Many people have have stated on this board that there food plots have not been a perferred by deer on there property. I spent the last two years researching the this very topic and it comes down to soil fertility. Most people have a problem with brassicas (i.e. rape, kale, turnups) and/or poor stands of perenial clover. The reason being brassicas have a high water content and do well in acidic soils. When your soils are acidic the plant will be constantly loosing water through cell walls (transpiration) due to poor cell structure. While water in the plant is constaintly being released. sulfer is unable to, causing poor taste. When proper ammounts of calcium(major element in aglime) are available in the soil, nitrogen is able to carry the full amount of potassium and calcuim to the cells, thus creating proper cell structure. The plant will not be overloading itself with elements that cause undesirable forage.

I'm sure your wondering what this all means, and it took me while to figure it out my self. When soil pH is at its proper level the plant will naturally be able to pull from the soil everything it needs other than; nitrogen and water (for this region). Over time soil microbes will produce majority of the plants needs when liming your soils. Plants water consumption is reduced by half when the soil pH in nuetral to slightly acidic.

When Applying fertilizer to acidic soils:
-most plants can only uptake 30% of ag fertilizers when the soils pH is below 4.5
-most plants can only uptake 60% of ag fertilizers when soils pH is below 5.5

--The major component of Ag Fertilizers is Sulfur used as a Carrier. This is the major element used to make soils MORE acidic.

--Thus, don't throw money down the drain by constantly dumping fertilizers with out adjusting your pH. This just causes salt build up in your soils and takes additional water from the plant along with other negative affects.

A soil test is much cheaper than a bag of fertilizer and very easy to do.

First off, do a soil test and get your pH to its proper levels (around 6.5). Applying lime is key, but if you can't do this, apply liquid calcuim. This will not adjust your soils but will give the plant what it needs over a 30-60 period. Another option, is verdi-cal or solu-cal. This will raise your pH one point in 21 days (more expensive and last 6 to 9 months), but a very good product. These two are used in the turfgrass industry.

The first year can be difficult in getting some types of forages established but by the second year you will be amazed by the results. Minimal soil tillage has been found to work the best for soil health and water retainage. Try using a water soluble fertilizer to suppliment the plant if needed. I buy a 30 lb. bag at he CO-OP for less than thirty bucks and use 3 lbs/ acre to give any plots a boost. I believe its the 20-20-20. I used two bags for 14 acres of plots all of last year.

Hopefully this helps. You will see major improvements from your plots recovery to browsing along with saving a lot on fertilizer cost.