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GRANT: It’s time to plant our hidey hole food plots and they can be great hunting locations.
GRANT: Hidey hole food plots are small by definition and a small plot in the middle of the timber – well, it’s easy for deer to over browse high-quality forage during the summer.
GRANT: So, when I’m planting my spring hidey hole food plots, I typically use a blend. It has some stuff in there that deer will eat and other stuff that’s not as palatable to keep weeds at bay and to help improve the soil for that fall blend.
GRANT: When I’m laying out hidey hole food plots, I’m not just thinking, “Well, I’m going to put some food here.” They’re not large enough to be a destination plot. I want to have food like in a stopover or a travel corridor. So, in this situation, I’ve got a larger food plot just over here and another one over the ridge.
GRANT: So, big, deep valley going off here. This is a perfect staging area. Or in a travel corridor, especially during the pre-rut and rut, as bucks are checking out both those plots.
GRANT: This plot was planted last fall with Eagle Seeds Fall Buffalo Blend and many components of that blend have now matured. Those roots are going down, really improving the soil and creating huge weed protection and erosion control on the top.
GRANT: Now, it’s been raining like crazy. You’ve probably seen all the storms and flooding and wind damage here in the Midwest. We’ve got a little break in the rain right now. It’s steep, rocky and way too small to bring the no-till drill in. So, we’re gonna broadcast seed into the plot and then use a foot crimper – the Baby Goliath, I call it – to push the standing vegetation down, cover that seed and also suppress any weeds that might be trying to grow.
GRANT: By leaving this vegetation in place, just mashing it over, there will be zero erosion here and we’re building soil by allowing this to decompose over time.
GRANT: We’re going to get started and I will explain the process and share several lessons about using the Buffalo System in hidey hole food plots.
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GRANT: Of course, one of the first decisions you need to make before planting anything, but especially a hidey hole food plot where you’re using the Buffalo System, is timing. I’ve left this standing. The wind blew some down behind me, but I want to make sure since I’m using the Baby Goliath, the foot crimper, depending on my weight or whoever is using its weight, to make sure the cereal rye is in the dough stage, which means when I squeeze a seed – and you can see some moisture coming out of my finger there – moisture comes out. That’s called the dough stage.
GRANT: The seed is forming and that forming is large enough that it’s holding moisture. Think about really moist bread dough. That’s what this should be inside the seed.
GRANT: The cereal rye is clearly ready, but when you look down, there’s a great crop of an annual clover below the rye. I know the clover is ready because these flowers are hollow and the seed actually forms inside there, so when I try to get one out, and when I take that – and you don’t squeeze the whole thing – remember, that’s a whole bunch of seed. I want one.
GRANT: And I squeeze this. Oh yeah. It just busts open like a watermelon. Very moist on the inside. So, it’s the perfect time to terminate this using the crimper.
GRANT: The reason it’s important to wait until the primary crops – the ones that are making up the most space – are in the dough stage is you want to be able to terminate them easy using the crimper – in this case we’re using a foot crimper – without using a herbicide. So, pull this up because it just crimps real easy. If you just watch this. I mean, it’s just so easy right now. And that way I can terminate it.
GRANT: When you crimp, well, that means the circulatory system is broken and it can’t get nutrients up to the seedhead for them to mature and become hard, viable seed.
GRANT: Now, it seems like a good thing, though. I could get free seed. But if you had that, they would germinate in their own time. It’s not the time of year to plant this cereal rye and then there’s, I don’t know, probably 50 to 80 seeds on here. Well, that would be all that seed right in one place. Way too thick. Too much competition. The rye wouldn’t grow well and the crop we’re getting ready to plant would not grow well.
GRANT: Big, grass plants like this – this is an annual grain – big, grass plant. Look. I mean, I’m – I’m six-foot-tall – a little bit over and this is almost as tall as me. So about six feet. When you take this and you think about all of it that’s laid down. Think how thick this would be if that was standing up.
GRANT: This dry weight – all the moisture is out and there’s not much moisture left in here. The tonnage here – one percent of that, on average, is nitrogen. So, let’s just say, you know, you’ve got 1,000 pounds in a small area. Well, one percent of that is ten pounds and that ten pounds is nitrogen. That’s not counting if we get a clover and say there’s just, you know, another – I don’t know – ton, whatever there is of clover out here. I’m just throwing numbers out.
GRANT: Well, when you have a legume, three percent of it – of the body of the plant – is nitrogen. I’m not talking a water dry weight. Three percent is nitrogen. So, now, you’ve got 30 pounds.
