What are you planting into?
I deal with clients every day that have a variety of challenges with their food plots. One of the biggest challenges is preplant soil prep. The average food plotter loves to spray herbicides. The common food plotter loves to till the soil. So often I need to inform people that their failures are caused by improper agronomic practices. Many people hate to think of themselves as “farmers” and choose to have a philosophy of “I just want to get something to grow to attract deer. Yes, that can be a decent goal but placing seed in the right place, the right time, the right way and with enough pure live seed can determine success compared to failure.
The use of tillers is way more common than I like. In my world of healthy soil, no one should use a tiller. Tillers over fragment the soil. This leads to compaction when rains are heavy. This removes soil oxygen, which is an essential part of the growth process. Tillers tend to work the soil too deep and too fluffy. More often than not, the seed gets planted too deep. It may or may not see the light of day. How many people know that every time we work the soil, we lose an equivalent to .6 of an inch of rain? We over work the soil and as a result, dry out the topsoil. That is our medium. The soil is a healthy living environment that needs water, air and nutrients to feed the seed.
Even before the tillers, discs and equipment runs over the earth, we love the simple solution of “Roundup.” Very few food plotters are spraying the weeds early enough nor using sound spraying practices. What we see now is a tremendous amount of roundup resistance weeds. Another topic I will not address in this blog is the detrimental anti-microbial properties of glyphosate. We like the easy solution. We forget that many common weeds do not die well with straight glyphosate and need inclusions of clethodim, butryrac200, 24d, pursuit and other herbicides. Many times, a simple solution that I use is to not use glyphosate and rely on older chemistries to reduce herbicide resistance. The soil microbes at times like me for doing that as well.
Know what you are planting. Know how deep it needs to be. Learn what is the ideal planting dates and how many pounds of “pure live seed” needs to be planted per acre. Note, I did not say how many pounds of the seed blend you planted but actual pure live seeds. In today’s wildlife industry there are a lot of games that are played with bag sizes, and recommended rates for their blends. The key is to make the seed seem “inexpensive.”
Plan for success. This means learn the steps to success way before you go on social media asking the masses what you should plant. The bag merely holds seed. It is a simple storage unit. The key to success comes with knowledge and experience. Happy Food Plotting.