I have got a ruined field that I spent two plus years creating from a wooded plot. Two years of incredibly backbreaking work, thousands of dollars for tree removal, fencing, etc - not too mention months of seedling care, soil amending six plus months of rock and stone removal, etc.The main suspect? Persistent herbicide. There are a handful of herbicides used on pasture/livestock forage, grain fields and some vegetable crops. Since they're approved for horse and livestock pastures, they're consumed (along with all those vitamins and minerals that make meat so tasty), passed through the animal in pee and poop and still remain active even after the grass clippings and animal waste have been composted. The chemicals remain in the soil, and are taken up and redistributed by rainfall. Breakdown can take anywhere from 30 days to several years. **
Now there's a new herbicide in the neighborhood, one called Imprelis. It's currently available to lawn care professionals for weed prevention, but Scotts Miracle Gro is working with DuPont (Imprelis manufacturer) to develop a home-scale application, one approved for the lawn loving home owner.
The USCC [US Composting Council] is informing the composting industry and consumers that grass from treated lawns could end up in a compost pile, and unlike most herbicides, Imprelis will survive the composting process and still be active in the finished compost. *
Currently Imprelis has a 9 page instruction booklet. As it becomes available to the public, however, I'm wondering how obvious the warnings will be.
“One problem is that the warning is on page 7 of a 9 page label,” remarked Dr. Stuart Buckner, Executive Director of the USCC, “and unfortunately not everyone reads or follows the label. We are requesting the USEPA initiate a special review of the registration due to the likelihood of residual herbicide levels in compost damaging non-target plants.”*Does that mean I shouldn't drive around town collecting bags of grass clippings for my compost? Should I find out who does the landscaping for lawns immediate to ours and see what sort of herbicides they use? How persistent is persistent?
How many people read warning labels? How many people know what goes into the trash, recycling, and what should be taken to hazardous waste? How many people care that the grass they put at the curb is picked up by the city for compost, and irresponsible disposal of "tainted" waste could end up in my food?
I found this article to be well-written and informative.
* Quotes from the US Composting Council statement on their website compostingcouncil.org.
**NC Cooperative Extension Herbicide Carryover