Ammonium Sulphamate Weed Killer Banned!

For many years I’ve used ammonium sulphamate as a weedkiller. It’s a very simple chemical, basically the same as sulphate of ammonia the nitrogen fertiliser but made crooked. I’m no chemist, but it was explained to me that it worked very much like carbon monoxide does in our bloodstream. The plants think they are taking in nitrogen fertiliser but, because the molecule is wrong, they can not use it and so die off.

It’s never been a cheap weedkiller, there’s not the volume to give real economy of scale, but it is very effective. It’s taken right down to the plant roots and it’s the most effective way to deal with an infestation of horse tail.

Because it is a simple chemical the environmental effects are easy to judge. When it is sprayed onto the soil any plants will die but gradually the effect of the oxygen is to turn it back into sulphate of ammonia, the fertiliser.

The worst case scenario is that the soil is made slightly more acid and the NPK balance gets affected for a short while.

This simple chemical formulation means that we know the risks to human safety pretty clearly. They’re not much different to the fertilizer. Obviously you’re not going to eat it in the same way you’re not going to eat a bag of fertilizer and if you did try the acidity and taste would stop you taking in enough to do harm.

Ammonium Sulphamate Banned!

The glorious EU, home for more bureaucrats than Whitehall, demands that manufacturers of pesticides supply a complete dossier on their product. That sounds a good idea – we don’t want another DDT Silent Spring. Let’s be safe. The term pesticide is taken to include:

  • insect killers (insecticides)
  • mould and fungi killers (fungicides)
  • weedkillers (herbicides)
  • slug pellets (molluscicides)
  • plant growth regulators
  • bird and animal repellents, and
  • rat and mouse killers (rodenticides)

So our simple, effective and safe product must supply a complete dossier at the expense of the manufacturer. To quote from the government web site on pesticides regarding the withdrawal of products (my emboldening):

The company decides not to support the active substance through the review. This often happens if the pesticide is old and there are already more modern pesticides on the market, or because sales of the pesticide have fallen. It would not make sense for a company to spend a large amount of money supporting an active substance in the review if they could not get this back through sales of the pesticide.

So, as gardeners, we are unable to use a product known to be safe logically and proven safe for years because they suppliers cannot afford to prove it is safe.

It Gets Worse!

Now that we cannot get Amicide, Deep Root, Growing Success Bramble Killer, Root Out and other brands that contained ammonium sulphamate we’re effectively stuck with one product – glyphosate.

We’ve had a raging debate on the forums about the safety of glyphosate. It’s a complex chemical and there are conflicting views about its safety both environmentally and in its effects on human health.

My own view is that it is safe to use occasionally and carefully but not as safe as the simple, old fashioned ammonium sulphamate.

It’s also a weedkiller associated with gene modified crops, Make the crop resistant to the weedkiller and you can spray, spray, spray leaving the crop saleable. Note I say saleable not safe and healthy. Very profitable though, profitable enough to ensure the correct results are provided to the EU.


Good intentions carried to extremes by bureaucrats who can follow rules in great detail but cannot use common sense means we are denied a great safe product and the multi-national chemical conglomerate is sitting with a large smile.

Posted in Rants and Raves
144 comments on “Ammonium Sulphamate Weed Killer Banned!
  1. Weedball says:

    We have that same problem here in the U.S. Do-good politicians who have no clue are influenced by big-money lobbyist. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Round-Up people had something to do with it.
    Today it has less to do with what is right and more to do with how much money and influence you have.

  2. Nigel Roberts says:

    Ammonium Sulfamate can still be bought and used as a compost accelerator. Its Nitrogen is good at breaking down tough and woody compostable matter. It is also sold as a flame retardant.

    Dax Products did supply a data pack to the authorities. However the Regulators decided to declare it incomplete because it did not have the results of animal testing on Dogs and the authorities were not prepared to review the data that had been provided and which independent experts felt was sufficient for an evaluation. Dax felt that UK Ministers demands on animal testing having to be justified and necessary were being ignored by the Regulators to suit their own ends and that too much suffering and too many deaths would be pointlessly caused by the Regulators intransigence.

  3. John says:

    Thank you for that in-depth explanation, Nigel. What a crazy world we’re living in.

  4. M Anthony says:

    The banning of ammonium sulphamate is a terrible blow to the environment! The best way of combating the ongoing alien plant introduction disasters, gone.
    People, please make a fuss about this – write to papers, email BBC etc en mass.
    M A

  5. Lindowpete says:

    Just seen some on Ebay. Would I be breaking the law if I bought this ? 😉

  6. Mark says:

    It will be illegal for you to use any product containing ammonium sulphamate after 22 May 2008.

  7. John says:

    I think it was a class C weedkiller but it’s now class B – or am I confused? 🙂

    • Dan D says:

      Hi Nigel, according the leaflet I’ve recieved for this ammonium sulphamate, previously advertised as Root Out, it does indeed mention the mixing ratio you’ve stated when dealing with tough woody weeds. However, it mentions the use of 1L per 2m².

  8. Nigel Roberts says:

    It will NOT be illegal for you to use ammonium sulphamate after 22nd May 2008. It is just that you will not be allowed to use it as a pesticide. You can still buy Ammonium Sulphamate / Root-Out and use it as a compost accelerator – just DO NOT spill any on the weeds, brambles, Japanese Knotweed, Marestail, tree stumps etc. on the way down to the compost heap.

  9. bryan wakefield says:

    Having spent the spring searching for Ivy Killer I now know why I can not find any. The Irish are so right in saying No, pity wee do not have a chance aswell

  10. Andy Street says:

    The ‘old’ SBK recommended mixing with water and Parafin, the new SBK has no mention of parafin on the container! I have tried SBK with and without parafin and the use of the parafin certainly increases its ‘killing’ power

  11. Taf says:

    Growing Success Deep Root Weedkiller Gel has been a godsend this year as the neighbour has a mini forest of horsetails that he refuses to remove.

    The fusewire roots are now getting into my garden and throwing up herbage, and the ammonium sulphamate gel is the only cure I have found.

    Damn the EU!

  12. Andy Tate says:

    Oh thank god I have found some like minded sensible people – just a pity there are none in the EU that make and implement these silly rules.

