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Liming method keeps farm ponds clean
Two Canadian brothers have started a service cleaning up farm ponds and dugouts using a new clean-up method developed by researchers at the University of Alberta and at the National Water and Research Institute, Burlington, Ontario.
The goal was to find an easier way to keep ponds clear of decomposing algae and weeds that produce hydrogen sulphide gas which gives the water a "rotten egg" taste and odor that cattle don't like. Algae and weeds thrive on excessive levels of phosphorus in the water created by such things as silt laden runoff water.
Conventional methods of making water more palatable for livestock are expensive and unreliable, according to Alex St. Louis who, along with his brother Bernard, started a new pond cleaning service. Alex says farmers typically treat ponds with copper sulfate or Diquat. Copper sulphate, or bluestone, requires several treatments throughout the year and cattle must be removed from all water treated with bluestone for a period of two weeks. Diquat is effective only on a few species of algae, as well as submerged weeds, and the pond cannot be used for human or animal consumption for 24 hrs. after treatment.
The new inexpensive and non-toxic method developed in Canada works better than either of the above-mentioned methods. It consists simply of applying lime to the pond. Lime is mixed with water and the slurry is then sprayed over the water surface. The lime acts as a coagulant, binding with the algae, phosphorus and other suspended sediment and sinks them to the bottom, leaving behind only clear, high-quality water. With the phosphorus re-moved, algae will not survive and the pond will remain clear for at least two years after, says Alex.
The problem with the new method is that it's not an easy job to treat a pond That prompted the two brothers to start a custom business treating farm ponds.
"It takes one or two hours for us to treat a dugout, compared to about 10 hrs. for someone else to just get set up," says Bernard. "Also, hydrated lime is very corrosive and proper safety equipment alone costs about $300. You should have rubber suits, gloves, goggles, dust masks and respirators. They say if you get lime on your skin or in your eyes, you should rinse for 15 min."
The brothers have a small trailer they haul behind their truck which carries an ordinary 5 hp. water pump, a 45-gal. barrel with baffle, 25 ft. of suction line, and 50 ft. of fire hose. The suction line has a plastic bottle tied to it to suspend it in the water so it doesn't get clogged with mud and scum. The firehose has a spray nozzle on the end and the baffle in the barrel provides back pressure, creating agitation so the lime gets mixed thoroughly before the slurry is sprayed over the pond.
"Water temperature in the pond should be at least 60? before it is treated, otherwise the resulting control will not last more than a few months," says Alex, noting that some ponds they have cleaned are still clear after nearly 3 years. Most of their customers are dairy farmers or feeder cattle operations. "With lime, the cattle can drink while you're treating it (as long as you're not treating blue-green algae, which is one of many varieties of algae. In that case, cattle should be kept from the water for 2 to 14 days, depending on the size of the algae bloom)."
A 140 by 60 by 14-ft. deep pond would require about 1155-lb. bags of lime. Since it will raise the ph level, it should be applied at a rate that will not raise the ph above 10.5.
Alberta Agriculture's water specialist Bob Buchanan can answer questions about the treatment (ph 403 674-8264).
Contact FARM SHOW Followup, Bare-All Dugout Liming Service, Bernard & Alex St. Louis, Pickardville, Alberta, Canada (ph 403 349-2560 or 349-6075).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #5