History: As far back as the Middle Ages it was recognized that by adding straw to wells, the water was cleaner and free of growth. In more recent years, after allowing a bale of Barley straw to stay in a pond where it had fallen, a Scottish farmer noted that there was much less string algae in the pond. This discovery prompted the Center for Aquatic Plant Management in England to undertake studies which, in effect, confirmed that Barley Straw does affect the growth of many forms of algae.
How Barley Straw Works: Basically, after the straw has been in the water for periods ranging from 2 to 8 weeks, it begins to decompose. This occurs at different rates based on the water temperature. The higher the temperature, the faster the decomposition occurs. At this point, although it has not been fully proven, materials in the cell walls of the Barley Straw are released into the water. If sufficient oxygen is available in the peroxide to form. This activity appears to interfere with the growth of new algae cells. This has no effect on higher forms of plant life and there are no known reports of harmful effects on invertebrates or fish when used as recommended. In fact, there appears to be an increase in invertebrate populations where Barley Straw is in use.
How and Where To Apply Barley Straw: Barley Straw should be applied twice yearly in early spring and again in late summer or early fall. When adding a new bale of Barley Straw, it is a good idea to leave the old bale in the pond for a month so as not to interrupt the chemical activity. One 8-oz. bale of Barley Straw will treat up to 1,000 gallons for about 6 months. Best results occur when the straw is placed in an area where the water movement is at its greatest and where the barley bale is at or near the surface of the water. If a noxious odor occurs, remove the barley bale or decrease the amount of straw. This is usually caused by too much straw and too little water. For very small ponds, use a 4-oz. barley bale.
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