the time before synthetics...

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by woodycrest, Sep 4, 2003.

  1. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    One for example:

    From the fine University of Minnesota

    Rest of post is quoted from the above site:

    At the beginning of World War II (1940), our insecticide selection was limited to several arsenicals, petroleum oils, nicotine, pyrethrum, rotenone, sulfur, hydrogen cyanide gas, and cryolite. And it was World War II that opened the Chemical Era with the introduction of a totally new concept of insect control chemicals--synthetic organic insecticides, the first of which was DDT.



    Organophosphates (OPs) is the currently used generic term that includes all insecticides containing phosphorus. Other names used, but no longer in vogue, are organic phosphates, phosphorus insecticides, nerve gas relatives, and phosphoric acid esters. All organophosphates are derived from one of the phosphorus acids, and as a class are generally the most toxic of all pesticides to vertebrates. Because of the similarity of OP chemical structures to the "nerve gases", their modes of action are also similar. Their insecticidal qualities were observed in Germany during World War II in the study of the extremely toxic OP nerve gases sarin, soman, and tabun. Initially, the discovery was made in search of substitutes for nicotine, which was heavily used as an insecticide but in short supply in Germany.
  2. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    I really can't say when the horse and cart got lined up with explosives, fertilizers, chemical weapons, and pesticides; however, I was in the Air Force when the information about the Cambodian use of the "Yellow Rain" biological agent was downgraded from classified to unclassified. That was an interesting story as we heard it told.

    Yellow rain was the name given to the dust applied in Cambodia to kill soldiers in their tracks. It was released from crop dusters flown overhead and gave the plants an appearance of a yellow dust spots that looked like dried rain drops. The dead were found almost in positions of normal daily life, but dead, apparently instantly from inhalation of the dust. When autopsies were tried, the insides of the victims were found to be liquified. Apparently back in the early USSR days, everyday citizens would die these horrible deaths. After some investigation it was discovered that the byproducts of a fungus were leaving toxic residue on wheat that overwintered in their silos. The toxin would withstand the heat of baking and remain toxic. The project to get rid of the fungus was turned over to their then director of agriculture, Nikita Khrushchev. Mr K apparently recognized the potential value of the fungus as a biological warfare agent and ordered a top secret project to develop the weapon. The weapon remained so secret that we only learned about it after it was deployed in Cambodia (as far as we knew back then). Of course Mr K went on to fame, if not fortune, as the chairman of the communist party in the USSR after Stalin's death.

    I just want to acknowledge that the basis for this horrible agent is an organic fungus. We call it aflatoxin and recognize it as a problem with all feed seeds stored under the wrong conditions. Some of my organic cohorts will not use horticultural corn meal on edibles for this reason. They will use feed grade on turf and all inedibles but for fertilizing veggies, herbs, and fruit trees, they suggest grocery store quality (food grade) corn meal. Others in the farming industry have pointed out that there is no difference in how the grains for different uses are stored or sorted out for later use, but my buddies still suggest staying away from the feed grade stuff on their edibles. Like I've said, being organic is like being vegetarian: There are many different shapes and sizes.
  3. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833

    There is NO doubt that many insecticides work the same way as current warfare biologicals- by attacking the nervous system respiratory system or other vitals of the victim. Read the M

    We are basicly using micro biological warfare to kill bugs.

    If you can magnify the effective element in the pesticides, you can have an effective anti-human agent.

    Read the MSDA (??? letters) data sheets of the pesticides like Sevin, Malathion, and others and compare the symptoms and treatments to those of modern biological agents. They look a lot alike.

    Also for history of pesticides
  4. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    Thanks for the links. I'd like to add a few dates to the list on the second link. I wish I knew if these had prior history. I suspect that some are being rediscovered either in old texts or simply rediscovered by observation and analysis. Not all of these discoveries apply to turf management but some might apply in the future after some more research is done. I guess the point is that a lot has been discovered, or rediscovered, in the past few years.

    1970s - Ordinary paper wasps are found to control pest caterpillars including sod and tree web worms, tomato horn worms, tobacco horn worms, and other caterpillars.

    1970s - Ordinary mud dauber wasps are found to control black widow, brown recluse, and other spiders.

