Thursday, July 31

Map of areas affected with contaminated manure

A map click here has been posted on the web site showing the areas where people who have reported having been affected with contaminated manure to us are based.
If you are affected and your area isn't represented on the map let us know. Email us your location and a little about how you have been affected and we will add you to our list of victims click here too!

Tuesday, July 29

July diary is complete

The latest photographs were taken on July 27 2008 - July like June has been a bit of a disappointment. During the last full weekend of July the weather seemed to remember that it was summer and sent the sun out with a vengeance. Having not had previous good weather to enable our bodies to acclimatise for many it was too hot to venture out from shade. The above photos provide testimony to that as plots are desserted. Despite the weather we are beginning to reap the benefits of our labours, that is those of us who haven't had our crops devastated by the manure problem. Some of the crops affected earlier are starting to show signs of recovery, however others are just a lost cause and others are beginning to show signs of distress. It's been a bit of a disappointing season all round really.
Still good weather on the 29th so maybe summer has come at last! Click here for July diary page.

So what do the farmers have to say?

Try reading these forums to have a real eye opener as to what some farmers think about us (the organic brigade?) and chemical use in general!
Click here and here and here
Just in case any farmers are reading this - it isn't just a knee jerk reacton about chemicals and whether they are safe for us or not. It is the fact that our crops are dying! DOW and the PSD accept that there is a problem too. So it's not just the allotment lot as some farmers seem to see us!!

I think some have missed the point completely - one posting asks haven't people nothing better to moan about at least they won't get docks in their carrots - not true the weeds are thriving it will be a case of no carrots in our docks!
Also it quotes that a group of people are trying to ban aminopyralid due to health concerns - some may be but the biggest concern for others is that crops are being killed or stunted by the contamination - even if the chemical is considered safe to humans.
One person admits to not reading labels and another says they are sure Forefront residue only lasts for six weeks - worrying eh?

I hope that these views are not representative of the farming community and would be interested to find out what other farmers think! Why not post a comment here?

Monday, July 28

Revamp of blog

The size of the main page of the blog was becoming very long and so I have reduced the number of posts on the main page, hopefully this will speed up the load time. No posts have been deleted - they are still available in the archive list on the sidebar. You can also use the Google Search facility (at the top and bottom of the page) to find past postings. Choose and make sure that you enable pop-ups. Just type in your search words.
Please let me know if you find the load time acceptable - if not I will reduce the size further.

Sunday, July 27

Aminopyralid - PSD Update

Quote from part of latest PSD regulatory update:
PSD has already confirmed that using manure, which may contain residues of aminopyralid, does not have implications for human health. However, in response to the concerns of allotment holders and leisure gardeners about damage believed to result from these residues, PSD has been in contact with Dow AgroSciences Limited, the approval holder and data owner for the majority of aminopyralid products approved in the UK. Dow AgroSciences have asked for their approvals to be modified whilst the situation is under investigation.
PSD has accepted this and amended the
approval of all products containing aminopyralid to suspend the approval for sale, supply, and use with immediate effect whilst further investigations are undertaken.

Storage is unaffected and it remains legal and safe for these products to be stored by anyone.

I think that this confirms the posting that did warn that this was a temporary withdrawal, otherwise why recommend storage!

Full update can be accessed by clicking here

Saturday, July 26

It isn't just the plants that are being affected by dodgy manure!

Alastair was on hand to snap:

The chimera of Green Lane?

A particularly unpleasant eviction?

Good job the women are unaffected or are they?

Thursday, July 24

Allotments' Officer visit

The council allotments' officer spent an hour on site today during which time:
  • He carried out a plot inspection where he raised one or two issues which will be passed on to the appropriate people.
  • He also visited plots that have entered the allotments' competition. (Good luck to them!)
  • He inspected the new pedestrian gate following some concerns that we have about its installation.
  • He has promised that the skip will be removed tomorrow and that another skip will be delivered on site next Friday.
  • He also gave us some more spare padlocks to ensure that we have a good supply and can keep the gates fully secured.
Thanks to Compostwoman for giving us this award. I'd like to thank my ... No I won't go through all that. Compostwoman's blog can be visited by clicking here. Compostwoman is one of the group of bloggers who have helped spread the news and offer advice on the current aminopyralid situation.
The rules are that I have now to be on the look-out for 7 favourite blogs to pass on the award to - so watch this space!

Not the time for complaisance!

At this point aminopyralid products have been withdrawn by the manufacturer only on a temporary basis, however it needs to be appreciated that herbicides that contain this ingredient will have been used already this year. According to available information the herbicides used this year could be affecting our supply of manure for at least two more years and probably for longer than that depending on how manure is stored prior to distribution. It is therefore, crucial that you only buy your manure from trusted sources - that is from sources who know exactly what has been used on the product from the very beginning of the chain of supply.

Wednesday, July 23

DOW withdrawing products containing aminopyralid!

Below is a copy of part of an email from PSD - Information Services to MEP Nigel Farage!

