Food plots are great for attracting all kinds of wildlife. Deer, wild turkey, upland game, song birds, butterflies. With the right food mix and habitat location, you can attract virtually any wildlife to your property. A well-placed food plot might also draw wildlife away from areas you don’t want them to be, like an orchard or vineyard. Grasses, flowers, and other naturally occurring plant materials spread over a large area can also provide erosion and weed control, not to mention the beautification of what might otherwise be an eyesore.
And like any project of this nature, having the right tools will always help you get the work done faster and better.
First, plan the project
To get started, choose the right spot for your food plot. Part of understanding the wildlife you want to attract means knowing what kind of habitat they prefer and locating the food plot in that kind of environment. Obviously, wild game species like deer, turkey, and upland game birds will prefer isolated areas. Butterflies and songbirds won’t mind closer contact with you and your family. Regardless of species, however, the most attractive habitat will provide not just food, but also water, cover, and plenty of room to move around. You can find lots of information on habitat and food preferences online. So do your research, then choose a site that best suits the wildlife you want to attract.
Test and improve the soil
Planting a food plot is just like planting any other crop. In order for it to flourish, you need to understand the soil conditions where you want it to grow. Testing the soil for its composition in terms of texture (clay, sand, loam, rock) and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium) will tell you whether or not it’s a good place for planting and how you can make it better through fertilization.
Take random soil samples in various places around the site you’ve chosen. Samples should be dug 6 to 7 inches deep. Call your county extension office for advice about soil sampling and using a soil test kit. It can help you determine what type of soil you have so you know how to improve it if necessary. Then apply the appropriate soil improvement products.
Acquire the seed
If you’ve done your online research about habitat and food mix for the wildlife you want to attract, there are lots of resources for acquiring it. You can find them online, or even at a local garden center or feed and grain store, depending on what you need. Make sure you acquire the proper amount for the size of food plot you intend to plant.
Prep and plant
Here’s where having the right tools can make a world of difference. You might need to start by cutting the existing vegetation with a Rotary Cutter (USCA). If you’re planting a food plot of ½ acre or more, then a Frontier Conservation Seeder (USCA) or Food Plot Seeder (USCA) will make your life a whole lot easier. With one of these multitasking implements attached to your tractor’s 3-point hitch, you can cut the time it might take to plow, disk, plant and cover the seed, and smooth the soil.
No matter which approach works for you, always remember to read the Operator’s Manual before operating any piece of equipment and follow all operating and safety instructions.