University of Illinois (UI) Extension educators are conducting a survey in order to evaluate herbicide use patterns among grass hay and straw producers. The research is specifically focusing on estimating how many tons of pyridine-treated hay and straw are used in Illinois.

Pyridine is the active ingredient in herbicides, such as Forefront, Milestone, Curtail, Stinger, Grazon P+D, Surmount, Redeem R&P, and Crossbow. The ingredient can be 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," says Ellen Phillips, UI Extension educator.

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

After the 2009 passage of Illinois Senate Bill 99 into law, up to 30,000 cubic yards of livestock waste per site can now 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," Phillips explains. "However, the addition of manure to compost can be a concern for landscapers and others who utilize compost."

Grass hay and straw producers are encouraged to complete the survey online at www.surveymonkey.com/. The survey deadline is June 15. The survey is supported by UI Extension, the Illinois Forage and Grassland Council, and the Great Lakes Regional Water Program. Producers with questions about the survey, or to request a paper copy, should contact Phillips at (708)-352-0109 or ephillps@illinois.edu.