What to do if you have Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure

The currently suspended herbicides based on Aminopyralid will be working their way through the food chain to end up on our allotments and gardens for years to come. Assuming the suspension becomes permanent and the farmers stop using their stocks, the problem of contaminated manure will still be around until 2012 or even later.

Testing for Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure

If you suspect your manure is contaminated, the way to test is to start a few tomato plants off and transplant them into a compost with 50% manure. Make sure the manure is chopped finely or shredded and well mixed.

If the plant shows the distorted leaves typical of hormonal weedkiller damage then you know you have the problem.

From what I gather people are being charged over a hundred pounds for a test that basically consists of growing a tomato in the manure and seeing what happens.

What to do if you have Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure

Having discovered you have a load of manure that’s contaminated with this persistent hormonal weedkiller, your next problem is what to do with it.

Legal Redress for Contaminated Manure

Now it has been suggested to me that you might have legal redress against the supplier of the manure and could return it to them. But the supplier of the manure most probably had no idea it was in there. It could have entered the manure directly through cattle or horses grazing on grass sprayed with Aminopyralid or via silage or in the hay or straw.

If people start suing farmers and stables for damages caused by manure, often sold at a price that covers the cost of delivering it, they are either going to stop supplying or put the price up to cover possible liabilities and insurance. Madness. And you’re probably just suing someone who is as much a victim as you are.

The problem with returning manure to the supplier is that you are just passing the buck back to someone probably blameless who has done you a favour. Handling the problem directly makes more ecological sense as well.

Decontaminating the Manure

We know the Aminopyralid is eventually broken down by microbial action in the soil and this is what we need to encourage.

If you have a manure pile and just leave it stacked, or even turn it over, the relative lack of the right microbes means it could be two or three years before it becomes safe to use.

The best way is to select a patch of ground and spread the manure a few inches thick on the surface and then rotovate it well into the soil. Don’t bother sowing anything in there because it could be counter productive as the chemical will be taken up and bound to the lignin in the crop. When composted, the problem cycle starts again as the Aminopyralid releases.

After a month, rotovate again. And again, and again and again. After six months or so it’s probably OK and worth testing with tomatoes or potatoes grown in the soil. Don’t just test soil from one place. Ideally test five points – imagine a number 5 on a dice.

What we are seeking to do is to ensure no lumps of contaminated manure remain and the microbes have had chance to do their job thoroughly. That’s why multiple rotovations will help. If you don’t have a rotovator and can’t borrow one, then chop up the manure with a spade and fork it into the top six inches. Turn it over with your fork each month, incorporating any weeds so they rot down as well.

We’ve won a battle against this, if not the war and we need to remain vigilant for at least the next 4 years. Now we know what the problem is and how to deal with it, at least we can keep on growing.

Posted in Pests & problems
76 comments on “What to do if you have Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure
  1. Kerry says:

    Hiya, I’ve been campaigning about aminopyralid for a little while now and I’m running a website campaigning. I’m really pleased that people like you and I (and others) are publicising this issue.
    In the course of the work I’ve done so far I’ve been in touch with many people including scientists and legal bods. I agree with what you say about the testing, part of the problem is that small traces barely picked up in chemical analysis are enough to damage crops.
    But I disagree with you regarding legal action. Individuals have the right to legal redress and in our legal system the person who sells you the manure is legally liable.In the case where only a delivery charge has been made, or no charge has been made, there is no opportunity for legal redress through the small-claims court. While the supplier might be themselves innocent, they in charge need to take action against their own suppliers, and so on up the supply chain.
    I agree with you that this is a far from ideal situation which is why I am currently investigating legal precedents. However, action against anyone other than the supplier of the manure would be a lengthy, and costly, legal battle.
    As regards disposal of the manure, there is no coherence between government departments, and while PSD is telling people to dispose of their manure in the manner you describe, the environment agency has in fact suggested that as the manure is contaminated, anyone who wishes to spread it in this way needs a license from them, even if it is a home gardener, even if it is their own land. As for disposing of it to anyone except the original supplier, you would need to use a registered waste contractor at your own expense.
    It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? Do you ever feel like you’re trying to swim through treacle? That’s how I feel with this blimming aminopyralid.

  2. frank willcock says:

    at our site HADDOCKS WOOD ALLOTMENTS in runcorn we stopped getting manure in a number of years ago and left it to the individual plot holders themselves,because we found that we were getting lots of horse tails or mares tail depending were you live and these persistant weeds can last for years i know they are not in the same class as the current problem ,but it highlights the different side affects that can happen when you start inporting manure.

    frank willcock chairman haddocks wood allotments ass.

  3. Lawrence Banner/Barford Allotments Oldbury West Midlands B68 says:

    Thanks John,

    Great news about this problem, we are lucky with our supply it is from a sole horse sanctuary that has not sprayed his ground. We will carry out the test suggested.

    I know I have been on before about Allium leaf minor which is prevelant in the Black Country, fearfully it is spreading further afield. Our latest treatment is Bug Off or Provado this needs to be sprayed on the crops in february and again in March, for winter alliums, and September/October for leeks and onions. Hope this helps.

  4. Zanonni says:

    Thanks for this information and all the work you have done.

    Indeed a GREAT many thanks.

    Do you know who arranged for the suspension? I would like to write to them.


  5. John says:

    Kerry, without getting into the legal situation, my arguement is that ordinary stable owners and dairy farmers who unwittingly supply contaminated manure to gardeners are as much a victim as the gardener.
    Taking them to court will result in them deciding not to bother in future. So I ask that people do not exercise their right.
    As for the government with conflicting advice etc.. well children might learn new words if I said what I think!

  6. Vanessa says:

    Brilliant, great news! Thanks from me too John, all your efforts are much appreciated.

    What I did find disheartening on my own allotment, was that although the so-called officials knew about it, absolutely NO notification has been circulated to the plot holders!

    … One comment I got from the allotment shop was “well be organic, make your own compost!” … Hardly helpful when one would have to wait a few years to reap the benefit!!

