By Brandon Wikman
The art of planting food plots for wildlife has become an integral part of today’s outdoor enthusiast. Hunters from across the country find passion in providing a buffet of protein and carbohydrate rich nutrients for deer, turkey, and other animal species. There are hundreds of books, websites, and manuals to learn from, but below you will find a small step-by-step resource that will hopefully help you grow your very own hot-spot food-plot.
Taking it step-by-step:
1. Selecting a location is extremely pivotal to your plot’s success. Considering the hot summer months ahead may wither your power-packed plot, be sure to use shade to your advantage. A plot only needs on average of 4 hours of sunlight to flourish. Too much sunlight absorbs moisture within the soil, which steals the necessary water requirements for your plants. Use trees or hedgerows to your advantage in maximizing the most shade and sun combination for your plot’s growth.
2. Your soil’s pH level will either make or break you. Many companies have pH level soil testing kits, which you can use to determine the amount of lime and fertilizer to lay. Or else, you can always send a sample of soil to a lab to have it tested. I always use ammoniated lime, which breaks down and activates much quicker. Bumping your pH level to 6.5 – 7 will result in maximum development.
3. Search for weeds! Planting your plot in an area that’s bare of vegetation is absurd. Although it may seem simple to plant, consider you don't need to mow or spray herbicide, there’s a reason no plant life existed – extremely poor soil! Find a piece of ground that has an abundance of thick undergrowth and displays potential of actually growing something!
4. Give your greens a buzz-cut. Snipping your future plot will be essential in preparation for spraying herbicide. Mow the area, rake the debris off the plot and wait a week or two for the grass to regenerate. Then attack! Hacking the weeds and grasses down to a few inches assures that the chemicals will reach the root systems quicker and deadlier. It’s important to spray Round-Up on the weak up-and-coming grasses. This will guarantee a successful kill. Using a 15 or 25 gallon Moultrie sprayer mounted to the back of your ATV will make quick work of those pesky weeds!
Note: Always wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves for your own safety when dealing with chemicals.
5. Be certain you attain seed-to soil contact. Once the ground is ready for planting, there are many options, depending on what machinery you have access to. If you are planting a small plot and don’t have a disk, plow or roto-tiller, you can use a garden rake to scuff the topsoil and make enough room for your seeds to drop and grow. As long as the seeds have contact with the soil and enough gaps to germinate, it will grow! It may take a lot of elbow grease, but will still work. Otherwise, using heavier equipment is faster, and easier.
To get your seed out with as little sweating as possible, one of the easiest ways to plant a plot quickly is with a Moultrie Food Plot Spreader. The ATV Food Plot Spreader is specially designed for planting and fertilizing food plots around your hunting property. Get on location and get to work right away, with minimal assembly. This food plot spreader will get you up and running in just 5 easy steps with a quick disconnect when not in use. Universal mounting brackets make it compatible with almost all ATV models on the market and attach directly to your ATV battery.
After you lay down seed, be sure to use some sort of a cultipacker to compress the seed into the dirt and eliminate any air pockets within the soil. When a seed germinates and the taproot begins tunneling into the ground it has to redirect itself if it hits an air pocket. It only takes a couple air pocket detours to stress a young seed into withering.
It’s exciting to watch your hours of tending ground evolve into that dream plot you’ve always wanted. Remember, you can only control the planning, preparation, and planting stages of creating your food plot. After that, it’s left to nature to care for. Rain will be critical to spurt your new seedlings and supply enough food for growing.
With enough devotion, land and labor, you can supply sufficient groceries for your deer herd to thrive. This will keep deer on your property and supplement them with an antler-boosting, quality diet and healthy food plot for seasons to come.