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Agronomic Services — News Release

MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2004


Rick Morris, NCDA&CS regional agronomist
(910) 866-5485

Testing farm ponds helps ensure their quality for agriculture and recreational uses

BLADENBORO – Thousands of farm ponds throughout North Carolina provide multiple benefits to their owners. Ponds can be for recreation, or they can provide irrigation for crops. Regardless of their purpose, water quality can have a big impact on the intended use.

Ponds stocked with bass, bream, crappie or catfish are investments to be protected. The pH of the water should be monitored and kept in an optimum range. Nutrient levels should be carefully watched to prevent unsightly algal growth. Having the water tested on a yearly basis helps identify nutrient and pH conditions that may cause serious problems.

Ponds used for irrigation should also be tested for quality. Mineral concentrations can cause irrigation equipment to malfunction. Certain chemical properties may also influence the effectiveness of nutrient or pesticide solutions made with pond water.

The Solution Analysis Service of the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services tests water to evaluate its quality for a number of agricultural purposes, including fish production, irrigation, hydroponics, pesticide solutions, and watering of livestock or poultry. It is a good way to evaluate water quality before a crop is irrigated and both before and after ponds are stocked with fish.

A typical solution analysis measures pH, total alkalinity, electrical conductivity and water hardness, as well as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine and sodium. It does not measure concentrations of pathogens or pesticides. A staff agronomist reviews lab results and makes relevant comments on usability, hazards and management strategies.

When taking a water sample, use a clean, plastic container. Rinse the container beforehand, but do not wash with detergent. Avoid collecting water from bottom residues or from those at or near the surface. Collect water from several different areas around the pond as far from the bank as possible. Mix all the collected water together in one container. Pour about a pint into a plastic container.

Send the sample to NCDA&CS Agronomic Division Plant/Waste/Solution Section, including a completed solution information form and a $4 processing fee for each sample. information forms are available from NCDA&CS regional agronomists, county Cooperative Extension offices, the NCDA&CS Agronomic Division in Raleigh, and online at

Properly labeling packages helps speed the time it takes to arrive at the lab. Packages sent to the lab through the U.S. Postal Service, should be addressed as follows:

RALEIGH NC 27699-1040

Packages being sent to the lab by UPS or Federal Express, should be addressed to:

RALEIGH NC 27607-6465

Test results are posted on the Internet two working days after the sample arrives at the lab. Just choose “Find Your Report” from the navigation column on the left side of the page. You will receive a copy of the report in the mail a few days later.

Growers in Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland and Robeson counties can contact Rick Morris for further information on sampling procedures: by phone at (910) 866-5485 or by e-mail at Growers in other counties can find the NCDA&CS regional agronomist for their area by visiting or calling Kent Messick at (919) 733-2655.


Last Update August 2, 2007


NCDA&CS Agronomic Services Division, Colleen M. Hudak-Wise, Ph.D., Director
Mailing Address: 1040 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1040
Physical Address: 4300 Reedy Creek Road, Raleigh NC 27607-6465
Phone: (919) 733-2655; FAX: (919) 733-2837

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