  7. Kerry says:

    Zanonni, the suspension was announced the same day that Conservative MP for Worthing, Tim Loughton, asked questions about it to Phil Woolas (Minister for the Environment). It was the second time in a week that Woolas was forced to answer questions about it in Parliament. Coincidence? I suppose that depends on how cynical you are…

    John, I fully understand what you are saying, but some people have incurred significant costs that they simply cannot afford because of this, and they have the right to redress. I would not personally go to court, but I have the luxury of still being able to put food on the table. It is only fair that people know they have the option. And any supplier who is an innocent party in all of this has the right to redress from their suppliers, too, and would have to exercise that right to not be out of pocket.

    And I know that is a pretty rubbish situation, which is why, as I said, I and a lawyer are working extremely hard to build a case proving that ultimate liability rests with Dow. It’s not impossible, just tedious hard work. Anyway, I don’t want a row about this, because as far as I know we’re all on the same side 😉

    I know what you mean about hearing kids learn new words… I’ve heard a lawyer and a doctor swear when talking about it, both in relation to the latest letter from DEFRA regarding it.

  8. Roz says:

    Hi there John, Ive lived on farms, and kept horses for many fortunate years, and also given away manure. The thing is IF you buy in straw to bed your horses on, the person you bought THAT off may or may not know it’s origins. Also, the feed, hay, and haylage fed to your horses, may be from several different places, and some middlemen, i.e. Feed Merchants, may not know the source either. I agree totally with you John, that it would probably be unfair to sue the person who has helped you out with free or cheap manure, as you say, the only outcome will be that they will burn it instead, or spread it on their own land if they are sure of it’s origins.

    Usually you would be aware of any herbicides that have been applied to land your animals are grazing on, however, horses are often grazed on rented land, etc too.This also applies to cattle / sheep / goats etc. The opportunities for this herbicide to arrive on our allotments are endless, and I shall certainly be following your tomato test myself, if, infact I use any manure on my plot. I took it over this Jan, and it hasn’t had anything on it apparently for years, and my crops (touch wood) are coming off lovely.

    I add chicken manure, and seaweed, and am very pleased with the results.

  9. val says:

    im 63 years and have always used manure and my mother befor me ,i used it last year as i always do and i could not understand why i was not getting good crops and i thought that it was blight as did a lot of us allotment holders did ,but as we have found out its this herbicide ,the manufacturers need shooting, ive lost over 300 bulbs i put in my flower beds and its stoped my grape vine from flowering my wistera did not put out any new grouth and my cues are just not growing ,the rest of my plot is terrable nothing is growing ,in my greenhouse i grow carrots in boxes and my parsnips thay are ok and i have not put any manure in where my freanch beans are only from last year and SO FAR thay are ok ,but my butternut squash have not flowerd neather has my secound lot of peas ,i am not going to use manure again im useing chicken manure now for my winter veg on ground that i did not add the manure people that have any manure over need to take it and dump it outside the owners homes that make this poisen.val

  10. Angela says:

    Thanks for bringing this to the wider gardening community. I wondered why all the carrots we had grown this year were horribly deformed. I grow on raised beds and had added manure in quantity to this particular bed when I set it up a couple of years ago.

    I had had some issues with parsnips last year – I then stuck to salad veg not realising the issue. I thought it might have been some poor quality topsoil, little did I know the manure was the culprit!

  11. Patrick says:

    In February I bought 4 bags of B+Q’s ‘Farmyard Manure Soil Improver’ for some raised beds I am making, before finding out about aminopyralid. Luckily, I hadn’t used it soI did the tests – growing broad beans in pots, and the ones in manure are deformed.
    I went back to B+Q and found that the ‘Farmyard Manure Soil Improver’ had been withdrawn. I asked why, and they did not know so I gave them some information about aminopyralid I had printed out.
    They refunded my money without question, but why haven’t they announced a product recall? I wonder how many thousands of gardeners have poisoned their garden plants with this ‘soil improver’?

  12. Pamela says:

    I have just recently acquired an allotment and told not to put manure on the site because of the problem it has been causing. I understand that cows lie on this, so is our milk being tested accordingly? I bet its not.

  13. Jon says:

    We recently spent a couple of weekends with our kids s**t shovelling from the local stables. It went onto every bed and in the compost bins. Just to make sure, we bedded our potato trenches with the stuff.
    We’ve got the contaminated stuff.
    All the spuds are like your photos. We are based in Brighton. The stables are shocked that they have been given dodgy hay and a little put out to say the least as they have just got rid of a massive amount of manure to other allotment holders and gardeners. If anyone out there is looking to take this further – to Dow – please email me (Take the ‘X’ out of the email address – this is done to minimise spam being sent) SPAMMYEMAIL1X@yahoo.com

    To Patrick, I do believe you have a legitimate claim against B+Q if you were to take it further. Contact your local Trading Standards Office at the Council and DEFRA to see if they are interested in confirming the contamination.

  14. George Sutherland says:

    Last year (2008) the potatoes on my allotment were affected by aminopyralid contaminated manure, some varieties more than others particularly Maxine and Pentland Javelin. I grow several heritage varieties which are difficult to obtain as fresh seed, so I save seed. This year the potatoes grown from saved seed are showing all the signs of contamination. The ground that they are grown on is not contaminated. I have seen no warnings about this. Those potatoes grown from fresh seed are free from the effects.

  15. Susanna says:

    I was given some horse manure from a local stables and yes, I’ve got contaminated and deformed peas, beans and potatoes. I cannot blame him, and he’s assured me he doesn’t spray his grazing, but does buy in winter hay and fodder.

    I am so FURIOUS that all that money and very hard work is wasted and the knowledge that I’ll have to buy everything from the supermarket this year — 10 miles away! Every raised bed I’ve constructed is now poisoned with this stuff.

    I have lots of plants waiting to be planted out and wondered whether it might be worth digging in my homemade compost in a layer for growing them in, out of contact with this evil stuff. Dow Chemicals should be class action sued and I’m more than willing to contribute to a legal fund.

  16. mark says:

    Kerry, please can you get in touch ‘off website’. I should very much welcome a chat as you seem to be at the forefront of this (no pun intended!).

    I bought hay for my horses from a farmer who used Forefront and put the manure on a large garden by the trailer load! I now have damage to beans, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, but also to other things and a lot of contaminated ground. The signs are classic for Aminopyralid damage, but I am awaiting results of a lab test.
    I am late on the scene, and want to catch up before launching myself into action! I have experience of handling major litigation.

