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Clearing Roundup from Soil

Posted by martina83 PA (My Page) on
Tue, Jul 14, 09 at 8:42

My husband and I just bought a new house with a nice big lawn. We're planning to pull up a bunch of the grass to make room for a vegetable and flower garden. To our dismay, when we mentioned this to our neighbor, she informed us that the previous owner was an assiduous user of Roundup Weed Killer and had sprayed it over the entire lawn.

I've now read that Roundup becomes "inactivated" when it hits the soil, and so shouldn't affect the growth of our flowers. However, I'm still worried about growing edibles in soil that was treated with this stuff. Is there a specific soil test that I should request to check for this toxin or other common pesticides/herbicides? Does anyone know whether it is safe to grow food in my soil? I'm not really worried about being "certified organic" since I won't be marketing any of my veggies, but I certainly want it to be safe and nutritious for my family and any friends who would eat this food.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 14, 09 at 9:28

Anything labeled with Roundup would be a non-selective herbicide (meaning it is intended to kill just about everything it is sprayed on) so I wonder about the neighbors information. If the lawn was sprayed with Roundup, it oughta be dead.

Glyphosate products are used extensively in agriculture.

Lloyd


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Yes, one does not spray RoundUp on the lawn. Now you need to hope you can ID the chemical and go from there. You might want to pay the money and send to a decent lab and see if they can find it, but you and the fam will be skipping a dinner out if you go this route.

Dan


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

If you send your soil to a lab, the first question they are going to ask is, "What would you like to test for?"
Unfortunately, there is no catch-all test that lets you put in a sample, hit a button, watch the lights flash and wait for a strip of ticker tape to rattle out and tell you everything that is in your soil. Testing simply doesn't work that way. You have to test for a specific analyte and it will either be below detectable limits (not there, in effect) or it will tell you how much of that analyte is there in parts per million, parts per billion or whatever.
Some places have a "package deal" that will check for a group of common herbicides and insecticides, but those tests usually run hundreds of dollars and only test for 20 to 50 checmicals when there are literally thousands of possibilities. Unless you know exactly what you're testing for, it's usually a huge waste of money.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Some places have a "package deal" that will check for a group of common herbicides and insecticides, but those tests usually run hundreds of dollars and only test for 20 to 50 checmicals when there are literally thousands of possibilities. Unless you know exactly what you're testing for, it's usually a huge waste of money.

Yes. They may also have in that package deal a test for the most common retail herbicides, and you get what you pay for. This issue is why when I lived in Sacramento a creek running through the city was one of the most impaired water bodies in the country.

Dan


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

"They may also have in that package deal a test for the most common retail herbicides"

Yup. Hence this part of my post:

"Some places have a "package deal" that will check for a group of common herbicides and insecticides"

Still a shot in the dark. When people go this route, the times they end up with bupkus far outweigh the times they end up with useful information (trust me on this one) and either way, they're out an awful lot of money.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Can you contact the previous owner and grill him for details?

I went through a similar experience building our gardens in past few years. Found piles of old treated lumber, former fire pits with lots a trash and who knows what burned in them, big piles of cat litter (i think... yuck). I started looking into soil testing and in the end decided that anything I grew in my own garden was going to be safer and healthier than any store bought food.

You can control every single variable that goes into growing food except whats in the soil to begin with. To me thats equals way more safety than trusting what comes from a store. Doesnt matter what the advertisement or certification stamp says, if you didnt grow yourself or watch someone else grow with your own two eyes you dont know what you are putting in your mouth.

Even if you decide to do something drastic like truck in 100 yards of "topsoil" and raise your garden above the suspect soil 1) Are you gonna test all that new soil? who knows where its coming from? and 2) whats to stop your plants and soil microorganisms from getting down below that soil and pulling up whatever you are trying to avoid?

In the end I chose to trust in the natural processes to clean up whatever harm was previously caused. I am helping this process by trying to encourage as natural a setting as possible... No pesticides, no herbicides, no tilling (use deep mulch)...I would like to say no any-cides but I am currently using ammonia as a slug-icide (see my other thread).

See if you can reach the previous owner to alleviate your concerns and a soil test wont hurt but what are you going to do with the results if they come back as XYZ OMG horrible?!?! Spray some chemicals to neutralize the other bad ones? Not make a garden at all?

My vote is just start your garden, dont buy anything from the garden centers other than seeds, and grow some food!

Brian


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 14, 09 at 14:15

I think I'd be tempted to til in a bunch of not-quite-finished-composting, compost. There is some information out there on using immature compost as a remedial thingy for industrial sites etc. Something about the very active micro-thingies being good for dealing with some not so pleasant issues.