GRANT: So, if we just had the cereal rye – there’s other crops in here – by the cereal rye and the clover, that’s 40 pounds of free nitrogen. Don’t think 40 pounds per acre. This is less than a tenth of an acre. Gosh, do the math on that. There’s ample nitrogen to grow a crop in here this summer without me having to pay to add more.
GRANT: Hey, I just want to take a moment today to introduce to you Scott and Josh. Scott will be a sophomore at Mississippi State and Josh will be a senior at Virginia Tech. We’ve got two more coming in and I’ll introduce them later.
GRANT: But today, guys, we’re going to plant this small hidey hole food plot. I love interns for a lot of reasons. A lot of people don’t know this. I was an intern. I worked with mule deer out in Nevada through SCA, Student Conservation Association, and that was an absolute kickstart to my career, so I want to pay back. And our program is real simple.
GRANT: We want to give them a lot of education off-camera. We’ve been identifying plants and talking about a lot of stuff and, also, we’ve got a lot of work to do at The Proving Grounds. So, it’s a trade-off and, hopefully, we are teaching them stuff they won’t get in a textbook – practical experience like seeding, how we’re doing here.
GRANT: And they help us get jobs – they help us get tasks done. And at the end of the day, well, gosh, we hope they have enough experience that it’s easier for them to get a position when they graduate.
GRANT: An easy way to accurately determine the acreage, I use onX. I can have it right out in the field. You can even get the map offline so you can do it if you don’t have service – maybe we’re down in the valley or something. And I pull up the plot and then I just simply go to area shape and just start tracing it out. You know, and if I’m off 10 percent on something like this, it’s not a big deal.
GRANT: And I’ve got right at 1,200 feet and I think I probably wasn’t quite right there, so I’m going to say about 1,300 feet, give it an extra 100, 200 feet. And that allows me to determine how much seed I need to plant.
GRANT: So, I’m simply going to use my calculator and I enter 1,300 square feet, divide that by the square footage of an acreage, 43,560 and it gives me .9, so let’s say 3. And that’s not 3/10 of an acre, that’s 3/100. If I had a cleaner planting area – Eagle Seed Summer Blend, and it’s an experimental blend.
GRANT: I always get these, “Hey, Grant. What are you planting? What are you planting?” It’s an experiment. And if I tell you and it doesn’t work, you’ll be mad at Eagle and me. So, I’m not telling you exactly what’s in there. We’ll show it to you later in the summer. See how it’s doing.
GRANT: But I’ve got this blend which it’s to be planted at 25 pounds per acre under better conditions. So, I want to double that. So I’m going to say 50 pounds per acre.
GRANT: So, I’ve got 3/100 of an acre and I want to plant the equivalent of 50 pounds per acre. So, I take 50 pounds times .03. That tells me 1.5 pounds. 1.5 pounds.
GRANT: Now, it’s a small area, but you can go through 1.5 pounds really quickly. So, I want to open up the gauge on our broadcaster just big enough for the largest seed to go through. Hold it up high so it spreads really well and walk really quickly.
GRANT: If you just kind of go slow, but you’re turning this faster, all that seed will be planted in the first half and you’ll have way too much seed for the area.
GRANT: …and that’s 1.8. See, we’re at 2.2, but take 5 off of that…
GRANT: So, just that small amount of seed – that’s all we’ve got. Right? There’s a gauge. One through five. You definitely don’t want a five, because when you open that all the way up, that lets this come way open and you turn it and all of a sudden, “All my seed’s gone.” Right?
GRANT: Again, it’s not the expense. We don’t want it so crowded that it’s out competing and there are just little munchkin plants in there. We want these plants to express full potential. So.
GRANT: So, you can tell we’ve got a whole bunch of different species in there. And I like blends because a lot of research shows that about eight or more species growing together – eight kind of seems to be the magic bottom number.
GRANT: I want warm-season legumes for a warm-season crop, warm-season grasses, warm-season broadleaves and, usually, at least one of a brassica. So, turnips will grow in the summer, not too good. Some of the mustard, some of the rapes, something like that. That covers kind of all the classes of plants. And when you get all of that going together and they’re all – you know, it’s not like a garden, a row of mustard, a row of grass, a row of legume. They’re all mixed together under the ground.
GRANT: Think of an iceberg. You only see the top third or so. Right? Under the ground those roots are doing magic together and that’s what frees up more nutrients and makes it much more drought resistant.
GRANT: We’ve broadcast the seed, so now it’s really important to terminate the standing crop. We don’t want to use an herbicide here. I’m not opposed to herbicide. I just want to use the least amount I have to. And also, when you terminate with the crimper, it lays it over and makes much better mulch.
