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GRANT: It’s the time of year we celebrate Father’s Day. I was blessed with a great dad but not everyone is. Fortunately, everyone can have a personal relationship with our Heavenly Father. He is the perfect example of what a father should be.
GRANT: June 9th is another special day – for me, that is. It’s the day I received a kidney transplant. My oldest sister, Alice, donated me one of her kidneys. And ever since then, both her and I have been blessed with good health.
GRANT: Hey, you know what? Consider organ donation. It’s the greatest gift we can give someone else.
GRANT: It’s been an odd planting season. We’ve had some heavy rains right during planting season. Years past, we just kept on planting. It’s so rocky here in Stone County – it didn’t matter how much rain we had. But since we’ve refined the Buffalo System during the past few years, we’ve actually built soil or organic matter on top of the surface.
GRANT: And this year – well, we’ve got a few plots we had to wait a day or two so the tractor wasn’t leaving tire marks as we planted. This is a huge positive change for the soil quality here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Another surprise in the area where the food plots were a little larger and the fall blend didn’t get over browsed, we were able to drill right through that standing fall crop. And there was so much of it standing, we could drill across that soil without leaving tractor marks. We were able to plant even in those conditions.
GRANT: Our biggest delay has been our tractor needing repairs right during planting season. Fortunately, my good friend, David Easley and his son, Nathan, loaned us a tractor to get us through some of those tough days.
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GRANT: Last spring, we started out the planting season by crimping the fall blend down and then drilling through it. When you use that rotation, it’s necessary for the planter to follow the exact same pattern as the crimper. If you’re going across the grain from where the crimper has already been, it’s difficult for the planter to get seed in the soil.
GRANT: Based on some research out of Wisconsin, we started drilling first through the standing fall crop and then crimping. The research showed that we should wait until the cereal grains in the fall blend are starting to form seeds. Then, drill right through that standing crop; wait for those seedheads to get a little bit more mature – what we call the dough stage – where you squeeze and moisture comes out. And then, crimp it down. But the first time we did it, it was a little scary running the crimper, the Goliath, over soybeans that are four inches tall.
GRANT: This approach is actually much easier. When you’re planting, you simply plant everything that the tractor hasn’t been through. If the forage looks perfect, you know you need to plant.
GRANT: A few days later, when you use the Goliath, it doesn’t matter which way you drive around the field, you’re gonna crimp all the vegetation.
GRANT: This plot was planted 11 days ago. And now the beans are four inches – give or take.
GRANT: They’re forming their second set of leaves – there are four leaves – and it’s time to use the Goliath crimper.
GRANT: We’ve planted through the fall Buffalo Blend when it was green – drilled right through it – almost like combing hair. Let the beans germinate and get about to their second set of leaves. And now it’s time to terminate the fall crop.
GRANT: We want to make sure we terminate before these seedheads are ripe. They’re looking ripe, but when I squeeze ‘em, there’s still a little moisture in ‘em. They wouldn’t germinate.
GRANT: So, we’re gonna lay it down. And these blades break the circulatory system every few inches up the stem. When we break the circulatory system, there’s no way for the plant to get enough moisture for the seeds to mature.
GRANT: We lay it down and it’s gonna cover the ground via mulch. But the most amazing thing is we’re not hurting the plants that are coming up.
GRANT: It’s scary the first time you do this. You let the beans germinate. Then you pull the Goliath over the top of four inch beans, but the evidence is clear. They’re standing up and they don’t look like anything happened.
GRANT: Sometimes I’ve received questions: “Grant, do I have to have a crimper or could I use a flat roller or a cultipacker?” The answer is you probably won’t get near as good a results.
GRANT: Think about this: A flat roller, well, it’s designed to smoosh everything to the ground.
GRANT: You think about it. When you drive through your yard with the tires of a lawnmower or a car or something, you smoosh the grass down, but it stands back up.
GRANT: Young beans, well, they’re very pliable. They’re gonna stand back up, probably with a flat roller or a crimper. But, again, the goal is to terminate this crop – the standing fall crop.
GRANT: The crimper serves that purpose without damaging the young beans. Using the crimper creates a great mulch and we know that mulch is gonna suppress weeds, conserve soil moisture that’s critical – that’s like much cheaper than irrigating. And, something we haven’t talked a lot about, it shades the soil so that keeps the soil surface temperature much lower.
GRANT: Surface temperature is not a big deal right now. But, during the hot days of summer, it can literally get way over 100 degrees. And we know, every degree above 80 degrees, more moisture is going up in the air than being used by the plant. And, again, saving moisture – well, that’s job one to a good food plot farmer.
GRANT: When the surface of the soil reaches 86 degrees, biological activity in the soil starts slowing down and reducing soil quality.
GRANT: When the soil’s surface temperature is about 95 to 113 degrees, about 85% of the moisture is either evaporating directly from the soil or being transpired through the plant. The plant is only keeping about 15% of the available moisture.
GRANT: At about 113 degrees on the soil surface, beneficial critters that live in the soil start to die.
