A wise man I call “Dad” Once put his hand on my shoulder and said, “A great manager can take below average and make it better but a poor manager can take great and screw it up.” Here is the point he was trying to make. There are 100’s of different forages one can plant in your food plot. Each of these forages can thrive or fail based on your own management. Mother nature also can wield a hand into the success or failure of any plot in any given year.
Many forages will yield 1000-6000 pounds of forage dry matter per acre during the fall planting season. The differences between poor, average, above average and great is up to you. Very few wildlife companies or individuals are aware of how the forages they plant yield. Even less are aware of how they are composed nutrient wise. How many of you know the protein and mineral levels are of what you plant? You need to know how these forages grow and how they are composed otherwise how do you know how to accurately fertilize and manage them?
Over 90% of food plotters soil samples are imbalanced in phosphorous and potassium. Next to no food plotters are adding sulfur and boron to their food plots. Why are we seeing imbalances? Because most companies recommend standard triple fertilizers. Stop and think about this for a moment. Most forages mine 6-7 pounds of phosphorous per 1 ton of forage dry matter grown and removed from your lands. Most forages mine 40-60 pounds of potassium per 1 ton of forage dry matter removed. Now the light bulb should be turned on.
The other big concern I have is many people feeding the weeds at planting. More people should consider using a “starter” with lower nitrogen levels at planting and then add the extra urea or ammonium sulfate around 3-5 weeks post plant to not feed the weeds. You also are providing nitrogen when the plants demand it more.
There are other things that make me cringe. Most food plotters think that if they have 6.0-7.0 pH all is well in the world. My question is but how “alive” are your balanced Ph soils? You can have the perfect pH and a balanced level of phosphorous and potassium, yet your forages might not be able to utilize those soil nutrients if you have other negative soil health factors. Many food plotters love to beat the heck out of soil, reducing soil oxygen levels. Many food plotters low to spray. Many herbicides are detrimental to soil health.
Last topic I want to challenge people on is are you planting for the NOW or are you planting for the FUTURE? Everything you plant has positive and negative factors short term and long term. We all see and hear all the great things about popular food plot blends, but which direction does it move the needle in your own unique situation.
My life involves doing everything in my power to learn the negatives. It is easy to make things look good in the now but are you mining your soils? Are you setting yourself up for plant diseases? Are you setting yourself up for failure in 2 or 3 years from now?
Something to chew on. Yep, I get many will not care but stop and ask yourself do you sight in your bow or gun before hunting season? If so, why do you do that? Do better to “sight in” your food plots. Be well and happy plotting.