whats worse for the environment 24-D or fertilizer?

Discussion in 'Soils, Fertilizers and Composting' started by jimweed, Dec 11, 2005.

  1. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    Scientists from chemical companys lead me to believe that 24-D leaches no more than 2 inches in the soil, and leaving no residuals after 5 days. And when mixed for lawn weed spraying does not have enough toxicity to even kill and ant? If this is so, then how damaging to the environment is it? And do Nitrogen based fertilizers not leach into the ground much farther killing a huge variety of microrganisms in its path? Leaving your lawn dependend on fertilizer for food? Im not really meaning in the agriculture ind., but more in residential turf. Just like when cities ban weed control, what is really worse 24-D or fertilizer? I sure would like to know. Jim.
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Which scientists from which companies are doing the
    research? Then, are the tests done in a lab or in field

    2,4-D is a contact broadleaf herbicide rather than a
    residual herbicide. The old 2,4,5-T that was used for
    many years for Cotton and other crops did have more
    residual activity once the chemical was ground or
    aerial applied to a soil.

    The issue is probably more at what concentrations
    are we applying the 2,4-D, how much we are applying,
    is the 2,4-D as part of a fertilizer or a standalone spray
    and on what types of soils do we plant to use it on? For
    lawn purposes let's say to kill a Dandelion in a Fescue
    lawn then the amount of 2,4-D in the formulation with
    a fertilizer is not an extreme amount. In the case of a
    broadleaf spray to be used on a crop of Barley, applied
    to Citrus or for Tomatoes then the concentration of
    active ingredient of the 2,4-D goes way up from the
    percentage of active ingredient mixed in with a lawn
    fertilizer. There are a few weed and feed lawn fertilizers
    on the market that have 2,4-D in them.

    Whenever we are dealing with a chlorobenzene like
    substance or in this case a chlorophenoxyacetic acid
    I would think that one of our long-term concerns would
    be how the long it takes for the chlorine and the benzene
    derivative to be leached from the soil without binding
    to become another chemical form that may not be so
    easily broken down in that the new chemical(s) may
    perhaps stay much longer in the soil than we want it
    or them to.

    There really is no comparison that a herbicide and what
    it will eventually breakdown or combine to become with
    other elements will have the capacity to be more injurious
    for the longer term than a commercial grade fertilizer will
    be. Ground water contamination from fertilizers generally
    do not have or produce carcinogens but ground water tainted
    from selective herbicides can very well have carcinogens
    in them which was why 2,4,5-T was banned here for usage
    on crops in California years ago.


    I forgot to mention that the form of 2,4-D
    in a weed and feed is in a salt form that will
    dissolve in water quicker and also allow for
    the active ingredient in the chemical to not
    only break down faster but also to leach down
    through the soil more readily as well.
  3. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    Mr.Shep thank you so much for your responce.
    What I'm referring to is strickly lawn weed spraying 24-D. @ 180gm/L AI, mixed at .6% into water applied at 10L/100sqM. So what your saying though is that it can leach much farther then 2 inches being that it is formulated as salt form to make it water soluble. And that it can change its chemical form into other elements. Also that it contains carcinogens that can reach ground water. So next time I'm at a sales lecture put on by Monsanto, Bayer, Green Cross, or Union Chemicals salespeople, I'm better off to believe sales pitches don't give the whole story. And here I was almost believing that 24-D was likely doing less damage to the environment then was the 3 fertilizings I normally apply annually to turf. Currently im upgrading chemisty and physics and start into a Biology major next year. Can't wait to learn all this stuff. After 20yrs of spraying pesticides I know how to control pests and fungi, but have no idea what these chemicals actually do to the environment. (for now).

