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How to Plant Food Plots Easier, Cheaper, Better (Episode 392 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

DANIEL: Over the past couple of weeks we’ve had a couple setbacks as flooding wiped out some of our roads, but with some great work from our dozer guy, Russell, and Brenton with a bobcat, we got the roads fixed and we’re in full swing putting Eagle Seed beans in the ground.

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DANIEL: Not too long ago, we started planting season with the Goliath crimper and the Genesis no-till drill.

DANIEL: Many of our food plots have a cover crop of cereal rye. We’ve had to wait ‘til the cereal rye is at the right stage of maturity before we can crimp it with the Goliath. Otherwise, it doesn’t get a good kill. The plot that was the most ready was North Field, so we started planting there.

GRANT: Two days ago, we used a roller crimper to prepare this field for planting.

GRANT: The paths you kind of see in the rye and wheat is where we took the Genesis drill and planted soybeans right behind that herd of buffalo.

DANIEL: With the Genesis following the Goliath, the rye is actually laid down in the same direction the Genesis is going. The Genesis isn’t cutting across the crimped rye. It’s actually just separating, combing through, getting great seed-to-soil contact.

GRANT: It’s really windy today. I’m sure you see the vegetation blowing, or even my hat flopping around. And if that wind was down here on the surface, it would be sucking all the moisture out of the top of this soil. But this great mulch layer is protecting the soil from wind erosion, evaporating moisture and keeping the temperatures a little bit cooler.

DANIEL: There are many factors to consider when planting soybeans. Soybeans don’t like cold or dry soil conditions. Planting beans in these type of environments could lead to a reduced germination rate.

GRANT: I’m gonna check the soil temperature at about an inch or so deep right here.

GRANT: The soil temperature under the mulch is 74 degrees. We recently cleared some new food plots. Obviously, didn’t have any mulch on it yet. We’re gonna go check the temperature in those areas.

DANIEL: Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a lot of rain here at The Proving Grounds; close to 15 inches. It would be reasonable to assume that there would have to be some soil moisture at Big Cave.

GRANT: We moved over to what we call Cave Ridge and we just cleared the trees out of this area, so the dirt – if you call it dirt – mainly rock. Of course, as Ray Archuletta would say – a soil scientist – it’s naked, it’s hot, and it’s gonna erode away. It’s not clothed at all. But what’s most amazing is I can tell, just by feeling it, it’s much warmer, ‘cause we didn’t have any cover crop on here. The sun is right down on the soil.

GRANT: And it’s climbing up there already. And here – well, it’s 92 to 93. Almost 20 degrees warmer. Now the day hasn’t warmed up that much; I’m dressed exactly the same. But without that cover crop shading the soil, it’s a lot hotter. That’s more stressful on the young plants and, for here in the Ozarks, the big concern, causing much more moisture to evaporate out of the soil.

GRANT: We’ve already planted this field and I’m sure we’ll get some kind of crop, but it won’t be as healthy as where we had the cover crop conserving soil moisture, taking care of weeds. You see more weeds here where we just dozed this off than the long established food plot. And that’s because we’ve had something growing year round there. We’ve simply shaded out and covered up the weeds. There’s still a big weed base there. But here, I see young ragweed and other weeds coming in.

GRANT: We may have to use herbicide the first year to get the weeds in control here, but I don’t ever plan on this soil being bare again. We’ve got soybeans coming on this summer. We’re going this fall with our Broadside and another blend of seeds, and we’ll just keep something green and growing or crimped on top of it year around.

DANIEL: Our newly dozed food plots are very similar to fields that have been disced or plowed. Soil has a lot of living organisms in it. Discing and plowing actually damages the soil and can kill those living organisms that actually help promote and build healthy soil. What we’re actually doing is promoting healthier and more nutritious forage for our wildlife. You’ve heard us say before – bigger antlers start in the soil.

GRANT: This little block is an area we tested some herbicide earlier this year. And you can tell we killed the rye. See, massive amounts of rye here and none here. But what’s most amazing is you’re looking at a few soybean stalks from last year. That’s the only ground cover, compared to what we’ll show you in just a second where we’re crimping this rye down. Much, much more ground cover. Now, this has been sprayed maybe a month, at the most, versus where we’re crimping. And it’s actually stacking up two, three, four inches deep on the rye.

GRANT: I want to share a little bit of the deeper science with you all. Soybean stalks and stems have a lot higher nitrogen content, which is great, but they break down much faster. They won’t give us groundcover or mulch very long. Grasses – like rye, corn, wheat – are much higher in carbon content and they won’t break down near as quickly. So ideally, our cover crop will at least have some amount of grasses, to give us the longer term mulch, and some legumes that will break down quicker, but add nitrogen to the soil.

GRANT: This may sound like a bunch of classroom talk, but pay attention, food plotters. Because see how great this crop is? And we haven’t added any type of fertilizer, synthetic, compost, anything, in four years to this field. Wanta save some money? Then, let us show you how.

GRANT: The soybean mulch is good, but it won’t last near as long, or provide slow-release fertilizer near as long, as a cover crop based on grasses. This is why the year around program of soybeans in the summer – which are pumping nitrogen in the ground, and deer love ‘em and prosper on ‘em – and a fall food plot, or a cover crop, if you will, that has brassicas, wheat, rye, some grasses in there, and a legume – maybe like crimson clover – is a great combination to feed a deer herd year round and continually improve and add nutrients to the soil.

DANIEL: Last fall, we didn’t have a very large acorn crop here at The Proving Grounds. It made for some great hunting because deer weren’t out in the timber eating acorns. They were coming in the food plots. During the winter months, deer fed heavily on the winter rye, the wheat and the Broadside.

GRANT: This is another test plot we had here at The Proving Grounds. We had Broadside throughout the whole area and no acorns this year, so the deer have browsed on all of it very hard. In this area, we did not add cereal rye. In this area, we did. Both the wheat and rye did a great job of feeding deer through those tough winter months.

GRANT: In this area, we obviously didn’t seed thick enough because there’s too much open ground and we see some weeds coming up. But in this area, we had our seeding blend just right and you see almost no weeds growing under the cover.

GRANT: Broadside is, obviously, very attractive to deer and you can tell they ate up all the brassicas, the radishes and a lot of the wheat. Here, we mixed in some rye with the Broadside. It’s not quite as palatable. It’ll do a great job when it’s really cold and it grows during colder temperatures than this blend. But where it really shines is right now. Because it’s made a tremendous cover crop, shading out weeds and it’s gonna make a tremendous amount of mulch for our next crop of soybeans. We’re constantly planning these tests, monitoring results and sharing those results with Eagle Seed, so we can all work together and improve deer food plots.

GRANT: I’m seeing my boots way too much and when you’re seeing your boots that means there’s room for weeds to grow. Because where sunshine hits the soil, something’s gonna grow. Nature hates a vacuum, or a void, and it’s gonna put something in it. So here, ragweed growing, which is great deer browse, but I don’t really want ragweed in my food plots – especially come allergy season.

DANIEL: Planting season is off to a great start here at The Proving Grounds, but we’re continually trying new food plot crops, trying to tweak our planting techniques with the Goliath and the Genesis and we’ll share those over the next coming weeks so you can plant better food plots where you hunt.

DANIEL: Planting season means a lot of hours on the tractor and that’s a lot of time to think, but also, to listen. Whether you’re planting, putting Trophy Rocks out, checking cameras, watching antlers grow, I hope you stop and you listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.