BROOKVILLE – About 25 people attended a pond clinic Oct. 8 at Mick and Jenny Wilz’s Brookville farm.
Participants at the Franklin County Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service and Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District-sponsored event received information on aquatic plant management and pond construction and design.
Joey Leach, Aquatic Control, Seymour, aquatic biologist, said there are various methods to manage the vegetation, but the first step is to “identify the different types of plants growing in your pond.
“I’m often asked, ‘Is it good to have all these plants?’ A lot of that comes down to what you use it for.” Excessive growth can hinder some recreational activities, such as swimming, fishing and boating. Persons also need to determine “what kind of control do you want? Do you want to maintain some weeds?”
He stressed, “When using chemicals, the biggest thing is you need to follow the directions on the label.” It’s also important to know what kind of restrictions there may be on the use of water treated with the herbicides. In most cases, if there are waiting periods on using the water, it has to do with fishing, livestock watering or irrigation.
Plan the timing of applications. “It’s best to start early in the season .... As you see weeds growing, use the herbicides.”
Another method of controlling aquatic plants is to use grass carp, he said. This fish eats some algae and most submerged plants. However, after a few years, it slows its feeding rate and more fish may be needed to maintain vegetation control.
Leach said hand pulling the plants and/or raking them may help, but cautioned, “This may increase the problem by fragmenting the plants” and stimulating growth.
Someone asked if using barley straw in a pond helps control the algae. This practice started over in Europe, the biologist revealed. “A group of researchers tried it ... and it worked in some ponds.” They believe “there is a fungus that grows on barley straw that secretes a chemical that goes off in the water and gets rid of algae.”
Many studies were done at Purdue University, but “they couldn’t prove it did anything .... I’ve never seen it work in a pond.” But he also added that individuals who use that method in the United States haven’t followed everything the Europeans did, which included putting the straw in a mesh onion sack before placing it in the water.
Roger Wenning of Wenning Excavating & Drainage said persons should do their homework before having a pond constructed.
Look for a location, keeping in mind who will be using it. “I have grandkids, and they run around, so I don’t want it near the house ....Think about ease of access. If it’s too easy to get to, you may have people coming there.”
When looking for a contractor, “ask around” to find who has a good reputation because “if you put a leaky dam in, you’re going to spend a fortune fixing it.
“Find out about the drainage area. Then you can decide how big to build the pond .... What are you going to use it for? Will it be used for recreation, swimming or fishing; special uses (such as a shrimp pond) or watering livestock?” It’s also important to make sure there is a sufficient water supply to fill the pond.
“Think about land use in the watershed and what could be draining into the pond ... I would never build one right below a golf course because of all the things washing off there.” He recommended keeping cattle from having access to the pond because they can add nutrients to the water (through manure) and their hooves can break down the shoreline as they go in and out of the water.
Wenning also told participants to be aware of nuisances. “Do not let a tree grow on a dam.” When it dies, its roots decay, leaving a cavity within the dam. Muskrats, beavers and geese can also cause problems.
Diane Raver can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 114.
FIRST IN A TWO-PART SERIES • Part 2: Fish stocking and management, Oct. 15