How to Plant Foodplots

Overview

Establish successful foodplots--areas of food crops grown to attract wildlife--by taking into account the soil type, goal and wildlife preferences. It's not a matter of scratching the soil and dumping down seed. Plan the foodplots in advance to determine what you want to accomplish. The surrounding land and type of crops play an important role in the success of the project. Foodplots are an opportunity to look at wildlife and create a healthier animal population.

Step 1

Take a sample of the soil in the planting area. Dig 6 inches in the ground to obtain a sample and put it in a plastic bucket. Get several samples from throughout the area, working in a zigzag pattern.

Step 2

Send the soil samples to your local cooperative extension office for testing. It should only take a few weeks for results. The report will include information about soil nutrient levels, as well as recommended amendments to improve the soil.

Step 3

Make your foodplot large enough to function and attract wildlife--at least 1,000 square feet. If you have 20 acres, the plot should be a maximum of half-acre. It's best to plant next to winter cover such as a wetland or field border. The wider you make the strips, the more cover it offers to wildlife.

Step 4

Examine your goal for planting a foodplot. Certain animals prefer certain crops. If your land is surrounded by corn, for example, plant something else to attract the wildlife to your plot.

Step 5

Prepare the soil by tilling it. Loosening it up with add air pockets to help the seed germinate. Use a rototiller if you're working on a smaller piece of land. You can also use a small tractor or ATV to work on the foodplot. Apply any amendments as recommended by the soil test, and till them into the soil.

Step 6

Plant seed with a hand spreader if you're working in a small area. If not, attach a seeder to an ATV or tractor. Put in the recommended amount of seed for the foodplot size and disperse it. In some regions, you can hire farmers to till and plant your foodplot. To attract deer, cut the field in half and plant corn on one side and clover. Deer enjoy clover in the summer and corn in the fall and winter.

Step 7

Water the seeds. Keep the soil moist until they germinate.

Step 8

Give the plants fertilizer in the late fall or early winter to promote growth. Broadcast a pellet fertilizer by hand following the instructions on the label.

Step 9

Green up the foodplot in the spring to attract wildlife with another round of fertilizer. Apply fertilizer with a ratio of 10-10-10 (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) to add nutrients and improve use by whitetails. Reapply it one to two months later to help the plants convert nitrogen to protein. Use 1 pound of fertilizer for each inch of a shrub's diameter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not apply too much fertilizer or seed because it will not result in a better foodplot. Too much fertilizer can kill the plants and too much seed will result in a nutrient deficiency. Do not assume the soil doesn't need fertilizer. Food will help the plants grow. Avoid planting seeds in shady areas, such as woods. They need sun for growth and energy. Do not make your foodplot too small or it will be ineffective. It should be at least 1,000 square feet.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil
  • Bucket
  • Seeds
  • Rototiller or tilling equipment
  • ATV or tractor
  • Pellet fertilizer
  • Balanced fertilizer
  • Water

References

  • The Ohio State University Extension: Establishing Wildlife Food Plots
  • Food Plots: The Ultimate Food Plot
Keywords: plant foodplots, grow food plots, establish food plots

About this Author

Kelly Shetsky has been a broadcast journalist for more than 10 years, researching, writing, producing and reporting daily on many topics. In addition, she writes for several websites, specializing in medical, health and fitness, arts and entertainment, travel and business. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.