Ammonium phosphate and organic gardening

Asked July 25, 2017, 7:24 PM EDT

Hello. A copious amount of ammonium phosphate was introduced into my organic garden. Does this mean that my garden is no longer organic?

San Bernardino County California

3 Responses

Synthetic fertilizers such as ammonium phosphate are prohibited for use by certified organic operations. So from a technical standpoint, according to the NOP (USDA-National Organic Program), the use of such a compound would most likely cause a certified organic operation to lose its certification.

That being said, I suspect you are not talking about a certified organic garden, so the question takes on a slightly different meaning. If the use of synthetic fertilizers or other prohibited substances has been discontinued, and the garden is maintained according to organic principles using organic inputs, then in a general sense, your garden will ultimately return to being organic.

Hope this helps.

Thank you for your rapid response Cindy. My 15y/o organic garden got doused with fire retardant in the effort to save our homes here in SoCal from wildfire. I could see that the firefighters had no other alternative and the drop was quite effective. However, I mourn the state of my garden and shed quite a few tears for my old friends. You are the only person to answer this question for me, and you have given me hope. Blessings to you for the work you are doing and thanks again.

I did not realize you were talking about a fire retardant, which I believe is ammonium polyphosphate. I do not know how that affects your soil, as opposed to the common fertilizer ammonium phosphate.

Phosphorus is not terribly mobile, so this may cause your fertility to be out of balance. Do you have access to an extension or other resource to get your soil tested?

If you have access to a local fire department and/or the folks who applied the fire retardant, it might be worth talking to them about it also. You may not be the only one to have this question!