Tuesday, June 17

Contaminated manure continued.

The Pesticide Safety Directorate have issued a regulatory update relating to the problem that we are having which according to the RHS is as a result of spreading manure with herbicide residues. Click here to view.
Our problem seems to be worsening as more crops appear to be falling victim.
To help you try to determine whether you have been affected I have taken more photographs of what we think are affected crops. If we are unfortunate enough to have more crop victims I will add to the photos. At the moment it appears that the main victims are potatoes, tomatoes and beans, although we have a newly planted rhubarb that doesn't look to great! Please post a comment if you think you have been affected too.

Click here to view larger album
The problem has raised a lot of questions which I would be grateful if anyone reading this can help answer.

  1. The manufacturer states that any manure resulting from sileage treated with the herbicide should not be used in horticulture. How is it that this information seems to rely upon word of mouth to pass down the supply line? Or am I mistaken.
  2. If no-one can confirm that affected crops are safe to eat then why aren't the regulations regarding it's use more stringent?
  3. If no-one can confirm that affected crops are safe to eat then is the milk and meat from livestock that is fed the affected sileage safe?
  4. What effect does the herbicide residue have of beneficial insects such as bees and ladybirds - or for that matter on any insect?

If you are in the know and can answer any of my questions please use the comments area to provide us with answers. At the moment plot holders see their hard work and not insubstantial amount of money coming to nothing - we need some sort of reassurance.


  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2008

    We have problems in the West Midlands and are in touch with people in Cheltenham and Crewe who have similar problems. The attitude of our Environmental Health offices varies widely. Some seem indifferent to the situation, others interested. We are keen to go national on this with a campaign. The existing situation appals us.

    John Shobbrook
    Chair, Sandwell Allotments Council

  2. AnonymousJuly 01, 2008

    I have an allotment in Preston Lancashire.
    Myself and others are affected with this contaminated manure.
    I threw all my toms away and my pots and beans both french and runner are a disaster all of them are curled up and look like ferns.
    We all get manure from the same farmer and this seems to be the common thing that links us all with this problem.
    I have a pile I was keeping till next year, and used the same stuff on my crops this year.

  3. AnonymousJuly 05, 2008

    I decided yesterday to turn my pile of stored manure, some of which I used this year with drastic results. This manure was delivered last year.
    I found that the manure wasnt breaking down as I would have thought. There were clumps that was black & slimmy and still smelt as fresh manure. I really dont know what to do I have left it as loose as possibly and open to the rain and weather.
    This cost me £30 and I am really annouyed that I may have to get rid of it costing money again.
    Since I last wrote my beans seem to be making a recovery but at what cost to health if eaten.
    I give quite a lot of my produce to my 81 year old mother and her friend and I feel really concerned about letting them have any incase of any of this chemical is dangerous to them.
    I was told today that an allotment holder had asked the supplier of the manure about this affected manure and he was told " its not the manure its the way you garden"
    What do we do? we grow our own produce so we know what we are eating but then are not told about these chemicals being used.
    Preston allotment holder

  4. One of the main problems is that enough information isn't getting about - with respect to this problem. Except for pockets of local media no-one seems interested in our plight. On some allotments sites even people affected don't seem to be concerned!

    Your manure man's attitude isn't uncommon - other people have said just the same thing. I think even if a supplier actually realises that there is a problem them they are unlikely to accept this for fear of litigation. Wouldn't he tell you anything for instance - whether a herbicide had been used.

    The fact that manure is slimy suggests that air isn't getting in to the pile and maybe also that it has been stored for a long time at the bottom of a pile before you got it. This apparently means that the residue can stay in the manure for much longer.

    The RHS have advised not to eat anything from contaminated soil - even stuff that is recovering - this makes the decision of to eat or not to eat really difficult.

    Have you printed out some of the articles to present to your manure man. Have you spoken to your council allotments' officer - they may be helpful or not.
    A further issue is if this stuff is affected domestic gardeners is it affecting commercial growers too?

    If you are a commercial grower and have been affected let us know - use an anonymous posting.

    Like you I don't know what we do other than keep on banging our head against what appears to be a very solid brick wall until some of the bricks give way! The more of us who bang our heads then maybe the more effect we will have on loosening the bricks!!

    Find as many gardening forums that you can and join them and post messages. I have a list of those that have mentioned the manure problem on the web page. Please add any that you know about.

  5. AnonymousJuly 06, 2008

    I have an allotment in forest Town in Nottinghamshire, and my entire bed of potatoes is affected. There has been barely any growth and what growth there has been , looks just like ferns starting to uncurl. I had a look at the tubers last week( they were planted late March) and there is virtually nothing there. There are others on our site who have this problem , but mine is by far the worst case. Our manure comes from someone on the site who keeps horses, and I'm told he doesn't use pesticides, so it must be in the bedding.

  6. I have an allotment in the Royal Paddocks Allotments on the edge of Bushy Park, Teddington, Middlesex. A few dozen allotment holders are suffering from apparent herbicide poisoning, and there is little doubt it is from the manure. A fellow allotment holder was quoted in the recent Observer article. I am trying to find the full number of plots affected on our and nearby allotments, and will let you know the result if I succeed.
    Congratulations on your website and on the article on this problem - it's by far the most comprehensive I've come across.
    David Harnden
    Royal Paddocks Allotments

  7. Thanks david I have added you to the web site list of victims!

  8. AnonymousJuly 10, 2008

    Ditto all this from Coventry.
    Nice in a way to finally find the problem, assumed it was the manure was too fresh !
    Only problem is, we've been eating stuff since march (Rhubarb) and potatoes for a month, although they showed little signs if any of distortion. It is the later spuds and tomatoes, whose ground was not prepared until just before planting.
    Cheers for the great investigation, I particularly like the bit about compensation !
    Martin, Coventry.

  9. We think we may have a problem with contaminated manure that was sourced from a local stables (S35 7AT). My intention is to send some samples to the RHS who I believe can run a test. The symptoms are certainly not consistent across the area where the manure was spread and some plants are growing perfectly well – for example the broad beans which were planted out in the bed and not grown from scratch in the soil look fine. I first noticed a problem with runner beans – which were directly sown into the ground – the seed was last years and my first thought was that it was old and was therefore not geminating properly. Early leaves were distorted and rather crumpled – though plants in this area (some of which were added later now seem to be growing well.) The most damaged leaves are appearing on some Broccoli (grown by my neighbour) and the distorted appearance of these seems to echo foliage that was displayed on the allotment blog http://www.glallotments.btik.com/p_Contaminated_Manure.ikml

    Chard is also looking slightly distorted and leaf damaged (though I suppose this could be the result of the manure being too fresh).
    Wendy North
    Crane Moor, Sheffield,

  10. AnonymousMay 21, 2009

    The herbicide manure contamination is present on our plot in Norfolk. We spread a layer of manure when planting our potatoes and most are showing signs of leaf deformity

  11. Sorry to hear that anon. If you email me more information I'll add you to our victims list see
    I'm currently working on another page - a sort of summary of our experiences.
    WE are hoping that the contamination has dissipated and that we will be able to grow without problems this year but who knows.


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