A farm pond offers many benefits for rural landowners, but it does require some effort to maintain the water quality and clarity. Fortunately, proper farm pond maintenance isn’t that difficult, and we have several natural products that make pond management easy.
1. Treat Pond Water With Beneficial Bacteria
One of the easiest ways to improve and maintain the quality of your farm pond’s water is by adding beneficial bacteria for ponds. These bacteria consume excess nutrients in the water, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. When a pond has high levels of these nutrients, this can cause oxygen levels to drop and spur the rapid accumulation of floating green organic matter, as well as aquatic weeds.
We recommend treating your water monthly with beneficial bacteria. Our AquaSpherePRO® product is an easy-to-use bacteria treatment for pond maintenance. You simply toss the spheres into your pond, and they immediately begin releasing bacteria. After 30 days, just toss in more spheres.
While this can prevent many common pond issues and even reduce your pond sludge layer, there are times when additional bacteria treatments might be needed. For instance, it can be smart to add extra beneficial bacteria treatments at the beginning of your warm season to ensure that your pond has a healthy dose of beneficial pond bacteria.
Our Natural Blast® product can be added at the beginning of the warm season or anytime temperatures spike. Natural Blast® also can be added after a large rain event to ensure that excess runoff doesn’t impact water quality. You also can add this product whenever you notice floating green organic matter accumulating at the surface of your pond or when you notice any unpleasant odors coming from the pond.
Both Natural Blast® and AquaSpherePRO® are all-natural, chemical-free and veterinarian-approved. These products are safe for fish, wildlife, livestock, pets and people.
2. Add A Source Of Aeration
Adding an aeration system is one of the best steps you can take to improve and maintain the quality of your pond water. Circulating the water keeps water temperatures down and better distributes beneficial pond bacteria throughout the farm pond.
Unless you have a small pond that is fairly shallow, a bottom diffusion aerator is usually the best option as those are a bit more powerful and ensure that all of the water is circulated and not just the water near the surface.
The aeration system you select should be powerful enough to circulate all of the water in your pond twice each day. Surface aerators, such as a fountain, can be fun decorative touches, but to truly keep a pond clean, it’s usually better to stick with a bottom diffusion system.
3. Limit Runoff & Livestock Waste
While some might say that farm ponds are a good addition because they can prevent runoff from entering public streams and waterways, runoff from your farm or livestock areas can have a negative effect on your pond ecosystem.
Runoff that includes animal waste or residue from fertilizers typically contains high concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous. An excess of these nutrients in your pond can cause oxygen levels to drop and lead to the rapid accumulation of floating green organic matter.
Beneficial bacteria treatments can offset issues caused by runoff to some extent, but it’s a good idea to find ways to limit runoff from entering your pond as well as any nearby public waterways.
For instance, improving the quality of your lawn can help. Healthy soil can more easily soak up water from runoff and excess rain. Keep your grass at a healthy height (many people mow the grass too short) and consider using a natural product such as our Dr. Connie’s Lawn product to improve the root development of your lawn. Aerating the lawn also can improve the soil’s absorption of nutrients.
Additionally, adding a barrier of beneficial plants or perhaps adding large boulders at the edge of the pond also can minimize runoff and prevent shoreline erosion. It’s also wise to plant trees and shrubbery around fields, as these will act as a buffer for runoff from crops.
While a farm pond can be a good source of fresh water for livestock, this isn’t always the best option, as their waste can easily end up in your pond, which can cause water quality issues and the buildup of organic floating matter. When a farm pond is used primarily as a source of water for livestock, we highly recommend adding a quality aeration system and consistently treating the water with beneficial bacteria to maintain water quality for your animals.
Another option would be to pump aerated water from your pond into stock tanks and add our Stock Tank Water Cleaner to the water. This water cleaner uses the same beneficial bacteria that we use in the AquaSpherePRO® which consume excess nutrients in your stock tank water, and this also prevents stains, mineral deposits and odors.
4. Control Aquatic Weeds
There are many species of aquatic weeds and plants, including submerged, floating and emergent varieties. Some aquatic plants can be beneficial, but some grow quickly in ponds with warm water and low oxygen levels, and they can make a big impact on the water conditions in an already fragile ecosystem.
While herbicides can be a good option to consider for some weed issues, these products are not available in some states and some pond owners prefer mechanical removal rather than using chemicals.
With floating weeds, such as duckweed and watermeal, you often can skim these plants out of your pond. With submerged and shoreline weeds, removal is trickier because you need to remove the entire root system, if possible, and any plant remnants quickly can propagate.
In many cases, it’s best to try and remove as much aquatic vegetation as possible at the end of your warm season, as these weeds are moving toward a more dormant phase and won’t reproduce as quickly.
5. Control Your Fish Population
If you love to fish, adding fish to your farm pond can be a great option, but these animals do require some care. Overstocking a pond can cause serious water quality issues and even lead to fish kills. Fish do produce waste, of course, and too many fish can cause a buildup of a sludge layer on the pond bottom and the introduction of excess nitrogen in the pond, which reduces oxygen levels.
If you plan to stock your pond, talk to a fish expert first to determine the best fish population for your farm pond. A fish pond expert can give you advice about species options, feeding and much more. A pond with fish should always have a source of aeration and it can be smart to think about adding a filtration system to ensure that waste doesn’t build up on the bottom of the pond.
6. Consider Using Pond Dye
Pond dye not only improves the look of your farm pond, but it also can block some UV rays which can keep water temperatures down during the hot summer months. We have blue and black natural pond dyes, and they are easy to apply, and you should see the full results within 24 hours of application.
Pond dye should not be added to your pond unless all water quality issues have been mitigated. Once the pond is in a healthy state, pond dye can be a great addition. Our dyes are safe for fish, pets and people.
What About Barley Straw?
There’s a great deal of talk about the benefits of adding barley straw to your pond to control organic floating matter. However, we don’t recommend this approach, even though it might seem like an all-natural solution.
There have been several studies that have shown that barley straw may reduce some types of organic floating matter, but, in some cases, it caused other species to flourish. In fact, one study from the University of Nebraska showed an increase in cyanobacteria after applying barley straw to a lake. This is a type of bacteria that’s harmful to livestock, pets and people and quite difficult to remove from a pond ecosystem.
Order Beneficial Bacteria Today
Our beneficial bacteria products make pond maintenance easy! If you have any questions about any of our products, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at Healthy Ponds at any time. We also offer free personalized water treatment plans for any size water feature at https://healthyponds.com/free-pond-plan/.