Connected To The Land 04-2018-Fall-718-PM96 - Page 14

WINTERIZING YOUR POND THE SCIENCE BEHIND HEALTHY PONDS Story by Kathleen Raines. P onds and dugouts are important water sources across rural Canada, providing water for households, livestock and wildlife as well as contributing to drought mitigation and watershed levels. Without proper maintenance – aeration, filtration, and pH control – ponds can become stagnant, smelly and laden with organic sediment. Over time, untreated ponds may experience high algae production and weed growth and limit the productive life of the water body. But, remember any treatment you put in the water will potentially affect the health of cattle, wild birds, fish, and humans that use the water, and also leak into groundwater. Saskatchewan-based Koenders Water Solutions President and CEO Doug Hicks has seen a change in the approach to pond maintenance. “When we researched the market many years ago we recognized that there were no environmentally safe solutions available. Now, we’ve developed products used by thousands of like-minded customers who care about the environment, their health and the health of others.” Koenders main water treatment product is Nature’s Pond Conditioner, which uses natural ingredients to promote pond health. The company has also provided aeration windmills to Canadian farmers for decades. Another ‘natural’ product line is from Medicine Hat, AB-based SHAC Solutions, who stresses that natural systems including pond health are usually in relative balance, so water treatment products should have the aim of helping natural systems return to that state. “SHAC® products activate all levels of resident 14 microbes, enabling the ecosystem to naturally regain its balance,” says Phil Fandrick, Sales Manager of SHAC. Whether your property features a fish pond or a major water source, fall is the ideal time to ensure that it stays clean and healthy through the harsh winter freeze and into the next year. REMOVE VEGETATION You’ll want to remove undesirable aquatic vegetation and prevent organic matter including leaves, animal waste and fertilizer run off from entering the pond by removing trees and crops within close proximity to the water body. Decomposing organic material depletes available oxygen levels which is especially damaging to fish, and will over time build up layers of sludge at the bottom of the pond and generate the rotten egg smell we all dread. QUICKEN DECOMPOSITION Several products are available that promote the breakdown of decaying matter, and inhibit algae growth. Some also have clarifying agents. Since your pond or dugout is a water source for your cattle and/or wildlife, choose a ‘natural’ product. Nature’s Pond Conditioner from Koenders Water Solutions includes a blend of plant extracts, food grade dyes and beneficial bacteria and enzymes developed and tested by Koenders. One to two gallons of Fall Winter Conditioner are adequate to treat the average sized pond, although there is no risk of overtreating with the safe, natural product. AERATE Bottom-up aeration by means of wind, solar or electric power, helps to distribute oxygen evenly throughout the pond, reduce the build up of sediment on the bottom and effectively vent off any gases created from decomposing organic matter. By increasing dissolved oxygen levels aeration also prolongs the life of water treatment products, and supports fish and other beneficial organisms during the most hazardous time of year when water is cold and food is scarce. Aerated dugouts typically have an open area of water all winter long which offers the added benefits of facilitating livestock watering and attracting wildlife. Finally, it is important to winterize aeration equipment before the cold weather hits. Koenders recommends a Freeze Control Unit that automatically injects isopropyl alcohol into the airlines and protects the compressor from backpressure due to ice blockages, as well as a pressure release valve and weighted airlines. By taking these steps in the fall, and preparing for winter, you should see a marked improvement in your pond health next spring. W Kathleen Raines is a freelance writer and farmer. She raises purebred Rideau Arcott sheep on the family farm west of Airdrie, Alberta. She commits her spare time and energy to initiatives that enhance rural community vibrancy. Connected to the Land