How To Maintain And Clean A Farm Pond?

Farm ponds can get mucky and dirty pretty quickly. A number of issues, such as animal waste, agricultural runoff, excessive sun exposure, drastic weather events and much more can wreak havoc with the quality of water in your pond. In this article, we discuss these influences and provide sound advice on how to counter them and how to clean a farm pond (and maintain it). Read on to learn more.

What Are The Negative Influences On Farm Ponds?

how to maintain a farm pond

The effects of climate change such as sudden and dramatic temperature fluctuations, large amounts of rainfall and resultant flooding, excessive heat and the ash from fires can cause problems for any small body of water.

Additionally, animal waste and agricultural runoff can cause nitrogen and phosphorus spikes. This, combined with lack of shading and excessive sunlight promote algae blooms.

If the purpose of your farm pond is to provide a source of water for your animals (see our article on duck ponds) and drainage for excessive water, it’s may not be possible to eliminate animal waste and agricultural runoff, but there are things you can do to mitigate these problems.

Farm Pond Maintenance – Tips & Tricks

If you are using your farm pond as a swimming or fishing hole and/or as a wildlife refuge, these tips also apply.

1. Provide shade and a natural filter

Instead of having your pond ringed with a muddy, mucky mess, plant some vegetation and shrubbery around the verge.

A good riparian strip will act as a natural filtration system during times of moderate flooding or when agricultural runoff flows into your pond.

Taller plants provide some shade to help discourage algae bloom. A good combination of groundcover and tall plants help secure the dirt around the verge of your pond in place and prevents erosion.

2. Create a stone barrier

In addition to vegetation, a border of large stones (aka: rip-rap) around the edge of your pond can help prevent runoff and debris from pouring in.

Large stones look nice, provide a nice place for sitting and fishing and help prevent erosion of the shore.

Five Tips For A Healthy Pond: Penn State Extension

3. Opt for natural, organic soil amendments

Chemical fertilizers are high in phosphorus which tends to wash out of the soil and run off into your pond and into waterways wreaking havoc.

Instead of using chemical fertilizers, manage manure, lawn clippings and other organic waste by composting it and using it as a soil amendment in your fields and in the grassy areas around your pond.

4. Remove sludge and muck by raking

Even with all of your efforts to prevent debris from getting into your pond, some things will make their way in.

For example, in the fall, leaves will blow in and there’s not anything you can do about it. Leaves and debris that manage to find their way into your pond will decompose and settle into a layer of sludge and muck at the bottom of the pond.

This process has the effect of reducing oxygen and throwing the balance of your pond out of whack.

Lower oxygen levels encourage algae bloom and aquatic weed growth and negatively impact the health and well-being of any fish and other beneficial fauna you may have in your pond.

To deal with this problem, you’ll need to purchase a good pond rake and use it frequently to rake around the verges of your pond removing any leaves and other debris that you’re able to reach.

It is most important to go out after heavy rains to quickly remove new debris before it has a chance to settle and begin decomposing.

You should also do a thorough raking when the weather begins to warm up in the springtime. Starting the warmer season with a clean pond can save you a lot of trouble as summer time progresses.

5. Add aeration

Keeping oxygen levels high is a good way to keep a healthy pond. You can install a bottom diffusion aerator and/or a surface aerator.

Both of these contribute greatly to fish health by keeping oxygen levels in the water high. Ample oxygen discourages the growth of fungus, bacteria and algae.

If you’re choosing between a surface aerator and a bottom diffusion aerator, go with the bottom aerator. This is the thriftier choice in terms of operating costs, and it works more effectively and more efficiently.

If your pond is intended for decoration as well as function, a fountain, waterfall or other water feature can help aerate and filter your water.

How To Rid Your Farm Pond Of Scum And Algae

6. Eliminate algae naturally

If you have a lot of algae, you may need to apply a chemical algaecide to get it under control initially; however, regular use can disrupt the balance of your pond.

For a more natural solution, once you’ve reduced your algae problem, toss in a bale of barley straw to prevent regrowth.

As the barley straw breaks down and decomposes, it releases humic acid into the water, which begins to get algae under control.

In warmer weather, exposure to sunlight and oxygen cause the humic acid to become hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) which is a powerful, natural algaecide.

Remember that H2O2 is made up of two molecules of hydrogen and two of oxygen, so it naturally adds extra oxygen to your water and discourages the growth of fungus, bacteria and algae.

