When checking your dugouts this fall, start with the area that feeds into the dugout, says a water specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry.
‘Make sure this area is free of debris that might flow into your dugout,” said Dan Benson. “This area should be mowed and kept clear of trees and weeds.”
Leaves add nutrients so deciduous trees should be no closer than 165 feet and conifers should be no closer than 65 feet.
Many areas had big rainfalls this year and that can mean algae and cyanobacteria blooms next year. So the aeration system needs to be in good shape. In addition to confirming the pump is working, the aeration line should be pulled to shore. At that time, inspect the line, check valve, and diffuser.
“If you use a floating intake, it should be inspected and cleaned,” said Benson. “It is best done by pulling your floating intake to shore. Your intake should be lowered to about four to five feet below the water surface. In most situations, it gives sufficient depth to provide water after the float freezes in the ice. You should also ensure that the intake line is weighted correctly, so it stays below the ice during winter.”
Because dugout aeration systems can result in open areas or weak ice, there should be “highly visible warning signs and a fluorescent snow fence around the open-water area. For greater safety, it is best if farmyard dugouts are fenced to avoid unauthorized access.”