    Very interesting information from Nigel Roberts about Dax applying. Last year I did email Growing Success – makers of “Ivy Killer” and asked them why they had not applied to keep the product. I got no answer – suppose I was daft to have expected one. All they do is re-formulate it – stick the words “New Improved” on it and use glyphosphate instead.

    I bought up the very last of our local Scats stock of Ivy Killer last November when I heard it was going off market.

    I love the explaination “sulphate of ammonia the nitrogen fertiliser but made crooked” and agree with the worries about glyphosate. As said by others its the commercial pressure of genetically modified crops (Monsanto maybe) that keeps that going and good old simple weedkillers die.

    How about Sodium Chlorate – will that be next?


  13. Margaret Johnson says:

    I came accross this site while looking for a supplier of sulphate of amonia. I feel I MUST SAY .

    Sodium Chlorate is an entirely different weedkiller to Sulphate of amonia Sodium chlorate is highly volitile when exposed to heat, stays in the soil for anything up to a year and when it rains may travel far more than sulphate of amonia thereby causing a hazard to other plants,. including maybe those of your neighbours, that you would not wish to be rid off, where-as Suphate of amonia degrades over a period of six to eight weeks. Therefore Sulphate is safer on this count alone. Glyphosate being a weedkiller supplied in liquid form is dangerous to have around especially where there are children who cannot read labels and so a safety cap has to be used this can cause imense problems for people who have difficulty with their hands and wrists eg Arthritis and makes it more likely that the product will be transferred to an unlabled container for ease of use. Unfortunately this is where it becomes even more dangerous most weed killer deaths have occurred when the fluid is mistaken for a soft drink. Sulphate of amonia on the other hand is supplied as a chrystal and is less likely to be ingested, on this count alone the chemical is safer than any other garden weedkiller.

    • Pete says:

      Dear Margaret, I think you will find that sulphate of ammonia is in deed a fertiliser, however it is unlikely to be effective as a weed killer legal or otherwise. The insertion of “am” in the middle of the word giving sulph am ate makes all the difference. I’m just going out to carefully apply some to my compost heap! One can’t help feeling life would become simpler if during the Brexit process parliament omitted to adopt the relevant law.

  14. Carole Brettell says:

    I feel totally exasperated having only just found this and a few other informative websites.I have had horsetail for 30 years in my back garden which is prone to flooding and occasional bogging.I raised half of it 3 feet to grow veg and have worked hard to make the soil productive.I now have a merry growth of horsetail which invades especially from the edges every spring and ruins any low growing strawberry patch etc.I can`t believe I could have bought an effective killer of this appalling weed just last year .Damn the EU beaurocrats.

  15. elizabeth foster says:

    I do everything I can not to use weedkillers or pesticides but having had this product in my garage for a year or two I sprayed it on a thriving patch of mares-tail in the early summer. There was no poisonous smell and felt that the resume on the product told to me by the nurseryman in the garden nursery about the product being rather harmless was true.
    It worked perfectly.
    I’m looking to see if there are any signs of regrowth but it seems to have done the trick in one go. Now I see it’s no longer available and having read the comments on here believe it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.

  16. Jane says:

    I’m very interested in getting hold of some ammonium sulphamate, as “old” Root Out managed to eradicate a 10+yr old “patch” (600 sq ft) of ivy, ‘though now I am obviously interested in improving my composte heap! Any idea of trade name of composter product, UK retail supplier + of course what dilution I should avoid to ensureI don’t inadvertantly kill any ivy/bramble/ground elder?

  17. Barry Scrase says:

    Dear Jane,
    Ammonium sulphamate is available on ebay from a supplier in Nottingham. Tt’s a bit expensive but so effective! It comes with instructions and a label declaring that it is not to be used as a herbicide or pesticide. Take care not to spill it on your best weeds!

  18. John says:

    I think the EU process is basically well-intentioned. I’d rather have an occasional inconvenience than more disasters like DDT or dioxins. Good information here too. I’ve got a big patch of annoying brambles that I will have to try and sort out with glyphosate. On the other hand, I am building a compost heap down there so I hope I don’t spill any of that accelerator. Incidentally, the concentrations and distribution methods you need to avoid, if you want to protect your brambles from inadvertent harm, are covered on the relevant Wikipedia page.

  19. NIgel Roberts says:

    For those that live outside the EU, ammonium sulfamate is best diluted at the rate of 2 pounds per gallon of water and mixed with a dash of non-european washing up liquid. Spray over foliage at 1 gallon per 200 sq.feet (20 x 10 feet. If treating Japanese (not European) Knotweed then put crystals down cut stalk or on fresh cut crown head.

    Now lets us over regulated Europeans give you lucky non-europeans a tip. Spray any mixture that you have left on your compost heap – just as we do over here!

    Looking through the above I have the following comment- Dax did support Ammonium Sulfamate through the review. The authorities refused to review the dossier on Ammonium Sulfamate, not because it was incomplete – it did have plenty of toxicity data showung the chemical to be safe. The Regulators were not prepared to read this and then consider if further testing was necessary, they just wanted to see the testing done on dogs! This was outrageous! However they got away with banning the product because Dax was to small to be able to fight them. Now watch how much animal suffering will be caused to generate the data demanded by the European chemical evaluation ‘REACH’ program. The latest estimate was over 250,000 lives per year. There is no independent, arbitration body to which the Regulators and the businesses can turn to for a decision on what tests should be done.

  20. Peter Smith says:

    I had been wondering why one spray on weed killer for deep rooted weeds in my paths was so much more effective than any other. Then I looked at the ingredients and, yes, the good one was ammonium sulphamate.

    I’ll get some more if I can.

    Thanks for the information.

  21. Moira MacNab says:

    Having tried everything known to mankind to try and destroy a horrific infestation of horse tail I thought my prayers had been answered when I heard about ammonium sulphamate. But now it would appear, thanks to the EU, I am thwarted – argh!

    I may now have to consider glyphosate but I’m a bit in the dark about it. Can anyone supply info on the safety implications as I have young children?

  22. Mike C says:

    I have finally found a supplier of this ammonium sulphamate compost accelerator in its crystal form.

    I would like some advice tho on the best way to prepare and apply it for 2 plots around 150 square foot each containing lots of horsetail that I want to compost in situ 🙂

    I also have bits of horsetail in most of my flower beds can I compost this too without affecting the other plants ?