  17. julia R says:

    i work an allotment in SE London and was aware last year of aminopyralid damage to neighbouring holders’ plots from manure delivered by local horse owners. This year, noticing that broad-leaved weeds were growing on the pile I thought the herbicide had broken down or was very localised in the pile. I risked applying the manure to my allotment. I fear that cucumbers and butternut squash seedlings have been affected as they are showing abnormal growth. The prospect of ruined soil is terrible. Does anyone know of any advance on the class action front as this seems the only answer?

  18. glallotments says:

    Just for information.
    It looks as if the ACP may recommend that the licence for aminopyralid be reinstated.
    I’m not sure whether I am allowed to post a link but if so try visiting

    Julia, we were affected with this last year and found that squashes, and related crops were not affected. I suppose sedlings are different but are you sure that it is connected with the manure?
    Maybe send a photo to the RHS to see what they think.

  19. Chris says:

    I have had large numbers of seedlings fail in a well known brand of multipurpose composts this year. Particularly affected were tomato seedlings whose leaves were narrow, distorted and did not grow well. Many other small plants including begonias, impatiens, and cucumbers seemed unable to grow properly. I think this is probably the hormone weed killer coming through into the commercially produced muti-purpose composts. How much longer and further is this problem likely to persist and spread… especially if Dow Chemicals are allowing it to be sold again.

  20. Kay says:

    This just makes me sick. I live in Missouri USA and look forward to my vegetable garden every year. Only my tomatoes appear to be affected, but I’m not about to eat anything at all from the same bed where there is an affected plant. When I bought the compost I spread it through both of my raised beds. Most of my crop lost (I have 2 other small beds that have cucumbers, watermelon and herbs so I will get something…but no good veggies!)… I’m ready to pull everything out of both beds and try something to ensure that I can use these beds again next year. However, your suggestions on what to do are for before you till it into your garden bed. Is there anything I can do or use (preferably organic) to shock the soil to rid it of this poison? Or am I just out of luck growing anything there again?

  21. Tim Wainwright says:

    I am a newcomer to this problem of Aminopyralid. As an organic gardener for the previous 25 years, I have always collected horse stable manure from a local stables and either composted it or spread the well-rotted manure around my veg and fruit plot. I did not have any problems last year with potatoes or tomatoes, other than blight, which seemed to affect many gardeners.

    This year, my potatoes and tomatoes had curled leaves and stunted growth, something I’ve never witnessed before. I thought a late frost had nipped them, and left them to carry on growing, but most did not recover. On researching my problem on the internet I’ve found the problem to be widespread from 2008 onwards, with many gardeners reporting the same problem as me.

    I hadn’t dug the manure in this year, but spread it across the plots as a three inch thick mulch and planted through this. I now intend to rake it all up and dispose of it and any residue I can’t rake up will get dug in.

    Sprouts, calabrese, sweetcorn and courgettes seem to be unaffected and are growing well in the mulch, but I will rake this up too.

    My raspberries are stunted, only a few large berries and they haven’t ripened properly.

    I am devastated that my organic plot is now contaminated and the food I’ve grown is very suspect and I’m not sure whether to eat it or not. If anyone does start a legal fund against Dow Chemicals, I would willingly contribute with cash.

    As an aside, how do we know if food labelled “organic” from major supermarkets is not contaminated with Aminopryalid? I assume many growers will have used stable manure for their crops just the same as us amateur growers.

  22. Rhondda100 says:

    I am also a victim of the noxious chemical, after 10 years of organic gardening my compost heap has now been rendered useless.. does anyone know the name of the company that manufactures/distributes this foul substance?

  23. begoniapink says:

    hi there my husband and myself use leaf mould for our allotment, it opens up the soil nicely and everything seems to be comming along nicely

  24. sheila says:

    I am in my 4th season of allotment growing and have been developing a ‘no dig’ way of growing. I have been exceptionally thrilled with my results until this year. Two things have really bothered me.
    1) because I grow my potatoes on top of the manured ground and cover them with straw they are in direct contact with the manure and I have lost my whole crop from 1st earlies to late mains. Not only was the foliage curled, very stunted and exceptionally slow growing if it grew at all; but the potatoes were just like little beads clustered around the stem arising from the seed potato. I also lost dahlias, and my beans and peas were distorted and stunted.
    2) More worryingly is the effects I noticed in my allotment wildlife.
    My usual scenario is an abundance of worms, followed my moles who run up and down the rows devouring worms and slugs with the result that my soil is moist, friable and the manure well incorporated at harvest. To the point of looking almost life a seedbed. There has always been a few frogs and toads taking refuge under the damp straw during the day and even the occasional vole (last year I accidently disturbed a whole family who immediately grabbed tails and ran off in convoy to the next row, where I left them until the end of harvest)

    However this year there was a total absence of any sign of the worms taking the manure down and when I finally removed the straw and manure there was no sign of worms in this area when I gave in and dug the soil. (the ground was wet and there were plenty of worms in non manured parts of my plot)
    There was also an absence of frogs and toads or voles under the straw, which I usually have in abundance also moles seemed to avoid this area too even though they have been active elsewhere. When I peeled back the straw the manure looked like it had been spread that morning. It still lay on the surface in the same condition as it had been spread last Novemebr.
    Since raking it off the surface and rotavating what was left I am happy to say the worms are returning and I only last week I disturbed a frog hiding under a little pile of straw.
    My problem now is that I do have about 3 tons of the stuff stacked up from February’s delivery this year. I think I will just leave it sit in it’s heap for another couple of years and then to a test patch, or perhaps I will leave a couple of my beds fallow and spread some of it on these each year until it is fully incorporated. I am undecided about this.

  25. Gbar says:


    If you contact Dow via their Manure Matters web site they may be able to arrange collection and disposal.

  26. BeadyEyes says:

    We have three horses and purchase bedding and hay from elsewhere. Three horses produce quite a lot of good muck and every winter our veg patch and greenhouse are liberally dressed with muck.

