Testing For Aminopyralid in Manure

Regular readers will know that we were instrumental, along with other gardeners and gardening associations in bringing the problem of Aminopyralid contaminated manure to the public view. I’m very proud of my role in this, I think I helped to do a good thing. There’s a list of my other articles about this at the end.

In fairness to Dow AgroSciences who manufactured the stuff, they did give warnings about the dangers of it and it’s not legally their fault if the farmers didn’t read the information and act on it. Of course we all read those pages of small print when we buy some software or such like. You know, the ‘tick the terms and conditions box to confirm’ Yeah, right, we all read every word.

Anyway, as I have said before, this problem of aminopyralid will be with us for years to come. Now Dow have produced a web site to give further information on the problem and, I think, to argue their case possibly towards re-listing the product.

I have to say I find their site somewhat biased, but I suppose you can hardly expect a manufacturer of herbicides to present the organic argument! However, the EU has recently agreed to de-list 20 odd chemicals that were safe and are now apparently not, which makes you think.

Statements like “Vegetables grown with affected manure are safe to eat” to me should be “Vegetables grown with affected manure have not been proven to be harmful” OK, there’s risk in everything and it’s probably more sensible to worry about a meteor landing on our heads but why wasn’t the product originally licensed for food crops if it’s perfectly safe?

Being as I basically write for a living and I’ve been in sales, I’m really aware of the importance of how you say things. I’ve even taken to spotting the weasel words when politicians talk (How do you know a politician is lying? His lips move.) Always think ‘what are they actually saying?’

Anyway, back to Aminopyralid. On their web site, Dow AgroSciences suggest the following test for gardeners and allotment holders to check on the presence of a chemical that is remarkably hard to detect

Testing for Aminopyralid in Manure

  1. Thoroughly mix 1 part manure with 1 part multi-purpose compost in a clean bucket. Prepare enough to fill four 5-inch pots.
  2. Fill another four clean pots solely with multi-purpose compost. These will be the untreated comparisons.
  3. Place each of the pots in a separate saucer to prevent water from one pot reaching another.
  4. Water the pots and leave to stand for 24 hours.
  5. Plant each pot with four broad bean seeds.
  6. Observe subsequent growth for a four-week period and note any ill effects in the pots containing the manure mix, such as cupped leaves and fernlike growth on new shoots.

These symptoms may indicate aminopyralid residue in the manure. Signs of other kinds of damage will most likely indicate other issues such as damping off or bacteria-infected soil, etc.

I’d suggest a visit to manurematters.co.uk for Dow AgroSciences official advice. EDIT: Apparently Dow have decided not to bother giving official advice now things have calmed down. True colours?


Posted in Pests & problems
12 comments on “Testing For Aminopyralid in Manure
  1. peter h darby says:

    last year i used peat free compost from wickes and all my tomatoes withered. but i also planted some tomato pants from the same seed in wickes multi purpose peat compost with good results. i think the peat free variety may have been composted with aminopyralid contaminated vegetation.

  2. Patrick says:

    In February this year, I bought four bags of B + Q ‘Farmyard Manure Soil Improver’, and then discovered all this stuff about Aminopyralid contaminated manure.

    I contacted B + Q customer service on their web site, asking if there was any Aminopyralid in this product. They did not bother to reply.

    I did the tests as above. The edges leaves of the beans (now about 3 weeks old) grown in manure/compost are looking slightly distorted, compared with the compost only ones.

    I went back to B + Q today. B + Q ‘Farmyard Manure Soil Improver’ has been withdrawn from sale. I asked why, and no one knew. I showed them a page I had printed about Aminopyralid contaminated manure (from this web site) and they were very interested, and one asked if he could keep it.

    I got my money refunded without any problems.
    However, B + Q have NOT issued a product recall, presumably because this might mean to have to pay compensation to anyone who has lost plants by using this ‘Soil Improver’?

    BTW, Dow AgroSciences also manufacture ‘Atlas Roundup Ready® soybeans’ and many other GM crops. But of course, these are perfectly safe too, if the farmer reads the information.

  3. Gbar says:

    Hi there

    I heard about the B&Q farm yard manure and talked to them directly about this. It was not a problem with aminopyralid as they are very careful how they source their farm manure and are confident that it is clear of aminopyralid, but the present issue is about the quality and variability of the domestic green waste which is mixed with it. They are now confident that they have sorted this problem and will be selling their FYM shortly.

    How have other got on with the bean test?

  4. Tim Richardson says:

    It appears that the DOW manure matters website is currently not available. It just brings up the following: “Welcome to a test home page for a new website.
    Look forward to exciting news and events at this location.” Well I was looking forward to some useful information on Aminopyralid actually. This link is also mentioned in the current (April) The Garden RHS magazine. I assume the site has been working until now?

  5. John says:

    Hi Tim

    Thanks for pointing that out, I’ve removed the link. Luckily I copied the relevant information on testing for aminopyralid into the post above so we don’t actually need their site.

    Seems to show the level of consideration they have for us that they just whip it off now things are calmer. The cost of leaving a web site like that up would be less than £100 a year. NOTHING to a company like DOW (oops, I’d best calm down)

  6. Mark says:

    I have just found out why my spud plants look so strange … yes Aminopyralid, I purchased soil from a local
    earth moving contractor who blends his own top soil with
    horse manure.

  7. Ray says:

    I wish I’d found this site earlier.
    Have planted out most of my tomatoes and they are all affected.
    Iv’e obtained some other manure and I’m doing a test now, fingers crossed.
    Also some dahlia tubers were kept over winter in some dried compost from the previous year and have started to grow really strangely.
    I wonder if I took cuttings from these plants they would grow as normal or is it better to throw the lot and start again.
    The problem is that this manure has been on my heap for about 3 years and is spread all over the garden.

    Great website keep up the good work. Cheers Ray.

  8. freddxxy says:

    Note that today the Prime Minister’s Office confirms that aminopyralid based herbicides are to be released (with better labelling, so that’s O.K.)

  9. John says:

    I think we can call it the Madness of King George – absolute patronising piffle from the government.

    Don’t you make a pesticide with rhubarb leaves, that’s illegal. No, you get yourself a massive multi-national and you can get what you like approved.

  10. Elizabeth Houghton says:

    Amazing. I have looked through the DEFRA website without any success. Not even a whisper about aminopyralid. Only to say in a report that the stuff was used prior to 2009 and then reintroduced. Because the FARMERS wanted it. Not good enough. Perhaps a petition might change governments mind???

    • John Harrison says:

      I’m afraid a petition would have little sway against the multi-million pounds that are at risk. In fairness to the farmers, it’s a selective weedkiller that is very effective and very cheap (relatively) – you can’t blame them for using a legal product.
      The bottom line is they’re in a business and need to feed their families. We (the public) want cheap food – and we don’t give a fig for the environmental costs of producing it.
      The supermarkets squeeze and squeeze to be competitive.. I’ll now raise the red flag and start the revolution 🙂

  11. Jules says:

    Many farmers now employ farm managers and may have little idea as to what chemicals are actually being used on their farm.

    The managers will be the ones supposedly keeping records but they’re paid on results and might not stay at one farm for longer than a year

    Very few government staff employed to look at farm records

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