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bsmith717

Composting treated grass clippings

Brandon Smith
9 years ago

I am planning a 3 bin system at my home. I hate bagging but would be happy to if I could use my clippings. See, I have a lawn company treating my lawn. They obviously use fertilizer and also herbacides for the weeds. Not sure if this is something I can, or really, should be using to compost.

I love my lawn and will not jeopardize its sppearence by ceasing applications soley to use clippings from it in my heap.

If its not able to be used what other sources of green material could I use that would be equal to the clippings in amount? Just seems like the biggest source to me.

Comments (57)

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    bsmith - your lawn can be a huge source of green material, if you want to use it. Personally, I feel the best place for those clippings is right back where they came from (mulch mow). As for other sources, one of the best is your kitchen - all produce trim plus used coffee grounds or tea leaves.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Ill keep mulching as I have always done. Actually I'm pretty happy I won't have to put the bag on the back of the Honda. What a pita!

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  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Ill keep mulching as I have always done. Actually I'm pretty happy I won't have to put the bag on the back of the Honda. What a pita!

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    It is not the insecticides that can pose the problem it is the persistent herbicides often used by commercial lawn care people.

    Here is a link that might be useful: About Toxic Compost

    This post was edited by kimmsr on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 6:31

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    kimm - the article referenced and linked focuses on the usual 3 herbicides that, at times, make their way into municipal or commercial compost streams - cloypyralid, aminopyralid and picloram. As best I know none of those are registered anymore for use in residential applications (clopyralid was, but that registration was withdrawn), and are not being used by commercial lawn are services. Currently they end up in large composting operations because of their continued use in agricultural, where both grain residues and manure from animals who fed on the contaminated products have been used in the composting process. Unless someone is violating a federal law, they shouldn't be an issue in residential grass clippings.

    This post was edited by TXEB on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 7:43

  • mulchmama
    9 years ago

    Just to be clear, soil organisms are not killed or adversely affected by lawn chemicals. I wrote my final paper on this in college soil science class in 2005. I was surprised to learn that, but after extensive interviews with university entymologists, turf professors and a soil-food-web specialist at a local arborist, I had a lot of science to back up the fact that even earthworms aren't affected.

    A soil's biodiversity can be impacted, but not to an extreme degree. What's already living in your soil should be just fine.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    MulchMama - would be interested in your opinion of the 2006 review article linked below -- excerpted from the abstract:

    We have summarised the current understanding of how agricultural inputs affect the amounts, activity, and diversity of soil organisms. Mineral fertilisers have limited direct effects, but their application can enhance soil biological activity via increases in system productivity, crop residue return, and soil organic matter. Another important indirect effect especially of N fertilisation is soil acidification, with considerable negative effects on soil organisms. Organic amendments such as manure, compost, biosolids, and humic substances provide a direct source of C for soil organisms as well as an indirect C source via increased plant growth and plant residue returns. Non-target effects of microbial inoculants appear to be small and transient. Among the pesticides, few significant effects of herbicides on soil organisms have been documented, whereas negative effects of insecticides and fungicides are more common. Copper fungicides are among the most toxic and most persistent fungicides, and their application warrants strict regulation. Quality control of organic waste products such as municipal composts and biosolids is likewise mandatory to avoid accumulation of elements that are toxic to soil organisms.

    E. K. Bunemann, et al , Australian Journal of Soil Research, 2006, 44, 379-406

    Here is a link that might be useful: Impact of agricultural inputs on soil organisms - a review

    This post was edited by TXEB on Mon, Jul 22, 13 at 13:33

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    I'm in agreement with at least some of the above posts. My take on it is:

    It's better for your lawn to mulch mow. That said, I myself bag some, particularly in spring when it's growing fast, to generate some greens to go with all the fall leaves still hanging around in piles. Either way it beats putting grass clippings at the curb, which is simply heinous IMHO.

