Blue-green algae is a problem many cattle producers became familiar with during recent drought. However, even in a year with normal rainfall, water quality is a concern. This was apparent this summer when the Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued blue-green algae warnings for several Kansas lakes.
The best way to keep algae from forming is preventing nutrients from entering the water in the first place, says K-State watershed specialist Herschel George. In some cases, an access point, similar to a boat ramp, can be used. In most situations, the best route is to place a tank below the pond and fence the pond off entirely. "What do cattle do in ponds? You let the cattle in, they defecate and urinate in the pond then they start tromping it," George says. "They'll wear the top of your dam down and later water starts running over the top, eroding the dam."
What can producers do if a water line wasn't installed when the pond was built? This summer, Herschel George, the K-State River Valley Extension District, and Orval Jueneman Dozer Service, Inc. of Hanover helped Mark Diederich install a line during a demonstration at his pasture near Barnes.
For more information, read the August Kansas Farmer.