Using duck manure

Asked June 11, 2013, 12:07 AM EDT

I have 4 ducks that play in a 16 gallon water tank. I change the water about 3 times a week. Can I use the dirty water on my landscaping plants, trees, or vegetable garden? I was concerned about too much nitrogen and bacteria. Thanks for your advice!

Multnomah County Oregon soil and fertility issues

1 Response

Good day, and thank you for using Ask an Expert.

I’m surprised I wasn’t able to locate any research-based information about using duck pond water for gardens. So, I suggest you be cautious and follow guidelines for safely using animal manures. Because the water is changed 3 times a week, the resulting solution will be rather dilute and you should be able to freely it applied to landscape plants as needed.

Your general guidelines include these:
1. Consider the pond’s water to be a “fresh” source of manure.
2. Apply at ground level when using for flowers, trees and shrubs.
3. Don’t use on vegetables because of potential contamination of your edibles.
4. Thoroughly wash your hands after distributing the pond water.

“Guidelines For Using Manure On Vegetable Gardens” deals with the topic in more detail. Notice that the 4th item states: “For added safety, use water that meets drinking water standards to irrigate vegetables that are to be eaten raw. This is particularly important within one month of harvest.” http://foodsafety.wsu.edu/consumers/factsheet15.htm