Food plots are great for attracting all kinds of wildlife. Deer, wild turkey, upland game. With the right food mix and habitat location, you can attract virtually any wildlife to your property. A well-placed food plot might also draw wildlife away from areas you don’t want them to be, like an orchard or vineyard. Grasses, flowers, and other naturally occurring plant materials spread over a large area can also provide erosion and weed control, not to mention the beautification of what might otherwise be an eyesore.
And like any project of this nature, having the right tools will always help you get the work done faster and better.
First, plan the project
To get started, choose the right spot for your food plot. Part of understanding the wildlife you want to attract means knowing what kind of habitat they prefer and locating the food plot in that kind of environment. Obviously, wild game species like deer, turkey, and upland game birds will prefer isolated areas. Regardless of species, however, the most attractive habitat will provide not just food, but also water, cover, and plenty of room to move around. You can find lots of information on habitat and food preferences online. So do your research, then choose a site that best suits the wildlife you want to attract.
Test and improve the soil
Planting a food plot is just like planting any other crop. In order for it to flourish, you need to understand the soil conditions where you want it to grow. Testing the soil for its composition in terms of texture (clay, sand, loam, rock) and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) will tell you whether or not it’s a good place for planting and how you can make it better through fertilization.
Take random soil samples in various places around the site you’ve chosen. Samples should be dug 6 to 7 inches deep. Call your county extension office for advice about soil sampling and using a soil test kit. It can help you determine what type of soil you have so you know how to improve it if necessary. Then apply the appropriate soil improvement products.
For a list of extension offices near you click the below button:
Location is more important than soil
Planning the location of your plot is more important than soil. You are much further ahead with a simple plot of lower quality forages planted on poor soil in the right location, than high quality forages planted on the best of soils in the wrong location.
Smaller food plots are often a better way to go if you are planning to harvest mature deer. Large food plots are tempting, however if you must cross or continually walk through your plot to get to your stand they can become a henderence. Hiding a smaller, low quality forage plot is better than exposing a larger plot to your hunting access
Acquire the seed
If you’ve done your online research about habitat and food mix for the wildlife you want to attract, there are lots of resources for acquiring it. Your local Bass Pro Shops is an excellent place to find high quality forage products that will work for the areas where you live. You can find them at a local garden centers and or feed and grain stores, depending on what you need. Make sure you acquire the proper amount for the size of food plot you intend to plant. The proper amount of seed is important, too much seed and you are throwing money away, and stunting the crop that does come up. Overcrowded plants only have so much space and nutrients in the soil, certain crops will show this more than others. i.e clover doesnt tend to be impacted by overcrowding where peas or greens need more space.
A great blog on seed choices for protein vs carbs and summer vs winter and fall plots can be found here.
Prep and plant
Here’s where having the right tools can make a world of difference.
You might need to start by cutting the existing vegetation with a Rotary Cutter (US CA).
If you have a hard pan a Frontier Sub Soiler might be the way to go.
If you’re planting a food plot of ½ acre or more, then a Frontier Conservation Seeder (US CA) will make your life a whole lot easier. Using this multitasking implement attached to your tractor’s 3-point hitch, you can cut the time it might take to plow, disk, plant and cover the seed, and smooth the soil.
If you have a smaller tractor there are varying sizes of Conservation or overseeders that can be utilized. Or you can make a few more passes with tractor tools to accomplish the same result.
Disc Harrow operation can break up the soil once plowed. Using the approiate sized disc harrow for your tractor.
Aerator and broadcast spreaders could be enough for your food plot.
When and where to use a cultipacker
Overseading and cultipacking for clover growth.
Tiller operation for seed bed preperation.
No matter which approach works for you, always remember to read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.
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