    1970s - Many common wasps are found to be relatively sociable when left alone. In fact they have been known to share living spaces rather well when they are not constantly swatted at.

    1980s - Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is discovered to impart a disease to caterpillars that kills them in a few days

    1990s - Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies israaelenses (Bti), found in a pond in Israel, is discovered to kill mosquito and fungus gnat larvae.

    1990s - Compost found to be useful as a source of microbes as well as a fertilizer and mulch.

    1990s - Ground seeds, beans, nuts, and legumes are found to be a good source of protein for soil microbes.

    1990s - Specific species of nematodes are found to control specific species of insect pests in the soil. These are now called Beneficial Nematodes to distinguish them from root knot nematodes and other nematode pests.

    late 1990s - corn meal found to attract Trichoderma species of fungus to kill most turf disease fungi.

    2000s - Seaweed and molasses appear to deter spider mites in the garden when used as a diluted foliar spray every 2 weeks.

    2000s - Diluted seaweed foliar sprays seems to impart a few degrees of cold hardiness to shrubs and trees when used regularly over a season.

    2000s - Diluted molasses foliar sprays found to encourage/stimulate water-saving micorrhizal fungus growth in no-till cotton when used four times per season.

    2000s - Compost found to be controllable as to bacterial domination or fungal domination by controlling ingredients.

    2000s - Shrubs and trees found to grow better in fungal dominated soil while grasses grow better in bacterial dominated soils.

    2000s - Properly prepared compost tea found to be equal in effectiveness (as a microbe source) to compost. Home brewed compost tea typically costs 1,000 times less to cover the same acreage as compost.

    2000s - Compost tea found to have plant protective effects when used as a foliar spray.
  5. Mike Bradbury

    Mike Bradbury LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 492

    I can't find the book that I got the fert info from. Used to consider it my bible for beginners. I think I gave it to a neighbor and didn't get it back. Was a paperback, white with green letters on the cover. **** Organic Lawn Care, think it was a Rodale Press book.
    Don't know anything about explosives personally so maybe it's not true, can't imagine why anyone would bother making it up though?:dizzy:
  6. Dchall_San_Antonio

    Dchall_San_Antonio LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 327

    The Truman administration set up a huge jobs program following WWII. The National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA and now NASA) was established to employ the aeronautical engineers that were sure to go unemployed after the war. The Army Corps of Engineers was set up to employ the civil engineers who likewise would have gone without after the war. It would not surprise me at all if a jobs program was made in the explosives industry to convert to fertilizers, especially when the ingredients are the same. These industries were (and are) considered to be national treasures.
  7. Green in Idaho

    Green in Idaho LawnSite Senior Member
    from Idaho
    Messages: 833


    This can help you out:

    Although ammonia from these {factories}plants was still more expensive to use in fertilizers than some that came from by-products of other reactions, the advent of World War II increased demand and led to still cheaper and more efficient methods.
    Qutoed from this site

    AND this
    At the beginning of the 20th century there was a shortage of naturally occurring, nitrogen-rich fertilisers, such as Chile saltpetre, which prompted the German Chemist Fritz Haber, and others, to look for ways of combining the nitrogen in the air with hydrogen to form ammonia, which is a convenient starting point in the manufacture of fertilisers.This process was also of interest to the German chemical industry as Germany was preparing for World War I and nitrogen compounds were needed for explosives.
    From this site
  8. hustlers

    hustlers LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 257

    ORANIC AGRICULTURE started in other countries

    as SLASH N BURN agriculture, it is very difficult for long-term
    success without too high of inputs

    i have done organic agriculture but can only be done effectively
    under right geo and climatic conditions.

    that does not happen much for lawns, so i dont think there is
    much of an economic return good enough yet to be cost effective
  9. Popsicle

    Popsicle LawnSite Member
    Messages: 189

    Cost effective for whom? The client or your drinking water?

    UofW recently found 109 out of 110 preschoolers in Seattle had pesticides in their urine.

    USGS scientists have found "weed and feed" herbicides in all salmon streams tested in a regional study of Puget Sound waterways.

    This is why I'm at this site. I want to reduce how much of these products are applied. Luckily, where I live, people are much more willing to tolerate a few weeds.


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