    I do have 1/2 a dozen chickens and a small dog, the chickens eat all weeds quite effectively with the exception of horsetail. would this composter be safe to use with them roaming around or should they be kept enclosed for any period of time?

    • geoege bedford says:

      the very safest and certain way to apply / use this deterent to weeds is to apply it as a paste or paint and using a gloved hand brush it on to the underside of the broadest leaves .. apply it AFTER it rains and best not after a long dry spell as the surface of the plant can be ‘waxy’ and repel it .. it needs to be fairly week in strength because the plant can ‘sense’ it and drop the surface on which it is applied .. the problem with this thoroughly efficent weed exterminator is TIME and Patiance .. it an take a week or 2 but you suddenly become aware of JOB DONE.. 🙂 GOOD LUCK ..

  23. John says:

    When I used it as a herbicide it would kill any plant and you couldn’t replant for 6 / 8 weeks. I think it was 50g per litre of water with a squirt of fairy liquid as a wetting agent.
    If composting in situ, then I’d keep animals off for a similar period (6 weeks) – probably over cautious but better than a dead hen.

  24. Bob wickham says:

    Hi an agromonist recomendid grazon 90 to spray my abundant horsetail in my paddocks i did this a couple of weeks ago and it has killed all the horsetail foliage on the suface which is fantastic! My only concern is does grazon get down to the roots like deep root (ammonium sulphamate).Has anyone else used it to treat horsetail.

  25. John says:

    I don’t know how Grazon 90 works – you could ask DOW, the manufacturer. However –

    Grazon 90 (MAFF Approval No:05456) can only be applied by someone who holds the appropriate certificate of competence through tractor mounted or knapsack lance sprayers. Grazon 90 is not approved for use on food crops.

  26. Bruce says:

    Does anyone happen to know that the effects of this on an established privet hedge, should any be accidentally spilt on the ground adjacent? Or should I move my ‘compost heap’?

  27. Virginia says:

    Could MIKE C (7th July) let me have the name of his supplier of ammonium sulphamate in crystal form? I understand one can put it on gravel and it will not kill trees around. Is this correct?

    And for good measure, I also blast the EU….

  28. Satprof says:

    Virginia – You should look at and look at the Root Out section. (It will actually appear as, but it’s the correct site.) I don’t know why you would want to compost your gravel, but each to her or his own ….

  29. Peter Hawkins says:

    Just got a new allotment… a wilderness. Going to try sulphamic acid on a small patch rather than ammonium sulphamate. No idea of the dose! Sulphamic acid = Fernox for descaling or stuff for kettles (check the ingredients) Nuts to the E.U.

  30. b gosden says:

    No wonder our country has gone to dirt! I loved this product – ace! and safe with kids and pets – why did no one vote for referendum? oh probably because the british public are always taken for a ride and our vote would have been fixed anyway (i should have been an MP at least I could have kept ducks instead of growing food; a 1600 pound duck house comes to mind- the world has gone mad!)

  31. George Jones says:

    As a tree surgeon ammonium sulphamate is the perfect stump killer, it is biodegradable and leaves nitrogen as a byproduct thus assisting wind driven fungal spores to colonise the stump, thus excluding Honey Fungus from infesting the stump (confirmed by RHS).This product I believe was credited as being a safe stump killer by Friends of The Earth.As we all know the excess consumption of salt or water have killed people, maybe our eu bureaucrats should request full dossiers from suppliers of both these products so we know the amounts of each that will kill our domestic pets.

  32. cheryl says:

    Help please. I have a plot about 15mtrs by 5mtrs that I want to use for veg but it is over run with mares tail, what can I do?

  33. John W H Watt says:

    I was just using my old stock of Root Out last night for stump treatment, being so glad of its availability ( I hadn’t read about the hand of the EU till now), especially since I have become really concerned about the long-term effects of glyphosate.
    This is a time bomb, especially when it is being used repeatedly on soil growing commercial round-up resistant crops. Glyphosate blocks the shikimate pathway common to many micro-organisms essential for soil health; bacteria and fungi. it also had a much longer half-life than most of the other weekillers!
    I’d recommend some websites for more details. I always thought glyphosate was too good to be true.

    This is the ultimate irony of some regulation indeed.
    But perhaps we’ve not heard the end of this yet.

  34. Kali Martin says:

    For anyone looking for ammonium sulphamate, I bought 20 Kg on to keep me going for a while. Although someone already mentioned that you could buy Root Out from Dax Products by going to, I wanted to clarify that even if it is now sold as a compost accelerator, it is still the exact same product (pure ammonium sulphamate).

    I’m grateful for all the info that people have shared on this site. It was here that I first learned the story behind the ironic banning of the safest, most non-toxic herbicide. I feel sad that new gardeners will be much less likely to come to know of this earth-friendly herbicide (as people assume it was banned because it was deemed unsafe, or never hear about it at all). And at the same time, I admire Dax for refusing to test on animals, especially when data was already available to prove its non-toxicity.

    And thanks John for your info on the effects of glyphosate on microbial activity. Sounds like an excellent way to kill your soil.

  35. Kali Martin says:

    Hi Cheryl, if you either live outside the EU or have an empowered, discerning mind, you will find a very safe answer to your question by going to Follow the instruction for general application. Hope this helps.

  36. Nigel Roberts says:

    Use ammonium sulfamate at 2lbs per gallon of water with a squirt of fairy liquid. Go around at least 2 x a week until clear. Naturally, I assume you are living outside the socialist single state of the EU

  37. John Moran says:

    Bought some ammonium sulphamate on ebay and after cutting down an infestation of japanese knotweed,I was on the way down to my compost heap and I tripped and went flying spilling all the sulphamte over and into the stalks of the knotweed, and it almost killed all of the weed. My trouble is now is that when I go down the path I haven’t tripped up since,which is very sad as I am sure if I did it would eradicate this major problem of this weed.

