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Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
#527147 10/27/20 10:41 PM
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Hello everyone !
I’m new here ( first post) and I am having trouble finding the “ How to add 44.5 tons (or more) of Sodium Bentonite to my 1 acre poorly constructed , leaking ,sandy soiled pond bottom thread. Can someone please direct me to the right section to discuss this topic? I have a million questions . Thanks!

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527149 10/28/20 05:18 AM
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This is it!

Ill sit back, maybe someone can get Otto or Lusk to come help.

Is draining an option?


Im going to ask a lot of questions, but only because I'm clueless
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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527150 10/28/20 05:24 AM
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First, draining and drying is the only option. Bentonite needs to be mixed into the sandy stuff. Have you considered a liner?

A PB mag article, don't remember which one but the PB office should have it, discussed this. As I recall, most of the issue was devoted to this. But, it has to be dry.


It's not about the fish. It's about the pond. Take care of the pond and the fish will be fine. PB subscriber since before it was in color.

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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527151 10/28/20 07:08 AM
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Maybe this is a situation where you'd be better off with soilfloc? Talk to TJ on here!


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527157 10/28/20 08:07 AM
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Marty, since you are in Oklahoma where the Oil and Gas industry has been active for many many years. Look for and contact any Drilling fluid companies around you. Contact them looking for what is called liquid mud. Some of these companies sell this liquid mud. This is or can be a bentonite mix or ask them if there are any drilling operations going on around you. When an Energy company is done with the drilling they have to clean things up and may have to haul off the drilling fluid for disposal. It might be cheaper for them to haul it off to your pond. This would be done with what is called vacuum trucks. They would pump the liquid to the pond where it might help to seal the ponds bottom. This could be at no cost for you. Over the past 30 yrs we have done this many times. The pond needs to be drained before applying it.

Last edited by TGW1; 10/28/20 08:08 AM.

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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
CityDad #527180 10/28/20 09:11 PM
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Yes , the pond nearly drained itself after a few weeks with little or no rain. It’s a storm water detention type pond. I seined the fish and pumped the remainder out a couple of weeks ago. There were about 20,000 (or more ) small green perch and 2 each 8 & 10 lb flatheads in there. Strange

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Dave Davidson1 #527181 10/28/20 09:14 PM
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I did consider a liner but for 3/4 or 1 acre a liner would be $30,000.00 or more?

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
wbuffetjr #527182 10/28/20 09:29 PM
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I read a little about Soilfloc but wonder about the cost and ever changing water levels and how it would be affected on the banks during dry spells. However ,if I wasn’t losing so much water to seepage I may be able to keep it topped off with a fountain supplied by one of my 2 wells?

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527183 10/28/20 10:04 PM
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Marty, Is your soil sandy clay or sandy loam??

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Snipe #527226 10/30/20 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Snipe
Marty, Is your soil sandy clay or sandy loam??


I’m not sure how to identify the soil . It seems like a very fine red sand. When I did a bucket test(With perforated bottom) it held water for 2 days then found a hole and washed out. When I put a small amount of the bottom soil in my hand and get it wet I can make a ball, roll it back and forth and form a “worm”. When it dries it becomes hardened but breaks easily. I have the soil conservationist for our county coming to look at it in a few days, but not sure if they do soil analysis or not .I know it’s important in determining the application rate for the bentonite. I think 4 lbs per sq foot might work but really am not sure how much is needed.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527248 10/31/20 11:37 PM
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If you can make a roll or ball it's not loam. Sounds like clay to me, whether it's lean to fat I don't think it matters but when talking about bentonite and lbs per acre, that's mixed into existing substrate and compacted. Final layer should be high plasticity clay if available.
Plan 3ft deeper than what you want for finished depth is soil allows.
We did some hatchery runs NW of you in some lean sandy clay but we used a completely different method on those. Clay would not work because of frequent draw-down and re-fill.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #527251 11/01/20 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by MartyC
Originally Posted by Snipe
Marty, Is your soil sandy clay or sandy loam??


I’m not sure how to identify the soil . It seems like a very fine red sand. When I did a bucket test(With perforated bottom) it held water for 2 days then found a hole and washed out. When I put a small amount of the bottom soil in my hand and get it wet I can make a ball, roll it back and forth and form a “worm”. When it dries it becomes hardened but breaks easily. I have the soil conservationist for our county coming to look at it in a few days, but not sure if they do soil analysis or not .I know it’s important in determining the application rate for the bentonite. I think 4 lbs per sq foot might work but really am not sure how much is needed.


