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Duckweed- Friend or Foe?

February 28, 2012

   Ugly Duckweed takes over City Pond

Articles with similar headlines crop up every summer. I am fascinated by public perception of duckweed as a noxious pest when the very opposite is true. In many countries, duckweed is growing in popularity for its ability to quickly extract nitrogen and phosphorous from wastewater sources and convert them into a high protein feed source for poultry, fish, and swine.

So, back to the city pond being over-run by duckweed, “the noxious pest”. Sure, the pristine, clear pond is now covered with a green blanket that seemed to appear out of nowhere and people are upset. They want their pond clear again, as a clear pond is a healthy pond. Right? Obviously in this case, wrong! Unknown to the naked eye is a surplus of nitrates and phosphates that leached from nearby homes, farms, or factories. Nature has stepping in to correct the imbalance by bringing in its secret weapon, the smallest vascular plant on the planet- duckweed.

Duckweed goes to work on the excess nutrients in the water and rapidly turns them into a nutritious food source for both water and land animals or as a powerful natural fertilizer for land plants.

IF and it’s a powerful IF the city investigates the source of the waste nutrients and diverts them from the pond, then duckweed can finish cleaning up the excess nutrients and be harvested by some enterprising gardener/farmer that either feeds his animals with it, or composts it and returns it to the soil.  The natural cycle is complete.  The pond will clear up again.

IF duckweed is left to die, sink, and decay, then Nature’s attempts at righting the imbalance will be for nothing. The duckweed will decompose, smell, get an even worse reputation and the pond will still be polluted. What gets the blame? Duckweed. Who loses? We do as a society.

Through education and application, duckweed will find its place in the sun and  become accepted around the world as being Nature’s most effective solution  to man-made water pollution.  Duckweed- it’s got sustainability written all over it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan Munroe permalink
    June 26, 2012 3:26 pm

    Just like many farmers who cry ‘noxious weed’ and then go out and buy stock feed, when they’re growing some right on the surface of their ponds. The poison people really have folks trained, don’t they?



  2. March 8, 2012 8:08 am

    Happen to be trying to find this and learned much more than anticipated in this article. Thanks.
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