    Herbicide treated grass clippings should not go directly in the garden as mulch, but the herbicides used nowadays on residential lawns are generally compostable.

    Finally, I try to minimize the use of both fertilizer and pesticides on the lawn.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    There's a lot of good info here. Thanks everybody!

    More discussion is necessary on this topic I believe.

  • livelydirt
    9 years ago

    bsmith, I personally don't have much lawn... mostly all converted to flowers and huge vegetable garden, but that's certainly a personal preference. You noted that you don't spray for bugs because they have a purpose. Perhaps weeds have a purpose (besides making us work more). Many of them tell us the condition of our soil.... correct the condition and the weed goes away, and you need fewer herbicides and perhaps you can get to the point of being herbicide free... and then have some "clean" clippings to compost. I personally seldom bag my clippings, preferring to leave them on the lawn to fertilize it. I also don't bring other people's clippings home any more, because I just don't know/trust what's in them.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lively Dirt - The Garden Blog

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    These herbicides have not been for sale to the average homeowner but are still available as Restricted Use Pesticides to licensed applicators so they can be used by a lawn care company on a residential lawn.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    kimm - they can only be applied in applications consistent with their registration. None of them are registered in the U.S. for residential lawn care. Clopyralid was, but it was deregistered for domestic lawn care in 2002. It is still registered for use on golf courses, but not residential. If an applicator uses any of those on residential lawns, they would be in violation of Federal law, and as licensed applicators (since they do it for hire), they know that, and they know their license would be at risk.

    edit
    Specifically, from the Lontrel (clopyralid) Turf and Ornamental Herbicide label:
    "Do not use on residential turfgrass. Turfgrass and lawn uses are restricted to non-residential sites."

    From the Tordon (pciloram) label:
    "Tordon RTU should not be applied on residential or commercial lawn or near ornamental trees and shrubs"

    This post was edited by TXEB on Tue, Jul 23, 13 at 7:08

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    LivelyDirt- I'm sure grab grass, dandelions, nutsedge, chickweed and all the other flora that to me detract from the overall aesthetics of my lawn/home have a purpose, there's just no way to argue that they are necessary to have a healthy lawn. If I could keep my lawn looking lush and weed free with some natural (non-chemical) process I'd be all over it. But I don't think that's possible.

    I'm going to call my service provider (weed man STL/bluegrass) and get a list of the products they use. I'm also going to contact Scott's (used to use them but was lured away by weed man for what sounded like the same same service but for much cheaper. Well they aren't and their customer svc also lags far behind that of Scott's. ill happily pay more for what I perceive as a better product yielding better results), to do the same and get both their opinions on composting grass clippings that have been treated with their products.

    From what I gather reading the every ones input, seems like composting with my clippings would be acceptable and cause no adverse effects with the finished results from composting?

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    TXEB, you are making assumptions that I know are invalid. These "lawn care" companies employees are supposed to wear appropriate Personal Protection when applying the products they do and yet I see them spraying lawns wearing sandals, shorts, tank tops, with no eye or lung protection. Since there is great reliance for compliance on the goodness of these companies (the feds do not have enough staff to do the job) what makes you think they will? History has shown that if not kept under strict regulation most of these companies will violate every law there is.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    kimm - your'e also making assumptions and a flawed logical extensions. The use of clopyralid on residential lawns, the ONLY pyridine carboxylic acid herbicide ever approved for residential lawn care, was banned over ten years ago. Given the widespread attention it received I seriously doubt there is any operator that has been in business over 5 years that would make such a blunder as to use clopyralid on a residential lawn. It's the only one I know of that ever showed up in composting streams that originated from residential grass clippings, and that was a decade ago.

    bsmith - as I said before, there is always a risk, and it is extremely variable depending upon what was used, when, how much, ensuing weather, and your composting operations. The primary risk is residue transfer for anything that isn't decomposed. So long as everyone is following "the rules" and good practices, the risk is quite small. Call the services, find out what they use. With a bit of literature work a better sense of risk can be developed.