  38. John says:

    Oh dear! How careless Mr Moran 🙂

  39. Paul T says:

    Shame about ammonium sulphamate. From my experience as an occasional gardener, chemist and ex-bureaucrat in the UK and EU, that John’s comments (March 2009)sum the situation up. We’re damned if we do,or don’t. Most of this type of regulation requires a lot of information, and EU and UK policy is to refuse to pay for this out of tax payers money. Which leaves industry, or the users…you and me. This wasn’t my professional area, but it does seem that not enough money was being made out of ammonium sulphamate to justify the Monsantos paying for data. Besides, ammonium sulphamate would kill GM modified crops and obviate their whole global strategy for using Roundup with trade-marked GM crops. This isn’t the only chemical or pharmaceutical to lose its registration because nof low profits. E.g. 5% boric acid with talc and zinc oxide is great for athlete’s foot, and cheap(try it in your wellies!). Can’t buy it in the UK, though

    By the way, the number of EU bureaucrats is about the same as those in Cambridge County Council:-) Really.

  40. Pete says:

    What sort of penalty is imposed on those who fall victim to this rather foolish EU regulation?

  41. Donald Swalwell says:

    We have read all comments regarding horsetail – what do you use to destroy the plant since ammonidum sulphamate is no longer available? If you have something available, who can be contacted for more information so this product can be purchased?

  42. Nick Gillett says:

    We sell ammonium sulphamate at present and you can order via my e/mail address or 01423 887409. It is £120 for 25kg bag plus £10 del. Buy 4 bags or more and the bag price drops to £111.00 each. We have an uptodate datasheet available. Use it as a compost accelerator but don’t spill it on the weeds…!

  43. Jo says:

    Hi, In Australia (at least in my state) we can still buy ammonium sulphamate although it is extremely expensive. I have no doubt we will follow the misguided EU so I plan to stock up soon. Could anyone offer any advise/opinions on how much to use on the stump of a 10 metre bay tree and if drilling holes in the stump aids it effectiveness. Thanks in advance.

    • brian says:

      Coming in a bit late Jo but I used it effectively on several trees; hazel, a big privet, lilac and something I couldn’t determine. Using an ordinary wood chizel and mallet, I teased back the bark all the way around the cut and rubbed solid crystal into the gap left. Worked first time with aboslutely no re-growth.

  44. Nigel Roberts says:

    For use outside the EU only.

    60 grams of Ammonium Sulfamate crystals per 10cm. of fresh felled tree stump diameter.

    Drill holes vertically down into a fresh felled tree stump. The holes must be drilled around the edge of the stump, do not break through the bark, then fill with the crystals.

    You are aiming to get the crystals to be taken in by the tress sap, this flows where the next ‘ring’ will be forming. It is a waste of time putting it into the middle of the stump!

    Sometimes people cut notches into the tree stump sides and place the crystals onto the cut ledges.

  45. Nigel Roberts says:

    We used to suggest that Ammonium Sulfamate was mixed with wall paper paste, but too many came back to us saying it reduced the efficacy!

  46. Jo says:

    Thanks for the information Nigel, much appreciated. Pity Ammonium Sulphamate is so frightfully expensive here in Australia as I HATE using glyphosate.

  47. dotty d says:

    hiya, been trying for five year to eradicate my horsetail, not knowing what it was at first etc i decided to rotavate my garden, then the problem escalated, now know that digging actually helps the weed thrive. have tried many different weedkillers reluctantly on it, nowt happened, then i read that if i teamped it down first it would absorb the weedkiller, (glyphosphate any many others)tried that now happened, tried burning it grew back arrgh theni learnt about ammonium suplhamate, I danced an pranced liek an idiot with sheer happiness and joy, at last i will get a lovely garden. then off i headed to local garden centres etc, sorry we dont sell it etc, so boote dup comp and first place i looked was ebay as i figured i might get it cheap, well its there and its not exactly cheap lol, but then tonight i thought befor ei biuy i will scour the internet to see if i can buy it cheaper then happened upon this site and discover the stuff is nowbanned, whoa says i if all ihave read about this wonderous stuff is true why is it banned? well i dont care cos as long as i can buy it and fall over in my garden on route to the compst heap which happenes to be full of cutttings of horsetail then i will be a happy bunny, oh yeah that is another way of getitng rid of horsetail is to keep chopping it down till it commitys suicide in roughly 3 years time lol. not waitn 3 more years, fed up of getitng so far in my garden then standing still cos of horsetail and not being able to dig it up etc. sorry i have rambled but well after reading ammonium sulphamte was banned i lost my head and had to vent my spleen, was wondering if it was due to the fact it turned into fertilizer though cos know some stuff was banned cos of that cos of terrorists etc, just a thought.

  48. Ged Welsby says:

    I have ivy growing near a hawthorn hedge.If this were treated with ammonium sulphamate would the hedge die even if none actually touched the hedge.Would ammonium sulphamatesoak through the ground to reach the hedge roots

  49. John says:

    Ged – yes it would! You’d be better off painting the leaves of the ivy (literally with a small paintbrush) with glyphosate.

    That will go to the roots of the ivy and your hedge will be safe.

  50. Ged Welsby says:

    Thanks John.I thought that might be the answer after a previous question about a privet hedge.
    Why do you suggest painting rather than spraying?Also,what strength glyphosate do you suggest?I have previously sprayed ivy with glyphosatediluted as directed but the ivy just laughed at it.Hence my search for a more powerful weed killer.

  51. John says:

    Painting applies directly to the leaves without the danger of spraying ‘friendly’ plants. Check the bottle for instructions and use the strongest mix they suggest.

    Possibly you didn’t get enough into the leaves of the ivy before so try bruising them (never worked for me but others have said it’s useful) or adding a bit of wallpaper paste or starch to the mix to thicken it so it sticks for longer. Don’t apply on a day when it might rain and wash it off.

  52. George says:

    I’ve just found a site that supplies it and it’s half the price of the ebay site company DAX, and the postage is included in the price. 5Kg for £23.66 pp included.

  53. Pip M says:

    Careful George, I think you have found AMMONIUM SULPHATE

  54. Pip M says:

    Perhaps this method for bindweed could be used for ivy?

  55. Colin says:

    I took up Mr Gillett’s really good offer of compost accelerator last week, It arrived today and I am looking forward to accelerating the composting rate of my ivy :>)

  56. Pip H says:

    And at what time of year would you recommend that I don’t trip on my way to the compost in the treatment of symphaticum vulgare (the blue comfrey overtaking my garden)??? Have used roundup to no avail!

  57. John says:

    Pip H – Now would be good as it dies back taking ‘nutrients’ too the roots.

