Food Plots and Hot, Naked Soil

By GrowingDeer,

  Filed under: Food Plots, Hunting Blog

The daytime temperatures are forecast to be in the 90s much of next week at The Proving Grounds. These high temperatures are tough on critters.

The problems deer experience during warm temperature are compounded when forage is also stressed. The weather can't be controlled but we can reduce the impacts of stress to forage caused by heat.

Most forage varieties can thrive in high heat if there’s adequate soil moisture. It’s not practical to irrigate most food plots. However, it is possible to manage food plots in a way to conserve the available soil moisture.

doe in shade of tree in food plot

Soil moisture is primarily lost through evaporation and plants lose moisture through transpiration (loss of moisture through pores). Researchers have studied the impacts of heat on soil moisture loss and the numbers are enlightening. The following data is from the NRCS publication at this LINK.

They reported the following for surface soil temperatures:

  • At 70 degrees soil temperature, 100 percent of the soil moisture is used for plant growth.
  • At 86 degrees, soil microbial activity begins to decline.
  • From 95 to 113 degrees, 15 percent of soil moisture is used for plant growth and 85 percent for ET.
  • At 113 degrees, soil bacteria start to die.
  • At 130 degrees, 100 percent of soil moisture is lost through ET.
  • At 140 degrees soil bacteria, the genesis of the soil biology, die.

What’s an easy way to reduce surface temperatures of soil exposed to the sun? Add shade! That’s exactly what we’re doing when we use the Goliath Crimper to terminate crops. The crimped vegetation becomes mulch that shades and reduces the soil’s surface temperature!

You’ve probably raked back some mulch in a garden or a wad of leaves, etc., and noticed there was more moisture there than in soil that was exposed to the sun.

Ensuring the soil is always covered conserves moisture and reduces stress on forage. This results in healthier deer and larger antlers. This is another reason the Buffalo System of forage management produces better crops and cost less than conventional till and bare the soil practices.

I encourage you to consider the benefits of the “Buffalo System”. I'll be sharing more food plot strategies and techniques in future videos and blogs.

Growing deer, food plots and enjoying Creation,

Grant