    There are some newer classes of herbicides registered for use on southern grasses (Bermuda, St. Augustine, Centipede, etc.) in residential lawns that today are restricted to licensed applicators. The few I know are NOT approved for use on northern grasses (bluegrass, etc.). As far as I know, they haven't been implicated in problems with compost, but they are fairly new and not broadly used, in large part because of their cost. One example is a mixed product sold under the trademark Celsius.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Kimmsr I get what your saying but it'd be a far stretch to go from improper application apparel to using banned substances on residential lawns. Perhaps if the LCO in question were a single man gig or slightly larger and they had purchased the now banned substances in massive amounts when it was not illegal perhaps but still I'd think the fines/bad press that would result would be far more severe then the profit loss of not using it.

    I really don't want to have the "lesser of two evils" (perhaps another thread would be mote appropriate...) but what kinds of chemicals do store bought fruits/veggies contain and would gardening with compost containing treated clippings produce produce compromised in comparison?

    Really, compared to big Ag and how they farm, is this conversation worth having?

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Kimmsr I get what your saying but it'd be a far stretch to go from improper application apparel to using banned substances on residential lawns. Perhaps if the LCO in question were a single man gig or slightly larger and they had purchased the now banned substances in massive amounts when it was not illegal perhaps but still I'd think the fines/bad press that would result would be far more severe then the profit loss of not using it.

    I really don't want to have the "lesser of two evils" (perhaps another thread would be mote appropriate...) but what kinds of chemicals do store bought fruits/veggies contain and would gardening with compost containing treated clippings produce produce compromised in comparison?

    Really, compared to big Ag and how they farm, is this conversation worth having?

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    bsmith - just to be clear, the carryover issue with compost isn't, or hasn't been, contamination of the produce. It's been residual herbicides that end up killing the plants by translocation from compost to soil to plant. As best I know, that hasn't been a problem from contaminated residential grass clippings in about a decade, or nearly so. Manures, especially cattle manure, is a different matter - that continues to be an issue, as does contaminated plant residue (straw, etc.) from farmed grain products.

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    In view of the massive fines and settlement agreements for *other* FIFRA violations that appear regularly, any lawn care co. would be out of their minds to think about using banned substances. It probably happens now and then, but I doubt it's very often. Too easy to trace and have your business ruined by the feds.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Wasn't 100% sure if it was one the other or both. Thanks for clearing that up TX.

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    There have been warnings about toxic compost in the news regularly since 2000 including 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 so the issue is not decades old.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    "... so the issue is not decades old."

    kimm - did anyone, other than you in your last post say it was "decades old"? No!

    Do you read what has been previously posted? The issue is contamination of compost from residential grass clippings, not other sources.

    What was said about the timing was:
    "As best I know, that hasn't been a problem from contaminated residential grass clippings in about a decade"
    and
    "...clopyralid on a residential lawn. It's the only one I know of that ever showed up in composting streams that originated from residential grass clippings, and that was a decade ago"
    and
    "Manures, especially cattle manure, is a different matter - that continues to be an issue, as does contaminated plant residue (straw, etc.) from farmed grain products."

    Question for you kimm - when was the last time that herbicide contaminated residential grass clippings were implicated as a source of compost contamination?

  • Lloyd
    9 years ago

    Once again, it's not worth your angst TX. A few members choose to not read/comprehend all that is written. Furthermore, they take what they do read out of context and bend it around to their predetermined view point. Many have been down this road before and it's just not worth the time and effort constantly pointing out that while everyone is entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own facts.

    Lloyd

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    you're probably right, Lloyd - but the distorting the facts bit really gets me. However, I am beginning to realize that I'm wasting my time - either there is an issue here with actually reading or with comprehension.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    The LCO that handles my lawn uses Momentum, Sedgehammer and Barracade/stonewall.

    What that tells you im eagerly awaiting to see.