  58. Chris Betrtram says:

    Last December we read in our local newspaper in France that Monsanto had been fined for fouling the French water-table with its non biodegradeable glysophate Roundup weedkiller. Why have we in the UK not been told that this product does not break down on contact with the soil, as claimed, and is getting into the domestic water supply? The long term affects on the build up of the affects of this chemical in humans is neither understood nor fully researched.

    I can still obtain sulphate of Ammonia in France as a stump remover.

    • John Kemp says:

      To Chris and others reading this blog…

      I am a chemist and it is VERY important to distinguish between AMMONIUM SULPHAMATE (the herbicide) and AMMONIUM SULPHATE the fertiliser! Ammonium SULPHAMATE slowly degrades to AMMONIUM SULPHATE

  59. Pip H says:

    Many thanks John – off to Ebay now!

  60. Mark Pennels says:

    Think about it people how many weeds do you see on a decent golf course ???? woody weeds we spray with Timbrel & for your general weeds round up is useless, so we use a product called cabadex. for a good effective weed killer look for dicambra 2.4d in the product; as well as a penetrant to get it in the plant for quicker uptake.

  61. Paul says:

    Was just wondering how much damage would be done if you ‘accidentally’ spilt some on the way to the compost heap, as in what sort of area around the spill would be effected. I ask as there a hedge next to the (let say) uneven ground where some might get spilt on the way to the compost heap. I’m really looking to avoid damaging the hedge, but as im quite clumsy, what kind of precautions (how far away should I walk from it) should I take 😀

  62. Derek says:

    The mistralni site referred to in a previous post by George does appear to be selling the Compost Accelerator Ammonium Sulphamate (other names know as = Round Up)

    Just an observation, no connection to them and not a reference for them

  63. brian says:

    Right chaps, I’ve got two houses to look after. My Welsh cottage is set in 66 acres so I can buy neat ‘Roundup’ from the farm-shop. It is very effective at killing Ivy stone dead when diluted 50ccs in 4 litres water (no additional wetting agent required). In Stockport the nextdoor neighbour isn’t totally mobile and her horsetails, though small in area, are pushing up through our paviors. Crying out for ammonium sulphamate and after falling across this blog-site, I have discovered a very old packet of ‘Deep Root’ containing the banned herbicide, before it was replaced with the same stuff as in ‘Roundup’. Only last night she asked me if I could get rid of her weeds. Well love, yes I can. It’s Ok people, she has a cat not a dog(!). So, if you can’t get the neat ‘Roundup’ like me, then it seems reasonable to purchase the new ‘Deep Root’ with its glyphosphate constituent and mix it accordingly (perhaps a stronger concentration than ‘ready-mixed)to kill ivy.

  64. DiggerPunk says:

    This has been interesting reading. I am a chemist, and a hobby gardener. Having been struck down by a brutal infestation of horsetail, I am starting to tear my hair out at the constant nipping of the stalks to try and exhaust the rhizomes, the hand crushing of them to allow them to absorb the glyphosphate, and the repeated application of said glyphosphate.

    From what I can gather ammonium sulfamate was banned under red tape when all pesticides were reviewed, under the wider scope of REACH. This was a noble effort, and the aim was to establish whether some chemicals that had been in use for year were in fact harmful. Most substances were immediately passed as there was sufficient data to allow them to meet new standards. Ammonium sulfamate was by REACH as there is a great deal of data thereon, but not as a pesticide. There was an objection from the Irish Rapporteur that there was insufficient safety data regarding exposure for dogs, presumably from the dog-lover lobby in much the same way as there is much fear about the use of slug pellets around dogs. The EU committee felt that there was no need to carry out dog testing, since the normal LD50 (lethal dose 50%) was available for rats and mammals have pretty much the same reaction to most poisons, scaled for their size. And so a stalemate was reached. This isn’t really the fault of the EU, rather a daft situation between 2 individuals. This happens all the time in British politics why would the EU be any different, especialy given that we are signatories.

  65. Sylvia says:

    Is there Ammonium Sulphamate in Wilkinsons ‘compost maker’?

  66. Chris says:

    I have used “Sulphate of Ammonia” as a fertiliser with great success and I have used “Ammonium Sulphamate” to wipe out a garden full of horsetail – a huge relief. Is there someone (a chemist) who can explain the completely different properties of these seemingly very similar chemicals – they even look similar!

  67. Sam Tooke says:

    I just came across this thread,trying to buy root-out and read it all. I have had a vague notion about a lot of this stuff but hadn’t put it all together like this, it’s shocking! I ran out of root out last year anyway and since not seeing it in the shops any more decided to try on line. I don’t compost much any more, these days I tip all my green waste at a private tree processing centre for a tenner. However I may now start composting it all again! x

  68. James says:

    Talking of Roundup, As i understand from what i heard on a Farming Today programme on Radio 4, Roundup is highly valued by wheat growers. They spray it onto the crop as soon as the grain is mature in order to accelerate ‘ripening’ and thus bring forward the harvest and subsequent recropping processes!!

  69. Marina the Gardener says:

    So Ammonium Sulphamate needed to be tested on dogs. Well, what does this say, then?: “Fate in humans and animals: AMS is readily absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract [66]. Following oral administration of AMS to dogs for 5 days, 80 to 84% of the dose was excreted as sulfamic acid in the urine.” From this link, via the AS wiki

  70. Marina the Gardener says:

    Chronic toxicity: In a 105-day study with rats fed 500 mg/kg/day, AMS did not cause signs of poisoning. Some inhibition of growth was seen at doses of 1000 mg/kg/day [66]. There was no skin irritation, nor any signs of systemic toxicity, when 20% and 50% water-based solutions were applied to the shaved skin of rats [65].
    More from that info site : “Reproductive effects: Reproduction was not impaired when rats were given dietary doses of 17.5 or 25 mg/kg/day of AMS for 15 months [8]. This suggests that AMS does not cause reproductive effects.
    Teratogenic effects: No data are currently available.
    Mutagenic effects: Limited data indicate that AMS in not mutagenic. The Ames/Salmonella assay was negative for AMS, indicating that it does not cause permanent changes in genetic material [8].
    Carcinogenic effects: A rat study indicates that AMS is not carcinogenic at doses of 25 mg/kg/day [8]. There are insufficient additional data to confidently determine the carcinogenicity status of AMS [67].

