Transition Whatcom


 Solutions, Trials, & Ideas for Ecological Restorations :


*  * Each Site Location & Circumstance will be Unique

       and may Require Different Solutions for healing of the soil & waters.


Focus One: Herbicidal Contamination- Aminopyralid   (June-March 2011)


Our solution oriented discussion will organize helpful information & links, and encourage us to share experiences & solutions, so that plans & decisions can be made to protect & heal the health of our lands, waters, & our community.


SOLUTION OPTIONS:  to heal our soil & water from aminopyralid toxicity: (each locations needs are different!)

*   * Create a healthy population of soil microrganisms to break the toxins down.

*  * Rotating edible crops off of effected area and Using Cover Crops &

          bioremediation to pull out the toxins, then locating condensed toxins

           to another locations (firepit or toxic dump).

*  * Using mushroom (mycelium) trials for bioremediation & mycorestoration

       to break down the toxins on site into less harmful chemical compounds.

*  *  Applying healthy Microbial Compost Teas & Biodynamic Preperations &

        & BioChar .

*  *  Removing effected garden soil and  relocating to another site.

             (unknown if this would later result in leaching into water table).

 *  *  Waiting & Observing  effected area to learn what nature's first steps of healing will be, and creating a base line area to compare other trials to.




**  Eliminating bringing onto site any future contaminated soils, compost, manures, straw/hay, etc., including unknown sources of organic matter that may have been treated with chemicals.

* *  Pre-Test your OM sources:  

             * Do a bioassay on soil before growing crops.

              *  Make an infusion of tea from potential OM (organic matter) 

                 & do a trial before accepting any OM onto your land.

        quote: “... if anyone wants to do their own tests, this is the way I made my infusion:  "Place two large hand fulls of hay to be tested into a large glass bowl or jar. (or other material to be tested). Boil some water and pour over the hay. Stir it and get it under the water. Let it infuse for 8 or so hours. Strain. Use this to water your test seeds/starts. I kept mine in a jar in the fridge other wise it will ferment. Maybe that isn't a problem, I'm just trying to keep the variables to a minimum.
Make sure to use soil that isn't suspect for herbicide. Keep everything else the same, same seeds, same size pots, same location etc...Peas grow fast.
” endquote - Thanks to Angela M for sharing above directions!:


*** This discussion is currently under 'construction' and more will be added later - please share your results & resources.***


I encourage us all to share both our successes & the test trials we have planned. I've listed some of the current solutions, and compiled many of the links & info that have already been shared since the June posting of Farmer Walter's blog alerting us to this challenge.



 "Peak Phosphorus and the Aminopyralid Problem" – Sept 2010


  *    I will post more info to the text of this discussion as time allow *  

*     *     *     *     *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


'Resource Books/Links: Ecological Restoration (Mycoremediation & Fungal Bioremediation)”


In 2010 Whatcom County & Bellingham's growers of vegetables (ie. non grass family plants that herbicides are targeted to harm), have experienced unexpected damage from the herbicide Aminopyralid that was spread through dairy manure-compost applied to soils & greenhouses.

. (Location: temperate climate of Cascadia bioregion- 48-49 degree N. latitude).


Over the past few years, other regions & countries have also experienced this challenge with the same chemical – Amnopyralid and with some earlier herbicides.


The chemical Aminpyalid, has been manufactored by Dow AgroScience and also goes by many other names & slightly different chemical combinations ( Banish, Forefront, Halcyon, Pharaoh, Pro-Banish, Runway, Synero, Upfront, and more).


Although there are many good people researching this topic, the solutions are not applicable to all sites or situations.


Many of us understand that our American funded University Agricultural Extension Service (with a history of being funded by chemical corporations), has provided some information on this challenge, and we look forward to learning more from their best scientist....

And we understand this might take a longer time than what many of us are able to wait for while growing our food and stabilizing our regions food security.

Links: _ _ _ _ _ _


This Earth Garden discussion can organize & collect the ideas & resources we have to share (including those from our earlier TW discussions.)


The first & most local active discussion is now at Farmer Walter's Blog, which also contains more reference links.



NY Dept Environmental Conservation (Division of Solid & Hazardous Materials) in 2007 “could not ensure that the labeled use of aminopyralid would not negatively impact groundwater resources”


Website from Dow who manufactors aminopyralid herbicide:

More links to follow as time allows!


October 2010 Resource Addition:


Herbicides in Compost” - WSDA fact sheet regarding issue of commercial & dairy compost containing damaging effects from herbicide residues as recently been released:


*         *         *            *           *                       *                        *                          *

Phytoremediation has been suggested in the past as a solution.  Weed scientist Tim does not think this herbicide is broken down by sunlight, as the research on similiar herbicide shows it is not broken down by sunlight.  Scientist Colleen has shared that the main way it is broken down is by the microrganisms in the soil.



Resources: Mycoremediation & Fungal Bioremediation

"Biochar and sequestration of toxics” – By Richard Haard -

Aminopyralid Remediation  (JC's forum):

Past WM Response team group-

Aminopyralid & Phosphorus Post per Farmer Walter & Horticulturist Alison -!topic/whatcomfarmers/...