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    You can actually just google up the ingredients on those products and find out what is in them. Search for "momentum herbicide ingredients" for example.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    Well, I just learned something, and I'm going to have to backtrack on what I said about clopyralid not being allowed on residential lawns. It also tells me you should definitely NOT include your grass clippings in your compost.

    Momentum (Lesco product) is primarily 2,4-D, but it is traced with both clopyralid and triclopyr (link to Lesco label below). This is extremely interesting because, the manufacturer of clopyralid (Dow AgroSciences) de-registered clopyralid for residential lawns specifically because of the problems it created in municipal compost streams. In spite of that Lesco (actually now owned by John Deere), includes it in Momentum, which remains registered for use on residential lawns. Amazing (and incredibly foolish)!

    While it IS registered for use on residential turf lawns, the following restriction is noted in the instructions: "Do not use grass clippings from turf treated with this product for mulch or compost."

    Momentum herbicide also includes triclopyr, which has also been implicated in contaminated compost, but I never heard of it being used as a selective herbicide for residential turfgrass. In residential applications typically triclopyr is used as a brush killer.

    As for the others, Barricade is a pre-emergent and functions as a root inhibitor. It doesn't translocate into plants, so shouldn't be a problem.

    The other one SledgeHammer is the renaming of what was Image. It is used as a nutsedge herbicide. I've used it and it works really well. But, it is a sulfonylurea, and I would say it is an it is an unknown. It's not likely a problem given it's selectivity for sedges and extremely low application rates, but it remains an unknown.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Lesco MOMENTUM herbicide label

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Absolutely, I'm a pretty good googler but I wouldn't know if the make up of the products are less than ideal.

  • Lloyd
    9 years ago

    It's been my experience that formulations can occasionaly be adjusted over time. I'd be careful using what could be old data sheets. For example, there is this one on Momentum FX2 that is slightly different than the link TX posted. No mention of clopyralid on that one. Furthemore, nothing says that this one is even current as it appears to be dated 2006.

    Lloyd

  • Lloyd
    9 years ago

    And then there is Momentum Q with an even different formulation and date. One would need to know which product is being used.

    Lloyd

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    I just saw the longer and much more informative post you made tx, thank you for it.

    I specifically recall the manager if this business stating their product/s were made by Deere too.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    The label I linked is offered as the current product label from Lesco/Deere for Momentum. But your point is indeed valid - specifically which Momentum product is being used? There are the variations pt03 listed plus Momentum Force Weed & Feed (combined product) which has neither triclopyr nor clopyralid, but is a conventional 2,4-D + MCP + Dicamba with granular fertilizer.

    For comparison, if I did the calculation correctly, the labeled application rate of Lesco Momentum @ 2 pts per acre would produce 0.0325 lbs clopyralid per acre; Lontrel Turf & Ornamental is applied up to 1 pt or 0.375 lbs/acre, or a factor of ~ 11 greater for Lontrel than Momentum.

    bsmith - which state are you in?

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Missouri

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    Reason I asked is some states (CA, WA, OR and NY) have their own more extreme prohibitions.

    The real question is exactly which " MOMENTUM" is your applicator using?

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    I'll find out.

  • Brandon Smith
    Original Author
    9 years ago

    Momentum FX

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    Both Momentum FX and Momentum FX2 contain 2,4-D, Triclopyr, and Fluroxypyr (slightly different relative amounts) . While the label says nothing about grass clippings being used as mulch or in compost (it is expressly stated NOT to do so for Momentum Q), both triclopyr and fluroxypyr are in the same general class of herbicides as the troublesome clopyralid. For that reason, if it were me, I would just say no. I don't believe those specific herbicides have ever been found to be a problem, but they are implicated by general compound class (it's guilt by association). Again, I haven't seen any evidence of herbicide-contaminated residential grass clippings being a problem in compost in about the last 10 years. But, that doesn't mean it either hasn't or won't happen again.

