Regular readers will know that we were instrumental, along with other gardeners and gardening associations in bringing the problem of Aminopyralid contaminated manure to the public view. I’m very proud of my role in this, I think I helped to do a good thing. There’s a list of my other articles about this at the end.
In fairness to Dow AgroSciences who manufactured the stuff, they did give warnings about the dangers of it and it’s not legally their fault if the farmers didn’t read the information and act on it. Of course we all read those pages of small print when we buy some software or such like. You know, the ‘tick the terms and conditions box to confirm’ Yeah, right, we all read every word.
Anyway, as I have said before, this problem of aminopyralid will be with us for years to come. Now Dow have produced a web site to give further information on the problem and, I think, to argue their case possibly towards re-listing the product.
I have to say I find their site somewhat biased, but I suppose you can hardly expect a manufacturer of herbicides to present the organic argument! However, the EU has recently agreed to de-list 20 odd chemicals that were safe and are now apparently not, which makes you think.
Statements like “Vegetables grown with affected manure are safe to eat” to me should be “Vegetables grown with affected manure have not been proven to be harmful” OK, there’s risk in everything and it’s probably more sensible to worry about a meteor landing on our heads but why wasn’t the product originally licensed for food crops if it’s perfectly safe?
Being as I basically write for a living and I’ve been in sales, I’m really aware of the importance of how you say things. I’ve even taken to spotting the weasel words when politicians talk (How do you know a politician is lying? His lips move.) Always think ‘what are they actually saying?’
Anyway, back to Aminopyralid. On their web site, Dow AgroSciences suggest the following test for gardeners and allotment holders to check on the presence of a chemical that is remarkably hard to detect
Testing for Aminopyralid in Manure
- Thoroughly mix 1 part manure with 1 part multi-purpose compost in a clean bucket. Prepare enough to fill four 5-inch pots.
- Fill another four clean pots solely with multi-purpose compost. These will be the untreated comparisons.
- Place each of the pots in a separate saucer to prevent water from one pot reaching another.
- Water the pots and leave to stand for 24 hours.
- Plant each pot with four broad bean seeds.
- Observe subsequent growth for a four-week period and note any ill effects in the pots containing the manure mix, such as cupped leaves and fernlike growth on new shoots.
These symptoms may indicate aminopyralid residue in the manure. Signs of other kinds of damage will most likely indicate other issues such as damping off or bacteria-infected soil, etc.
I’d suggest a visit to manurematters.co.uk for Dow AgroSciences official advice. EDIT: Apparently Dow have decided not to bother giving official advice now things have calmed down. True colours?