Whether for crops, fish, livestock or drinking water, farmers, ranchers and rural landowners often rely on ponds or dugouts. The danger is that these can become stagnant, algae-filled nightmares as well as financial sinkholes.
To clean up their ponds and dugouts, more and more rural landowners are turning to clean, efficient pond aeration run by renewable wind power. As energy costs rise across America, they're turning away from ever more costly electric aerations systems, which require a continuous supply of electricity and are more susceptible to breakdown than their wind-powered counterparts.
Landowners are discovering how pond aeration by windmill can boost the bottom line and improve quality of life by eliminating an ongoing source of energy use and costly maintenance, while reviving water quality and thus the health of crops, fish, livestock and family members who depend on it.
A pond gone very bad
"My time was spent raking algae from the pond, lots of algae," says Terry, a farmer in Miller Albion, New York, who found copper sulphate treatments ineffective. "The open surface would turn into a green and brown hairy mat. I would spray the algae, the algae would sink to the bottom and the cycle would repeat itself. The perfect pond we dreamed of had turned into a huge liability.
"Then came the hard winter when the pond was snow covered from November through early spring. Every fish, big and small, was floating on the surface when the ice cleared," Terry says. The cost of the fish loss was in the thousands of dollars.
Generations ago, pond aeration would not have been needed to clean up stagnant water – the wind and rain did the job, stirring up the water enough to keep it oxygenated. In the last 20 years, however, pollutants and fertilizer run-off, combined with an increasing lack of rainfall, has caused many ponds and dugouts to stagnate. Medical costs for livestock that drink from algae-filled ponds can be thousands of dollars. The costs of maintenance and filters for irrigation pumps can also be thousands of dollars per year.
Saving the pond
The only way to save these ponds and dugouts is with bottom up-water aeration, which gives the water the strength to burn off the excess chemicals and pollutants that cause algae, weed growth and stagnation. The water becomes significantly clearer and clean when a supply of air, diffused into tiny bubbles and transported by tube, is continuously pumped to the bottom of a pond or dugout.
In this effort, windmill aerators are gaining in popularity over electrical ones for a number of reasons. Powered by wind as light as 3 mph, windmill aerators were originally developed for farm pond use when running electricity out to ponds was found to be too expensive. Wind costs nothing. It can save farmers and ranchers thousands per year in energy, maintenance and filter costs. It can save thousands more per year in preventing fish and livestock loss or sickness.
Another reason for the popularity of windmill aerators is how long they last. While the windmills only have three moving parts and will last decades, electrical aeration devices have motors and generally die out in a few years after constant use. Environmentally friendly windmills also eliminate the need for costly electric power or oil-based fuels.
After investigation, Terry chose a windmill aerator by Superior Windmill. "Fine air bubbles flowing up from the bottom of the pond added oxygen, which would cleanse the water of undesirable nutrients and chemicals, along with circulating the water and detoxifying the bottom layer of black muck," Terry says. "Aeration would reverse the damage I had caused by years of killing algae and weeds.
"The surface of our pond cleared in just a matter of days," Terry says. "By the end of summer, the pond bottom, previously covered with a thick layer of black muck, was on its way to a healthy recovery. Mid-fall brought healthy plant life, and by late fall our pond looked cleaner and clearer than ever before.
"I can see my Turbo Jet Stream effortlessly churning away in a light wind, constantly repairing the damage from the past 16 years," Terry says. He estimates that in the five years he’s owned the windmill, he's saved about $2,200 compared to the cost of electric aeration.
Crop farmers, too, find value in windmill aeration to improve water quality for irrigating crops, increasing their health and yield.
"To build a successful business, it is important to ensure that our water source is clean," says Frank Reaume, a green house operator in Saskatchewan, Canada. "We installed a windmill aeration system to help us improve water quality, and it has done a great job.
"The cleaner water decreased our maintenance costs dramatically on the piping and hosing needed to irrigate the crops," Reaume says. "In addition, we have seen a large increase in the health of our crops. This small investment that we have made in a windmill aeration system has paid for itself many times over, not including the savings incurred from harnessing the free power of the wind instead of using costly chemicals to keep our water clean."
Municipalities and golf courses too are saving significantly with windmill aeration. While typically spending $3,000 to $20,000 annually to keep ponds looking clean and healthy through the use of toxic chemicals, pro-active municipalities and golf courses are using windmill aeration to eliminate these costs.
Healthy water can also be beneficial to the rancher’s pocketbook and his cattle. A study by the Western Beef Development Centre in 2000 showed that calves that drink aerated water from dugouts tend to eat more, resulting in additional weight gains of 1/3 pound per day.
For added convenience, some windmill technology is available with two outgoing lines, enabling one to be used for pond aeration and the other for pumping water. Depending on the lift required, ranchers can provide clean water for up to 30 animals this way.
Fred Taylor, for instance, a beef farm owner in Blackstock, Ontario, Canada, uses a pond windmill aerator made by Koenders Windmills to supply fresh water to his cattle.
"I have it rigged up so it pumps water into a barrel, then recycles it into the pond so in the summer my cattle have instant, clean fresh water 100 percent of the time," Taylor says. "Another reason we put the windmill in ... we had to figure out a system to keep the cattle away from the main source of water to keep a fresh supply."
A steady supply of clean water can be just as important for humans as it is for livestock.
"Our pond was stagnating and producing a terrible smell not only from the water hole but also in the house itself (since) we were using the same water," say Marilyn and Normand Cay, cattle farmers in Saskatchewan, Canada. "Even after using large amounts of chemicals to keep this water clean, it was still not up to standards. It was so bad that it was coming out of the pipes brown. All our laundry turned gray and it just was not safe to drink anymore.
"That's when we installed a windmill aeration system," the Cays say. "Within weeks of its installation, the system was able to improve the water quality to a point where it tasted clean and sweet. The windmill aeration system has been one of the best purchases on our farm."
To their great satisfaction, rural landowners with ponds or dugouts are discovering that their wind-powered aeration systems are extremely low maintenance and ruggedly reliable, even to the point of withstanding hurricane conditions.
Terry Clemens of Alberta, Canada, has had his Koenders Windmills for almost 20 years. He says the only maintenance he has to do is a diaphragm and check valve replacement kit every seven years that costs him less than $50.
Jim Barrett of the Barrett Ranch in Venus, Florida, has used Koenders Windmills to aerate his farm ponds for more than six years. The windmill aerators have survived hurricanes and recent winds as high as 110 mph. He says the durability of these products has surprised even him.
Superior Windmill and Koenders Windmills are two of the world's most experienced manufacturers of windmill aeration systems. Models ship worldwide and typically range from 12 to 24 feet in height, with the hub and compressor pre-installed at the factory for ease of installation. Taller windmills typically have access to stronger winds, which can be harnessed to oxygenate and revive larger bodies of water or pump more water for farm, livestock or home use.
For more information, write to Superior Windmill Inc. at 3426 Saskatchewan Drive, Regina, SK Canada S4T 1H1; call toll-free 1-888-821-5533 in North America; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Web site at www.SuperiorWindmill.com .
To contact Koenders Windmills Inc. from the United States or Canada, call toll-free 1-888-777-4933; fax 1-306-721-1496; e-mail email@example.com; or visit the Web site at www.KoendersWindmills.com . Outside the United States and Canada, call 011-306-721-1495; fax 011-306-721-1496; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the Web site.