GRANT: You can see on this standing stuff, the sun’s going through here. But if you lay this six feet over, it’s covering more ground. So, when you lay this all over it will keep the sun from baking out the moisture. The plants emit – remember it has onboard energy, so it’s going to germinate, come up through it.
GRANT: As soon as those leaves are above the mulch, it’s going to be growing and we’ve got a weed mat just like mulching your garden. You’ve seen us in our larger food plots use the Goliath crimper. It looks like a roller, but it’s got blades on it at an angle and that, again, breaks the stem.
GRANT: We don’t want to just mash it down. Think about driving through your yard with a, you know, maybe you’re backing up a boat trailer or something. Your wife, “Oh, you got tracks in the yard.” And a day or two later, you can’t even tell where you were because the grass just stands back up.
GRANT: So, we need to crimp or break the circulatory system. Well, we can’t get the tractor in here and it’s steep. So, we’ve got the baby Goliath. This is by RTP Outdoors. It’s pretty small. Hidey hole food plots. It works perfect.
GRANT: So, this metal is not sharp. We don’t want to cut it. If you cut your grass, it regrows, right? We just want to crimp it. So, this is kind of flat here. And it’s about six inches apart.
GRANT: And so, the secret here is I’m – you put that on your boot or you can just do this – I just do this a lot where you – you pick this up and then step forward. And you need to crimp about every six, eight inches. So, you’re not taking great big steps. You’re just, you know, you do that; put your weight on it. I kind of rock it, usually a little bit, take another step. And you can see right here on the edge, I wasn’t even meaning to, but I’ll crimp this.
GRANT: And I’m just doing it like this and putting your weight on there. You look behind me right here, it’s staying down. So, this is a foot-operated crimper. It’s a great tool for people that want to use the Buffalo System in smaller plots. This is a great tool. You could do a bigger plot. It just, you know, it takes time; it takes more energy.
GRANT: So, anyway, this is the crimper. I love it. And we’re going to bring Scott and Josh back in and introduce them to crimping.
GRANT: There are many advantages to crimping – doing what we’re doing right now. And, of course, it’s laying it down. You can tell less sun is going through there. That’s our weed control, erosion control. Water is going to hit that mulch we’ve created, slow it way down and it just trickles into the soil.
GRANT: The sun is not getting to the soil, the dirt. Therefore, it’s not heating up. And as soil heats up, it evaporates more of the moisture. I’m talking a difference between 85 degrees and 95 degrees surface soil temperature. It makes a big difference.
GRANT: So, we’re insulating the soil, keeping it more moderate. Not too cold. Not too hot. This is perfect.
GRANT: And another huge factor – well, it’s slow-release fertilizer. Those crops – they’ve been taking nutrients out of the soil for quite some time. You know, that’s what roots do, pull it up to the plant. They’re just about making seed.
GRANT: So, they’re packed full of nutrients right now. We’re terminating that and it will release those nutrients really slowly. And think about this. It’s the perfect slow-release fertilizer.
GRANT: If you haven’t been following, a lot of farmers, rural America, what’s really hurting – commodity grain prices. Corn, soybean, wheat, other crops are all very low. I checked last week and the price for corn was $3.18 a bushel. Farmers can plant ‘x’ number of acres and think they’re going to harvest ‘y’ bushels. And they can go ahead and get a contract for that now.
GRANT: $3.18 a bushel isn’t much. You’ve got to think about the price of fertilizer and seed and herbicide, insecticide, fungicide, tractors. They’re all way up. It makes it very difficult for farmers to make a profit.
GRANT: That’s where the Buffalo System really comes in. We’re significantly reducing those input costs, giving a really good yield and allowing farmers to maintain, or even over time as the soil improves, increase those profits.
GRANT: We shared those techniques and strategies with Bob Fry, a landowner north of here, last week and I want to share some of the techniques we shared with Dr. Fry to apply to agricultural land.
GRANT: Yeah. That’s (Inaudible) here it’s got all kind of bad nasties. Yep.
GRANT: I’m in a cornfield that was planted with soybeans last summer, but no fall cover crop. And it’s really flat. Compared to The Proving Grounds, it’s extremely flat. But all kinds of erosion in here and you see these little rivulets right here I call ‘em, you know, that’s six inches wide and maybe an inch deep compared to the other side.
GRANT: You think, “Well, that’s not much.” But remember, over an acre, the thickness of a piece of typing paper is a ton of soil.