    2009 turned out to be a complete and utter disaster. Two 30’rows of early potatoes (International Kidney) produced only 1lb of spuds and loads of long fern-like curly tops. Tomatoes were exactly the same in appearance. Runner beans were very late cropping and produced only a very modest crop indeed and every row of peas died off after being planted out. Our only success were onions. Our local Path. Lab. advised me that the symptoms were the classic signs on damage from Aminopyralid.

    Although Dow Agro has told me that things should be OK after 12 months, I am wondering just how long it will be before I can plant with confidence.

    I just hope that this chemical is not re-released for use – especially when in this Nanny State of Europe, we are all denied access to many things which were totally safe and had proven track records.

    Anyone want 150 tonnes of well mucked top soil?!!!

    Dig for Victory!

  27. bigshod says:

    There is still time to make your point as the reinstatement of the stuff hasn’t yet been announced. Elsewhere on this site at http://www.allotment.org.uk/garden-diary/586/aminopyralid-contaminated-manure-again/ is a link to the epetition on the PM’s website. Also try to get your MP to join mine, Tom Watson, who is doing his best to get the stuff permanently off the market.

  28. tom brown says:

    Thanks for all your very useful advice. Can anybody tell me however do contaminated vegetables affect human swhen they are eaten? Anybody want any horse manure!!!

  29. Tracy Tomlinson says:

    Our allotments in Shrewsbury were new back in May, previously being pasture. We recently bought in manure from a local agricultural college which uses an anaerobic digester to treat the muck prior to being sold. They also stated that they have never used aminopyralid on their cattle feed that is grown ‘in-house’. I hope this is so as our members have now spread over 32 cubic metres over various plots. Time will tell!

  30. Muriel says:

    I am really concerned about using any manure at all because of this problem…. And now this horrible chemical is being used again. Last Summer and Autumn I started to use Seers Rock Dust (available from Harrods Horticultural) as a fertiliser and soil improver (the instructions specifically state that you do not need to use manure as well). Some of my older fellow allotmenteers (I am new to allotmenting) laughed at me when I first applied it, but a couple of them then sidled up to me later in the year asking me about Rock Dust. Why? Because my veggies looked gloriously healthy. I have only had my allotment for two years, but won 1st prize last year!! The RHS is a bit sniffy about Rock Dust because its effectiveness has yet to be proved. Yes, it did cost more than manure, but at least I can carry on growing veggies!

  31. AJ says:

    Just been caught by this. 2 years we didn’t have any manure from the local farm in case it was contaminated and so once we saw that everyone was ok, we bought some. Lottie neighbour also has had 3 loads.

    The whole lot is contaminated; a different batch to the earlier stuff.

    Has anyone at all had DOW come and remove it at all? I want it off my plot. If anyone has, can they email me or post here. I know it’s after DOW’s deadline; but if they are still supplying it as a herbicide then it’s still in the supply chain.

    Gutted of Shardlow Derbyshire. 🙁

  32. james hutton says:

    can the vegtables be eaten safely,after being contaminated by aminopyralid

  33. Jenny Thorburn says:

    As above there are symptoms of aminopyralid contamination in my potatoes for the first time this year – 2010. I had a load of farmyard manure from my normal supplier this winter, so presume the contamination came in on that. Have emailed Dow but don’t expect much help – so shall just remove what I can off the top, dig in the rest and never buy FYM again- I have leaf mould supplies and comfrey so will use that, maybe with some organic blood fish and bone. I dion’t blame the farmer – it is unrealistic to expect him to know about whether hay he has bought in has been sprayed or not – and anyhow what’s to stop the supplier not knowing or ‘forgetting’? I have guinea pigs and buy hay for their bedding which I use as mulch on the allotment – now wondering about that as well. The chemical should be banned as I can’t see how contamination can be avoided.
    Incidently deos anyone know if it’d be OK to grow courgettes/ pumpkins on the contaminated ground?

  34. David Crabbe says:

    I’ve just discovered after a fortnight away that my potatoes are being wrecked by this stuff which came along with a batch of contaminated manure. I grow largely heritage varieties, having carefully saved seed over a number of years, and so the efforts of a decade or more have come to none as even if I get some crop off they cannot be used for planting again. All utterly soul-destroying.

    A contributor has asked whether courgettes are likely to be affected in the same way; sadly the answer appears to be yes as mine look as though they are about to turn their toes up. Only a matter of time before the climbing beans suffer the same fate I imagine.

    Aminopyrolid? Given the choice I’d take the local allotment vandals any time.

    Pigsick of Edinburgh

    (aka David)

  35. Jane Hughes says:

    I’ve been using horse manure from the same source (1 horse, organic pasture) for the last 5 years with no problems – until this year when my potato patch (one raised bed out of four) showed all the classic symptoms of aminopyralid contamination. Librally dosed with manure last winter. No problems elsewhere because I only used horse manure on that one bed. I feel such an idiot because I knew about this problem, just never imagined it would happen to me because of ‘traceability’. What a joke!

    At first I thought the contamination had come from some bags of ‘organic stable manure’ I bought from a local Hilliers Garden Centre in Hampshire. They sent someone round asap who talked about testing and took some potatoes and the bags, which I had kept. Although the evidence suggested it was the stuff I had gathered myself, I was keen to get confirmation – garden centre also seemed keen to confirm the problem wasn’t the product they sold. Then sudden change of tack from them – they now claim there’s no point testing because test can’t give definitive answer. But they have my evidence. I find this a bit suspicious.

    They claim their bagged stuff is 100% safe: but how can they ever be certain?

    Meanwhile, I’m still in the same boat. Contaminated ground and no potatoes.

    Very angry that this lethal and uncontrollable product is in the food chain. Older, wiser and much more cynical now.

  36. John says:

    It’s obviously possible to test their product – the result might not be absolutely definitive as to the chemical cause (although well beyond balance of probability) but it would be 100% on establishing if a problem exists or not.

    It does sound a very strange way to react – perhaps fear of litigation has crept in?

  37. Sue Taylor says:

    The suspension is apparently no more.

    2 month ago we took over an allotment in Preston. We have since spent every weekend digging and planting what was a weed patch. I have developed a real passion for the allotment and was gutted this weekend to find I have contaminated the whole plot with the manure we had delivered. Potatoes and tomatoes are affected, not sure yet about everything else but still hacked off as I thought we were going for the organic option.

