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#545560 03/23/22 04:43 PM
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Steve_ Offline OP
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Hello folks, its been a while since I posted an update. Got a small pond that was dug last summer (between 1/8 and 1/6th of an acre). I have tons of exposed red clay, and the liner is made of red clay. It does not settle during a jar test (or very little). Every rain, it becomes a mud hole. I can treat it with a small amount of aluminum sulfate that I dissolve in a bucket, and spray around the pond, but this is not a feasible, long-term option. I've heard that algae will eventually cling to the suspended clay particles and hold them to the bottom, but I am not seeing that yet.

I'm having a hard time getting grass to grow in all of the red clay as well, and that's probably the biggest issue. Can't really afford hydro-seeding right now.

Any opinions on red clay? Should I try to throw down some bentonite on top of it? Would SoilFloc be an option? Just tired of this red mess.


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Steve_ , I think no to the bentonite, it is too dispersive IMHO. Before I did any treatment I think I would solve the vegetation issue. I would try to establish a grass that doesn't bunch but spreads (like Bermuda or buffalo grass). An annual can help also by providing immediate soil stabilization where the spreading grass can take over the following year. For annuals I like rye, wheat, or oats.


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Is the pond holding water 100%? If so, then bentonite is not the cure for what ails you.

I agree with jpsdad, that getting anything growing would be a good starting point. Converting bare clay into fertile "soil" is an organic process.

I believe there were some old threads where people had pretty good success getting rye started on their clay.

Are there any spots where you are sure you have a thick clay seal? If so, then you could disk or rake in some good topsoil and then lightly compact. Maybe you could get some patches of vegetation started in those spots.

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Try gypsum? A jar test will tell if it works, and it has been effective down here where we have lot's of red clay.


AL

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Get a soil sample from around your pond in 5 or 6 spots down to about 4 inches. Combine samples in a bucket and mix together. Take sample of combined soil to your local coop. Have them send in your soil sample for analysis. When you get your results back put down appropriate amount of lime and fertilizer as well as seed you want to grow. They make liquid lime that is fast acting unlike ag lime but also more expensive. If you don’t want to wait on the soil sample, spray the liquid lime and put down erosion control blankets/mats with the seed in them around the shoreline of your pond.

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A couple yrs ago when I built my pond, actually maybe could be considered a lake I had a couple acres of really crappy clay on the back side of the dam that I was scared of erosion, so early in the spring, before growing season here in MO, I spread the whole back dam with a ton of rye and wheat and inter-seeded with clover and crown vetch. I spread a lime truck across the top of the dam but that didn't spread down the hill very far, I did put some triple 13 fertilizer on it, with a little rain that we got that thing greened up fast and about the time the rye and wheat matured and dried out the clover kicked in and I was able to get a very good mat to hold the soil, almost zero erosion. that was a huge relief because I didn't see anything growing on that nasty rocky clay soil for a long time, it is still going strong, the clover seems to reseed itself every yr, what little seeds that mature, the deer go across it and clip the heads of the clover almost as fast as it heads out every yr, the whole thing has actually become a big greenfield deer attractant for the last three yrs.
The bottom line is, like others have said, there is very little growing nutrients to be had in that red clay, any growth you get out of your seed is whatever fertilizers and other stimulants that you add to the soil, and it will probably be hard to get your water to stabilize till you get erosion down and clay from washing into the pond every time it rains. Good Luck!


