How to Build a Farm Pond

A farm pond provides a source of water for farm animals, fish for eating and recreation if properly built and maintained.

Using a current water source, such as a stream or water spring, is one way to make a farm pond. Digging in a dry area and tapping into an underground water table is another method. Most ponds receive some water from runoff, making low-lying areas a prime location.

Research the regulations in your area. Begin by contacting your local Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Have a professional perform a site evaluation to determine if your desired location is suitable. The lay of the land, water sources and zoning laws need to be considered. Your best resource here is the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, which will not be as costly as a private company.

Consult with a soil analyst from either a private corporation or a government agency. It is crucial to determine whether your soil and underlying strata can contain and support a farm pond. You can have your soil tested through an agriculture program at your local university, the Extension Service or a private company such as Midwest Laboratories.

Survey the land and draw blueprints. Depending on local regulations, the survey may need to be completed by a professional land surveyor (find one at U.S. Surveyor). You may also need to have blueprints drawn by a draftsman.

Apply for necessary permits as per local regulations. In most cases, you will need to provide blueprints and, if applicable, dam specifications.

Excavate the pond area to the desired depth. Depending on the size of your pond, you will likely need a small bulldozer. If you decide to do it yourself, you can rent one through a chain such as United Rentals. To hire a professional contractor, start at Best Contractors.

Treat the farm pond bottom. Treatment of the soil is often necessary if the soil does not contain the proper water-holding properties. Often, bentonite--volcanic clay--is used as a sealing compound to avoid seepage.

Fill the pond. This can be done by allowing the pond to fill up naturally through the water table, runoff and rain or by a stream or creek that feeds into the pond, or you can import water. Any water that is added should be tested to ensure that it will provide a suitable environment for fish and will not harm wildlife or farm animals.

Tip

  • Consult with the Extension Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service as much as possible to reduce costly mistakes.

Warning

  • Acquire all necessary permitting before building your pond. Comply with all regulations to avoid damaging the land around you or endangering other people.