  38. Carole says:

    Once soil is contaminated is it best to leave it fallow or plant something to draw the aminopyralid out?

    I have some potatoes affected and others are fine, I have uprooted those affected, should I grow some flowers or other crop in that area to draw the aminopyralid out or will the new plants worsen the situation?

    Thanks in advance for your advice ~ Carole

  39. Carole says:

    Is it safe to eat produce? As some of my potatoes are affected I don’t know whether the soft fruit I planted and mulched is also, how can I tell if it is safe to eat or not please?

  40. John says:

    Please read the article at the top on what to do to decontaminate it. Growing grass or other plants will actually hold it active for longer as it is degraded by microbial action in the soil.

    Defra claim the produce is safe to eat… probably is for all I know but I’d like to see the MD of DOW eat some first.

  41. Janet McNeill says:

    We have been growing veg for 40 years and only now have such a problem (manure obtained from local stable for past 4 years was fine until this year).
    Can anyone give definitive advice on whether we should eat crops that do not appear to be affected, but have been grown in soil containing aminopyralid?
    Also, if we grow ‘green manure’ will that be a problem – ie will it ‘hold’ the herbicide?

  42. Marshal says:

    When are we going to make Dow Chemical Pay?

  43. Elizabeth Fox says:

    I live on the Isle of Wight. I’ve got 3 raised beds which I bought farmyard manure for in March – dug it all in. In June I noticed that my french beans weren’t developing properly and then I saw that the tomato plants and the potato plants had cupped curled up top leaves. I looked on the internet to find out about curled up leaves in tomatoes and potatoes and then discovered the problem with Aminopyralid in manure. I contacted a Dow Agrochemical website and was forwarded to a ‘help line’ e-mail address. The chap at the other end confirmed I had Aminopyralid contamination (after viewing photos I sent of my plants). He said the crops i.e. tomatoes and potatoes were safe to eat. I dug up some potatoes and they looked fine – but I chickened out. I’m only on this planet once and I don’t want to find in years to come that Aminopyralid has affected my health. I wrote to my MP about the whole miserable affair and the terrible waste of my time and energy but I haven’t had an answer yet. My last words in the letter were: “The bottom line is, despite Dow’s assurances that the crops are OK to eat, if I were to invite you round for dinner, would YOU eat my potatoes” Well, would you?

    I haven’t found out whether anyone else on the IOW is affected but I am sure they must be – and they probably got their manure from the same place. However, it’s a small island so I am very reluctant to seek compensation. It would be too difficult to prove that the farmer was actively negligent or wittingly knew that the manure was contaminated.

    • karen anderson says:

      I know this is an old thread, but I live on the IOW too, and am just noticing the effects from a manure-compost mix bought in tonne bags, delivered. They must gather manure from various large producers, although their compost comes from Lynbottom I believe. Same lot? How are they still selling it 10 years later???

  44. terry walters says:

    Got a load of manure last winter and after years of being good I find it is contaminated with AMINOPYRALID which left me very upset. All that could be affected, was .
    DEFRA say it’s ok to eat the veg,I say after you,.
    Lawrence D Hills wrote about the then new fungisides in 1967
    or 70 and wondered if we were facing another devastating
    “silent spring”.,Is Defra and Dow sure we are not ?.
    I repeat after you.

  45. David Crabbe says:

    I left a bitter comment here back in June. Now, four months on, I am able to pass on the results I got from the areas of my allotment contaminated with this stuff. First potatoes; the only ones I left to grow were Desiree which seemed to have a certain resistance. Record, Pink Fir Apple and Golden Wonder all turned their toes up early on. The Desiree have done well, very well in fact, with none of the deformed and twisted tubers I had been expecting. Obviously I won’t use these as seed but they are proving fine for eating. Courgettes, which others have suggested show a certain tolerance, did reasonably well but I would and should have got better without the contamination. Finally, climbing french beans; pretty hopeless. OK, they are producing a little but the plants haven’t grown as they should and the leaves are pretty twisted and distorted, as are the beans themselves but they taste OK and it doesn’t bother me eating them or any of these crops for that matter. Meanwhile, the land I had the (failed) potatoes on has been turned and turned again and again and again, so hopefully next year it’ll be back to normal, or for me “new normal” as I won’t be using horse manure ever again.

  46. SHIRLEY says:

    Just a small point, it worth remembering that manure should not be used in ground that will be growing root crops, as it causes roots to fork.

    I am about to do the tomato test as we dug horse manure in last November and no weeds are growing, it seems rather strange, there are plenty of weeds on the rest of the vegetable garden.

  47. Martin says:

    Being very new to Allotmenteering I have only just come across this problem, so, started reading up on it.
    Further back on this string a chap said he developed a cyst on his eye.
    I looked up aminopyralid on a web site and came up with this:-

    Health issues: Carcinogen Mutagen Endocrine disrupter Reproduction / development effects Acetyl cholinesterase inhibitor Neurotoxicant Respiratory tract irritant Skin irritant Eye irritant
    General human health issues [May damage the corneal resulting in permanent impairment of vision and blindness]
    : Yes, known to cause a problem
    : No, known not to cause a problem
    : Possibly, status not identified
    – : No data

    Now that is scary!

  48. Ann Owen says:

    Well, the problem certainly hasn’t gone away! While new regulation states that aminopyralid containing herbicides can no longer be used on fodder crops, we’ve just realised that we’ve fallen foul of contaminated manure. So for all the regulaton in the world, if people don’t abide by it, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on.
    We’ve got the classic sympthoms in our small market garden: pale, prominently veined, twisted, curled up leaves on sunflowers, potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, cape gooseberries, capsicums, all beans and peas.
    This means a loss of thousands of pounds for us, and a lot of heartbreaking work of scraping off tons of top dressed muck, compost and topsoil, in the hope that we’ll be able to grow veg again next year.
    Defra, HSE, all dismissive, don’t hold any hopes of perpetrater getting caught or held to account. As long as this product is on the market, everybody using manure on their veg patches runs the risk of poisoning their soil. And you’ve got no comeback!