    What about birds, and fish, which are ususally more sensitive?:
    Ecological Effects:
    Effects on birds: AMS is practically nontoxic to birds. The oral LD50 is 3000 mg/kg in quail and 4200 mg/kg in ducks [22,1]. In a 14-day feeding study, 150 and 590 mg/kg/day AMS had no effect on quail. Quail fertility was not affected when 150 mg/kg/day was mixed with their feed for two 10-day periods [58].
    Effects on aquatic organisms: Ammonium sulfamate is practically nontoxic to fish. A 46% solution of AMS becomes toxic in perch at 300 mg/L water [30]. The LC50 (24-hour) of AMS is 1250 mg/L in harlequin fish [28]. A concentration of 30 mg/L of AMS had no effect on rainbow trout and aquatic invertebrates [8].
    Effects on other organisms: Deer were not harmed when they were fed AMS-treated leaves [28].

  71. carol says:

    I found a stash of root-out in my garden shed today. Ten years old, I wonder if it’ll still do the job?

    Anyway, I’m going to try to source some in Northern Ireland. For compost acceleration, of course. Gee, I hope the wind doesn’t blow it over the ivy and brambles nearby.

  72. Paula says:

    I have lots and lots of brambles in my garden, if I were to accidentally trip and spill Ammonium Sulphamate over them – what mix would kill them off quickest and most effectively, I sure wouldn’t like to have to trip over more than necessary…
    many thanks

  73. McMichael says:

    I come a bit late to the discussion – and I am totally appalled at the EU action. Ammonium Sulphamate kills all plants where it is put down but, in the soil and compost heap, not only does it break down the cellulose, it also itself breaks down to form Ammonium Sulphate, a really useful fertiliser!
    This makes it doubly beneficial in the compost heap.
    There is no need to risk spillage of compost accellerator, you just have to ask: “where do I stick my compost heap”?
    I am not against EU but I am minded to answer my own question somewhat crudely!

  74. Ryan Powell says:

    just out of curiosty: If I was to have purchased Ammonium Sulphamate while it could still be used legally as a pesticide. How much would I have needed to kill off the roots of brambles and knotweed in a 25ft by 16ft surface cleared garden before laying down black out sheeting?

  75. Simon says:

    A couple of years ago I had a rather grubby looking patio and used a product Armatillox (John talks about this elsewhere on this site) to clean it up, worked a treat, a happy side effect was the loss of mare’s tail growing through the gaps between the slabs. patio is looking a bit grubby again so may have to give it another clean 🙂

  76. Stringbags says:

    I have horsetail all over my allotment and intend to use Ammonium Sulphamate to compost in situ, but I wonder if it will rot the wood on my raised beds or will a coat of cuprinol protect them?


  77. Tom Evans says:

    May I ‘umbly recommend that you read this article, which includes the manufacturer’s advice on the mix ratio for treating weeds…. … was printed in 1943.

  78. Terri Westerdale says:

    I have successfully used ammonium sulphamate on our compost heap, but I’ve just spilled neat crystals of the stuff on my shed floor which is made of plywood panels. I think the floor is beginning to rot!
    Does anyone know of an antidote/remedy, please?

  79. Allan says:

    What would happen if someone tripped over with a watering can over newly sprouting Japanese knotweed.

  80. David says:

    Been using AMS for six or seven years now, easily bought on a certain auction site, and I have found that it every time I accidentally spill it on weeds they die. One packet did have instructions with it that actually said that. Like any responsible gardener I am careful about how I use it so that animals and birds in particular are not exposed to the spraying of the liquid or as realistically as I can be the plants until the chemical has been absorbed. Like other posts I am not against the EU per se but they really should stop the politicking by their bureaucrats. That said any bureaucracy is rather like persistent weeds if you try hard enough you could get rid of it for a season or so but undoubtedly given time it will grow back as strong as before. Such is life so I will keep on spraying – sorry accidentally spilling.

  81. Paul nanson says:

    Found old label on the internet for ammonium sulfamate states 1 lbs per gallon believe me work’s wonder’s, on horsetail,did have to travel 30 miles to pick it up worth every inch

  82. Andy Tate says:

    Lord Lucas even asked a question of parliament back in 2007 as to why ammonium sulphamate was being banned and were there any reports of it being harmful to people. See the full text here:

    Oh well now that we are leaving the EU maybe we can look forward to sensible and independent decisions being made by our own parliament in future, and not having to follow EU directives.

  83. Stephen Solar says:

    Actually, the stuff is only banned as a weedkiller, it is still available, legally, as a ‘compost accelerator’ Bizarre, I know, but who said the EU regulators had any intelligence? Go to Amazon. I’ve just bought 2.3kg (1st Sept 2016) of Ammonium Sulphamate for £20.

  84. Linda Osborn says:

    Just found this, makes interesting reading. If I were to cut down a massive pampas grass that is taking up half the garden to build myself a very large compost heap, and poured my compost accelerator on it to get the heap going, would it grow again?

    • John Harrison says:

      Linda – AS needs to be taken in by the plant and transported to the roots to work so probably not well. If you were taking your AS to the heap in a watering can and it leaked on the way, however… 🙂

      • Linda Osborn says:

        I wonder if I accidentally spilt it on the pampas without cutting it down, if the AS would actually penetrate those tough blades. Of course, if it was cut down to say 3 or 4 feet, I suppose it would get on the cut edges.

        • John Harrison says:

          Ammonium Sulphamate isn’t like Glyphosate which is a translocating herbicide – taken in by the leaves and thence moved to the roots. Ammonium Sulphamate is taken up by the roots from the soil as if it is nitrogen fertiliser.
          The more the plant is growing, the higher the demand for nitrogen so the better it takes up the chemical.
          After application and exposure to oxygen, the Ammonium Sulphamate starts to transform to Sulphate of Ammonia (a 100% nitrogen fertiliser)and in 6 weeks it’s safe to plant again.
          It’s perfect time to apply now as plants are bursting into life and fast growth.
          It was a very safe herbicide – basically being the same as a standard fertiliser with well over 100 years experience.
          It’s ironic that a proven, safe herbicide was delisted due to the cost of licensing but glyphosate and other complex herbicides that are produced by multi-national corporations get listed.. money talks 🙁

  85. Linda Osborn says:

    Ah, so if it’s not cut down it will be more effective at killing the grass, just watered in, sorry I mean accidentally spilt? There area lot of brambles that may get splashed too!