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Not many grasses are going to grow well in bare clay. I had work done on a spillway on my pond that left a lot of exposed clay. The guy I lease my pastures to had some old hay he wanted to get rid of and I spread it all over. The hay decayed composting the soil and the seeds in it sprouted. It also prevented erosion.

https://i.ibb.co/9sYTPcB/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW-thumb-6ce5.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/TwQBzBZ/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW-thumb-6cdd.jpg
https://i.ibb.co/Jc0mLsz/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW-thumb-6cdf.jpg

I had better soil next to the spillway and was able to use erosion cloth to get grass started there.

https://i.ibb.co/W6YW2jr/IMG-2331.png
https://i.ibb.co/hKpMXFR/IMG-2346.jpg

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Steve_ Offline OP
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Thank you all. Funny enough, I got grass to grow on the dam fairly well. All I did was take a stone rake to it to loosen the clay, threw down seed, and it took off. The trouble is my backyard. The contractor that dug the pond cleared the entire field (roughly 9000 sq ft), and it all washes into the pond every time it rains. I feel like it's going to take some serious work (and money) to fix everything.

I also don't feel like it's holding water very well, either, but that's a topic for another day.


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If the ground prep and seeding job is too big, then just do a few strips perpendicular to the direction of the drainage slope.

A strip just outside of the pond area, plus as many others as you can manage could make a significant dent in the erosion and pond silting.

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Originally Posted by Steve_
Thank you all. Funny enough, I got grass to grow on the dam fairly well. All I did was take a stone rake to it to loosen the clay, threw down seed, and it took off. The trouble is my backyard. The contractor that dug the pond cleared the entire field (roughly 9000 sq ft), and it all washes into the pond every time it rains. I feel like it's going to take some serious work (and money) to fix everything.

I also don't feel like it's holding water very well, either, but that's a topic for another day.

Amazingly enough, this does happen more frequent then you think, Clay will grow more then you think, the difference is the clay on the dam was disturbed and aerated where water can penetrate the surface, often times when the top soil or surface is stripped of dirt the remaining clay hardpan is impermeable by moisture, water, its why farmers will take a deep shanked ripper and loosen the top ft to 16 inches of the soil. will make an amazing difference in the fertility of the soil. its also the reason that sometimes, especially when things get hot and dry where a ditch line that has been dug up and loosened will have much greener grass then the rest of the yard. at least thats the way our soils work her in MO. Good Luck!


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Originally Posted by gehajake
when the top soil or surface is stripped of dirt the remaining clay hardpan is impermeable by moisture, water, its why farmers will take a deep shanked ripper and loosen the top ft to 16 inches of the soil.

Steve, I can rent a 32HP tractor pretty cheaply with either a box blade (with rippers), a 5' disk, or a roto-tiller. (There is not much down-pressure on a 5' disk to break true hardpan. The roto-tiller is very effective, but would be slow for 9000 sq. feet.)

You could probably rip up a little good topsoil from a borrow area and spread a little on your clay with the FEL. Then break up your clay and over-seed.

They let me take the tractor and implement out over the whole weekend for just the daily rate if I only put 8 hours on the meter. (I just checked my current rates. $150/day for JD tractor, $30/day for box blade, plus $ for trailer.)

If you finish your clay job in less time, you can probably use the tractor for some other projects at your place!

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The linear polymer I use to seal ponds is a flocculant - it binds with clay particles and sinks them. I've found it works more efficiently than alum with additional benefit of zero impact on ph levels....this means not hydrated lime buffer requirement. Feel free to reach out anytime.


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After you do the soil test and amend the soil so it has all the nutrients and proper pH to grow grass, see if you can rent a grass "seeder" or drill from the local NRCS office or local rental place. Grass seed that is under the surface of the soil the proper depth will grow a lot faster and easier than just thrown on top.

I took a master gardening class years back and they said that a newly seeded lawn had to be watered frequently enough so the soil never dried out on the surface. They said every time the soil dried out, you would lose 50% of the grass seed that had germinated.

Even overseeding a lawn, a grass drill will get you a LOT better germination rate.


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Glad to see you back on the forum Steve. Every time I see one of your old post I wonder what happen to you.

Sounds like you could use Soilfloc to help seal it up and clear it up.

I had pretty good luck with straw matts. I also had pretty good luck with rye grass and clover. I think the clover did the best and still have some but the tall fescue grass is slowly taking over.


Bob


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