  49. John says:

    Ann Owen – I’m so sorry for you. It really is awful. I think it’s self-evident that there are always people who don’t read the small print and ignore the rules even if they do (me included).
    The only answer is to ban this chemical but I don’t think we’ve a hope in hell. DOW have invested a fortune in it and ordinary gardeners and even small scale commercial growers just don’t have the resources to make it happen.
    DEFRA seems to be far too cosy with big money for my liking.

  50. Gloria Lamb says:


    I may be a bit slow hear but if you buy farmyard manure in bags from a garden centre are they still likely to be contaminated or will they have been tested?

  51. AJ says:

    Gloria – there’s always a chance that it hasn’t been tested so just beware.

    My update – we got ours removed, and spent days raking it all out where we could, lost all the spuds last year, loads of rare beans and the plot looked a sorry mess.

    We rotavated it in when the beds were cleared, and this year some crops did ok, but some were shoddy – including swedes which look absolutely dreadful. And the beans again, horrible curly leaves, none climbing where they should, the pods going manky brown far too early. Even green manures were not germinating in the soil.

    Neighbour dug up all his plants and replanted where he could, but he has lost his whole soft fruit collection. Which was half his plot. 🙁

    I can see another year where we have to expect some crap crops; thus 3 years this will have affected out plot.

    And the guys that took our manure away for £500 for each lottie they cleared and we got zilch.

    And the farmer is still selling the manure. Nice.

  52. Les says:

    Since this outbreak occurred some years ago, I have avoided using farmyard manure. This year I have grown tomatoes, chillies, bell peppers and melon in buckets in my greenhouse, using only a well-known brand of commercial “multi-purpose compost” purchased from a local garden centre in Leeds. All crops failed and were gnarled and distorted. Has anyone else had similar troubles “using multi-purpose compost” ? Is it possible that my multi-purpose compost is contaminated with Aminopyralid ? All my beans, potatoes, brassicas etc., grown outdoors using my own organic compost thrived…

  53. David Crabbe says:

    I left a couple of comments up last year as, along with so many others, I fell foul of this awful stuff. Anyway, I continued to turn the ground over winter and early spring and then took my chances with onions, broad beans, and potatoes. Putting the weather to one side,the crops performed well without any signs of leaf or tuber distortion. So the advice to “turn, turn and turn again” to neutralise the aminopyralid appears to have worked. The daily deluge which we seem to have had since the beginning of May here in the east of Scotland is, of course, another matter; never experienced anything quite like it.

  54. Eleanor says:

    Having read Les’s comment, I’ve had a similar experience with peatfree potting compost that I bought from Lidl this Spring. I pricked out about 400 seedlings into it and 99% died. Lidl offered me double replacement plus £10 which altogether came to about £30 (I took money rather than replacement!) However I still have 4 sacks of it and wondering whether what I could use it for. I won’t risk it on veg or young plants, but considering using it to mulch herbaceous borders or fruit trees.

    I’d be very interested to know if anyone else bought this stuff, or if anyone can suggest what to do with it.

    I realise that my problem is minuscule compare to the terrible losses that others have suffered with the aminopyralid, and I am horrified to hear that Dow is continuing to market it. I cannot believe that the licence has not been withdrawn. The system is completely crazy – there are really useful substances such as fungicide derris and weedkiller ammonium sulphamate, which I believe are acceptable in organic agriculture, but not licensed and therefore unavailable!

  55. Linda says:

    Well, I’m glad to finally know the truth! Not knowing anything at all about composting, raised bed gardening, home gardening or manure, I started a costly project in my backyard. NOTHING came out of my garden. The peas were mangled, the carrots were nothing, the cucumbers (which would have been MANY) all turned grey and dropped off the vine when each of them reached about 1 inch in length. Butternut grew and then turned black for no reason. No lettuce came up except that which tasted so awful you couldn’t eat it. Kelp was horrible. The bugs multiplied.

    I had no idea what was happening until I read about it on this site. I don’t know if I can even remove it, so I guess I’ll try micro-organisms and see if it will do anything next year.

    I had already planted my winter crop, which ‘appear’ to be sprouting OK. But, who knows until the plant starts to either mature or bear fruit.

    I’m not certain that it is fit to consume even if I did get decent fruit.

    Does anyone really know?


  56. Linda says:

    Oh, one more thing. I did have my soil tested (not for this chemical though) and the test revealed that there was no ‘activity’ in the soil. Everything was dead ~ no electricity. All of the levels were off the chart low.

    I spoke with a farmer’s market and they told me what they thought I needed to do to the soil after looking at the report (this was before I believe it to be this chemical), So far ~ like I said, things are beginning to break the surface.

    I guess I’ll know within the next month or so.


  57. John Puttick says:

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it looks like this stuff is still causing damage. I started a small vegetable plot last year (2012) and had a good crop of various beans, tomatoes, beetroot etc. At the end of the year I picked up about half a yard of horse manure from the local stable (Stotfold, nr Hitchin, Herts) to spread on the plot for this year. It covered about 4″ deep. Earlier this year I grew some beans and tomatoes in compost in pots. When they were strong enough they were planted outside. Within three days the tomatoes were wilting and the beans survived for just over a week. I know the stables didn’t deliberately supply dodgy manure (for free), so I’ll just have to follow the advice given, and turn the soil over regularly and hope for the best next year. I will inform the stables and hope that no-one else has been as unfortunate. Many thanks for the advice and information.


  58. Colin says:

    Does anyone know whether windrowing, or anaerobic processing, as used by large scale collectors of domestic garden waste, encourages the biological decomposition of the pyralids and their relatives?
    I will not use lawn treatments because I suspect that they contain closely related chemicals, and I do not use my Green Bins, but heaven only knows what goes into the Recycling trucks in the guise of lawn clippings.
    And of course it is almost certain that ex-recycling compost finds its way into supermarket and DIY composts as a bulking ingredient, particularly if the product is ‘peat-free’.