    I have signed many a petition against these big conglomerates – like you say, money talks – sadly.

  86. David Bowen says:

    Hi, I have been reading all the comments above with great interest, my problem is ivy, brambles and ground elder,what is the dilution rate of ammonium sulphamate per lt. Also when I try to get info on aluminium sulphate I keep getting ammonium sulphate, are they the same product.
    I found some of my old aluminium sulphamate in the garage and I would like to use it and also buy Amazons ‘compost accelerater’ would I be wasting money.

  87. Karen says:

    Hi, I have some AS for composting after reading the thread. I have an area of garden with ground elder which would make a perfect spot to create my compost area, but I have a lovely maple tree near it which I don’t wish to harm. What is the best way to use the AS without affecting the maple. Also, if I changed my mind and decided to grow plants instead of having a compost heap how long would I have to wait after using the AS. Thank you 🙂

  88. Andy Tate says:

    Here are some historic pictures of Deep Root by Growing Success. I also used to use a B&Q own brand called Ivy Killer. Those were the days.

  89. Paul Taylor says:

    I use ammonium sulphamate from this supplier

    £25 for 5Kg and that includes free delivery by DPD.
    Various sizes are available

    Sulphate and sulphamate are two different beasties.

  90. Paul Taylor says:

    By the way, marestail has a waxy outer layer that may be damaged by crushing or bruising. Otherwise when you spray, it just runs off. I use 2% washing up liquid solution, that’s 20ml per litre.

  91. Mary Yate says:

    It has just dawned on me that we are supposed to be leaving the EU in the near future. How might this affect the situation with the compost acellerant?

  92. Linda Osborn says:

    I built a compost heap on top of an old pampas grass (it was an ideal spot) and applied AS. Much of it composted but alas not all. Then I accidentally set fire to it (it was very dry weather you understand) so I thought I would try again to build the compost heap and applied more AS. Success!

  93. Eddy says:

    Since Kurtail is banned from next January was looking to ammonium sulphamate, find cannot use as weedkiller. I put salt on my food, dissolve in water as a gargle for sore throat, but if I spray it on weeds I am committing an offence as it is not ‘approved’ as a weedkiller. How long before we are forbidden to breathe as the air is not of an ‘approved’ quality?

  94. Iain says:

    Hi, not read all way through posts so apology if I’m repeating: Sulph. of Amm. is easily available as pure chemical from as it has many uses outside of gardening. Luckily Monsantos’ reach is not as deep as they would like.

  95. Rob says:

    ROOT OUT is also still available as a “compost accelerator” from:

    DAX Products Ltd
    18 Marlborough Rd
    Nottingham NG5 4FG
    0115 926 9996

    I found them very nice people to deal with.

  96. Vanessa says:

    Fascinating stuff, I have a garden rife with this…..stuff, I just need to know about any information about it with cats in particular. I have been reading about Ammonium sulphamate for over a year now and decided to admit failure with the gravel area in my back garden so we have removed it all and the plan is, given the current growth of the invader is to kill with AS and then kill again in the spring and turf, I know it will not be gone but the joy I will get putting it to the lawnmower blade cannot be expressed. My only concern is my cats. One ignores it totally, one likes to chew off the tops of the plant but does not eat it. I am a little worried cos I love my sharp eared fur buddies.

    • John Harrison says:

      I don’t think cats will eat the ammonium sulphamate, it’s very acid. Applied by watering it will linger on plants for a bit until dry but the taste should put them off.
      Once absorbed into the soil and thence the plant, I can’t see it will make any difference whatsoever.
      Answering as person with 7 cats – but I’m not a scientist and officially it shouldn’t be used as a weedkiller anyway.

      • Pam says:

        We have horse tail almost everywhere in the garden of the house we’ve just bought. They’re quite mixed in with the borders, among the spring bulbs and the perennials. Some underneath a mature Camellia and star magnolia. If some AS was “spilt” directly on to the horse tail near to the mature shrubs but not directly onto the base of the shrubs, is it likely to kill the shrubs? I’d be mortified if this happened! I suppose I’m interested in how far away from other plants it needs to be used not to inadvertently kill them.

        • John Harrison says:

          I’m sure it would damage the shrubs at least. Unlike translocated weedkillers like glyphosate that enter the plant through the leaves, AS goes into the soil and will seep to the sides of where it has been applied. It remains dangerous to weeds for about 6 weeks after application. How far does it spread? What’s your soil like, what’s the weather like? As a rule of thumb, for valuable plants at least 18 inches would be my guess.

  97. Samantha Corbett says:

    Apologies if this has already been asked but I am a bit confused about ammonium sulphamate. I have just cleared out my old shed and found an opened bag of ammonium sulphamate and an unopened box of Root Out, both are several years old. I know these are now banned in the UK so I am at a loss as to how to dispose of them safely. Would the opened bag of AS which will have been exposed to oxygen now be ammonium sulphate (which I could use safely as a fertiliser) or should I assume it hasn’t changed chemically and just use it as a compost accelerant? There are no instructions on the AS bag, could someone tell me what ratio to water I should use please? I also have old onion fertiliser, garden lime and green sulphur (from when I grew veg about 10 years ago) – can I use them on my flowering plants/shrubs? Thanks for any advice!

  98. Larry Doyle says:

    When it could be used for Horsetail control, was it foliar acting or entirely root acting?

    What area of non cropped land would 1 kg of the active have treated?

    • Rob James says:

      I believe some people will use 1Kg per 5 litres, with a cupful of detergent mixed in. Some people even put some isopropyl alcohol in the mix. This makes it work very fast and only one dose needed. It kills horsetails to the roots and they don’t come back. Luckily I don’t have any horsetails in my allotment. Never needed it.

  99. Charlotte says:


    We have found our newly bought house has a garden infested with horsetail. Nightmare! The garden is a mess anyway, and we are going to get a new patio and turn laid (It’s slabs and stones just now…. very drab!). I’m going to accidently spill some Ammonium Suphamate onto infestation of horsetail roots that are currently growing and plotting worl domination under all of the slabs. They need to go.

    I’m a little concerned as I have dogs. Will it be safe for me to let the dogs out the following day into the garden so they can take care of their business?

