Q: Can I add barley to my 1/2 acre pond?
Bill – Ashville, OH
A: Barley straw and ponds have some great chemistry. As a barley straw bale breaks down in water, it produces and releases many chemical compounds—and one of them may actually control algae growth.
How? Scientists from the Ohio State University Extension report that the compound interferes with and prevents the new growth of algae cells. As the old algae cells naturally die off, few new algae cells are produced—thereby controlling the overall algae population.
Sounds like a perfect solution for your 1/2 acre lake, right?
Well, barley straw will technically work to control algae in all that water—but you’ll need a ton of barley to accomplish it! More precisely, you’ll need as much as 112 pounds per 1/2 acre of surface area, according to OSU experts.
That’s great if you live next to a barley field, but that’s not a reality for most of us …
And accessibility to all those pounds of straw isn’t the only challenge. The bales are also tough to handle. In a small 1,000-gallon pond, small bales of barley straw can be used and tucked away in the filter, out of view. But in a sizable pond or lake, large bales are cumbersome to haul and position.
Not only that, but they also need to be broken apart to allow the right amount of oxygen in the middle of the bale so it properly decomposes, which means all that loose material will float to the pond’s surface and really make a mess of things.
Rather than wrangle all that barley straw, try an Airmax® Aeration System instead coupled with a beneficial bacteria product, like MuckAway. The aeration system will circulate the pond water, allowing the bacteria to break down all the muck.
Low amounts of nutrients in the pond means less food for plants and weeds—and that’s some chemistry every lake owner should understand.
Pond Talk: Do you prefer aeration and beneficial bacteria over barley straw? If so, why?