Taking on Pond Scum

May 13, 2016

Heat, light, water and nitrogen… put them together and you get lakes and ponds that are choked with plant growth. The balance between discouraging aquatic unwanteds and encouraging the plant growth that supports aquatic life is a tricky one to manage.

Allen Patillo, aquaculture and fisheries extension specialist says preventing problems is easier than solving them, and that means nutrient management. He says protecting the watershed is the best first step by limiting the nitrogen leaving lawns and fields, and planting prairie or other species that will absorb the runoff.

Patillo says limiting light is also important. You can add non-toxic dye to the water to reduce light penetration early in the season and keep certain species of plants from growing.

Mowing around ponds is a double-edged sword. You might have fewer mosquitoes, but more Canada geese.

In this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe gets more pond pointers, and Patillo and extension horticulturist Richard Jauron answer listener questions.