    Mr.Shep may I ask 1 more question? Pyrethrins have LD50 values that are 50% more toxic than Diazinon, and so many people believe Pyrethins to be a safe organic insectide. What are your views there? Thank You again for your time,, Jim
  4. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    Pyrethrins have a short half life in sunlight and are of organic origin, that doesnt mean they are less toxic in regards to LD50 (oral or dermal exposure). remember that LD50 only measures acute dose not prolonged exposure. Beware of the synthetic pyrethroids, ie. permethrin, tetramethrin, allethrin and resmethrin, their half lives can be quite long compared to pyrethrin. When I have counselled consumers that seem unsure about facts and figures and just want an "organic bug killer cuz its safer", refer to a very common organic ie rotenone vs a very common although no longer sold in Canada, diazinon, rotenone is about twice as toxic according to LD50. Rotenone is listed at 132mg of 100% pure ingredient per kilo of body weight for a toxic dose while diazinon is listed at 300mg of 100% pure ingredient per kilo of body weight. Pyrethrin is listed at 200mg/KG. Ratak (brodifacoum rat poison) is listed at 0.27mg/KG !! Yikes.
  5. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    WA USA (Z8)
    Another aspect is the toxic contaminants found in fertilizers, that aren't on the label. These have also been found in pesticides by inspectors.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2005
  6. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Re: what's worse for the environment 2,4-D or fertilizer?

    People wanting to sell you something, no matter
    what it seems to be any more today, do not tell the
    whole story. That is by design. For me to come
    right out and name this company or that company
    as being bad or not being truthful is an area that
    I cannot talk much about in the open. I've been
    in a capacity to know their chemicals almost as
    well as they do in some ways. I am not going to
    publicly "rip" Monsanto, Chacon and others to
    name a few as I see them as being entities in an
    industry in which there is so much confusion, a
    lot of misinformation provided by people that
    really do not know much about these chemicals,
    their applications and their long-term and even
    short-term risks to our health.

    To someone that is anti-pesticide spraying of any
    kind, it will not matter what information is provided
    whether truthful or slanted. The whole idea of
    pesticide usage bothers them, yet they are using
    products in their homes now and have been using
    them that are just as bad for them health wise.

    I had a long time girlfriend that hated the fact I
    was in farming. I was a bad person to use any
    pesticide at all on the crops, yet I have only used
    two herbicides in the last 25 years and one is as
    a preplant herbicide for Cotton and the other is
    a glyphosphate that we use quite sparingly for
    certain grasses that got away from us when our
    cultural tilling practices were not enough to
    knock down the grasses and keep them down,
    mostly in very wet Springs. At any rate, she
    would use a weed and feed on her lawn every
    year until I met her and threw a fit at me when
    I refused to apply it for her telling her she was
    nuts to use it as she had no weeds in her lawn
    to start with. She would also have her home
    sprayed every month by a pest control company
    because she did not want any bugs in her house,
    yet she would come unglued every time there
    was a headline of a pesticide used on edible
    crops. She was all for sludge being applied to
    farmland for edible crops and I went to extra
    lengths to prevent such atrocities. So, on one
    hand the good card carrying member of a well
    known anti-pesticide, environmentalist group
    abhor the thought of me using a pesticide on
    an edible crop but it was okay for her to use a
    herbicide on a lawn that did not need it, eat fruits
    and vegetables laden with banned pesticides here
    imported from foreign countries that I would not
    ever eat, have pesticide residues in her home and
    inhaled with every breath she took all because she
    did not want bugs in her house. I am too rigid and
    too conventional, give me flyswatter and the flies
    do not have a chance. Give me good old honey
    and the ants are gone. Let me clean up the grounds
    and there are no earwigs to speak of and let me use
    good old table salt and there are no roaches and I
    am the gross polluter because I am a farm manager
    as one of my professions.

    There are more than side of the chemical equation
    and it is not so simple to get all of the facts. A lot
    depends on who and where the so-called facts are
    coming from and then who do we believe? We
    have to learn this stuff on our own without having
    a prior agenda or preconceived notion. We have to
    be analytical or we set ourselves up to be prey for
    someone else's bias, right or wrong.

    I agree with Paul that natural pyrenthrins are not so
    big a deal but the synthetic pyrethrin like substances
    can be a problem.

