Pros and Cons of Food Plot Forages
So many people are quick to advocate for their favorite food plot blends or individual forages that are their preference. Everyone has a comfort level and everyone's management level is different. That being said, there is something most overlook, the pros and cons of anything they plant.
There is no forage that does great on sand, clay and loam soil. There is no forage that handles soil pH's that are low, in the acceptable range as well as extremely high. There are no forage that love wet, dry and well drained soils. There is nothing in life that is 100%. There also can be great individual forages for your situation that won't work well in blends with certain forages. For example, sugar beets are a non competitive forage. They need to be planted with other non-competitive forages to achieve success. That is one area many wildlife companies could do better. There is many imperfect blends out there that mix competitive with non competitive species.
There is an average maturity on all species. Being educated on how long it takes for any individual forages to mature should affect your planting program. To provide 365 day forages on your property you need to stagger maturities. What happens when a mix your planting is fast growing and all species mature at the same rate? They are rapidly consumed during the vegetative staged and when they turn to reproduction, there becomes refusal.
What yields the most, requires extra fertility and fertilization. If your perennial plot produces 2 ton per acre, what happens when it yields 4 ton per acre? What did you fertilize for? If 2 ton, then your mining your soil and affecting long term success. What is the highest in minerals, mines the most minerals. If your on a budget, if you need 300-400 pounds of potassium per acre per year on your food plot, make sure you are aware of the cost to that. If cost is not an object, learn what happens to your forage's nutrition and palatability if you don't feed the soil and plant correctly.
What happens to your soil health and future plots from the forages you chose to plant this year? Are you mining nutrients? Are your extracting extra soil moisture? Are you setting yourself for plant disease issues? Are you aiding future crops by nutrient sequestration and alleotrophy?
There is NOW and there is the future. There is no silver bullet. The PROGRAM I push I call it managed intensive nutrition. What it entails is healthy soil, planting a plot rotation that compliments subsequent plots, maintaining conservation principles and with the eye toward making the next bite, the most efficient and healthy bite. None of this is rocket science yet it takes some planning. Planning helps reduce risk. Learning about the pros and cons of each forage is something i've never read nor hear discussed but it's what I will continue to hammer home. Some may question the energy and time I use on that but to me that is essential for the future. Now is easy, the future is full of unknowns.
Food for thought...