E-mail for a complete report by The Center for Aquatic Plant Management/UK on Barley Straws effectiveness with regard
BARLEY STRAW BUNDLES
are inexpensive and healthier for your fish and plants than chemicals.
Barley straw has been used for centuries in Europe to maintain fish and garden
pond water quality. It has been proven environmentally safe and is inexpensive.
TYPE OF STRAW TO USE
Barley straw is more effective and works for longer periods than wheat or other
straws. The variety of barley straw does not seem to have any effect on the
performance. Hay should never be used as it increases algae growth and it decomposes
very rapidly which may cause a deoxygenating of the water. Barley straw will
not kill existing algae, it is not a pesticide. Rather it creates a unique pond
environment which discourages any unwanted growth while not harming any plant
or animal habitants.
NATURAL vs. HERBICIDES: The growth rate of
algae makes it very difficult to control. There are many forms of algae and
most are susceptible to herbicide use. The problem with using herbicides is
that it also will kill your other plants and once the chemical is gone from
the water, the re-growth of algae will reappear and subsequently become worse
years later. Natural solutions are safer and more cost effective.
HOW DOES BARLEY STRAW WORK
As the straw decomposes in the water, byproducts are released creating
a unique environment. The temperature of the water is an important factor. If
the water temp is 40 degrees it may take up to 2 weeks for the straw to become
active. When the water temperature is above 40 degrees the straw becomes active
faster. In about a week the straw should begin to release it's chemical, given
sufficient sunlight and oxygen. Well oxygenated conditions are essential to
ensure the straw will decompose and produce it's chemical. If the straw is in
a compacted state with restricted water movement through the straw, the effectiveness
is extremely reduced.
WILL BARLEY STRAW HARM FISH OR PLANTS
Barley straw does not harm fish or plant life. Actually in most cases it
increases the invertebrate population providing a food source for fish. In fish
farms and hatcheries where straw has been used, there are reports of improved
gill function and better overall fish health.
WHERE TO APPLY THE STRAW
In garden ponds, the straw should be wrapped loosely in some type of netting
that will allow water to flow through. To be most effective, place the bundle
of straw in or near a waterfall or stream. As the straw decomposes it will sink.
Some sort of float (cork or plastic bottle) should be attached to keep it partially
out of the water. The straw needs a continuous exposure to both water and oxygen.
Keeping the straw oxygenated will help the barley decompose thus releasing the
WHEN SHOULD BARLEY STRAW BE ADDED
Barley straw should be added very early in the spring. It is best to apply
when the water temp is low. Time should be given (about 30 days) for the straw
to become active. Once activated, the straw will create the unique environment
for up to 6 months. A replacement bundle should be added before the first bundle
is completely decomposed. Two applications should be enough for one year. Ponds
that have a high content of suspended mud it may be necessary to add more straw
than in clear waters as the byproducts can be slowly inactivated by the mud.
Volume of water does not have as much importance as surface area does.
An average home garden pond of 800 - 1200 gallons of water should only
need an 8 ounce bundle of straw in the spring and then again around the beginning
of summer. Avoid adding excessive amounts of straw especially in extremely hot
conditions. Be sure to remove the straw if you're in a climate where the water
will freeze. For ponds under 800 gallons, 4 ounces of barley straw should be
DOMESTIC VS. IMPORTED
The variety of barley straw has no effect on it's performance