What would you do if someone moved in and started spraying next to your garden?

Asked August 26, 2013, 10:45 AM EDT

I am getting nowhere with this problem. Maybe you can help? I've spent 2 months trying to get our farm-to-table project, corn-growing neighbor to tell us what he sprays over the fence into our organic garden and what corn he grows for 10 years in the same spot. He won't tell us. I have unhappily had to learn a lot to deal with this issue, and the more I learn the worse things get.

  1. Colorado law only dictates that he use whatever he uses properly by label instructions and assumes that he will follow safe application instructions.
  2. He does not have to disclose any info. about what he plants or sprays.
  3. We can only make a formal complaint while he's spraying improperly (after the damage is done), which is rather difficult to determine since we don't know what he sprays in the first place.Video is no good.
  4. Pesticide enforcement is a separate issue from herbicides and fertilizers.
  5. GE crops (bt or roundup-ready) are for some reason not considered pesticides.
  6. The land use policy here protects him and leaves us stuck - even though we were here and organic for 20 yrs before he showed up. We seem to have no rights at all.
in our case we suspect glyphosate is used but can not find a way to test for that along with the nitrate levels for suspected over-use of nitrogen fertilizer. The standard soil tests only test for 2 pesticides. Standard CSU water test checks for nitrates and other usual issues but not pesticides or herbicides and do not suggest an alternative place to do so. Even an extensive water test I found does not check for glyphosate because it is attached to the soil and should not make it to the well.
Is there anything that we can do?

Chaffee County Colorado

3 Responses

Hi Beth,

There are labs that can test for specific chemicals in soils, just not the labs you checked with. Glyphosate breaks down quickly in the soil (less than 2 weeks), so the timing of the collection is important. I doubt this time of year would yield a positive test.

I am continuing to work on this. I take it that you did not have success at the Colo. Dept of Agriculture folks that I referred you to?


Hi Kurt,

Thanks for that info. I have been reading that it does not actually break down that fast. We were hoping to do the test when it was rainy last month and were wanting to test for everything at the same time along with the nitrate levels.

I had no luck - well - I have to double-check, but I think that's who I got the lab link from. I learned that there has to be an event occurring when you call for them to open an investigation. It seems to me that I would also need to know if he's spraying herbicide or fertilizer or pesticide to know which enforcement division to contact. They expect the person applying to be using things properly and they expect the parties involved to communicate. There is no disclosure law. Also, from what I've read unless he happens to be a nuisance to someone other than us, fair use policy for the county gives him the right to do whatever he wants.
Tony contacted me and promised to send the info over a month ago when I wanted to do the water test. I was hoping that he'd send copies of the appropriate msds and tell me what corn he is growing. I have not heard back.
Someone replaced the bees in the dead hive yesterday but I missed them and didn't get a chance to talk to them. You wouldn't happen to know who's bees they are would you? It used to be an older gent from Cripple Creek. He appeared to be training someone younger last year.


I don't know who's bees they have. I know that Tony is busy with harvest time right now...you may try to repeat your request again when he is not as busy...just a thought.