We see all the time on social media where someone asks what to plant and there rarely is a set of questions to help determine which way the needle needs to move when it comes to soil health. One could plant a high yielding and very attractive food plot blend, but it may not turn out more than average or below average on your land because of your soil health. An example I use is farmers who have the genetics to plant corn that yields 300 bushels per acre. If one has soil that is not healthy and balanced with nutrients, that same bag of seed that your neighbor plants may only yield 150 bushels per acre on your land.
Everyone has different current soil phosphorous, potassium, nitrogen, sulfur and micronutrient levels. Everyone has different soil pH’s, soil cec levels and soil organic matter levels. There are factors beyond even those values. Everyone has different soil micro-organism levels, different beneficial fungi levels and different soil oxygen levels. There are tests now that can be used to determine how “alive” one’s soil is. Many food plotters are doing everything in their power to turn soil into dirt. Killing soil changes the definition of what one is planting into.
So, if your heads already spinning, let me make things simple for you. You should think of your soil in your plots like a gas tank in a car. You have a gauge that can be empty, half full or completely full. Depending on how fast you drive or your habits, which can determine how much mileage you get out of that tank of gas. You also can get more mileage when you use “higher octane fuels.”
One other way to look at your plots is “planting for the future.” There are ways to refill your tanks naturally and healthier. Here are ways to naturally fill the tank.
1) Plant forages that fixate nitrogen. This reduces fertilizer needs and also helps reduce soil pH drop.
2) Plant forages that produce “beneficial organisms and growth promoters.” This helps benefit the next crops.
3) Plant forages to sequester nutrients. This means help uptake nutrients that can be rereleased back into the soil months or years later.
4) Use forages naturally loosen the soil.
5) Use gypsum and liquid or dry humics to naturally loosen the soil.
6) Use compost teas.
7) Reduce herbicides and fungicides.
8) Maintain living roots.
I could go on and on, but this is a general overview. Most of these things cost little to no money. I’ll do weekly blogs to address each of the above 8 tips in more detail. Happy Food plotting!!