Food Plot Site Preparation
This may be the most beneficial part of a prosperous food plot. For greatest results, all plots must be properly prepared before tillage and planting by removing all the unwanted trees and stumps. All existing unwanted vegetation must be killed before the soil can be properly prepared for planting. After mowing or clearing, a few weeks of regrowth may be needed in order to ensure an effective kill by applying a commercial grade weed and grass killer that contains 41% Glyphosate. It will only kill green vegetation upon plant contact. No ground prep should be started until all unwanted vegetation is dead or removed.
Testing Your Soil
Soil testing in advance of any plot preparation is an important function for success and is inexpensive compared to other aspects of planting food plots. Balanced plant nutrition is required to provide the greatest forage yields. Proper soil pH controls the availability of nutrients in the soil that is in a usable form for proper growth of plants. Appling lime to adjust the soil pH where necessary is very important and is the most significant factor when establishing a successful food plot. Collect and combine 4 to 6 small samples of soil from one plot for testing, this will acquire an overall consensus of the soil composition. Your soil test will determine the pH level and will advise you on the appropriate amount of lime and fertilizer that is necessary for proper nutrition balance. Different crops do vary on nutritional needs, but correct plant nutrition is required to achieve the maximum forage yields.
Lime and Fertilizer
Appling lime to correct the soil pH where necessary is very essential for plant growth. The correct quantity of lime may have to be applied in more then one application and should be completed well in advance of planting. You may enhance the results by working the lime and fertilizer into the soils of your food plot. Lime and fertilizer have entirely different functions when applied to soil. Lime changes the pH level, releasing nutrients from the soil and creating a better environment for plants to grow. Fertilizer is plant food made of various components, Nitrogen is the building block of plant protein, Phosphorus is necessary for growth of both roots and leaves, and Potassium is essential for plant metabolism and forage production. Always select the appropriate fertilizer for your application and apply at the recommended rate.
There are many options for preparing your soil prior to planting. The intent is to create a loose, weed free seed bed before applying seed. It is very important that all seed make good contact with the soil in order to germinate and grow. In stagnant untilled plots the ground value is contained in the top 4 to 6 inches of your soil, called organic matter. Organic matter provides a carbon source and presents the soil with better aeration and water holding ability. In such locations breaking up 4 to 6 inches of top soil using a disk or tiller may be adequate. Other plots that have more compacted top soil, plowing and using farming tactics are more appropriate. Apply lime and fertilizer, followed by dragging a harrow to level and cultipack to create a firm surface before seeding. Try to maintain ground particles that are pea-to-marble size, working soil too fine may create surface crust and compaction in your food plot.
We all have diverse perceptions in land management and food plot seed selections. Always remember there is a substantial difference in food plot plants. Using both early and late maturing annuals and perennials is the most effective way to maximize attraction and assure year around nutrition for wildlife. It is very important to select a seed mixture or crop that is suitable for your region and climate. Consider the time of year as well as soil type and sun light hours for each specific food plot that you are planting. Plants have distinctive nutritional requirements, so crop rotation will have a significant affect on the achievement of your food plots. You may improve your success by rotating varieties from year to year to allow the soil an opportunity to regain its most depleted nutrients. Schedule your planting for optimum success by observing the planting charts and selecting a crop that has the appropriate number of days to maturity for the desired plot. It is very helpful to record all lime, fertilizer, and seed applications from each plot so information is available for the future reference.