Composting treated wood chips?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by BamaSpek, Aug 5, 2010.

  1. BamaSpek

    BamaSpek Well-Known Member

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    I have a source for horse manure mixed with wood chips, but have no way to verify if the wood shavings/sawdust are from treated lumber or from a natural wood source. The owner of the stable has no way of knowing.

    Would it make a difference? Would you use it for compost for a garden?
     
  2. highlands

    highlands Walter Jeffries Staff Member Supporter

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    Ew, ugh, ick... I certainly wouldn't use them in my garden or around anything that I ever wanted to eat. Golf course?

    Back away slowly and gracefully.

    Cheers

    -Walter
    Sugar Mountain Farm
    Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
    in the mountains of Vermont
    Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
    http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
     

  3. Narshalla

    Narshalla Well-Known Member

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    Agreed. If you don't know, don't use them -- you do not want that stuff in your garden or in your body!
     
  4. littlebitfarm

    littlebitfarm Scotties rule! Supporter

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    I had a disturbing conversation with an Amish friend a couple weeks ago. He has a new business. They grind up old pallets and package it up as animal bedding. Sent out 20 semi loads that week. I always assumed that the packaged wood shavings were left over from a milling process. To think that they could be recycled pallets, with who knows what chemical spilled on them or what pesticide sprayed on them as they sit in a warehouse.

    Would have to say, not in my garden.

    Kathie
     
  5. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    I would be very interested to know the effects that hot, long term composting would have on the various chemicals that are used as wood preservatives.
    Who does research like that ?
     
  6. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Martin
     
  7. Navotifarm

    Navotifarm Well-Known Member

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    Grinding up pallets for horse bedding? Maybe that's what southern states is selling in place of pine shavings? I've been buying their pine shavings for years for bedding for my poultry but their shavings lately haven't looked or smelled like pine so I stopped buying it. When questioned, the manager didn't know from nothing.
    I get a lot of pallets and haven't noticed they are toxic or treated or spilled on. I wonder how they get the nails out? Surely they don't grind nails up in bedding.
     
  8. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Magnets remove any ferrous metal bits.

    Martin
     
  9. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    Thank you, Martin. I found their site online and emailed them the following;

    Greetings.

    I recently was made aware of your research facility and, having been in the business of composting on a large scale for some years, the question has come up as to the potential danger of wood preservatives in garden compost.
    It seems that many recycling facilities are now grinding pallets and selling the resultant carbon-based product for animal bedding and other end use applications that may and do end up in personal and commercial compost piles.
    Obviously, some brands of pallets are constructed of lumber treated by various and somewhat hazardous chemical applications for the purpose of preservation. Has research been done showing the effects of hot, long-term composting on such chemical wood preservatives and, if so, what would be required for my facility to gain access to the results of that research ?


    We'll see what happens.
     
  10. Bearfootfarm

    Bearfootfarm Hello, hello....is there anybody in there.....? Supporter

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    Last edited: Aug 6, 2010
  11. BamaSpek

    BamaSpek Well-Known Member

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    I also would be interested in the reply if you receive one.

    I am ultimately concerned with the safety of my family and the food we eat, but hate to pass the opportunity for such a rich compost base. If I don't take it someone else will. I might try and find them an alternate source for their wood shavings that I can confirm the nature of. It would be worth the leg work to me if it meant the difference in getting a few tons of manure .
     
  12. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    I doubt you'll have any problem with the ground up pallet material. I've never seen a pallet made from preservative treated lumber. It's simply too expensive. Pallet mills that I've seen, don't use treated lumber. I've had opportunities over the years to get dump truck loads of used horse bedding. There was never enough manure IMO to make it worth while.

    We purchased 100 acres that a lumber company had previously owned. The owner was cited by the state dept. of environmental protection for having large piles of sawdust at his sawmill that water could wash into a stream. To get rid off the sawdust he spread it on the twenty cleared acres of the 100 acre parcel. That killed all of the plant life. Shavings will take longer to break down unless you can mix them with lots of high nitrogen materials to get a favorable C-N ratio. It still goes to surface area. Sawdust with a far greater surface area than chips for an equivalent weight of material will rot faster without manure since fungi have more access.

    Nothing really grew on that 20 acres for almost three years. The sawdust sucked up so much nitrogen as it laid there, nothing would grow initially. Over the years it was interesting to see which plants came back first. They followed a similar progression as abandoned mine sites.

    We considered taking advantage of a state program to obtain chicken manure from the areas of the state that drain to the Chesapeake Bay. After doing some research, I didn't want the stuff. Same with the processed sewage sludge from the local sewage plant. I don't want the heavy metals.

    I will eventually utilize compost from a city facility about an hour away. I've seen the chemical analysis and there's nothing remotely toxic in levels high enough to matter.
     
  13. Navotifarm

    Navotifarm Well-Known Member

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    The bag should say what type of wood it is.Their website shows PINE shavingshttp://www.southernstates.com/catalo...order=6&list=0
    I suggest you check it out for yourself. Take a whiff! No nice resin smell. And the shrinkwrappy container I bought said "Pine Brothers."Sneaky.
    Another thing to consider is what kind of hay have the horses been eating? Was it treated with herbicide? A lot of us folks who have been using the ruth stout concept of heavily mulching with hay or straw have had to stop because of the herbicides which do not biodegrade and which murder our innocent plants.
    I appreciate what was said about the sawmill spreading saw dust and killing plants because of the imbalance and lack of nitrogen. On the one hand it sure proves sawdust is best for composting toilets but on the other, I was thinking I wanted to have a big chiiper come in and chip up all the logger waste to spread to create pasture. Now I see that was a not good idea!
     
  14. Forerunner

    Forerunner Well-Known Member

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    I have seen pallets made from treated softwoods.
    I also tend toward the notion that hot and well balanced composting will neutralize just about anything. That would include heavy metals in sewage sludge.
    Joseph Jenkins agrees save the possibility of chlorine, a.k.a. bleach.
    That is the one product that even he cringes upon introducing to his microbes.

    As for spreading sawdust or wood chips directly on the soil, I did that a few years ago on a half acre because I had access to a LOT of sawdust that was about half decomposed. All growth was stunted for a season and a half and now that ground is some of the richest and loosest that I have.
     
  15. geo in mi

    geo in mi Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Here's a fairly good article from Oregon State about the matter: http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu/sfn/w10PressurizedLumber

    I personally wouldn't be too afraid of pallet grindings or sawdust from pallet making operations, but I would use discretion with known pressure treated wood products. I can't see too many horse people using known pressure treated sawdust, and I would think they would insist on not having it in their bedding.

    geo
     
  16. ronbre

    ronbre Brenda Groth Supporter

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    it isn't likely that treated woodchips would be sold for animal bedding..our friends bed their horses in woodchips..but i'm sure they aren't treated..likely cedar or pine..generally you can tell by the color and the smell..and if they ROT..as treated ones won't rot..so if you see rotting they aren't treated