No. 7 Article 4/May 21, 2010

Herbicide Survey of Grass Hay and Straw Producers

University of Illinois Extension educators would like your help in determining herbicide use patterns among grass hay and straw producers. The educators have assembled some background information and created a survey to collect responses. If you can assist with the survey, they would be most appreciative. The following text comes from Ellen Phillips, extension educator in northern Illinois.

In 2008, the 39 compost facilities in Illinois processed 497,421 tons of landscape waste, a 24% increase from the year before. This volume is expected to continue rising as more composting facilities are approved. The 2009 passage of SB099 into law allows up to 30,000 cubic yards of livestock waste per site to be incorporated in composting systems along with yard waste and food waste. In addition, many local farms and stables compost manure. This is a good value-added option.

However, adding manure to compost can be a concern for landscapers and others who use compost for seeding mixtures. Pyridine herbicides (component active ingredient[s] in Forefront, Milestone, Curtail, Stinger, Grazon P+D, Surmount, Redeem R&P, and Crossbow) are quite persistent and are not easily broken down. When animals eat hay treated with pyridine herbicides, the herbicides remain active in the manure. Treated bedding straw picked up with manure also contains active residue. When the manure and straw are used in a compost system, the herbicide remains active in the fresh compost. This can cause problems for anyone wanting to use composted manure for seeding mixtures. Composting is a viable option for adding value to manure. To determine the extent of this possible problem within Illinois, we are conducting a survey to estimate the tons of pyridine-treated hay and straw used in Illinois.

This survey should only take a couple of minutes to complete; it is available online at You can also download the survey (Adobe PDF, 29 kb) and print it out. You will be asked to estimate the tons of hay or straw sprayed with certain herbicides and used on-farm or sold to farms or stables raising horses, sheep/goats, beef, or dairy in the past year. Please complete the online survey by Monday, May 31. If you have any questions or need to request a paper copy, contact Ellen Phillips (708-352-0109, The survey is supported by University of Illinois Extension, Illinois Forage and Grassland Council and the Great Lakes Regional Water Program.--Aaron Hager

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