Why not take that same bucket and then add the bentonite to see the results of adding the clay. Might also give you an idea as to how much bentonite to add. You could mix it in or add it to the top of your sample of dirt to see what works best for you.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
TGW1 #527252 11/01/20 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by TGW1
Originally Posted by MartyC
Originally Posted by Snipe
Marty, Is your soil sandy clay or sandy loam??


I’m not sure how to identify the soil . It seems like a very fine red sand. When I did a bucket test(With perforated bottom) it held water for 2 days then found a hole and washed out. When I put a small amount of the bottom soil in my hand and get it wet I can make a ball, roll it back and forth and form a “worm”. When it dries it becomes hardened but breaks easily. I have the soil conservationist for our county coming to look at it in a few days, but not sure if they do soil analysis or not .I know it’s important in determining the application rate for the bentonite. I think 4 lbs per sq foot might work but really am not sure how much is needed.


Why not take that same bucket and then add the bentonite to see the results of adding the clay. Might also give you an idea as to how much bentonite to add. You could mix it in or add it to the top of your sample of dirt to see what works best for you.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
TGW1 #529543 01/09/21 11:55 AM
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TGW1 I sent you a PM

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529544 01/09/21 01:01 PM
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This is a mistake that happened in some areas SE of me.. Bentonite was used where it was not suitable for the soil type and IF you have lean sandy clay there is a much better option. I sealed a 2.2 acre impoundment with lean sandy clay with some areas of sandy loam and our core samples tested came back at less than .030 seep a day, which is the lowest our firms in this location can test for. Terracon is located in wichita, they do our testing. I push this hard because bentonite is a possible candidate but depending on soil type, there is a cheaper, better option.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Snipe #529548 01/09/21 03:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Snipe
This is a mistake that happened in some areas SE of me.. Bentonite was used where it was not suitable for the soil type and IF you have lean sandy clay there is a much better option. I sealed a 2.2 acre impoundment with lean sandy clay with some areas of sandy loam and our core samples tested came back at less than .030 seep a day, which is the lowest our firms in this location can test for. Terracon is located in wichita, they do our testing. I push this hard because bentonite is a possible candidate but depending on soil type, there is a cheaper, better option.
Snipe, I don't know if I'm missing something or not understanding you but how are you treating the pond?


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529564 01/09/21 09:06 PM
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I use a common compound-dense soda ash-in Sandy clay and sandy loam. The secret is knowing the procedure and the rate.
Part of my living is wrapped up in this so I'm not going to be too specific for 2 reasons, #1, soil type dictates amount per square foot and #2, the rates vary by depth and we've found through many trials what works in "X" soil and what doesn't.
The advantage of this procedure is where ponds fluctuate widely, the soil does not "crack" when water is off of it and it's about 1/5th the cost of anything else out there.
It's incorporated into soil and compacted but much thinner layers than bentonite.
EDIT: I need to clarify my statement here.. I am reluctant to state the entire process because if not done correctly you can have serious pH issues and it can inhibit plant growth of desirable species. I don't want someone trying this and have problems without understanding the procedure.

Last edited by Snipe; 01/09/21 09:15 PM.
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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529567 01/09/21 10:17 PM
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Thanks Snipe, I thought maybe you was using something like soilfloc while water was in the pond. I haven't heard much but I've heard of using soda ash. I wish there was something else like soilfloc that was 1/5th the cost. Lol!


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529569 01/09/21 10:55 PM
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Don't take this wrong, Soilfloc has a strong niche to fill, in fact I've been in touch with TJ about using some myself in my own pond. I'm looking at this from a beginning approach, as-in IF I COULD DO IT from the beginning. And I believe TJ will back me on having a sound plan to start with is better than going back and trying to fill in our short-cuts.
And, if this is a situation where land based equipment cannot get access to the basin then I would strongly recommend we get TJ involved.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529570 01/09/21 11:42 PM
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Snipe, I have a unit of Soilflock to use in our sandy soil as a test. I wanted to get the test done this Fall, but cold weather moved in and the ground started to freeze first. I'll do some testing this Spring with it as it relates to using in the pond basin and sides before it fills with water. Here our ground could be considered beach sand in a lot of areas in this county. Here on this property there is a mixture of Plainfield fine sand, rolling phase with some Clyde Fine Sand soil interspersed with the Plainfield. The land 50 yds to the S of my pond is considered a seasonal wooded wetland with Pin Oaks the predominate species growing there, with some Sugar Maple.