As long as you weren't going to grow anything edible this year I'd get it in there and let it have at 'er. Heck it's early enough, do it twice!

Compost, the wonder material!

Lloyd


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

I have done a bunch of web searching about glyphosate and read a bunch of .pdf files and research. Farmers use glyphosate to kill weeds and then plant 'Round-up Ready' crops into the soil immediately afterward. So, there's a good chance that a lot of us have already been exposed to corn products (like beef) that had traces of glyphosate in it.

The good news, not much glyphosate gets absorbed by plants. More good news, glyphosate breaks down via bacterial activity.

If you know of a particular place where lots of Round-up was used, by all means, remove the soil. Otherwise, Lloyd is right, use organic material to help speed up bacterial breakdown of the glyphosate and most other garden chemicals that are in current use. By the time you have planted, the levels of glyphosate or whatever chemical was used had dropped to low levels.

Also, Glyphosate can be cleared from soil particles by the addition of Phosphate. I'd try triple-superphosphate or superphosphate or bone meal.

I worry more about radioactive fallout from above ground nuclear testing done in the 50's and 60's. Idaho was one of the heaviest hit states for fallout and cancer rates here are more than double the national average. It's not the Iodine 128 that worries me so much as the Strontium 90. Strontium 90 has a strong affinity for Calcium.

Here is a link that might be useful: Info about glyphosate


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

If the previous owners were weed sprayers, and the lawn is still there, as others have stated they didn't use Roundup. They used a broad-leaf herbicide for the weeds- dicamba, 2,4D, or something similar.

Assuming here that they didn't have a licensed, bonded dude with a tanker truck and a hazmat suit come out and spray their dandelions, then they used OTC products. These things can last months, certainly a growing season. But after a year, I'd be very surprised if there was any residual strong enough to effect plant growth.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

  • Posted by jean001 z8aPortland, OR (My Page) on
    Tue, Jul 14, 09 at 23:20

It was said "If you know of a particular place where lots of Round-up was used, by all means, remove the soil. "

That's a serious over-reaction.

As was said earlier, Roundup is inactivated when it contacts soil.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Jean, Mostly I agree with you, but I know of an example where I'd remove the soil. My next door neighbor has a little corner of her property that she keeps in bare dirt. Morning glory, buttonweed, cheatgrass, and a variety of other weeds attempt to get started there every spring. She sprays RoundUp on it several times a year, every year.

She, herself, has said she wouldn't try to grow anything in that dirt.

I should probably offer to cover the area in ramial mulch. If I get to the point where I have an excess, I'll make the offer.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

I also was under the impression that Round-Up gets inactivated. There is tons of info on whether it is safe to use. The only consideration though I think is that you are are trying to certify a garden as Organic, it can not have had any ROund-Up in the soil for a period of years.

I resorted to Round-Up to eradicate some of our hemlock. We both pulled it and used Round-Up. It's the one instance where I felt it justified as hemlock is an invasive (and dangerous) plant. Especially since I have a small child.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Glyphosate is not toxic (in the traces that may be present). It attacks the shikimic acid pathway that is only present in plants. However, if the previous owner was so spray-hpapy, I'd be concerned about other stuff he also used, especially insecticides. Generally, toxicity to humans goes in the order insecticides>>fungicides>herbicides.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

I am with the doctor. Roundup is a systemic grass killer. If they sprayed it on their lawn, the lawn would not exist. Ordinary weeds are killed with 2,4 D herbicide(cheaper). I would be worried that the previous owner was controlling insects(diazinon, dursban, sevin, etc) or weeds. Wet soil neutralizes Roundup. That is why you apply Roundup on a dry early morning with a surfactant. The plant take the systemic chemical through the leaves not the roots. It doesn't take much to do the job(do not be in hurry to watch the plant die$$). Do not soak the ground with roundup(wasteful$$). All the chemicals moves through the soil over time with the irrigation or rain water. The chemical are also being diluted over time as well. The real risk with applying excessive garden chemicals is the chemicals reaching the water table which is our drinking water or flowing into drains reaching our drinking water reservoirs. The yard is fine to grow vegetables. Because of their genetics, plants do a good job of filtering only the useful chemicals it needs to grow and reproduce. Enjoy your fresh produce and grow organic. JMHO. Aloha


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Sorry, but I'm going to have to disagree with the previous poster.

Studies done by Ag universities in the midwest, Indiana and Illinois IIRC, show that residual RoundUp in the soil lowers crop yields. Those studies go on to show that levels of organic material in the soil improves the rates of breakdown of glyphosate.

