Killer manure


And not in a good way. Contaminated manure in Britain has not only killed the vegetables it was meant to nourish, the owners of the allotment plots where it was used cannot replant in the affected soil for a year.

A U.S. company, Dow, is responsible for putting an herbicide on the market, aminopyralid, whose deadly power is strong enough to persevere after having passed through a cows’s digestive system and sat around on a stable floor and in piles for months. It’s killed, damaged, and deformed vegetable crops across Britain, but scientists are not sure if it would be unsafe to eat the veggies. The cows aren’t affected by it, apparently.

The herbicide is useful because it kills weeds without affecting the grass around them. A ban has been called for, but as far as I could research, has not been instituted, though Dow is issuing warnings about the product.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at


  1. Yet another argument for at-home composting, I guess.

    How sad that even though one is forking over hard-earned dollars for what amounts to a bag of “you-know-what”, it’s not possible to have confidence in the contents thereof.

    Shame on you Dow for continuing to produce and sell such toxins.


  2. And yet another reason not to look at organic gardening through compost colored glasses.
    The trend here is LOCAL LOCAL LOCAL. Know where you food is grown and what is coming out the rear end of animals providing us with so called NATURAL compost.

    If you don’t know where you cow manure is coming from along with why the cauliflower is blue


    The (Old McDonald has my farm) TROLL

  3. Cows are grazing fields treated with this stuff?

    Horrible. I’m sticking with my friend Katie’s organic beef and Battenkill Farms milk right down the road from me.

  4. Hi Elizabeth, I read about this on an English friend’s garden blog. It is a problem of horrific proportions. They are having to remove the top layer of soil from many of their allotments. For many gardeners, their entire year’s crop is destroyed. Just think, without blogging, we probably wouldn’t have heard of this across the pond.

    Rock on, blogger friend.~~Dee

  5. Thanks Dee! Though, actually I’m kinda old school. I usually search on Lexis/Nexis for interesting garden stuff. I have to have a reputable newspaper source, like The Guardian in this case.

    And then I have to search Garden Rant to make sure one of my colleagues has not already written about it!

  6. Well, Greg, I would imagine that much of this contaminated manure could be coming from a formerly trusted local farm. There is no reason these gardeners would know or be told that their farmer friends are using this stuff. Now they know, of course.

    This was very widespread and I am sure many of the sources were local (I will limit myself to one use of the term).

  7. The herbicide can creep in under cover of seemingly innocent endeavors and often there are several stops between herbicide treatment and compost. I know that was the case with the clopyralid problems in Washington’s compost. Local suppliers and local users all paid the consequences.

    I can not possibly create enough compost at home for my needs. I have to buy extra elsewhere. My source is local (2 miles away) and it is tested regularly by Metro but they don’t test for everything. That’s physically and financially impossible to do. I cross my fingers and hope there’s nothing evil lurking below the surface. So far, so good.

  8. The cows aren’t affected by it? I doubt that. It might not show up right away, but anything that toxic is going to do SOMEthing to the cows. Ugh.

  9. The farmer may even be unaware this stuff is getting into his cows. It could have been sprayed on the hayfields before it was harvested and/or the grain the cattle are fed. It really does make you stop and wonder. We know the cows aren’t getting growth hormones because that’s something the farmer gives the cattle directly, but who knows what’s getting into the feed they eat. Yikes!

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