  59. Ann Ashman says:

    I had early potatoes in a greenhouse wiped out in March this year. Quickly identified the problem on the internet so removed the manure and replaced with new compost. However subsequent crops of tomatoes peppers and squashes are sporadically coming down. They are OK to start- often for several weeks, with but as the roots get down they start to curl- must be getting through to the soil under the new compost, which is 6 to 7 inches deep. The manure came from a shed which had held sheep in 2012, evidently there is no breakdown of the aminopyralid in dryish conditions

  60. alan chapple says:

    I also have purchased horse manure in 2015 and have contaminated my allotment having all the classic problems of aminopyralid ,the suppliers of the manure assures me where they buy the hay from does not use herbicsides and i have been informed this product has again been in use through oit this country ,what a waste of time and money on this allotment ,

  61. Gerry says:

    Hi all. I have planted a vegetable plot for the first time in 10 years. I planted 40kg of potato tubers. To my disappointment my whole crop seems to be affected with leaf roll. A very kind local farmer gave me 2 loads of cows manure for my garden and unfortunately it seems it was contaminated with Aminopyralid. Is there any point in continuing to spray for blight? Will the potatoes be edible? I have other veg planted also but it’s too early to tell if they have been affected. Thanks.

  62. Annie says:

    I hit this in 2014. I removed all the compost down to soil level- about 6 inches of it- last year, and replaced it but then still found odd plants getting attacked as they searched for water. My solution this year was to replace compost again but this time I thoroughly washed and scrubbed the border itself and flooded the beds several times over several days to wash down any remaining aminopyralid. I am also watching the watering so that plants do not go too deep to look for water.So far so good- and this is tomatoes, peppers aubergine etc.-all very sensitive.As to potatoes- I found that plants last year which were very slightly affected grew through it. BUT do not save seed.They seem to store the chemical in the tubers and are DREADFUL this time

  63. Anthony says:

    I think I might have a problem with contaminated manure..everything in the plot seems to be looking stunted,I added manure to it last November…what’s the best course of action?

  64. Vanessa Taylor says:

    I have an allotment which I started in 2017. Because of all the weeds – horse tail, buttercup, bindweed, nettles, etc. (it hadn’t been cropped for 4 years) I decided to cover the whole lot with weed membrane and fill it with raised beds as I wanted an organic allotment. I have 17 raised beds in total from full length scaffold boards and 4′ wide x 2 boards high. It has cost me a small fortune to do this and I have been so proud of it. One of the beds was filled with compost while the others were all soil and rotted farmyard manure mix. Strangely the compost bed is the one that is contaminated. I planted it with broad beans this year and have never seen such plant deformities before. I have only just found out that this is as a result of Aminopyralid. Although this appears to have been banned, I just wanted to tell you all that it is obviously still our there contaminating our compost/manure.

    • Claire says:

      Vanessa- interesting you should say this. I have also just succumbed to this horrendous situation due to digging 2 trailer loads of horse manure through my garden. I call myself an experienced gardener, but I had never heard of this. I put this stuff in my compost, dug it all through my multiple vege gardens, put it on every fruit tree. Interestingly, my garden overall is still thriving. But it is the potatoes that I grew in the compost site (same as you I think, Vanessa) that have emerged all twisted and deformed. I am doing the bean test in different parts of my garden to find the different levels of contamination.
      If anyone has found out if we can still eat the produce from our garden (if the plants look okay) I’d be very keen to hear. I won’t be touching the potatoes or anything in that bed. Soil costing will cost btw 1k – 2k, and replacing the soil is an expensive and daunting thought. FYI I am in New Zealand.

      • John Harrison says:

        It’s heartbreaking apart from expensive. The manufacturer assured us it was safe to eat produce and looking at how it works they’re most probably right but I don’t trust these multi-national, global chemical companies to tell the truth. They’ve massive amounts of money at stake. If you read my article on glyphosate you’ll see some of the lengths Monsanto have gone to.
        If you rotavate or fork over your aminopyralid contaminated soil every couple of weeks through the summer the microbial action should break it down enabling you to grow in it next season.

  65. Georgina says:

    I tried to get my usual manure, but couldn’t and ended up at B&Q, which was open last week. Planted all my carefully grown from seed plants in a mix of my usual peat free compost and this new bag of manure Verve soil improving manure. Everything was dead within two days! I managed to rescue one courgette plant, which is struggling on. I’ve lost all the specialist tomato varieties and cucumbers. I’m so upset that this is still even a thing in 2020. I aim to try and get it tested and reported, but I can see that reporting it to B&Q will be a waste of energy. I tried to leave a review, but the B&Q website just whirled away.

  66. Vanessa Taylor says:

    Hi Georgina
    I am really sorry to hear about your plant loss. It’s so disheartening after all the love and care we put into raising plants.
    I have suffered from the amino pyralid problem, but it took quite a time before it showed itself. My broad beans were at least 18” high when they started to look deformed. Are you sure it isn’t that you have put them in too strong a mix – ie too much manure. It could have caused your plants to die because it can have a burning effect on tender plant roots. I would dig them all up, wash them off to the bare roots and then plant into a normal plant compost. You might save some of them. Good luck. I am now growing in the polluted compost and everything is fine. I had too much to throw away – a 13.6” raised bed x 4’ and two scaffold boards high. I left it for a year and as it was full of worms they seemed to sort it out.

    • Barney says:

      Hi Vanessa, I have also suffered from aminopyralid this year. From local manure AND Westland tomato compost! It has affected every bed of my allotment, and my polytunnel. I’m just wondering how you got rid of it, and how long it took? I can’t afford to remove it/replace it. Had the allotment since April 2019 – building and filling the raised beds cost a lot, and now I’m worried it’s ruined for the next few years.

  67. Vanessa Taylor says:

    Hi Barney
    I am so sorry, you have my condolences!
    I too have raised beds on my allotment – 17 to be precise, but luckily only two were affected. I think mine came in from hay which I had used as a layer in permaculture beds.
    There is nothing you can do I am afraid except wait it out. After the broad beans I grew I left it fallow until the following year and then planted carrots. Keep away from broad leaf plants. Your biggest help will be worms, because they will process the compost/soil quicker than anything.
    Good luck, keep the faith and try and convince as many people as you can not to use the sh…. they put on our land and crops. Why can’t they see its killing us all slowly.
    I would suggest from time to time over the next few months taking a pot full of your beds compost and sowing a broad bean to test the rate of contamination.
    I did that before sowing the crop of carrots, and it seemed to work for me. My beds are all fine now, although it leaves you feeling contaminated, it does get better with time.