GRANT: Well, these little rivulets are all through here an inch deep. It doesn’t take many rivulets an inch deep to equal a ton. Remember, the average soil loss in Iowa each year is five tons per acre.
GRANT: Folks, we make a living – our groceries come from soil. Soil is the most important resource we have. We’ve got to take care of it. If they would have harvested the soybeans, planted a cover crop, come in here then and drilled the corn in the cover crop, and then terminated that cover crop and left the corn standing, there would have been no erosion, a lot more nutrients for the corn crop. Wouldn’t have had to add so many synthetic inputs and wouldn’t have near the weeds we’re seeing now.
GRANT: That’s just one part of the Buffalo System. Certainly, no erosion and a much reduced need for synthetic inputs because all this erosion you see, was putting those synthetic inputs in the watershed.
GRANT: Spinach, for example, on average – always averages, right? Spinach right now has 40% less iron in it than it did three decades ago. Carrots are 63% less nutritious than they were a few decades ago. Apples are almost nothing except some fiber. A lot of oranges anymore have no Vitamin C. None. Zero.
GRANT: This is all due to depleted soil. From chemical stress and monoculture and tillage. There is no chance on the planet, none, zero, none, zero, that tillage can ever improve soil. It’s impossible.
GRANT: When you look at the physics of soil – and I know these are radical statements. I know. I know. I’ve been through this for years now. But, when you till, you break down that pore structure in the till and all kinds of things. But what most people see – that – because that’s tangible.
GRANT: What they don’t see is you allow massive amounts of oxygen in the soil and the good bacteria – there’s about 1,700 species of good bacteria to every one bad species in the soil. It’s common soil bacteria.
GRANT: They’re not made for that much oxygen, so you kill ‘em – like that. Mycorrhizal fungi, mycorrhizal fungi, if you’ve got it and we get out here in the soil and look, it looks like the finest little spider web going through the soil. Okay?
GRANT: And one – it’s not a plant, but in common term – one plant could easily cover that whole bottom. But if you ever disc one time, it’s dead. And what’s so – this is so cool, man, this is like – you – if – I don’t know if you guys are believers or not. It doesn’t matter. But only God could do this. Evolution could not do this.
GRANT: And if you’re short of phosphorous over here and the buffalo died over here and it gets in that fungus, pffft, it goes to the plant. And the plants excretes, exudates, which is just a fancy word for stuff going out of a root – leaking out of roots. It actually leaks out of roots. They’re not like, pffft, pumping it out. It leaks out. Okay?
GRANT: And that puts out a signal, I need this. But a lot of farmers just say, “Phooey. I’ve been disking forever or I’ve been planting monoculture forever, or I’ve been using fungicide.” When you use fungicide, you kill mycorrhizal fungi. It kills ‘em; one of the best things out there in the whole soil.
BOB: Obviously, you were here when this place was started. It was mostly fescue.
BOB: So, so, my question is when you first start your food plots, because we’ve got some other places that we’re going to make, do you till them to start with? How do you get the fescue out of there?
GRANT: Spray. Burn. Spray. Burn.
BOB: Spray, burn and then no-till.
GRANT: We – I can promise you – and I’ll bet my farm on this. When you disc, you’re just going to have more fescue come up because those – it has been making seeds for however long it has been there. And when you expose new soil, it’s just going to germinate.
GRANT: The way you get rid of fescue is spray. You have to use herbicide. I don’t like – I’m not anti-herbicide. I just want to use the least amount I need to.
GRANT: So, yeah. I’m not anti-herbicide. People think I’m – I’m not organic. I’m not anti-herbicide. I just want to use it as a tool and I don’t want to use it any more than I have to. Right? It takes time, labor, it’s nasty, blah, blah, blah.
GRANT: So, I’m going to spray. And I’m going to – I use a lot of fire, prescribed fire. And then I would probably plant the first year a roundup ready crop. I’m not anti-GMO. I just don’t want to use it if I don’t have to. Right?
BOB: Hmm, hmm.
GRANT: And that allows me to spray again to get anymore fescues coming up. And then when you crimp or you add mulch, you’re covering that fescue seed. Weed seeds can’t germinate if they’re covered by about a half inch of soil. I would just get out of the tilling business.
GRANT: If you would like to learn more about the Buffalo System, check out the Buffalo System or food plot playlist and all of our past episodes on this subject can be viewed there.
GRANT: Whether you have a garden, or a flower bed, or you’re making food plots, or you’re producing agricultural crops, it’s a great way to be outside and enjoy Creation.
GRANT: But most importantly, take some time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator says to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.