Food Plot Prep
January 31, 2021
By Gerald Almy
Yes, temperatures may be in the teens or below and the ground may be frozen as hard as concrete. But if you plan to put in food plots this spring or summer, now is the time to start thinking ahead and doing some planning and preparations.
One of the first things you should consider when the ground is soft enough to penetrate with a shovel is doing a soil test. These can be done through local places like farm co-ops or by ordering soil test kits. This will tell you several vital things. For starters, it will give you the pH of the soil. This reading should be in the 6-7 range for most wildlife plants like clover, alfalfa, brassicas, wheat, oats, and soybeans. If it's not in this range, the soil can bind up vital nutrients that a plant needs and poor growth will result. Too high of a pH can be a danger, too, locking up vital nutrients such as manganese if it's over 7. Fortunately, this is not a common problem in most areas. Usually soils are close to neutral or too low in pH. The problem of low pH or acidic soils can be easily solved with an application of lime as dictated by your soil test, usually 1-2 tons per acre. Any time from now on that your ground is firm enough to get a truck in without getting stuck is a good time to apply lime. Soil tests will tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium the site needs for healthy plant growth. It will also indicate whether you need vital micronutrients such as boron, zinc, and manganese and other elements like sulfur. These can be added to the ground yourself with a spreader or you can hire a co-op or fertilizer company to apply them.