Monday, April 6, 2009

Creating a Food Plot Start to Finish: What to Do With the Soil Test Results

Creating a Food Plot Start to Finish: What to Do With the Soil Test Results

...continued weekly post on creating the perfect whitetail deer food plot.

So far you have take the soil samples you need from the area that you plan to plant your crop. You have submitted your soil samples to be tested and now you have the results. What do you learn from the results and what do you do with them?

Soil test reports will typically be returned with a page for each sample that you submit. Each page will have a summary of the nutrients in the soil and usually a table(or graph) showing which nutrients are low, adequate, or high. Each page will also contain a lime and fertilizer enhancement recommendation page or some call an amendment.

Each amendment will most likely recommend the enhancements needed for that exact soil sample so each sample amendment different. Unless you have the money to treat each section with the exact nutrient needs, I recommend you try to look for trends in the amendments. Look for a general amount of lime and fertilizer that will cover your soil and apply to the whole food plot. For most soils, you will be covered and wont have to spend a large amount of time segmenting each section out and applying fertilizer to one, lime to another.

For general help on soils, two tons of lime per acre is the minimum amount and will not "overlime" any food plot that calls for lime. Lime should be applied five to six months before you plan to plant any crop. This will give the lime time to impact the soil.

Fertilizer application will depend on how easy of access you have to the plot. If you can't bring a large applicator into the food plot area, like a tractor, try using a concentrated fertilizer. Fertilizer recommendations are a little easier to read, you will be given the recommendations of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. If the recommendation is to apply 80 pounds of nitrogen, 80 pounds of phosphorus, and 80 pounds of potassium per acre, the nutrients could be supplied in 800 pounds of 10-10-10, 615 pounds of 13-13-13, or 400 pounds of 20-20-20. Obviously, if you are spreading this by hand, then you may want to consider using 20-20-20, even if it is more expensive.

Soil tests are the hardest part of the food plot creation. To make life easier, you can always work through your local greenhouse, they will be able to recommend the type of fertilizer based on your soil test.

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