    All the best

  68. John Harrison says:

    You may find this article of some help
    What to do if you have Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure

  69. Gail Medcalf says:

    Over last winter I dug a trailer load of manure into my raised beds and open ground, the same farmer delivers every year to the allotment and there has never been a problem until now. My potatoes ,indoor and outdoor tomatoes, beans, Dalia flowers etc have all curled hard distorted growth on them, I have never seen anything like this in my 13 years of gardening my allotment, utterly devastating.

  70. RoseW says:

    Hi all,

    Its now 2021 and we have more of a problem with persistent herbicides than almost 10yrs ago when the above article was written.

    Its not just aminopyralid that is the culprit for contaminated manure fertilizer – clopyralid is also used as widely, certainly in europe.

    I have a 7yr old manure pile that obviously is fully rotten down and will kill any plant. I also have a manure pile that has manure from animals eating aminopyralid sprayed hay and another batch of hay sprayed with clopyralid in the same pile – this manure i spread (unknowingly at the time) on a re-seeded grass field to grow hay.
    None of the grass went to seed that year after being doused in aminopyralid and clopyralid contaminated manure. Not one single strand of grass went to seed! This is just grass….the stuff its NOT meant to kill!
    Yet when these persistent hormone herbicides are mixed, even grass growth is badly affected.
    Its year 2 now and i have 2 species of grass that are not showing heads in that field.
    It was just a light few mm scattering of manure the field got, and even after 1 year the growth of that grass going to seed is inhibited.

    Suppliers of manure dont know whats in their manure. The piles are from vrious farms and yards, all of which are produced by animals being fed herbicide sprayed hay, using VARIOUS persistent hormone-destroying herbicide chemicals.

    You think its just aminopyralid…there’s around 5 chemicals similar, commonly used worldwide. These all get mixed together to form a ‘super concentrated mixed hormone herbicide fertiliser’ – an oxymoron – as you cant grow even grass with this manure!

    Year 2 of veg growth since contamination and i have plants suffering this year still. Soil has been thoroughly mixed, and all that was applied was an inch covering last year on the beds.

    This is a dire situation thats escalating.

    There is even a company who have organic symbol on their bagged manure sold in my country – who i emailed asking where they get all the organic horse manure from – and they told me they collect manure from 30 local horse yards….and as an aside said they try to tell the yards to feed organic hay!
    Im an equestrian and there’s no way horse owners take feed advice from the guy collecting the manure pile! Also, i know, because ive tried for 8 yrs, that there’s hardly any organic hay produced in this country, and horse yards certainly wont pay the extra expense for organic hay when the ‘regular farmed stuff’ locally is much cheaper.
    So he’s got organic symbol on this product and its a fraud. The horse manure is NOT from organic hay so the manure should NOT be accredited.

    The only solution is to sue the herbicide makers for lack of informed use of their products.
    The manure producers get manure from all over, they dont know what the hay was sprayed with, its up to the person spraying the crop to advise the buyers not to compost the manure! So sue the people who produce the hay!

    On a very popular horse forum ive asked people if theyve ever been told by their hay supplier not to compost their manure – not 1 person said they have ever been told this in decades of buying hay for their horses.
    The labels on the herbicides state users must inform buyers to not compost their manure from the hay.

    So the liability rests with the users of the herbicides. The hay farmers.
    No other law suit would hold up in court if you take the manure producers to court.
    Suing the producers of the herbicides is possible as they have done their own studies so they know just 1 ppb of their sprays kill crops. But then they re-designed their label to warn farmers to tell buyers of their hay to not compost the hay., as insurance against being sued directly.
    Farmers dont read the labels fully, just dilute as theyve always done, and spray. Theyre ignorant of the true cost of their actions destroying thousands of acres of crops.

    I personally have dealt with contamination crop problems for 8 yrs while TRYING to grow organic crops. Ive lost thousands upon thousands in income, and my eyes are wide open now regarding conventional farming practices.

    Its taken 4 months for a major hay producer of the uk to tell me what herbicides they spray in their hay fields. They are all resistant to even admit they use these super-herbicide-endocrine-disrupting chemicals!

    The only way is to buy organic. Always. Close the loop so that no non-organic herbicide sprayed produce make it into your allotment/farm.

    This stuff is so powerful…these herbicides….ive even mulched potatoes with the hay for them to start to turn yellow and remain miniature tiny plants slowly dying.

    If we dont promote organic farming the entire soil of the worlds crops will continue to have this problem.

    What truly amazes me though- is there’s hardly any discussion or studies regarding these endocrine disrupting herbicides and the link with endocrine imbalances in animals and humans.
    Its the elephant in the room no-one will admit is there!
    Do you realise there’s over 50% of horses these days with diabetes/pituitary/thyroid/metabolic endocrine problems, young and old animals?! Cushing disease has sky-rocketed so has diabetes in horses these past 15yrs since this class of endocrine disrupting herbicies lacing all the hay they eat have become more commonly produced.

    Organic 100% is the only way out of this mess.

  71. Carol says:

    So here we are now in 2023 and my plot is contaminated with aminopyralid from bags of Levington’s Peat Free Organic Blend Farmyard Manure.

    I was fairly new to growing when I first read John’s post all those years ago and I remember the concern and anger in the forum chat and I decided I wouldn’t use manure from then onwards. When our Allotment Association started bulk buying the bags of Levington’s manure I was sure that was a safe option, it was an “organic blend” after all.

    How can we still be dealing with this noxious poison finding it’s way onto our allotments and damaging our food crops 15 years later? Why are Corteva/Dow still laughing all the way to the bank?

Leave a Comment Here on What to do if you have Aminopyralid Contaminated Manure

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


July 2024

What to do now on your plot!

Monthly Free Newsletter

Allotment Photo History

Our Books – A Growing Offer!

Our bestselling books for growing success!
More Information


Allotment & Garden Online Planning

Free Trial - Allotment Planner
Personal Planting Updates & Tips
by email twice a month
Allotment Garden Planning Software