    Ground water can be contaminated just from the plants
    we have in a landscape so it is not so much that a
    herbicide is the bigger evil, there are others, many
    others, such as someone dumping their cars antifreeze
    in the ground or here we have “meth” labs and their
    used up and half filled combustible containers strewn
    around and thrown in canals and streams that people
    use as an indirect or direct water source. It is just
    that pesticide pollution gets the headlines but there
    are other contaminants around just from household
    items such as household cleaners that we use that
    can be just as bad as a pesticide in a ground water
    situation and no one wants to talk about them.

    The application of a salt that will dissolve quickly in
    water and be leached fast is better for the most part
    than a spray will be. Either way there is a risk factor
    involved to the ground water. In some cases with some
    herbicides there is a risk of soil contamination but it
    is up to us to learn this stuff before we ever use the
    chemical. When Integrated Pest Management became
    initiated here with bona fide Pest Control Advisors
    first being licensed in 1974, the pesticide game was
    played this way, we apply a pesticide only if it is
    necessary. I've never used a weed and feed or a
    herbicide spray in my lawns as I feel my hands are
    the best herbicide I've ever seen. I've eradicated
    weeds in my yard and others the experts said I
    couldn't do. Wiped out Johnson Grass with my
    bare hands in 3 years. Eradicated Morning Glory
    in my yard in two Summers and my yard (2 acres
    worth) was loaded with both weeds. Every time I
    saw the weed it got hand pulled, even Dandelions
    in my lawn. Burr clover and Cheeseweed get hand
    pulled from now on when they are emerging to
    when the Bermuda Grass takes over and crowds
    them out. My neighbors will use simizine and
    glyphosphate instead and I am the terrible person
    in the mindset of the anti-pesticide people.


    The above is a little off topic but what else is
    new from me?
  7. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Denman Island,BC
    Jim, your "rants" are always good reading! Much more articulate than my standing out in the field yelling "Arrrrrgh" at the world.

    Most consumers have only the media and all those vested interest types to listen to, so it's not surprising that their "positions" will be contradictory and confused. Some of us have the opportunity to test the chemicals in the real world, against that comercially undesirable alternative: no chemical(s). I'll try to summarize some of my experiences, though by no means extensive:

    2-4-D: I have used a formulation commonly known as "Tri-kill" or "Par III", which as you might guess is a blend of 3 compounds: 2-4-D (as salt), Mecoprop, and Dicamba. It is a selective herbicide, targetting various broad-leafed weeds in a grass (hay) field. It works very quickly, often visibly wilting the weeds by the end of the day sprayed, and for the most part they die (except for Canadian thistle and storksbill, though both are obviously damaged).
    However (and this is the part you don't get told): I only sprayed half the field, and the following spring there was no visible difference in the field. Both sides were improved (by cultural practices - mowing before the weed seeds were set), but from above or on your knees there was no apparent residual effect (benefit) from the spray. There were still lots of weeds, because there were still lots of seeds, both airborn and residual in the ground (called a "seed bank"). This year, now after 2 seasons of mowing (and fertilizing) the weeds were very much reduced (except for the Canadian thistle which I am optimistically calling somewhat reduced - a bit - maybe).
    So, why would I spray a selective herbicide? Well, I don't now, but all the publications I read still try to convince me that thier particular formulation is my only chance to avert disaster. It's all biased (of course, they want to sell their stuff) bulls**t and I already have lots of that stuff.

    Glyphosate (Roundup): This product again will kill what they say it will (mostly everything) and is useful if you are changing a field from one crop to another, but again it has no effect on the seed bank. I don't use the "no till" method of planting so my tillage and cultivation practices are the same with or without Glyphosate, and quite frankly again after a season or two I see little difference. I've not done the same side-by-side comparison, though I have done a strip of Glyphosate in a field trying to eradicate Broom, and at the end of the following season there was no visible difference. Broom is well known for it's long lived seeds; these are what creates the problem in the future.
    Again, the actual performance of the chemical is not exaggerated, but the real life benefits seem conspicuously absent.

    Fertilizer: Very obvious effect: you can see the skips and overlaps by mid-season, and the yields are easily doubled. You'd have a hard time convincing me that fertilization was not justified, though I am hoping to substitute chicken poop for the chemical stuff this coming year. Runoff is a real issue, but remember that I'm paying for the stuff, and any runoff (or perc thru) is lost to me so I apply it at times and in quantities that will hopefully eliminate that problem.
    The logic of fertilizer is easy to see; if you aren't replacing what you are removing, then you are robbing your land.

