Burning and replanting

By Grant Woods,

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How can I achieve a soil management goal with out a no-till drill or is that unachieveable? My method now is to burn old fodder and replant, thus leaving my plots bare at times with no food and no protection at times.


Prescribed fire can be a great tool in your soil management program!  Fire was a big factor in building the great soils in the prairie states.  You can use fire to remove the duff from past crops and then broadcast seed on plot.  Remember that fire rarely destroys the roots from past crops.  There is often more roots (plant material) under the soil than what is present on top the ground.  The roots will break down creating high quality organic matter and channels for roots of new plants to seek sources of water and nutrients.

When using a fire-based system of preparing a seedbed you will need to select crops that germinate well when the seeds are broadcast on top the soil.  Common crops that work well in this system include clover, wheat (most all small grains), turnips, radishes, buckwheat, etc.

I often plant 20% more pounds per acre when broadcasting compared to using a no till drill because of the seed will be consumed by critters (birds, squirrels, etc.) or won’t germinate due to limited seed to soil contact.

This system works best if the seed is planted just before a rain.  Rain prevents the seed from desiccation and helps insure the seed have good contact with the soil.

It’s often better to terminate the mature crops with herbicide to insure there’s dry vegetation and the fire will effectively burn throughout the whole plot.

The GrowingDeer.tv episode at the following link shows an example of me using fire to remove the duff from an unmanaged pasture to create a food plot:  https://www.growingdeer.tv/#/a-new-buck-and-storm-proofed-food-plots

Be careful with fire and enjoy creation!