  100. Francesca Loening says:

    I have just read all the bloggs about ammonium sulphamate. Our problem is not horsetail (thank goodness)but couch grass, ground elder and docks/dandelions. We have just had an accident with AS diluted 200gram/litre on this patch. How long might it be before we see the damage to these weeds? I could find no information on this in any of the bloggs and would be grateful to know, at least roughly.

    • John Harrison says:

      You should see them starting to look ill in a week or so.

      • Francesca Loening says:

        Thank you John for a quick reply. Actually, I need hardly have sent off my email of 28th May because the signs of ‘damage’ were already visible by the next day, so 2 days after the ‘accident’. Dandelions quite nicely browned, ground elder beginning to show an effect, grass not yet nor some deep rooted cow parsley. But it’s only been 3 days so far now. I have enjoyed reading all the lively blogs on tis website! Francesca

  101. Francesca Loening says:

    Thank you John for your quick reply. Actually I need hardly have sent off my email of 29th May because signs of ‘damage’ were already visible the next day, 30th. dandelions nicely browned, ground elder showing signs but grass and deep rooted cow parsley not yet affected. But it’s only 3 days so far. I really enjoyed reading all the blogs on this website! Francesca

  102. gordon clancy says:

    So after finding and reading this long tread I’m still at a loss. lets say I’ve managed to get my hands on some “ammonium sulphamate” what is the best ratio of granules to water and how much washing up liquid to use for best results.

    Would it be better to use a sprayer or watering can to wet them. Do they need a good soaking or light application?

    Thanks for all the info here btw.



  103. Helen says:

    I have used Ammonium Sulphamate on tree stumps in the past when it was legally available as a stump killer. I was recently able to purchase a 500g quantity of crystals off eBay for £8.95
    I have carefully injected it into some Coltsfoot and Rosebay Willowherb stems to allow them to compost naturally as I read this method can help compost in situ like a tree stump…. Could you advise if this method would damage the soil around and how soon could I safely plant around that area. Or failing that what alternative . I am trying to avoid Glyphosate but have used it carefully. Many thanks

  104. Jim Warren says:

    I noticed a couple of comments saying that AS goes into the soil and is taken up by the roots. However, the Pesticide Properties Database shows for Mode of Action “Non-selective, systemic action absorbed by leaves, stems and freshly cut surfaces followed by translocation”. That is backed up by my (now empty) Ivy Killer container which expects it to be sprayed on the leaves.

    • John Harrison says:

      I’m sorry Jim but I think that information is incorrect. The action is that the AS mimics sulphate of ammonia which is a nitrogen fertiliser taken up by the roots.
      Applying to the soil will make the soil toxic to plants for roughly 4 weeks after which the action of oxygen in the air converts it to sulphate of ammonia.
      If you have contacts at Herts Uni, you might want to let them know.

      • Jim Warren says:

        Nevertheless, when I accidentally spill some of my 200g per litre liquid I am taking to my compost heap onto nearby sprawling weeds, it goes on the foliage rather than the roots and yet they die. It later degrades into ammonium sulphate which becomes a fertiliser in the soil.

        • Jim Warren says:

          PS. I have just found this article which also says the chemical is taken up by the leaves and spreads to the roots.

        • John Harrison says:

          If you carefully pour it onto the soil without touching the leaves, the plant will die. The article you cite is from a US greenkeeper in 1943, I believe and isn’t exactly a scientific analysis of it’s method of action.
          Obviously some of the chemical will be absorbed by the foliage in the same way as foliar feeding but the primary action is due to the plant absorbing it via the root system which is why replanting isn’t possible for 3 to 4 weeks.
          Modern hormonal weedkillers like glyphosate are translocated in that the plant absorbs the poison via the leaves and it goes to the roots. Applying to the soil under the plant will have no effect on the plant.

          • Karen L Cotterill says:

            Thank you for teaching us, John!

            Experimenting with soil application for a larger sumac–what do you think the cutoff size would be for soil application to cutting, drilling and dousing stump of unwanted plant? I have pencil to wrist sized plant trunks that need to get out of my prairie! Would soil application work for my larger sumac and honeysuckle?

            Best wishes!

  105. Chris says:

    Is there any ” antidote ” to this poison if it’s applied eg. to a tree trunk, or spilled where you don’t want it?

  106. Bob McNair says:

    I just bought some from Dax and they state it is not to be used as a weedkiller. They do, however tell you how to apply it as a weedkiller for “Your research into past practice”! Brilliant!!

  107. Cottie says:

    Hello John and friends-Thank you for this excellent information and lovely sharing of stories! I am in the US. We have a grove of sumac that has grown up overnight in our prairie. Would it make sense to cut down the small trees and then accidentally spill said compost accelerating mixture near the little stumps?
    Also, this seems to be the only product available in the US. Does it look like the right stuff?
    Thank you bushels!

    • John Harrison says:

      Going back to basics, Ammonium Sulphamate is similar to Sulphate of Ammonia and taken up by plants as if it was a nitrogen fertiliser. Then, like carbon monoxide in the blood prevents oxygen uptake, the AS prevents nitrogen uptake so starving the plant. Around six weeks after applying to the soil, the oxygen in the air converts it to Sulphate of Ammonia, a nitrogen fertiliser.
      Cutting down to stumps should encourage the sumac to attempt regrowth and it starves more quickly. I don’t know about the legal position now in the USA but AS was a common herbicide in the USA in the past.
      The link you give is to the right stuff but a very pure grade and hence very expensive. I’d check products and ask your local gardener’s supply stores. It’s actually a cheap and simple chemical to produce.

      • Cottie says:

        Thank you for your expertise! We can’t find it cheap here online or in stores in the states, nor can we find anyone who knows of it in our local nurseries. Still, we may buy this expensive stuff…I’m glad I found your community. Thanks again!

  108. Chas Haywood says:

    I had marestail in my garden which I rotavated – big mistake the M’sTail simply multiplied. I bought som AS from a cemical company in Ireland (10kg cost £26) and mixed it (+non eu washing up liquid) sprayed everywhere avoiding wanted plants – 99.5% success. I have fruit trees in containers and M’Tail had invaded the containers from below (drainage holes)another job to sort. anyway I just bought another 10Kg (2023) price has shot up to £74 but I don’t care, Mares tail watch out. sprayed on Ivy leaves has same effect, plant dies. email me for supplier info, 10K free shipping

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