Question of the Week
My soil was contaminated with an herbicide after I applied composted manure from animals that ate sprayed hay, and it’s stunting my crops. How can I remediate the contamination?
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Answer: You’ll want to create conditions favorable to microbes (mostly fungi and bacteria) in order to break down the herbicide. The conditions that will favor microbes are moist and relatively warm, and perhaps diluting the contaminated organic matter with uncontaminated organic matter (“clean” leaves, grass clippings, and even manure). Also, keep the area well-aerated so the microbes have plenty of oxygen to thrive and break down the herbicide.
Another option is to apply several applications of compost tea (made from uncontaminated compost), and add some soil to help remediate the contaminated compost.
For more information, consult the following resources:
Notes on Compost Teas, ATTRA
Herbicide Carryover in Hay, Manure, Compost, and Grass Clippings, North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Recommendations for Accelerated Remediation of Persistent Herbicides, Green Mountain Compost