, these new substitutes are the same. They are not, drainage too much and too little is a big issue and most seeds just damp off.
The problem with John Innes is that it does not work in root trainers in my opinion so we are starting in this them using the compost for growing on. Doing it this way we have had little issues.
I note though that the nurseries I personally know of, still use peat, but it is only available in tonne bags
 
If anyone has any concerns about contaminated compost, sample it, bag it and send it off to Sciantec who can test for virtually anything in soil, feed or forages. Ring them and ask which tests would be most appropriate.

I have a sneaky feeling that the vast majority of commercially produced compost is composted as rapidly as possible with zip all concern for the end product and as a result it will be much too 'hot', wet or acidic for using with seeds and small horticultural plants. It is possible the fungal load is pretty potent too and basically too hostile for many plants.
 
I saw a YouTube video on a large composting site. They were applying a % of human waste in the mix.

Of course, why wouldn't you? It's a legitimate method of processing and disposing of wastes. Provided it is done correctly, the resulting material will be pathogen free. I researched a lot of this as part of my studies back along. I was surprised to see that a lot of composting processes (the non-cowboy ones) do actually destroy weed seeds and all kinds of pathogens very very rapidly. The combination of humidity and heat and the action of the dominant biota basically obliterate everything.
 

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HSENI names new farm safety champions

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Written by William Kellett from Agriland

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The Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) alongside the Farm Safety Partnership (FSP), has named new farm safety champions and commended the outstanding work on farm safety that has been carried out in the farming community in the last 20 years.

Two of these champions are Malcom Downey, retired principal inspector for the Agri/Food team in HSENI and Harry Sinclair, current chair of the Farm Safety Partnership and former president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU).

Improving farm safety is the key aim of HSENI’s and the FSP’s work and...
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