Water is precious liquid BLUE gold. Land has been called BLACK gold.
Ponds, water add value to real estate
At a recent pond management field day held in Colorado County, Dr. Don Steinbach, fisheries specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service, discussed the correct ways for stocking ponds and the varieties of fish and plants needed to have a successful pond.
“I’m not just going to just try and give you 1,2,3 answers…go do this, go do this and go do this. I want to actually see if I can get you to think of a pond that…from a biological perspective…works, rather than just giving you a series of answers,” said Steinbach.
“Those of you who deal with land and land values and what people are looking for...what the market is looking for in terms of land…I would tell you that water is very, very important.
“If you want to check the value of this, just look at the real estate ads in the paper and see…how often water is related to an ad and what they talk about concerning price per acre,” said Steinbach.
“Whatever it costs you to put in…$5,000, 10,000 or 15,000…a couple of acres pond…I guarantee you, you can re-coop that in the market.
The market recognizes the value of water on your land.
That’s regardless of the conservation value of it…just from the market perspective of how valuable water is to land.”
In past years, property was more for production, but times have and are changing. More people are purchasing land for recreational purposes and just to get away from the cities.
“The reason the market is beginning to recognize that is because land, today, is shifting from a productive value to one of a consumptive value,” added Steinbach.
He referred to the novel, “Texas,” by James Mitchner. Texans have always had a kind of romance with land and just want to own some, he said.
“If you look at the agricultural productive value of land and what the market says land has on it for productive value, what it’s appraised for on the books and what is on the books from a market prospective…across the state of Texas…that’s about a 6 to 1 ratio,” said Steinbach. He believes that land in South Central Texas is more like a 19 to 1 ratio.
“How do you estimate the value (of property) with water? You look at the greeness of the water.
“A lake that has a green color to it is actually producing a plant that is capturing sunlight, like the grass captures sunlight, and that’s how you get the productive value of the pond,” said Steinbach.
“The productive value of a pond is measured by its surface acreage. Whenever I talk about how many pounds of fish you can grow, it will be how many pounds per surface acre…it has nothing to do with the depth of the water.
“You can grow as many pounds of fish in 4 feet of water as you can in 40 feet of water. You cannot stack fish vertically,” said Steinback.
The pond has about 100 pounds of productive capability in a surface acre of water, according to Steinbach, and the types of fish do not matter.
Nutrients in the water are the most important factor to address.
“What puts value in your lake or pond…in terms of productive capabilities…is plants that cause the pond to be green and are called phytoplankton.
“You can’t see them with the your naked eye, but that’s why you say water has a green color to it.
“The phytoplankton causes lakes to be able to produce fish,” said Steinbach. “Phytoplankton is the basis of the food chain.”
As far as what fish to stock, each owner should evaluate his own needs and plans for his pond. If you want lots of nice fish for recreational fishing, Steinbach suggests catfish and bluegill sunfish. Also, if you are looking to produce largemouth bass, you must have the bluegills.
According to Steinbach, if you take a one acre pond and have enough phytoplankton and zooplankton (small bugs that feed on phytoplankton) to feed the fish, it will take about 2 years to produce 100 pounds of sustainable fish.
“You could take that same one acre pond, and if you would feed that lake a pelleted ration of fish food, you could produce 1,000 pounds of catfish in 6 months,” said Steinbach.
“In order to grow largemouth bass, you absolutely must have bluegill sunfish in that lake.
“With catfish, you can pretty much take what you want out of the lake. That’s what I call a meat pond,” said Steinbach.
“The limits to take fish out of a bass pond is about 25 pounds per surface acre per year…that’s about the sustainable yield that you can get out of a bass pond.”