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#514656 - 12/05/19 08:19 AM Organic Fertilizer or not?
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2998
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
The five years ago at this time of year the pond was 1/2 full when I added a qtr bale of Alfalfa and in a very short time I had some good looking green water. So now, here I am with clear water again with about 7' of visibility. Most likely due to Alum treatment last spring where I added it to reduce Phosphates. I have more vegetation than I want and I don't want to add chemical fertilizer this coming early spring. But what about adding Alfalfa again? Hoping to get the zooplankton numbers up. Can I do this without stimulating my vegetation growth? Does organic fertilization stimulate vegetation growth like chemical fertilization does? I feed everyday 365 and was hoping the feeding would stimulate plankton growth but I have not seen any benefit when we talk about fertilizing the water through feeding. I have looked here and other places but found little information on this subject. I would like to make sure I have food for the spring spawns fry.
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#514657 - 12/05/19 08:38 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
RAH Offline
Lunker

Registered: 05/17/09
Posts: 4583
Loc: Indiana, Boone County, 25 mile...
Nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous are the main ingredients in synthetic fertilizer. These are elements and are the same no matter the source. The nitrogen in synthetic fertilizer comes from the air, and the potassium and phosphorous come from rocks. Barley (and perhaps alfalfa) contain additional chemicals that reduce algae. Nothing wrong with using organic fertilizer but I recommend against manure for health reasons. The issue with organic fertilizer sources is that their chemical makeup varies from batch to batch and knowing what you add can be difficult, as can replicating results over time.

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#514663 - 12/05/19 12:07 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
ewest Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 20048
Loc: Miss.
The only way to approach the issue is to determine what is the limiting factor. In ponds it is usually not low N , but is often low phosphorous (P).
A water and soil test would be wise and inexpensive.

In many southern ponds low alkalinity is the limiting factor. Also there are different fertilizer formulations and most pond types are low or 0 N and K and high P.


Edited by ewest (12/05/19 12:10 PM)
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#514670 - 12/05/19 05:55 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
Theo Gallus Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 05/14/04
Posts: 12486
Loc: Central Ohio
Just curious - how big is the pond, and how much did "1/4 a bale of alfalfa" weigh?
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#514681 - 12/06/19 07:51 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2998
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
Theo, the qtr bale weight was not much. I might say 15 lbs and at the time I added it the pond the size was about an acre and a half. Today it's a little over 3 acres. At the time I added the alfalfa the pond water looked like bath water and the pond was crystal clear. The alfalfa did not kill any plankton but it started the plankton bloom. The first fish were delivered by Walt from Overton's in late November and when he saw the pond he made a comment about how nice the green water looked. I think he was expecting dirty water.


Eric, I agree with getting a water sample tested because right now I am guessing based off personal experience. I've not tested the alk. lately but the pH is in the 7 range based off test strips. I am adding a little agg lime slowly now. Plans are to add about a ton. Left from last delivery. After a added the alum/lime last spring the water looked great with visibility at or round 30" with a nice olive green tent. And then, about the time we had the first artic blast this year the water went clear. I've watched the TFS and they continue to grow so I'm guessing there is still natural food for them. The lmb. hsb and cnbg all look fat and healthy. LMB and HSB for the most part are fat and above the WR charts when comparing lengths to weights. The cnbg seem to be doing well. I was just thinking organic fertilizer (Alfalfa) might not stimulate vegetation growth and maybe get some zooplankton going. But I have not been able to find much on this subject when it comes to whether or not it will stimulate vegetation growth.


Edited by TGW1 (12/06/19 08:06 AM)
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#514811 - 12/10/19 05:26 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
ewest Offline
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Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 20048
Loc: Miss.
Shad live in many lakes and ponds with little to no visible color to the human eye. There is still plankton there in many circumstances. Straw has been used and there is data from Europe on its use but mainly as a deterrent and not as fertilizer. It could be both but the results are mixed.
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#514815 - 12/10/19 08:09 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 428
Loc: Texas
Tracy,

Alfalfa is a very good fertilizer. The primary difference between using an organic like alfalfa is that there is a huge amount of energy stored in the alfalfa. Its a type of feed. It will be primarily be consumed by bacteria, shredders, and your tilapia. This feeding will cycle the nutrients to your water and yes ... you will get a good bloom. As long as you don't overload the pond, its a great way to fertilize especially for the bottom of your food chain that can make use of detrital energy stores.

I know you have a dock and if any guests are swimming I would be care to avoid its use when temps are warm enough for swimming. Bacterial density will increase by adding organics like alfalfa. A good strategy might be use early from Feb through April and discontinue thereafter. This also corresponds with the peak of Crayfish reproduction and they would flourish on it if you have a good number of them.


