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Control of Pond Algae Using Barley Straw
you are a pond owner, you are well aware of the problems that algae can cause.
There are some very effective chemicals that can be used to control algae, but
they are very expensive and require a permit from the State, not to mention the
adverse affects chemicals can cause if used incorrectly. There is a biological
alternative, Barley Straw. The following paragraphs will inform you about the
use of this simple material to control problem algae in your pond.
inexpensive and healthier for your fish and plants than chemicals. Barley straw
has been used for centuries in Europe to maintain fish and garden pond water
quality. It has been proven environmentally safe.
OF STRAW TO USE: Barley
straw is more effective and works for longer periods than wheat or other straws.
The variety of barley straw does not seem to have any effect on the performance.
Hay should never be used as it increases algae growth and it decomposes very
rapidly which may cause a deoxygenating of the water. Barley straw will not kill
existing algae, it is not a pesticide. Rather it creates a unique pond
environment which discourages any unwanted growth while not harming any plant or
vs. HERBICIDES: The
growth rate of algae makes it very difficult to control. There are many forms of
algae and most are susceptible to herbicide use. The problem with using
herbicides is that it also will kill your other plants and once the chemical is
gone from the water, the re-growth of algae will reappear and subsequently
become worse years later. Natural solutions are safer and more cost effective.
BARLEY STRAW WORK? As
the straw decomposes in the water, byproducts are released creating a unique
environment. The temperature of the water is an important factor. If the water
temp is 40 degrees it may take up to 2 weeks for the straw to
become active. When the water temperature is above 40 degrees the straw
becomes active faster. In about a week the straw should begin to release it's
chemical, given sufficient sunlight and oxygen.
oxygenated conditions are essential to ensure the straw will decompose and
produce it's chemical. If the straw is in a compacted state with restricted
water movement through the straw, the effectiveness is extremely reduced.
STRAW HARM FISH OR PLANTS? Barley
straw does not harm fish or plant life. Actually in most cases it increases the
invertebrate population providing a food source for fish. In fish farms and
hatcheries where straw has been used, there are reports of improved gill
function and better overall fish health.
AND WHERE TO APPLY THE STRAW?
ponds, the straw should be wrapped loosely in some type of netting that
will allow water to flow through. To be most effective, place the bundle of
straw on the up wind side to let wind currents help carry the straw by products
across the pond. As the straw decomposes it will sink.
sort of float should
be attached to keep it partially out of the water. The straw needs a continuous
exposure to both water and oxygen. Keeping the straw oxygenated will help the
barley decompose thus releasing the byproducts.
SHOULD BARLEY STRAW BE ADDED?
straw should be added very early in the spring. It is best to apply when the
water temp is low. Time should be given (about 30 days) for the straw to become
active. Once activated, the straw will create the unique environment for up to 6
months. A replacement bundle should be added before the first bundle is
completely decomposed. Two applications should be enough for one year. Ponds
that have a high content of suspended mud it may be necessary to add more straw
than in clear waters as the byproducts can be slowly inactivated by the mud.
MUCH TO USE? If
used proactively before the pond is over run with algae, a common recommendation
would be 20lbs of straw for every 1/4 acre of pond surface area.
Thus an average bale of straw weighing 40lbs should treat a 1/4 acre pond
for a year. In ponds
with a history of heavy algae growth, two to three times that amount may be
required at first.
CAN IT BE OVER
straw is not known to be directly hazardous, but anything that decays in water
in large quantities will reduce
dissolved oxygen levels. This
in not likely a problem unless the barley is massively overdosed (more than ten
times normal) and the pond is already oxygen limited by over stocking fish, or
the decomposition of other organic materials such as leaves.
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Last modified: August 23, 2013