Glyphosate does not wash out of the soil, it binds to soil. Phosphate also binds to soil. Obviously, if glyphosate in the soil is reducing crop yields; it is not 'washing out of the soil, and it is being absorbed through the roots.

I will make an effort to find the research papers, but you can do the same via google. It was research related to glyphosate in the soil.

Finally, glyphosate has been implicated in lymphoma. It is not benign or inert. You can mitigate the presence of glyphosate in the soil, but don't believe Monsanto's claims that you have nothing to worry about.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

"Roundup" is one brand name of glyphosate products and there are many out there but few as heavily advertised as "Roundup" which indicates this is a very profitable product for the manufcturer, which by the way is now the Scotts people.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Monsanto bought out Scotts, or did Scotts buy out Monsanto?

In any event, the result is all one big happy ag corporation, supplying your GM and a huge share of regular seed, grabbing plant patents, keeping you in fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, and running massive mono-culture farms.

So the love is there.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

I don't understand Martine, you say you have great lush lawn...so what does that tell you.
The previous owner cared enough to sell his home with something that caught your attention.

So a neighbor, maybe one with a grudge, told you the guy before spread RoundUp on it...so what!
Your lawn is your pudding proof....

Before you go off believing all kinds of ghost stories and any here on a hate-glyphosate tantrum, do your own research and then go ahead, plant your vegetable garden.

Chances are, like a poster suggested, the previous owner probably sprayed a common broadleafed weed killer over the lawn and it poses no problem to the soil.
And before anyone goes off half-crocked, yes, if we use too much of it in any one place, then yes, it does pose a problem to water courses.
But let's not dream up things that haven't happened.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

  • Posted by pt03 3 Southern Manitoba (My Page) on
    Fri, Jul 17, 09 at 13:59

Not that it matters a whit (but it is interesting).....

Scotts relationship with Monsanto became even cosier in 1999, when Scotts completed agreements with the company for exclusive US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and Austria agency and marketing rights to its consumer Roundup herbicide products. Scotts also purchased the remainder of Monsanto's lawn and garden business, which included the pesticide brand Ortho.

Lloyd

Here is a link that might be useful: History of Scotts


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

>glyphosate has been implicated in lymphoma

Yes, and dihydrogen oxide is a dangerous killer.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Funny. Glyphosate isn't even the most dangerous chemical in Round-up. It's a moot point anyway, since Round-up wasn't likely used. But, I think it's funny when people go on (and I liked this term by jeannie) a hate-glyphosate tantrum and don't mention the other chemicals that have been made public due to the dangers other countries have discovered in this product. People only worry about the active ingredients because they just don't understand that the federal government many years ago redefined the terms inactive and inert to mean that a product is inactive when it does not perform the intent of the product (in this case, kill plants). So, the inactive ingredients don't mean not active chemicals. It only means they are not actively performing the intended purpose. Inactive doesn't mean non-toxic on a label thanks to good ole lobbying.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Does anyone know of a safe way to clean this up from a driveway? My dad thought he was being helpful and sprayed it all over the place at my house this morning without asking me. I don't want to just rinse it into the soil.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Does anyone know of a safe way to clean this up from a driveway?

Ignore it. When it dries out it's pretty well inactivated.

Or wash it off with a hose. It will bond to the dirt and decompose into glucose and phosphates.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

If that neighbor insisted it was RU and the lawn is fine, I'd be more concerned about the neighbor's motives. Maybe the lawn was being sprayed with fish fertilizer or some other organic, your neighbor just doesn't sound like a credible source of information about your lawn's history.

As far as taking some sample to send to a lab, contact your state's extension service to learn how to take a proper sample for what you are looking for in the sample. Lousy samples can give at least lousy results or worse, very misleading results and wasting your money.

You could do an assay quickly and cheaply by planting seed of the crops you intend to grow in the suspect soil and see if at least germinates and emerges to determine if there are residual pre-plant herbicide residues.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Michael: most of this thread dates to 2009 so you are responding to very old posts. Amber is asking what to do about her driveway.

Glyphosate does break down rather rapidly (the vast majority of it in a few days), so just let it be. I assume this was weeds sprouting out of cracks in a concrete driveway? Don't lick the concrete for a few days and it'll be fine. Seriously. :-]


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

While the active ingredient in these plant killers, glyphosate, is by itself rather rapidly dissipated in soils the addition of inert ingredients can change that. Sometimes two innocuous chemicals can combine to form something quite toxic.


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RE: Clearing Roundup from Soil

Sometimes two innocuous chemicals can combine to form something quite toxic.

And if you put a toxic gas and a metal that violently reacts with water together, you get table salt ...

You keep saying that ... can you give an example of one that is a realistic hazard in a garden.


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