Monday, June 16

Dodgy Muck! RHS information

Whilst browsing the web for information about problem manure, (see earlier posts), I came across a request on the RHS blog, (click here to view), asking anyone who had felt that they had suffered crop damage due to using contaminated manure to email them. I did this and pointed them to the photos on this blog. I very quickly received a reply confirming that the potato distortion was classic hormone type weedkiller damage. They went on to say that in the last two years a new herbicide has been introduced which binds to the lignin in straw and grass, so that when the muck rots it is released and harms crops. The RHS think this new herbicide is implicated in many of the cases that they have encountered– read more here:
The label of the herbicide specifically states that manure from beasts fed or bedded on treated crops should not be used for horticultural crops – so something has badly slipped. The Pesticide Safety Directorate is on the case.

They go on to say that the weedkiller in the soil should dissipate by next year, but in stacks of contaminated manure it may take two or more years to decay. Any left-over manure should be returned to sender if possible for spreading on grass or corn. The RHS Press Office is to issue a press release shortly and also information about the problem will be placed on the RHS website - click here to view. Thanks to the RHS for their speedy response.
The damage so far on our plots appears to be to potatoes (although some runner beans in the offending area on our plot appear to be suffering), and it is patchy i.e. not all land where the manure was spread has affected potatoes as yet. Click here to view photos of affected potatoes. Some of us have noted that the damaged crops are growing on the piece of land where the manure was stacked and wonder if this means that the rain has washed the substance through the stack so that the concentration in this area is heavier than elsewhere.
This has really knocked our confidence in using more manure. The farmer supplying manure won't necessarily know what herbicide has been used of the sileage or bedding that he buys so how would we be able to ensure that we didn't fall victim to dodgy muck again? Please let us know if you have suffered something similar by posting a comment.


  1. Several plots on our allotment, Barrsbrook Farm Allotment in Chertsey Surrey, are showing signs of the same damage. The info on your site is really helpful so thanks for what you've done. We've never used any manure on our plot but both my neighbours' potato crops are showing ever-growing patches of disfigured leaf growth. But just because we haven't used manure it seems we might not have escaped it's effect. Over the weekend I noticed that 2 or 3 of brussels plants looked to have the same disfigurement today another 2. Earlier on in the year most of the allotment went under water for a while during heavy rain and I now think that there's every possibility that this pernicious herbicide has leached out of our neighbours' spread manure and migrated onto our plot.
    I met the” manure man” on saturday as he was bringing more onto the site and was astonished that, even though he knew it was contaminated, he was still bringing it onto site. He told me that they knew there was a problem with it last year when his daughter's potato crop failed after using the manure from his stables. I've got to say also that I'm really surprised at how un-angry and defeated the people are that are watching their crops wither. “Manure man” went off with his load still on board and I’ve asked him to remove what’s left in the bays. For myself I'm incensed at the short-sighted, profit-driven aggro-chemists who have devised such a dangerous product and think that they're absolved because there's warnings on the label. What do they think farms and stables are going to do with the contaminated shite? Just pile it up in their yards for years? Of course not and there's no guarantee now that any manure or commercially supplied compost isn't contaminated. Dow have opened Pandora's box and we'll all end up reaping a bitter harvest. The product needs to be withdrawn immediately and Dow need to come up with a workable solution. I don't think spreading contaminated manure over grass is a good idea, especially if the grass area is prone to flooding or will be cropped for hay. Is it on the straw I use for me strawberries? What happens if the straw is burnt – is it residual in the ash? Is it time for bed? yes it is.

  2. retropantsJuly 21, 2008

    AT least one plot is reporting contamination at Bushy Park Allotments in Hampton, Middlesex. I do not have any other info at this stage I'm afraid. Sorry this is a bit vague, but it's all I have. Hopefully will find out more soon.

  3. Several plots at Derrys Fields in Woking are suffering.
    Thanks for the info.


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