"Dow have now indicated that they are withdrawing products which contain aminopyralid from sale and PSD is formally suspending their authorisations whilst we investigate the options for preventing arecurrence of this problem. A key issue in our consideration will bewhether the conditions of use regarding manure are sufficient, or sufficiently well known".

Monday, July 21

July's diary has been updated

This week when we haven't been dodging the showers we have been battered by the strong winds. It couldn't really be worse for the taller plants especially our cardoons that are really taking a battering. Flowers also seem to be slow to get going - probably due to an extreme lack of heat warmth and sunshine. They must think that they have got up too early! According to the weather forecast this week is set to improve but then again I have heard that one before!

One thing that never seems to fail to produce masses of fruit (honestly they are fruits!) are the courgettes and this year seems to be no exception. So it is searching recipes for something different to do with them. No wonder there are recipe books devoted to courgettes. Anyone tried courgette jam? Click here for July's diary.

Sunday, July 20

Complaints to the Pesticide safety Directorate

In a Parliamentary question from Paul Burstow MP:
How many incidents the Pesticides Safety Directorate has recorded regarding manure contaminated by aminopyralid in the last 12 months?

The following answer was given:
Mr. Woolas: The first inquiry relating to the potential effects of aminopyralid in manure was received by the Pesticides Safety Directorate’s helpline on 12 March 2008. Around 70 inquiries had been received up to 9 July 2008, primarily from amateur gardeners and allotment holders. It is not known how many reports of damage to crops are attributable to aminopyralid.

This seems to be a very low number when compared to the information that we have received about how many people suspect that they have been affected. Some reports such as ours have been made on behalf of a whole group of allotments. I don't know whether reports to DOW are counted in this figure. The PSD website may put you off making a report directly to them as it seems to imply that you need to trace back your source before contacting DOW for advice. Tracing the source and proving contamination of your manure supply is often impossible. Where you have strong circumstantial evidence i.e. symptoms match those described or the RHS have confirmed and you have applied a manure product then it would help the PSD to acquire the full picture. To email PSD

You may also wish to involve your MP and/or MEP in your problem. If you do not know their contact you can acquire this infomation from the Write to Them web site click here You don't need to be personally affected to register your concern. The more people that we can have working on a resolution to prevent a reoccurrence of this problem the better!

Friday, July 18


An e-petition regarding the use of aminopyralid has been posted on the web at
You may wish to take a look

Tuesday, July 15

Allotments are a grey area?

And we thought we were a green area.
Eileen - one of our visitors from Surrey - wrote to the PSD and this was just part of the response that she received:
From a regulatory point of view, the law is not particularly clear about the supply of farmyard and stable manure to allotments and gardeners. The disposal of farmyard manure is covered by agricultural waste regulations, which are administered by the Environment Agency. However, where manure is used on agricultural land, it is not treated as waste, and although allotments are not agricultural land, the manure is being used for a similar purpose, so this is something of a grey area. On the other hand, manure from commercial stables appears to be covered by waste management regulations, which are also administered by the Environment Agency, but, again, the supply of stable manure to allotments also appears to be something of a grey area.

It is worrying that there appears to be no-one out there looking after our interests. So does this mean that anyone can supply us with manure containing absolutely anything?

The full contants of the email are posted on the web site click on the heading Pesticide Safety Directorate actions, information and comments
The reply also cites the fact that they haven't had many suggestions that bagged commercial applications have been the cause of contamination - so if you suspect a bagged product then it is important that you let PSD and your local Trading Standards Office know. Click here for contact address

Monday, July 14

July diary has been updated

Click here to view
And the 'Dodgy Muck' saga continues

So now we are told that the crops grown in soil contaminated with 'dodgy muck' are safe to eat. Some of Mark's tomato plants are showing some signs of recovering but will he manage to get any tomatoes off them to eat?

What actions do you think the PSD should put in place to stop a recurrence of this year's (and apparently last year's) problems?

Sunday, July 13

Web back to full working order

I think

Friday, July 11

PSD Update

The Pesticide safety Directorate have issued an update today click here to read
The update gives Information about aminopyralid - by now most of this is known to us.
Safety information read this for yourself but here is one quote:
Based on reasonable worst case assumptions: that cattle are only fed grass, or silage made from grass, treated with aminopyralid; that vegetables are grown in soil mixed with manure produced from the animals; and that all the aminopyralid released from the manure is taken up into the plants; the highest residues would not be a concern for health, so vegetables should be safe to eat.
Action being taken again here is a quote:
It would appear that the label precautions concerning the use of manure may not always have been followed when manure has been supplied to allotment holders and gardeners. PSD is urgently investigating the problem. A key issue in the investigation will be whether the conditions of use regarding manure are sufficient, or sufficiently well known, to prevent a recurrence.

Is you MP getting involved?

Many of us have written to MPs and MEPs about our manure problem and many of us will have received "We are looking into it" responses or even no response at all!
Gold star to one MP - Paul Burstow MP for Sutton and Cheam who is calling for a parliamentary debate on the issue and has tabled a series of parliamentary questions. To read his questions click here
If you are an MP or MEP who is offering support or if your MP is being as proactive as Paul - then let us know and we will add them/you to our "role of honour"!
In many ways the wider implications of this problem affect us all!