Edited by jpsdad (12/10/19 08:19 PM)

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#514822 - 12/11/19 01:21 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
teehjaeh57 Offline
Chairman, Pond Boss Legacy award; Moderator; field correspondent
Lunker

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 8288
Loc: Lincoln, NE
I use alfalfa pellets for blooms in my grow out cells. I seem to have better luck with cottonseed meal but it's tougher to source and harder to apply.
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#514828 - 12/11/19 11:43 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
ewest Offline
Moderator
Hall of Fame 2014

Lunker

Registered: 03/08/05
Posts: 20048
Loc: Miss.
FYI

From SRAC

https://srac.tamu.edu/fact-sheets/serve/300

Organic fertilizers have been recommended as pond
fertilizers—either alone or in combination with inorganic
fertilizers. However, organic fertilizers have many
disadvantages. Unlike inorganic fertilizers, organic fertilizers
have low nutrient content (Table 1 and 2), which
causes them to be more labor intensive to apply compared
to inorganic fertilizers. On an equal nitrogen basis,
it would require adding 290 pounds/acre (325 kg/ha)
cottonseed meal to equal the nitrogen added with only
58 pounds/acre (65 kg/ha) ammonium nitrate. The nutrients
contained in organic fertilizers are not readily available
and require the material to decompose before releasing
nutrients. When adding large amounts of organic
fertilizers, an additional oxygen demand is enforced in
the pond. Significant reductions in dissolved oxygen in
ponds receiving organic fertilizers are common. Organic
fertilizers are also often in a fine powder form easily
blown by the wind causing applicator discomfort.


Edited by ewest (12/11/19 11:44 AM)
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#514837 - 12/11/19 02:37 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: teehjaeh57]
canyoncreek Offline


Registered: 05/07/13
Posts: 2157
Loc: West Michigan
Originally Posted By: teehjaeh57
I use alfalfa pellets for blooms in my grow out cells. I seem to have better luck with cottonseed meal but it's tougher to source and harder to apply.


TJ, is the cottonseed meal found at the local hardward store or on Amazon the correct stuff? Seems easy to source here. Explain how to apply that makes it difficult? I'd love to learn.

Amazon Cottonseed Meal

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#514845 - 12/11/19 07:24 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 428
Loc: Texas
Organics and nonorganics are only modestly comparable. In the case of organic fertilization, organisms play an essential role in making the nutrients available to phytoplankton. A bloom is a secondary effect whereas with non-organics ... a bloom is all one is after.

The primary effect of organics is the decomposition of organics which creates a broad spectrum of food that will benefit many pond organisms. This includes even the bacteria. When a crayfish eats a decomposing alfalfa shred, the bacteria will provide high protein-high lipid nutrition to the crayfish which is superior to the alfalfa itself.

Eric notes that organics are often finely shredded. This boosts the speed decomposition and also of oxygen demand. Hay decomposes more slowly than pellets (which are compressed shreds) which decompose more slowly than alfalfa meal which is ground even smaller and is loose. The easiest to apply is alfalfa pellets which can be thrown. Because there is almost no powder in a bag of pellets, no inhalation discomfort either.

Alfalfa pellets can be purchase for less than $12 a 40lb bag. At least that is what my last few bags cost me at Tractor Supply.

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#514854 - 12/12/19 08:46 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2998
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
I have used both the pellets and the hay on different occasions. I threw out the pellets and would advise against doing it that way again because they just went to the bottom of the pond. I did see a bloom weeks later when we went swimming and disturbed the ponds bottom. For me the pond reacted faster then when I used the hay. I will say the hay worked as a fertilizer and saw a good bloom. Today, I have bushy pondweed that I do not want to fertilize that plant, its already too aggressive for my needs. I was looking for a way to stimulate the zooplankton which is what I understand the hay and or pellets will do. I have learned in my research and again from Erics post, that it can cause a DO problem in some situations. But it only took a qtr of a bale for a good bloom the first time I used it and by using so little of it I would not expect a DO problem. But I am no expert and in fact am pretty "DUH" when it comes to such things. If alfalfa stimulates a bloom then would it fertilize the vegetation?
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Do not judge me by the politicians in my City, State or Federal Government.


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#514875 - 12/12/19 07:05 PM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
jpsdad Offline


Registered: 05/20/18
Posts: 428
Loc: Texas
Quote:
If alfalfa stimulates a bloom then would it fertilize the vegetation?


I think it would though perhaps to a lesser extent. If the bloom restricts light penetration significantly it may actually lessen other vegetation. In any event, the nutrients bound in the bloom will eventually find their way into sediments where they will be available to rooted vegetation.

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#514889 - 12/13/19 07:46 AM Re: Organic Fertilizer or not? [Re: TGW1]
TGW1 Offline


Registered: 09/19/14
Posts: 2998
Loc: Harrison Co. Texas
I can see that happening where plankton/zooplankton would die off after lifespan and settle to the ponds bottom. Maybe one of the reasons why soil from a ponds bottom is so fertile. So, now I guess I will try the hay once again and see if I can get a bloom going this coming spring. Maybe the grass carp can keep up?

I'm not sure what happened this year but based off of comments here there has been a boom of bushy pondweed this year. I have seen more comments about it than I have seen in the past 5 yrs.


Edited by TGW1 (12/13/19 07:50 AM)
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