Establishing a food plot
Radio interview source: Todd Bogenschotz, wildlife research biologist, Iowa DNR
Sometimes when I'm out in the pasture or down by the pond, I'm mesmerized by the wildlife going about their daily activities. If we had a food plot that provided food and habitat, I'm sure we'd see even more. I'd never get anything done!
Food plots provide good nutrition and develop healthier animals. Todd Bogenschotz with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there are two main factors to consider before constructing a food plot.
"Well, it really depends on what your goals are as a landowner and what you're trying to attract," he says. "If you're looking at a lot of deer, you need a big plot. If you've got just a little bit of pheasant cover and a few quail, then you don't need nearly as much."
The location you choose is very important to the success of your plot. If you want to attract deer, for example, select a site that's more isolated.
Make food plots long and narrow versus round so a creature can quickly slip in and out if it needs to. Plan on about 1/4 to 1/2 acre of food plot for each 20 acres of land. And the closer it is to good dense cover like a brushy fencerow or woodland edge, the more wildlife will use it.
Be sure to select a plant species that will grow on your particular site and soil type. If you're not sure, ask a wildlife biologist, or local seed supplier. For most areas, an easy way to get something established is by planting grain sorghum.
"Sorghum would be something pretty typical that we'd recommend for pheasants, deer, turkey, quail -- a lot of birds use this, the song birds even use it," Bogenschotz says. "It's a smaller seed so it's pretty attractive to a lot of different species."
Clover is considered by many to be a universal deer food. It's easy to establish in most regions of the country and grows in many soil types.
Managing your food plot well includes maintaining a good soil fertility program, keeping the plot weed free and scouting for potential insect or other pest problems.
Wildlife food plots: Get step-by-step instructions for establishing a plot, including a chart that lists which crops are best for which types of wildlife.
Attract wildlife with a cold-season food plot: Give wildlife a food source in the winter with these helpful tips.
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