Having spoken with several local newspaper editors, no one was willing to step out of their comfort zone, CLEARLY investigate the problem of localized pine bark & lime dumping on our agriculture and forest lands. Apparently no valid tests were publicly available nor were my attempts to obtain testing analytics via Wittmer Agricycle Inc. of Callahan, FL or their representative embedded at GP Brunswick Cellulose or the truck driver contracted as consumer, Joey Denison of Offerman, GA ever successful. I was refused any information from these entities during my inquiries which led to an investigation over the last six months into the elemental composition of the materials being passed off to recipients under the Wittmer-Agricycle infamous self-published License #L013. Farmers whom have trusted State of GA authorities at GA Consumer Ag Inputs, University of GA Cooperative Extension Offices i.e. their county farm agents to protect GA agricultural interests to make certain Soil Amendment materials are well tested and safe to apply may be as shocked as I have been to learn about the abysmal testing of these materials, or lack thereof.
MY ADVICE, TALK TO YOUR FORESTER, ASK IF PINE TREES SUCH AS OUR NORMAL SPECIES; SLASH, LOBLOLLY OR LONG LEAF WILL GROW ON LANDS STREWN WITH PINE BARK ASH WASTE SLUDGE. CALL YOUR COMMERCIAL FARMER, THE ONES FARMING HUNDREDS OF ACRES AND ARE LOCAL, KNOW THE FARMS AND KNOW THE AG-LANDS. THEY KNOW THE SOIL PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS TOO. COMMERCIAL FARMERS I’VE SPOKEN WITH WILL NOT LEASE LANDS STREWN WITH THIS WASTE, BECAUSE OF POOR PRODUCTIVITY.
BOTTOM LINE, IT’S UP TO YOU. THE COUNTY AGENT IN PIERCE COUNTY COULD GIVE ME ABSOLUTELY NO TEST RESULTS FOR ANALYSIS ON THE PRODUCT, NEITHER COULD WITTMER AGRI-CYCLE INC., EMBEDDED AT GP BRUNSWICK CELLULOSE, NOR WAS THE CONTRACT CONSUMER TRUCKER, JOEY DENISON ABLE TO PROVIDE ANY VALID CURRENT LICENSED TEST. RED FLAGS.
DO NOT EXPECT GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO GUIDE YOU. THEY ARE PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU. THEY HAVE JOBS, FAMILIES, ETC. THIS IS THEIR LIVELIHOOD, DOING WHAT THEY MUST, NOT MAKING WAVES, KEEPING THEIR JOBS. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. BE RESPONSIBLE. DON’T BLAME ANYONE ELSE FOR YOUR SHORTCOMINGS AND REMEMBER IF IT’S TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, “TOPSOIL,” IT USUALLY ISN’T WHAT YOU THINK IT IS.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS BEEN ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THIS PRODUCT, CALL GA DEPT. OF AG, CONSUMER INPUTS AND COMPLAIN. ASK WHY PROPER TESTING HASN’T BEEN PERFORMED BY THEIR OFFICE. ASK WHY THIS MATERIAL HAS BEEN ALLOWED TO BECOME A SOIL AMENDMENT WHEN IT CLEARLY SHOULD GO TO A LANDFILL.
Check the back of consumer “potting soil” at your local garden or landscape design, or the chain Home Depot, Lowes, Walmart, Sam’s Club, anywhere you might buy “potting soil.” Chances are, unless you are purchasing organic potting soil and the designates on the label show what % you are buying, you could be purchasing pine bark & an aggregate of pine bark, ash & lime.
READ THE LAB REPORTS AND BEFORE YOU SIGN THE LIABILITY WAIVER, MAKE YOUR OWN INFORMED CONSENT. BE AWARE, THERE IS FAR MORE THAN CALCIUM AND MAGNESIUM IN GP BRUNSWICK CELLULOSE ASH.
UGA County Extension gives these warnings:
During application of wood ash to the soil, take special
care to prevent the ash from entering any surface or ground
water. A distance of at least 50 feet should separate the wood
ash from any farm ditches, wells, or other bodies of water.
This distance should be increased to 100 feet in highly erodible areas or areas without riparian stream side vegetation or from entering or leaving the storage area. Store it away from
wells, surface water and animal watering areas, and cover or
shield it as much as possible to protect it from dry or windy
One of the major obstacles to land application of wood
ash is the undesirable handling and spreading characteristics
of ash. Most ash has a low density and small particle size.
This can create dust problems during transport and application. Always cover wood ash during transport to prevent
losses en-route to the application site. Studies indicate that
the handling characteristics of ash generally improve with
increasing relative humidity so avoid spreading on extremely dry days. Moisture can be added to improve the handling characteristics of ash; however, if too much moisture
is added the ash will cake and become difficult to spread
Keep in mind, when Georgia Dept. of Agriculture tested the material their standard test only scores for calcium, magnesium & moisture content. Hardly comprehensive at best and woefully lacking and very misleading. No license should ever have been issued without consideration of toxicology reports. Department of Ag Consumer Inputs office said their lab was very limited, which was why I sent a GA Dept. of Ag drawn sample to UGA Labs by way of the Glynn County Extension Office. This material belongs in a land fill, where 90% of it was destined until just a few years ago.
LAURA EARLY AND JEN HILBURN respectively, dedicated local Riverkeepers stepped into deep, dark do-do on Chancey Road, taking unknown ash samples for shipment and analysis to Pace Analytical, PaceLabs.com.
Jen Hilburn boots up and digs “holedigger-deep,” to get ash sample while un-contained leachate runs in the background from Spring rains.