By Haynes Shelton
Successful food plots require time, labor and money. If you’re willing to invest those things, you should also be willing to do a soil test prior to planting. Too often good-intentioned food plotters take on a planting project without first analyzing the soil quality of the projected site. Unfortunately, failure to test the soil can result in poor plot production due to unbalanced soil PH levels.
Inexpensive soil tests can usually be completed by local Cooperative Extension Offices, and they’ll render accurate instructions for soil amendments based on the crop you intend to plant. Most often, soil corrections can be made by applying either lime (to neutralize/raise soil PH) or fertilizer (to adjust Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium levels). In the long run, a soil test may even save you money by preventing the use of unnecessary fertilizers. After all, fertilizer will serve little to no purpose if your soil cannot properly absorb it.
The decision to improve wildlife habitat is a noble one, and I encourage all outdoor enthusiasts to do their part to actively manage their hunting properties. But in order to make the most of your efforts, take time before you plant to ensure your soil is ready. Your patience will pay off tenfold when you’re blessed with a lush and nutritious crop that’s highly sought after by wildlife.