Wednesday, July 9


DOW have published a web page of FAQs for allotment holders and gardeners with respect to the current problem. Click here to read.
Nothing new though!

Learning from previous mistakes?

John from Sandwell Allotments' Council sent me the following link.
U. S. Composting Council position paper on Clopyralid andf composting.
Click here to read the full report
The report is dated October 30 2001 and describes a similar situation to that being experienced by us at the moment. I quote:
"Recent incidents have revealed that the composting industry is vulnerable to contamination from a long-lasting herbicide called clopyralid. In several well-documented cases, compost products from clopyralid-containing feedstocks (including grass clippings, animal bedding, and manures) have damaged non-target crops due to the presence of clopyralid"
The report points to inadequate labeling but goes on to say that the problem doesn't "begin with nor does it end with the label". It further states that:
"Even if clopyralid applicators are provided with an unambiguous, accurate label, there would still be a long chain of communication that must be maintained among applicators, land owners, harvesters of the plant residuals, haulers and the compost facility operators. How will the applicators know how and where the plant residuals will be handled? How will the land owner know what chemical was applied and how the clippings should be managed? How will the compost facility operator know the history of the residuals delivered in the hauler's truck? As a practical matter, it would be impossible to ensure this essential chain of communication, rendering any improvements to the label ineffectual. A solution to the clopyralid-compost issues must provide for effective and continuous communications among all of the parties involved. If such communication cannot be ensured, the USCC strongly questions the appropriateness of continued uncontrolled use of clopyralid".
This is just what we have been saying with respect to our current problem. The actions recommended are too long to repeat here but the report is very readable so
click on the link and read it for yourself.

More photos of contaminated vegetables

I have added some photos, sent to me today, to add to my album. Click here to view on our web page. The symptoms have been verified by the RHS. Worryingly the source of contamination in this case is suspected to be bags of Natural Composted Stable Manure purchased from the sender's local garden centre. The manure was added to raised beds. Potatoes growing in the empty bags are even showing signs of being affected!
The chard shown above has bubbly leaves which according to the RHS at Wisley is a typical symptom of herbicide poisoning. The plants also display parallel veining which is a symptom that the RHS mentioned to me earlier.
I think we need to be making garden centres aware so that they can check their suppliers.

Monday, July 7

Strimming Party?

We're strimming in the rain
Just strimming in the rain!

Gordon Brown says, "Waste Less Food"

Both Sky and BBC News websites are inviting comments on Mr Brown's speech telling us not to waste food. I have made a comment on both sites linking this with how much food we are having to waste due to our manure problem.
Sky's moderator has accepted the comment but so far the BBC haven't. Maybe if other people joined in too it would be a way of letting the National Media take a bit of notice about what is happening to us!

July Diary

In spite of problems with manure and the weather - we still managed some time gardening. The July diary has been started click here. Below show just an occasional glimpse of summer


Just a scary thought: It's July so WHERE IS SUMMER?

Manure again - use of indicator plants

Our problem made it on to Gardeners' Question Time. They are asking for victims to make contact so it may be a good idea to drop them an email if you are a victim click here. I have and pointed them the our website. Maybe this route could help with publicity as the national media appear to be showing very little interest.
On the website I have added information about the use of indicator plants gained from a few questions to the RHS. Click here and scroll down to FAQs I have also added some additional reading links at the bottom on the web page.
Still adding information from others affected as they make contact to the web page click here Visitors to the web pages are in the hundreds daily so at least we are getting information out to some people. Please email and pester as many people as you can think of. Tell your local garden centre - supermarket - grocer etc. Visit as many blogs and forums as you can and tell them too - point them back to our website so they can access all the information that we have managed to glean.
Some of us are considering creating an e-petition. Would we get support for this?

Wednesday, July 2

Potato plants showing improvement but advice is still don't eat them!

On one or two of our plots we have noticed that our potato plants seem to be growing out of the contamination problem. There seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
I spoke to DOW and they said this sometimes happens and the potato crop can even show improvement - sounded good.
Then I spoke to the RHS - could we now confidently eat our potatoes. I am afraid this was their advice:

The residue levels will decline in time, though this process is slower in plant tissue than in the soil. Delaying harvesting from affected plants until 2009 is a sensible precaution. For annual crops such as potato, it is best not to recommend consumption.

So I asked if crops growing in the area that has been treated with manure are not showing any symptoms - is it safe to eat those. The advice from the RHS was equally bleak.

There is no way you can exclude the possibility of weedkiller being present. Although the weedkiller is not considered a toxic material and must be present in vanishingly small quantities if plants are not affected there is no data on how safe the produce is to consume. One might assume the risk to be small but without solid scientific data it would be folly to assert this with confidence.

The bottom line is we are told that risk to health is minimal but on the other hand official advice is not to eat crops growing in affected areas.