Proper fertilization is key to producing high-quality wildlife food plots. Before purchasing fertilizer, however, it is important to know how much fertilizer is needed. The best way to accomplish this is to analyze the soil nutrient levels. Our laboratory will test the soil for pH, organic matter, phosphorus, and potassium. Based on these results, we’ll calculate the lime and fertilizer requirements for the food plot. Lime and fertilizer can be purchased from a local fertilizer dealer.
Before you get your hands dirty, it is important to think about where to take the soil samples. Since wildlife food plots are usually small areas (1 to 3 acres), the soil sampling process will be fairly simple. Using a soil probe, spade or garden trowel dig a 5 to 7 inch soil sample from the food plot. Be sure to remove any plant residue and large roots from the sample. We recommend that you take 5 to 10 sub-samples from various locations within the food plot (see diagram below). Collect the sub-samples in a plastic bucket and mix them together thoroughly. Fill the soil sample bag with 2 cups (about 2/3 full) of soil and label the bag properly. If your food plot is larger than 5 acres or has highly variable areas, you may consider taking additional samples. Use zip-lock bags for any added samples.
Fertilizer and lime recommendations for the crops to be grown are generally discussed in terms of lbs. or tons of product per acre. In order to accurately apply the desired amount of product to your plot, or to even know how many soil samples are required, you need to know the size of your food plots. To accomplish this do your best to square-off the shape of your field to come up with a rectangle that represents an area equal to the size of your field. Step-off or measure the length and width of this rectangle to come up with the area of your plot fields. Multiply the length by the width in feet to arrive at the square footage. Divide this figure by 43,560 (sq. ft./acre) to arrive at the acreage size of your plots. As a point of reference, a football field is roughly an acre in size.