Plants – Nutrient Transfer Agents

By GrowingDeer,

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At the QDMA convention there was some discussion about the ability of plants to transfer minerals from the soil.  Could you go into more detail on this subject?




Most of the nutrients that deer, turkey, etc., require are in the ground in a form that isn’t readily usable or digestible.  Forage plants extract these nutrients from the soil and transport them and/or convert them to a form that is usable and digestible by converting them to foliage, seeds, fruit, etc.  For example, deer require gads of phosphorous to produce antlers.  They primarily obtain phosphorous from consuming plants rich in phosphorous.  If a usable supply of phosphorous is not available in the soil, the plants can’t transfer it to deer or other critters.  This is exactly why it is critical for deer managers to have the nutrients available in the soil analyzed annually (submit a soil sample to a quality lab) and make sure the lab knows what crops will be planted.  Different crops require different amounts of different nutrients and also transfer different nutrients to their forage (leaves) and seeds.  So the amount of fertilizer required for each food plot will depend on the crop to be grown, the amount of nutrients that are currently in the soil, and the objective of that field.  Except for allowing bucks to mature, making sure the appropriate nutrients are available for the appropriate crops is one of the most important tasks a deer manager can do to allow bucks in his area to express their maximum antler potential.  Plants are nutrient transfer agents, but they can only serve this role if the nutrients are available!

Growing Deer together,