In many places in the United States it's becoming illegal to use minerals and supplements. My third book I released this year was dedicated this topic, which is why I named it The Next Bite. Here is some food for though when it comes to the topic of nutrition for deer.
No matter what forage is planted for food plots there can be a variety of outcomes. Some forage blends yield about 2 ton of forage dry matter per acre per year and others as much as 6-8 ton per year. Forages such as oats, wheat, rye, triticale and barley contain only 25-33% ad much calcium as many common clovers. In the wildlife industry there is a lack of awareness on what a blend or particular forage yields, how it tests nutritionally and how to maximize the outputs of what you plant.
Forages require timely moisture, heat units, sun light and fertility from the soil. Too much of one nutrient can be a detriment to another. Every forage has different requirements for optimum growth. Sure, most of you understand that a soil test is a huge benefit but not many understand how to fertilize for the blend you plant. The higher the average levels of phosphorous, potassium, sulfur and trace minerals that are in the plant or blend, the more of these exact nutrients are mined from the soil. In soils that are depleted in a particular macro or micro nutrient, those exact nutrients will show up as deficient in the forage. If one takes a soil sample and also a plant tissue sample, they tend to mimic each other. Yes, there are factors that can affect plant tissue analysis but they can be a base line or monitoring tool.
Here is a couple examples to consider. If you plant a perennial clover mix that will typically yield 2 ton of forage per season and if your forage tests 1.2% calcium 0.30% phosphorous .25% magnesium and 2.5% potassium that would give u available nutrient levels of 48 lbs of calcium 12 lbs of phosphorous 10 lbs of magnesium and 100 lbs of potassium.
If you plant a mix that yields 4 ton per acre with the same levels of nutrients you now would have 96 lbs of calcium, 24 lbs of phosphorous, 20 lbs of magnesium and 200 lbs of potassium. For those where it is legal to use deer minerals, that would be equivalent to 200-300 lbs of deer mineral. The value on that deer mineral would be in the $150-$200 range. Stop and think about that.
Now ponder what extra inputs there might be to get 4 ton of growth versus 2? It may or may not be any extra seed costs. The amount of extra fertilizations would be approximately $30-40 per acre. Other factors that come into play are how would one get any mix higher in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium? This is what I focused on in all 3 books i wrote. Many of the tricks and tips can cost very little money. Some simple solutions would be adding 50 lbs per acre of ammonium sulfate. That $15-18 per acre can go a long way in adjusting whole plant nutrients.
Lastly, what is grown doesn't always equal what is consumed. How to get more forages consumed per acre is based on a variety of factors such as plant sugar content, stage of maturity, proper clipping procedures, planting forages that best match your own soils and other inputs that affect overall plant health.
My challenge to you all is to learn how to do better. Seed is a start not the be all end all. Once seed germinates, it's the roots that become the driving factor to the growth cycle. Management of what you plant becomes way bigger factor than the seed blend that you purchased. This is where my goal with my research, seminars and posts should at least get more of you to stop and think. Ask yourself, isn't the best deer minerals to start with in the very forages your planting?