While it might be tempting to just pour hydrogen peroxide into your pond, you should resist the urge. Having the substance form naturally and gradually makes it safe for fish and other beneficial fauna in your pond.

The process of transforming humic acid into hydrogen peroxide is quicker and more effective in warm weather, so add barley straw to your pond in the springtime, after raking, to prevent and control algae throughout the summer.

In this video, the presenter adds barley to the filtration system of his backyard pond. For a farm pond, you could use a bale of barley straw and simply sink it in the pond.

If you are aerating your pond (as you should) place the bale near your aeration system for best effect.

Prevention Is Always The Best Solution

Just as with any other aspect of your farm, regular maintenance and attention will help keep your farm pond clean, even during the winter months.

If you neglect your pond, you may find yourself needing to start all over again. This involves draining and re-digging the pond, which is a major undertaking.

In the final analysis, keeping a farm pond is a surprisingly complex task. If you’ve ever kept a swimming pool or even an aquarium, you know about the many aspects of chemical balance, pH levels and other challenges you face in keeping a clean, healthy body of water.

Follow the tips presented here to successfully clean and maintain your farm, including your ponds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is it Important to Keep Your Farm Pond Clean?

Keeping your pond clean is important for avoiding sludge and algae buildup which could lead to harmful microorganisms infecting your water. Keeping your pond clean ensures a healthy water supply for your crops and animals.

What’s more, a pond that isn’t properly maintained may have to eventually be drained and reconstructed. This requires a lot of time, work, and specialized equipment. It’s much easier to simply clean your pond on an ongoing basis so it never gets to this point.

Why is My Farm Pond Water Cloudy?

Farm pond water may become temporarily cloudy following a heavy rain when mud and other organic matter are stirred up in the water. The water should clear again when these materials settle.

However, if your pond becomes cloudy and stays that way, it is likely due to a buildup of organic matter caused by increased levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. 

How Can I Reduce Phosphorus and Nitrogen in a Farm Pond?

Phosphorus and nitrogen find their way into your pond water from two main sources: animal waste and runoff from agricultural practices. It’s impossible to eliminate these byproducts on a farm, but you can take steps to diminish how much of them ends up in your pond.

Place large rocks around the edge of your pond, and plant thick vegetation, which will absorb some of the runoff before it reaches your pond. Raking the pond, aerating it, and adding helpful bacteria to the water can also help keep your pond clean.

How Do I Keep My Farm Pond Clean in the Winter?

To keep a pond clean during the winter, you’ll perform the same basic types of maintenance as you would any other time of year. Rake the pond to remove debris, aerate the water, and focus on keeping as much runoff and animal waste out of the water as possible.

Regular removal of debris is especially important as fall turns to winter, especially if there are a lot of trees growing around your pond. The falling leaves may quickly pile up in your pond, decaying and forming a thick sludge at the bottom if not removed frequently.

Should I Perform Farm Pond Maintenance Myself?

It is possible to keep your pond clean yourself by following the tips in this article. However, if you don’t want to take the time to do it yourself, you can hire a professional pond maintenance company to do the work for you.

Remember, though, that pond maintenance should be performed regularly to keep your pond clean. Hiring professionals to clean it for you may save you time and hassle, but it could also get expensive over time.

6 thoughts on “How To Maintain And Clean A Farm Pond?”

    • If you keep stock of any quantity you’re pretty well stuck. Cutsie little water heads sent much good when 300 head decide it’s Miller time…without free access you get broken equipment and beta animals in a state of neglect or worse.

  1. This hits me straight in the gut since I have a farm and a pond! Pond upkeep, in my opinion, should be left to the professionals! I was wondering whether there are any all-inclusive programs that cover all pond upkeep work? I usually call and explain what I want to do. I suppose I should just instruct them to do everything on a regular basis, right?

  2. I purchased a 20 acre farm a year ago. I had it rented out and I am now moving into it. I have found some green viney plant growing in it with small flowers, it seems to be taking over it. we tried to rake it but to thick and now I have a samll amt of muck on the side. Ponds are new to me, any adivice

  3. Need help my nephew has purchased a home that has a pond . We have been doing a lot of cleaning from around it the last few months. Now there is stuff taking over in the pond . It looks like little peas they are green , and we do fish out of it .

    • I use copper sulfate occasionally to get on top of the algae. But the best solution is oxygen. I have a bottom diffuser and also a fountain that pumps 6000 gph through it.


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