University of Illinois Extension educators are evaluating herbicide use
patterns among grass hay and straw producers with a survey.

In 2008, the 39 compost facilities in Illinois processed 497,421 tons of landscape waste, a 24-percent increase from 2007. It is expected that this will continue to rise as more composting facilities are approved.

In 2009, passage of Senate Bill 99 into law now allows up to 30,000 cubic yards of livestock waste per site to be incorporated into composting systems along with yard waste and food waste. In addition, many local farms and stables compost manure.

"Composting is a viable option for adding value to manure," said Ellen Phillips, U of I Extension educator. "However, the addition of manure to compost can be a concern for landscapers and others who utilize compost."

The reason for this concern stems from pyridine herbicides (active ingredient in Forefront, Milestone, Curtail, Stinger, Grazon P+D, Surmount, Redeem R&P, Crossbow), which are quite persistent and difficult to break 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 landscapers wanting to use composted manure for seeding mixtures," Phillips said.

To determine the extent of this possible problem within Illinois, a survey is being conducted to estimate the tons of pyridine-treated hay and straw used in Illinois.  

Grass hay and straw producers are encouraged to fill out the survey online. The survey needs to be completed by June 15. If you have any questions about the survey or would like a paper copy, contact Ellen Phillips, U of I Extension Educator, at 708-352-0109 or

The survey is supported by U of I Extension, Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, and the Great Lakes Regional Water Program.

SOURCE: University of Illinois.