Most folks don’t think of a farm pond as an amenity. Back in the old days, farmers dug a pond for whatever reason, however, with some management; these ponds can be converted to a valuable amenity for your property.
Years ago some practical uses for these ponds would have been livestock watering and irrigation purposes, but today these ponds could easily be used for swimming, fishing, aesthetics as well as still being used for livestock watering or irrigation purposes. Usually, the main obstacles for using these ponds for an amenity is nutrient load, weed issues and knowledge of management practices. So unless you want to drain and re-dig the pond, here are some typical management techniques for the different intended uses.
An ideal swimming pond would have a gradual sloping bank with clear healthy water. If you are starting with a new pond then I would install an air diffuser system to aerate the water. The diffuser system will aerate the pond which helps prevent weed growth and prevents buildup of undesirable bacteria. If weed issues are present, then you can stock Triploid Grass Carp (weed eating fish) as a biological control measure. Other concerns for farm swimming ponds are preventing access to the pond from livestock and yearly coliform testing.
Fishing ponds are what most people dream of and can be the most expensive project. The best location for a pond is an area with good sunlight and a depth of greater than three feet is best and a good water supply will be needed. Budget for a fishing pond should be approximately $1,000 per acre per year.
Livestock watering is an easy amenity with cost saving benefits. Be aware that some blue-green algae that grow in ponds can have a negative effect on livestock. I usually recommend a peroxide (GreenClean) treatment once per month March through November. A peroxide treatment will control algae and bacteria growth, oxidize the water treated and is safe for livestock watering.
Using an irrigation pond is an ecofriendly way to provide irrigation for your lawn or crops; if the pond is located in a good area to collect run off. I would recommend having a backup water supply if the need to treat weeds does arise. If an alternate water supply is not available, Triploid Grass Carp (weed eating fish) can be stocked at a rate of 20 per acre with a 20 percent restock every other year. Irrigation ponds are the easiest to establish for multi-uses. For instance, an irrigation pond with side benefits of fishing or swimming.
Now the goal is take some of this knowledge and combine it with some more research to find the best use for your pond. If you get in a bind, call a lake management company. With creatively and some hard work, you can develop your pond into a valuable amenity and reap the benefits for your liquid asset.
John Crab is a lake management specialist with Estate Management Services out of Springfield, Mo.