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|Barley straw has received considerable attention as an algaecide based on research done in England. Results showed that barley straw prohibits the growth of many ...
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Algae Control with Barley StrawFilamentous algae is the most common aquatic weed problem in many ponds. Its "sudden" appearance as it floats off the bottom causes consternation to pond owners as it degrades the aesthetic and recreational value of their ponds. Additionally, large amounts of filamentous algae can lead to a fish kill if specific climatic conditions occur. A number of mechanical, biological, and chemical control measures are available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages..
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Reference: Ohio State University Extension
Barley straw has received considerable attention as an algaecide based on research done in England. Results showed that barley straw prohibits the growth of many types of algae, but not all. However, recent research in the United States has not yielded conclusively positive results. While research results are inconclusive, the use of barley straw to control pond algae has grown. The purpose of this fact sheet is to provide pond owners with application guidelines should they decide to try barley straw as an algae control technique.
How Barley Straw May Work
There are a number of other types of straws available, including wheat, linseed, and oil seed. However, research in England has shown that barley straw is the most effective straw and provides control for a longer period of time.
Note: pond owners should use dried straw, not barley hay or fresh barley. The addition of those materials actually releases nitrogen and phosphorus into the water which promotes algae growth. These fresher materials also decompose very quickly and can cause low oxygen problems in ponds.
How Much to Apply
How and Where to Apply
In larger ponds, more effort is needed. Each bale should be broken up as much as possible so that nearly all decomposition will occur in the presence of oxygen. About 1/3 of a bale should be placed in a large, weighted permeable bag of some sort. If an intact bale is placed in the pond, only the decomposition occurring along the outside of the bale will occur in the presence of oxygen. Decomposition inside the "tight" bales will occur in the absence of oxygen and will not produce the chemical. In a one-acre pond, this will result in 6-9 loosely filled separate bags. These bags containing loose straw should be placed around the perimeter of the pond in water no deeper than 6 feet. Most algae production occurs in shallow water so the bulk of the control compound needs to be located there. Attaching a rope to each bag is advisable in order to retrieve the bags and replace the decomposed straw with fresh straw as needed.
When to Apply
Barley straw will fully decompose in about 4-6 months in our warm summers. If the barley straw decomposes completely before the end of July, substantial algae growth can still occur and may lead to an undesirable late summer situation. Therefore, in ponds with a history of algae problems, old straw should be replaced with fresh in mid-July. This may result in total seasonal control.
Another advantage is the slow decomposition process which provides for long-term control. Quite often, mechanical removal or herbicide control may have to occur frequently during the growing season. This can become physically exhaustive or expensive.
The private pond owner is under no such regulatory obligation. In these instances, barley straw is considered to be a home remedy and is not subject to EPA regulations. People living along public lakes cannot use barley straw in front of their house as the lake is considered "public water" and falls under EPA regulations.
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|Data Source: Ohio State University Extension. Articles and resource may contain pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide and it is always the pesticide applicator's responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used.|