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Food Plots Soil Tests, Lime, and Fertilizer

CBU93

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What is the ideal time to do the above?

And please explain to me in layman's terms
-green manure
-building up soil
 

bigjohn

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Green manure is fresh dung mostly referred to as cow, chicken or horse around my area. It is rich in nutrients that helps “build ground up” to be rich and productive of whatever crops you’re trying to grow. The soil sample can be taken anytime but the application of the recommended products usually have a peak application period. I prefer lime in fall and fertilize in spring.
 

JCDEERMAN

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Soil test any time, as long as the field is ready. For instance, we had a 2.5 acre area clear-cut for a new food plot last week. I'm not going to do soil samples until all the dozer work is done and we are ready to plant. Lime now - pelletized lime starts becoming beneficial to plants earlier than ag (powder) lime. I'd say I've seen the benefits from pelletized lime in 3-6 months. With fertilizer, you can put that out whenever really. It is easier to get it all done in one "shebang".

When I refer to green manure, I am referring to all of the crops that are grown being put back into the soil. For instance, we have cereal rye that is 6.5 feet tall. We sprayed it and will drill our summer crop right through that rye and it will lay down on the ground protecting the soil, while at the same time start to decompose, releasing all it's nutrients back down into the soil. Essentially, that once green crop is terminated and is now laying on the ground like a mat 6" thick. It is acting as a greenhouse keeping moisture below / temperature low, while it is reflecting heat and resisting erosion. We are planting sorghum in our mix in 2 weeks, for the sole purpose of growing a big plant (like corn), terminating it and letting it lay on the ground again for that once green plant to decompose. We use a no-till drill, which vastly helps this process. Over the course of a couple years, all of that decomposing "green manure" will be a porous, rich soil that anything you try to grow has all the nutrients it needs.
 

JCDEERMAN

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does the green manure method work without drilling in the next crop?
You don't need a drill. A lot of folks use the "throw and mow" method. This is essentially spreading "throwing" out seed into an existing crop, then mowing it. All the thatch or "green manure" will lay right on top of the seed you put out. Just know that the smaller seeds (rape, clover, etc...) sometimes work a little better with this because they can get down to good soil contact easier. However, wheat and cereal rye typically do just fine with this - it will grow in the bed of a truck. Also some of the bigger seeds (soybeans, peas, etc...) have a lot of energy and typically do just fine as well.

As they say, there are several ways to skin a cat. Look up some YouTube videos on "throw and mow".

Check this one out and he also mentions a few others to check out (growingdeer.tv, qdma, etc...):
 

DoubleRidge

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does the green manure method work without drilling in the next crop?

Late last summer we were pressed for time on a few plots and we sprayed to killed existing vegetation which was 10 to 12" tall....waited a week or so....spread our fall blend (co-op blend) and then mowed.....each of these plots greened up nice....now I will say we were blessed with a couple of perfectly timed rains...which helps drive seed too the soil.

We've even skipped the mowing step before with the dead vegetation laying down to create coverage on its own.... especially if you have a good rain in forecast.

With the throw and mow....or spray, throw and mow it's recommended to increase seed rates per acre..... because it's not all going to germinate....where as with a drill your obviously going to get the seed in the soil.
 

BSK

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For years I used the mow, spray, broadcast planting technique. It does work. You can produce adequate food plots with this method. But you're limited on plant choices, as large-seeded plants do not germinate well without being buried. Stick to smaller seeded plants (nothing larger than cereal grains) and you can do quite well. This is a mow/spray/broadcast plot with cereal grains and clover:
 

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BSK

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The building of humus from repeatedly mowing green manure onto the surface does work. However, it takes a very, VERY long time to build up a significant humus layer if you are starting with virtually no soil profile (old log-loading decks). After 20 years of doing so I found it would build up one to two inches of humus. However, directly below that was still the rock-hard old log loading deck. The humus layer does hold moisture. However, nutrients and moisture will not percolate down into a nearly impermeable layer below.
 

Popcorn

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Cookeville, TN Cadiz, KY and random other places
What is the ideal time to do the above?

And please explain to me in layman's terms
-green manure
-building up soil
I pull soil samples in July. Thats when I have time and dry soil to work with plus results are back in time for late August, early September planting.

I lime most commonly in the fall but some land is so needy I hit it when I can. Lime takes time so expect to see benefits 3 to 6 months after.

I fertilize at planting for annuals, hay ground gets spring and fall fert and pasture ground gets fall fert because spring grasses and legumes high in nitrogen can cause problems for calves. Also spring fertilizer applications grow crops above ground, fall ferts grow roots. Also nitrogen evaporates.

Green manure began as an idea to grow fast growing nutrient consuming annuals then to plow them under to cause them to rot also encourage good bacteria and fungi in the soil. Some farmers took this idea to the extreme and would turn 3 and 4 crops in a year. Do this a couple years and the soil will amaze you. Then along came the no-till movement and turning plows can be heard rusting away across the south. (for good reason) So now Green manure is crops grown to leave on the ground to insulate soil temp, preserve moisture, retard weeds, slow erosion, decay and feed the next crop which is planted into it.

Soil building is exactly that, improving soil content and condition. A logging deck can be a place of no life due to compaction and erosion as well as an absence of nutients, microbials, fungi and bacteria. On the other hand good healthy soil has air space, water, nutrients, fungi, bacteria, worms, insect larvae, organic matter and naturally resists compaction and erosion. Building soil is not difficult building great soil is a lot of work. Plants can make it easier. But sometimes you have to renovate or sub soil break the ground to allow this process to begin. There is a wealth of information on which plants serve what purpose. I like annual grasses and legumes but brassicas are very important as well. As in life a variety is always better, a diverse seed blend will address soil needs much faster.

A word everyone should understand when it comes to soil is "tilth"
 

JCDEERMAN

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As in life a variety is always better, a diverse seed blend will address soil needs much faster.
Completely agree with everything you said, Popcorn.

Especially this - A blend of seeds is always best. It feeds wildlife at different periods and stages, as well as builds root systems shallow, medium and deep for everything dealing with soil health.
 

CBU93

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So the reason I ask...I want to get more serious on the food plotting. I have done the break ground spread wheat in the fall to dove hunt over then food lot for deer. BEtter than Nothing.

Next, I’ve sprayed in the fall, disc, spread wheat...Results, somewhat better.

now I want to do some different things and try some different plants. I have a tractor, disc, bush hog, ATV sprayer, broadcast spreader 3 point hitch, in a little bit of land.
Thanks for the replies.
 

BSK

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Mar 11, 1999
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Nashville, TN
CBU93,

Look up the book: "Quality Food Plots - Your Guide to Better Deer and Better Deer Hunting." It's an excellent resource for learning about the different plants that can be used in food plots, as well as planting techniques.
 

Popcorn

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Jan 30, 2019
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Location
Cookeville, TN Cadiz, KY and random other places
Cereal rye is the best winter small grain as it
Develops roots larger and faster than wheat therefore better prevents erosion and puts more matter into the soil.
Is more palatable than wheat and tolerates browse just as good.
Produces more matter than wheat. As much as 20% more tillers plus much taller
Retards weeds chemically as well as photogenically,

I say this because I believe a winter plot of cereal rye with turnips and radishes and an annual clover is a great winter plot no matter your goals.

There are many ways to address your soils needs with summer crops and the book BSK suggests will give you good info. Dont forget to enjoy the process. I still play with blends and timing
 
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