Nutrient pollution is a costly and challenging environmental issue for farmers and land owners across north America, and one of the key nutrients plaguing our waters is phosphorus. Although phosphorus is a naturally occurring element, it can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems when managed poorly.
Phosphorus can be found in soil as well as suspended in water or attached to plants or animals. It is a key nutrient that can aid in the growth of crops and appears in many human driven agricultural, industrial, and urban activities (Bruulsema, et al., 2011).
When excessive amounts of phosphorus are released into the natural environment it causes environmental issues such as reduced levels of oxygen, accelerated plant and weed growth, and algae blooms of blue and green algae. The poor quality of water will cause a number of problems whether the water is used for irrigation, livestock, or drinking, contaminated water can be costly and difficult to treat.
According to A Phosphorus Primer, sources of phosphorus pollution come from point and non-point sources (Bruulsema, et al., 2011). A point source is when phosphorus enters the body of water from a specific known location. A non-point source comes from diffused and variable points across a landscape, and is not as easily identified. The majority of phosphorus pollution in rural areas come from non-point sources such as cropland erosion and runoff, which is why nutrient pollution can be so difficult to manage.
In freshwater untouched by nutrient pollution, plant and algae growth is slow and limited due to the low levels of phosphorus that occur naturally. So, when phosphorus is added to water, algae and plants are able to grow and the water becomes “Eutrophic”.
“Eutrophic is the term used to describe the condition of nutrient enrichment when aquatic plant growth becomes excessive. One of the key concerns of eutrophication is the impact of oxygen levels.” (Bruulsema, et al., 2011).
Algae grows quickly, but it also dies quickly, in a rapid cycle. The dying mass of algae falls to the bottom of the body of water to decay and bacteria must work extra hard to consume the organic matter, which causes it to consume much of the dissolved oxygen in the water as well. The low levels of oxygen affect the aquatic organisms in the ecosystem, who require sufficient oxygen to survive. “trout, salmon, and aquatic insects such as mayfly, stonefly, and caddisfly are particularly sensitive to low levels of oxygen”. (Bruulsema, et al., 2011).
Management practices can help reduce phosphorus pollution. Each case of nutrient pollution is unique, as different point or non-point sources can be at fault. Therefore, practices are usually specific to the sources, and what works for one case may not be suitable for every farm operation. However, there are some guiding principles that can apply to many agricultural operations.
For non-point sources the best management practices are to educate yourself about what’s in your soil, water, and any fertilizers or products you are using. Nutrient management planning and materials testing can help you identify where your phosphorus loads are coming from and how much you are dealing with. You also want to keep phosphorus in the soil and keep your soil on your cropland. Soil management and soil erosion control can help in doing so (Bruulsema, et al., 2011).
Point sources are a little easier to manage if you can identify the sources and reduce the amount of phosphorus at the source, whether that be your milking center, livestock yard, greenhouse or other point source. Proper water management is an important best practice to divert clean water and treat contaminated liquids to reduce the risk of pollution. It is also important to manage concentrated sources and diluted sources differently (Bruulsema, et al., 2011).
Koenders Water Solutions is focused on reducing nutrient pollution in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Koenders has worked with close to 100,000 pond and lake owners to deploy a 3 step program of sustainable practices to tackle nutrient pollution, called Natures Pond Care.
Nature’s Pond three-step program is designed to fight phosphorus and nutrient pollution in ponds. With three simple steps you can Renew, Revive, and Remove to:
Natures Pond Conditioner is Made from a natural blend of beneficial bacteria, enzymes, plant extracts and a food-grade dye. This powerful formula goes to work breaking down and consuming phosphorus and other polluting nutrients to start the process towards clean and clear water.
Once the phosphorus and other polluting nutrients have been broken down, bottom up aeration infuses the water with oxygen, allowing the digested nutrients to make its way out of the pond and into the air.
Finally remove unwanted aquatic vegetation manually to maintain the health of your pond with the Cutter n’ Rake.
By following our simple, cost-effective 3-step program, you can eliminate the effects of phosphorus and improve the health of your pond, naturally. For more information about Nature’s Pond Care, Click Here.
For more information about Phosphorus Pollution, Follow the link below to order your free copy of “A Phosphorus Primer”.
Bruulsema, T., Davies, P., Dobbs, F., Stephens, S., Brown, C., …, J., O’Halloran, I. (2011). A Phosphorus Primer. Agriculture Canada, Agri-food Canada. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Ontario Federation of Agriculture.
Our All-in-One Pond Conditioner is simply the most effective, natural product on the market for achieving clean, clear, and healthy water.
Increase oxygen levels with Bottom-Up Aeration. It's a safe, natural and sustainable way to keep your pond or lake healthy and balanced.
Introducing Nature's Pond Cutter 'N' Rake, a 3-in-1 tool that cuts weeds and pulls and rakes them out of your water for good.