Just the act of performing a soil test was enough to make me feel like a
food plot professional; that is, until I got back the results.
But before the test results showed up in the mailbox, I was pleasantly
optimistic. After all, I worked my butt off the previous spring to clear the
field, which had been a mix of cherry, aspen and birch trees, laced with
sticker bushes. Every day, I'd pushed myself to work through two tanks of gas
in the chainsaw.
It had been a rewarding project, since it had also provided lots of firewood
for my outdoor wood burner, which heats the house. I'd chosen soybeans for the
first year's crop; I anticipated a battle with loads of weeds, and wanted to
choose a "Round-up ready" crop.
But the beans had performed poorly. The results of the soil test told me
Could it be possible? According to the test results, I needed to amend the
soil by adding from 4,000 to 8,000 pounds of lime per acre! When a soil test
reveals a pH reading which is below 6 that means that nutrients in the soil are
less available to plants. Lime, or calcium carbonate, must be added to raise the
pH so that the soil is not acidic. The ideal pH number is 7, neither acidic nor
Even going with the low end of the recommendations, I'd have to fill the
hopper of my 80-pound ATV spreader 50 times. It was do-able, but was it wise to
do it that way? I decided to make some calls -- the local farmers, a
hydro-seeding company and a feed/seed mill.
The hydro-seeding company, which had a primary business of working on
reclaimed coal lands, had equipment that was too big for my small fields. The
feed/seed mill has a 10-ton lime truck, and would charge $400 to come to the
farm, drive around in the field and spread the lime. I called two local farmers
to find that they use the feed/seed mill lime truck.
When you're working to create a food plot, you put in lots of time and
labor, and the end result involves a lot of pride. Although I always enjoyed
driving my ATV, I knew the fun of that would wear off quickly as I spread a
zillion bags of lime. Plus, financially, it made more sense to hire out the
You can't scrimp on lime. But, by making some phone calls, you can find ways
to scrimp on how much to spend on lime.
For a fine selection of Food Plot seed and Minerals, click here.