This past couple weeks i've been on 8 properties from Wisconsin to Alabama and parts in between. Here is my thoughts from my travels. They are typical of what I have been seeing all year.
1) People need to plant more contour strips or change their planting practices to do a better job of holding soil/erosion control. Once your soil washes away, your chance for success leaves with it.
2) We work the ground too much. We see a lot of soil compaction issues.
3) We experience major weed challenges. Everyone should come up with a weed suppression plan not just to kill weeds that are currently growing but clean up your weed seed beds.
4) Too many crops that don't tolerate shade are planted in shady areas. Planting soybeans and corn to the woods edge is inefficient and you should create scrapelines for more effective growth and to hold soil.
5)Not enough people focus year 1 and 2 on soil health. We tend to want to jump right in and plant commonly grown forages. Year 1 is the time to add organic matter, fixate nitrogen, naturally smother weeds and set yourself up for long term success.
6) Very few soils are balanced on p and k. Too many people are not using the correct fertilizers, nor using enough to prevent soil nutrient mining.
7) Roundup resistant weeds are out there. I have been seeing more and more of it. Very few people are spraying at the right times. We are also not adding other companion herbicides to help control these noxious weeds. We are also not using a high enough rate of glyphosate for total kill. We see stunted growth. This sets ourselves up for roundup resistant weeds
8) Ineffective plot scouting. So many people see weeds but don't see whats below those weeds. We also are not aware as to what the deer are eating and when they are eating these forages. Weather and mother nature change plans. Weather affects nutrition.
9) Planting the wrong mixes in the wrong spots. We want to first know where you are going to put your stands. Then we want to know when are you going to be hunting these stands. We want to turn properties into "highways"
10) Not enough screening. Screening isn't just to help people get in and out of your stands. We never want a buck to glass a whole field. We want them to assume deer are out eating in a block of forage and make them go to find them. You help "steer" deer into these areas by creating "doorways." If people have a 4 or 5 acre field, we want to break that down with a 10-20 foot strip down the middle or around 2-4 of the field edges to make a big field into smaller fields.
These are some of the recommendations I made to people in the past couple weeks. No matter where you live these are all basic concepts to work on. It's not as much what mix you plant. It is what mix you need to plant as part of your rotation and food plot sustainability practices.