*             *                *                  *                    *

Soils & Waters:  Mycoremediation, Compost & Teas, Fungal Bioremediation')

Views: 1133

Replies to This Discussion

Thank you Heather!!! We need all this info, unfortunately.
Dow Chemical Company has said in many places that soil microorganisms break down aminopyralid. And that residues in manure will break down faster if incorporated into soil by rototilling or frequent turning of the soil.
2 to 9 years are the numbers I've seen.

The aminopyralid breaks down under aerobic conditions, not anerobic conditions. Also, the chemical is taken up by plants. When they die, the soil microorganisms, which live on organic matter in the soil, can then then break down the plant and the chemical. If you eat these plants, most of the aminopyralid will pass through you. If you poo into the sewer system, the chemical will end up in the anerobic Bellingham Bay where it is likely to remain viable for years without breaking down.

When aminopyralid breaks down, it divides into two compounds. One shows promise for its weight loss properties and has patents applied for. The EPA did not require Dow to test these compounds so it is not known if they break down farther or not nor what happens to them in the soil.

The question becomes, how does one build up mega amounts of soil bacteria? Probably leaf mulch would be a good source of food for the bacteria and fall is coming. One could test tilling in as much organic matter as possible this fall and leave it over the winter to feed bacteria.

Heather's cover crop idea is a good one too, planting a cover crop, then harvesting and destroying it somehow. It then would be off site or concentrated rather than broken down.
"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."
~Thomas Jefferson

Prevention Addition #3 - Farmers educating farmers on how to get along without herbicides & costly manufactored ag chemicals & without dependence on GMO seeds;
Citizens educating citizens on how to create a localized living democracy that can halt future corporate sales & useage of chemicals that are unsafe for the peoples soils, water, and children;
Youth & elders learning together that personal integrity & love of earth & community is more important then earning a US dollar.

Thanks Walter & Merry for sharing your wisdom!
I spoke with Alison from Sound Horticulture on the phone yesterday. Exciting to hear what she has brewing up in her magical aerobic & biologically active brain & compost tea visions!
I'll look forward to her sharing another time, here on TW, or on CLSR website or Shannnon's Garden E-News.

Megan Westgate said:
Thank you Heather!!! We need all this info, unfortunately.
“Herbicides in Compost” - WSDA fact sheet regarding issue of commercial & dairy compost containing damaging effects from herbicide residues as recently been released:

some quotes from the fact sheet:

“....However, EPA has not tested or established tolerances for the use of these herbicides on most vegetable crops. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration prohibits the sale of any produce containing herbicide residues without an established tolerance.

“Herbicides containing aminopyralid and clopyralid can be used on certain grains, grass and other feed crops. Once harvested, these commodities, and subsequent food products such as milk and meats, may legally contain residues of the herbicides.

“How do I clean up my garden if damaged by herbicides?......
" determine that your soil has been impacted by the herbicide residues, there are several ways to mitigate the problem. If it is a very small area, remove the soil and spread it on grass or pasture areas that will not be harvested as feed. For larger areas or large quantities of soil, add more soil to reduce the ratio of compost/manure to soil, reducing the exposure and concentration in the area. The soil you add will contain microorganisms which are the best avenue to break down these herbicides. The longer they have to work and the greater the number of microorganisms that are present (healthy soil) compared to the compost ratio, the faster the herbicide will break down. …..

“How do I avoid this happening to my garden in the future?
If you use manure or manure-derived compost products in your garden, be diligent in asking your supplier what kinds of herbicides were used to produce feed for their animals. If they use products that contain aminopyralid or clopyralid in the production of their crops, do not buy or use their manure. Composters should consider performing bioassays as recommended by WSU Extension to assure consumers that their compost does not contain damaging levels of herbicides.

“Because of the spotlight on this problem this year, many Whatcom County dairy farmers have said they will no longer use these long-lasting residual herbicides if they distribute manure off site. This should reduce potential compost problems in the future. Also, some growers are using self-contained operations, relying on compost produced from their own farm’s crop wastes, rather than bringing in manure that may have suspect ingredients. …..

WSDA is discussing solutions to the problem with feed and hay growers, dairy farmers, composters and other regulators. Investigations are still ongoing to determine the extent of this issue..... "
- endquote -

For full fact sheet & list of Washington state regulatory contacts go to the website.

Walter & Richard, I'll be adding in your blog links to this Solution oriented discusion that was started last year.

Would you be willing to look over these solution options and see if I've missed anything?  If you send me an email,  I'll edit after I get your feedback.  Thanks!

Hi Heather

Surprised grosafe option was left out. Is standard for pesticide spill cleanup for many years. Substituting your own biochar may not work. Depends on chemistry of formation. Check references on my poster.


Before moving ahead a simple screening test is good idea to determine if you indeed have a problem after overwintering. suggest modeling after my soil screening test using radish or mustard seed.

Bio Char & Terra Preta! -Terra Preta- Secrets Of El Dorado - YouTube Video Series (especially see #VI


 Lets build back up our lost biochar info & share resources.  We lost much of our posted info on TW when one of our favorite wise neighbors left the site a year ago ;-) and everything he posted left too...glad he's back!!  Links below, including a video series posted above.


Herbicide Inactivation with BioChar – Compared to Activated Carbon (AC)”- Richard Haard


Biochar and sequestration of toxins - Richard Haard-


Gardening with Bio-Char -


Locals I'm aware of working with incorporating biochar into their soils are Brian K, Alison, Larry W, Richard H, & myself!


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