GRANT: And at 130 degrees – that’s hard to believe, but we’ve seen that here at The Proving Grounds. At 130 degrees, 100% of the soil moisture is lost through evapotranspiration – either evaporated directly from the soil or transpired through the plants.
GRANT: It’s easy to see that the mulch we put down by using the Goliath, shades the soil and keeps the soil surface much cooler.
GRANT: Checking behind the Goliath, the beans look great. They look like nothing happened. But, when I get down at this level – kind of the microscopic level – here’s what I really like. I see this year’s fall blend we just laid down. But, beneath it is all this duff from last year.
GRANT: This is what’s so important. This decomposing vegetation is what’s feeding the life – the worms and the bacteria that are building soil and doing such a great job.
GRANT: This is how we build inches, literally, of organic matter.
GRANT: All that duff is like a sponge. It will hold any moisture and keep moisture from evaporating and leaving the soil.
GRANT: This is a great time to bring up – you can’t just, like, start the Buffalo System from a plowed, bare dirt field and expect great results. It takes a while to get this vegetation down; the life of the soil well-fed and multiplying and working its magic. You’re not going from a plowed field to the Great Prairie in one season.
GRANT: We’re a few years into it and improving our technique each year and our soil and the deer herd are getting better.
GRANT: Unequivocally, the best way to conserve soil moisture is build up a layer of organic matter and keep that soil shaded by using the Buffalo System.
GRANT: Yeah, it’s doing a good job. It’s breaking it good.
GRANT: The soybean sprout under tall, fall forage.
GRANT: Deer don’t like sticking their head down to the ground in tall, standing vegetation.
GRANT: Obviously, they can’t see as well. They can’t hear as well because they’re down there rustling around. And I suspect they can’t smell as well because the wind’s up here being sheared off by that standing vegetation.
GRANT: So those young soybeans that are so palatable to deer – they’re kind of in a greenhouse. They get a little protection from deer browsing.
GRANT: This simple tweak has so many advantages, it’s easy to see why we’re producing more tons of quality forage per acre than we used to.
GRANT: I’m such a fan of the Buffalo System, I’m not only using it to improve the soil and produce good quality forage for critters. Heck, I’m using it to help feed the Woods family.
GRANT: Great project this morning. We’re gonna use the Genesis to plant Tracy’s garden. We’re planting a large variety of seeds. Some we purchased; some we saved from last year.
GRANT: We’re gonna drill it just like the Buffalo System – in the standing rye; let the rye be the mulch; let the garden variety come up. And when you plant a variety all together – not each species in a single row – it does a lot of cool things to the soil.
GRANT: Different varieties of plants extract different nutrients out of the soil and exude – or put back in – different substances into the soil. Different amounts of carbon and other elements.
GRANT: So, when you have a monoculture, you’re kind of just doing the same thing to the soil. But, when you have a variety – well, that balances out all the nutrients and makes for a much more healthy environment.
GRANT: I went to the local feed and seed store – walked in – and said, I wanted a scoop or two of all the varieties of garden seeds. And I gotta tell you – the salesman looked at me like I was a little looney.
GRANT: We’re simply mixing all this together. I know that’s not traditional gardening. We’re gonna take all these varieties; put it in a bucket; stir it up; calibrate the drill; and go plant the garden.
GRANT: Some people worry that the Genesis won’t plant a variety of seed sizes appropriately. But we do that in the fall blend. We plant fall blends with several different varieties of plants that have different sized seeds, so I knew it would work just fine.
GRANT: Two – three.
GRANT: Because we weren’t planting acres and acres, we calibrated just using one of the downspouts at a time instead of the whole bottom of the drill.
GRANT: As an experiment, we put seed in each seed cup every seven and a half inches apart on one side of the drill. And on the other side of the drill, we taped off every other one, so we’d have 15-inch rows.
GRANT: Cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, okra, several types of green beans – all in the same bucket. It looked like a rainbow of colors when we were done.
GRANT: Once we were ready, simply rolled through the field and it’s the biggest garden I’ve planted in a few minutes, ever in my life.
GRANT: Just finished planting Tracy’s garden. A thick mulch bed down of our fall blend to help suppress the weeds and hold moisture in and it was the quickest garden I’ve ever planted. We’ll keep you posted and see what we harvest this summer.
GRANT: This isn’t a traditional garden – it’s not a row of carrots or a row of tomatoes or a row of cucumbers. We don’t know what seed is coming out where. We’ll just walk out in the garden and start picking whatever is ripe.
GRANT: And hopefully, we’ll be able to show you a lot of produce throughout the summer.
GRANT: Tracy hears me talking a lot about browse and too many deer, whatever. But, I’ll bet this year, she’s watching how many deer and groundhogs are behind the house.
GRANT: We may be eating more groundhog stew than we have in past years.
GRANT: I hope you have a chance to try some new techniques in your food plots, or simply get outside and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time every day to slow down, be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.
GRANT: If you’d like weekly updates on our food plot techniques or even how the garden is going, simply subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.