    My bottom line? These producers are not on my side, whatever they may say. They are in the business of selling a product, and only a purchase makes a real difference to them, so that what they are trying to create. In that respect, they are no different than any other seller, be it 2-4-D, acne medication, viagra, or a two week holiday in Mexico. They mostly deliver what they promise, but are they really solving the problem you are faced with, and are they the best/only method as they would have us believe?

  8. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Agreed about natural pyrethrins. Just want to add the proviso: except near watercourses where pyrethrins will decimate aquatic life. This is noted on the label for all the products I've seen containing the substance, so it's a matter of following the instructions.

    Also, I was going to suggest hand-pulling as the best method, so thanks Jim. My aunts and uncles relay tales of days spent in the fields hand-pulling weeds.
  9. jimweed

    jimweed Active Member 10 Years

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    Ok, so I guess you guys aren't the biggest fans of herbicides,
    And now I'm feeling more quilty for spraying pesticides full time for 20 years. But if weeds didn't grow back every year I'd be in the poor house.lol. Ralph, switch to Killex and bump your mixture up to 1%, Tri-Kill and Par III may be $10 per jug cheaper but have crappy surfactents and don't stick to the weed very well. Exspecially if your spraying fully mature weeds in a field. As for Broom or Blackberry use some Diphenoprop (brushkiller) you won't have a broom problem for years after that. Thistles need a little extra spray soaked right into its centre core. Grazon is another option, it will definately rid hay fields of thistle and has a 5 year residual, but theres no planting much after that. But for pasture land its perfect, animals can grazon it 24 hrs after treatment is applied. Sorry to go on about pesticides, but I thought I'd throw a bit of my expierence at ya.
    As for doing my part for the environment, I have beed convincing most of my lawncare customers to let me use organic fertilizer on there lawns. And promote weed spraying as an every other year option, and or back pac spot treatments instead of total blanket spraying. Also try to convince people that most insect infestation on trees and shrubs is temporary, and they will soon pass. Though I do need to make a living so it is my suggestion that customers wishing to keep there trees healthy allow me apply sticky banding if needed, and to spray with copper in the fall and mineral oil/lime sulfur in the winter.
    Jim they do still sell Diazinon in Canada, but only for agriculure use, just not for turf and ornamental use, although I can still use Sevin, how backwards is that?
    Thank you both for your insight,, Jim S
  10. jimmyq

    jimmyq Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Metro Vancouver, BC, Canada.
    Jimweed, RE Diazinon, true, I was referring to the retail market. I have heard rumour that Funginex (triforine) and Sevin (carbaryl) are next on the chopping block.
  11. silver_creek

    silver_creek Active Member

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    Bellingham, WA, usa
    Anything that will kill a bug or kill a weed has some toxicity. "Organic" sprays are not always the least toxic, but often break down more quickly than the non organic chemicals. I always ask myself, how much pest/weeds can I tolerate; and what is the least toxic thing to apply when my tolerance level is reached. I find that my tolerance is higher the more I know about the chemicals.
  12. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Denman Island,BC
    Jimweed, I'd be more of a "fan" if I could see longer term results that might justify the damage or risk of damage from their use.
    Silver_creek, I find that a lot of things exceed my "tolerance" level (weeds, politicians...) but I am unwilling to employ a "cure" that exceeds some other tolerance level (which is very fortunate for the politicians!). I end up adjusting my tolerance level, but that often brings us back to me standing in the field yelling "Arrrrgh!"

    Part of my perspective comes from being in the middle of my own private food chain here. My family and I eat beef, pork, eggs, chicken, veggies that all sooner or later are exposed to and consume whatever I apply to the fields or the animals. It may not be so obviously critical to someone spraying a lawn or an ornamental shrub, but in the long run it's no less important.

    I agree that knowlege of the chemicals is necessary, but I repeat my caution that the producers of the chemicals are biased, and will mislead (usually by omission) wherever they can while still staying within the letter of the laws.


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