    I believe the U.S. Composting Council would agree for the same reason. You might want to look at their page on the matter linked below (both triclopyr and fluroxypyr are called out as herbicides of concern because of their persistence).

    It appears that the basic Momentum I referenced earlier was quietly discontinued sometime after 2006. It is no longer available from Deere Landscapes. As best I can tell the only clopyralid-containing product offed via Deere/Lesco is Lontrel.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Persistent Herbicide FAQ

    This post was edited by TXEB on Tue, Jul 30, 13 at 18:34

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    And here's the alternative, or opposing view on triclopyr and fluroxypyr, from Dow Chemical. Dow's view is that neither triclopyr nor fluroxypyr pose any appreciable risk of herbicide carryover as they have "very little, if any, soil activity", meaning they are unlikely to be translocated from compost to soil to plant. Further they state, "Nor do they remain active when released from decaying plant tissue or manure ... unlike picloram, clopyralid and aminopyralid", meaning once absorbed by treated grass the ensuing decomposition that would occur during composting would not release active herbicide.

    Dow's statements would explain why there aren't any restrictions or warnings on herbicides like Momentum FX or Battleship III, both registered for residential turfgrass applications, for use of grass clippings in compost or mulch.

    I may need to rethink my concern about triclopyr and fluroxypyr.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Dow Chemical - Herbicide Carryover Potential

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    TX, I don't know what we'd do without you around here.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    Be more relaxed? More casual? Have more fun?

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    The veracity of companies such as Dow is greatly suspect since they are known to have lied about everything they have done since they were founded. Dow denied being responsible for dumping PCBs into the Tittabawassee River and are still fighting cleaning up that and there are other pollution problems they were responsible for they are denying and fighting cleanup requirements.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    bsmith - having looked at some more literature, I've softened my stance on both triclopyr and fluroxypyr a good bit. I think it would be fine to use your grass clippings with a few caveats - these are my views on how to manage the risk to an extremely low and what I would consider acceptable level:

    1. I wouldn't collect any grass clippings until after 4 mowing of treated grass.
    2. The composting should go through a good thermophilic phase reaching at least 135 ðF for 5 days.
    3. The compost needs to be fully cured and mature before applying it to soil.

    With those steps I would have no reservation about compost made with those clippings, provided that the herbicides were used as directed on the labels (i.e., no excesses, etc.).

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    It's quite a sweeping generalization to say that a company that size, that old with as many products as Dow has made, that they lied about *everything they've ever done.* I have no great love for chemical companies, and in fact I spend my days helping clean up their contamination. However, your objectivity is clearly suspect.

  • robertz6
    9 years ago

    I would find a neighbor that does not have a service treat his grass, and also does not spray his weeds. And use his grass and leaves, not your own.

    I have been growing tomatoes for twelve years, adding my compost to the clayish soil. And all I know is, the first four years I had way more tomatoes than the last four years.

  • Kimmsr
    9 years ago

    Having spent many years involved in efforts to get companies such as Dupont, Dow, Hooker/Occidental, Story/Ott/Cordova, and numerous others to 1. cease dumping their waste where it causes pollution, and 2. hearing company spokespersons tell us that what they were dumping on the ground would not cause the pollution it did, and 3. knowing that the same thing is still happening, BP, Exxon/Mobil, Enbridge for example, tells me these people are not to be trusted at all.
    Those that believe these companies are good, responsible citizens are the ones whose objectivity is suspect, not those of us that have been trying to make these companies clean up the messes they have made.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    Oh good grief.

  • toxcrusadr
    9 years ago

    Yeah, lets not even go there. I made my point and it's off topic anyway.

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    pt03 has been coaching me ... guess it's working.

  • Lloyd
    9 years ago

    Dupont isn't all bad.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Firefighter Protective Clothing

  • TXEB
    9 years ago

    I feel like I'm being baited ...

    nope, not going there.