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529571 01/10/21 07:15 AM
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I see a couple of problems using Soda ash. First is what snipe said about increasing the pH. As it desolves on the ponds bottom there could be an increase in the pH and I could see where waves from the wind might increase the chances it could increase pH. The second problem could be as it desolves into the water it will decrease the waters hardness, calcium. We want some hardness in the water. at least 40ppm if memory serves me.

Last edited by TGW1; 01/10/21 07:16 AM.

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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529573 01/10/21 12:42 PM
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Snipe, I've talked to TJ a couple of times, he is very helpful. My pond is slowly doing better, but not as fast as I want it to. The next time my water level is high and I have the extra funds and my body is doing well and the weather is warm enough, I plan to try soilfloc if it isn't doing much better. A lot of ifs have to come together to make it work. Lol!


Bob


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Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
Bobbss #529574 01/10/21 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Bobbss
Snipe, I've talked to TJ a couple of times, he is very helpful. My pond is slowly doing better, but not as fast as I want it to. The next time my water level is high and I have the extra funds and my body is doing well and the weather is warm enough, I plan to try soilfloc if it isn't doing much better. A lot of ifs have to come together to make it work. Lol!

Bob, ponds do build up material that helps to seal them. Clays that settle from run off accumulate not to mention organics. In some parts of world, where clays are not part of the landscape, ponds are sealed on sandy soil with nothing more than manures. So this trend you see will probably continue. The fact that it is a trend is evidence supporting the notion that your leaking problem is diminishing.

I haven't given much consideration between costs of the different approaches one may take. So I don't know the cost of Soil-floc or bentonite for example. It seems like I have read that soil floc comes in two parts and I do wonder why. One thing that occurs to me is that one part floats. IIRC the polymer which absorbs water and is activated by water is what floats. So perhaps the other part is supposed to floc with it and sink the polymer. If this is so, then I do see other possible treatments that may work as well or perhaps even better than soil-floc at less cost.

One thing that comes to mind is bentonite especially in combination with a flocculant like gypsum. The treatment would involve mudding the water and then clarifying the water with the appropriate amount of gypsum. Such a treatment shouldn't adverse affect PH and should ensure the Bentonite makes it to the bottom without flowing out of the pond. The binding with the gypsum should prevent muddying by organisms stirring the sediment. My hunch is that this would work every bit as well as soil floc for long term reduction of filtration.

My father-in-law's place has a small pond on it that was built with box blade. It was built on a slope of a sandy hill and after they had constructed it never held water. A few years after construction, an oil driller asked if they could move a location to the pond (as it was already constructed) in order to dispose of tailings from the cable tool drilling. Now keep in mind, a cable tool doesn't use mud for drilling. But as they pounded their way through shales, a natural mud was created and these were disposed of in the leaky pond. The well was dry and they moved the rig away, but the pond there after held water and was still holding water 60 years hence when he told me about it some 30 years ago.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529575 01/10/21 03:05 PM
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Guys, I think my intent was taken wrong here.. If starting a new pond basin in lean sandy clay or sandy loam, I can get a near 100% seal using my techniques as compared to using Bentonite. I can seal a 15' 1 acre pond for about 3,000$ for the material.
What I do after the seal is completed is what holds the pH steady. My pond is going into year 4. My pH is 7.8, my hardness runs about 120-140.
The trick is a 1 foot blanket of dirt over the top with riprap shores down to 3-4' in many areas, a lot of gravel and sand substrate.
My point of what I'm saying is there are other ways to seal a basin than bentonite alone. In my neck of the woods, the closest supply of high-end Bentonite has to be trucked out of Utah and besides not working good in a high fluctuation pond, it's cost makes it a bad option here. I think each area has soil types that bind in different ways with different compounds but the one constant is regardless of what is used, it has to be used properly, with proven installation/incorporation methods to have the best chance.

Re: Applying Bentonite to sandy soil
MartyC #529576 01/10/21 05:14 PM
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Jpsdad, thanks for the info. You're one of the few people I've heard say you can use bentonite to seal a pond that has water in it. I've had a few people tell me that it worked for them, but most on here say you have to till it in and compact it.


Bob


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