Do you have a small piece of property scoped out for a Food Plot?
- Short on equipment?
- Got more time than equipment or money for tilling?
- Have to do small plots for hunting or photography to allow good distance ratios?
- Have you a piece of rented land that is a mere 40 to 50 feet wide?
On our property we have some such areas and in addition to being small they are limited to fall annual planting due to the fact that they are low spots and we usually can’t get in there until mid May or later.
Also, the soil conditions are such that the location is best suited to fall attractant type plots.
See more on annuals at
Usually, we have to wait until the winter run-off water retreats and find an area that kind of interfaces one of our fields and a known bedding area.
Then a soil test is done.
If we manage to have picked an area where soil treatments are minimal, then we consider this gold.
Usually the area is covered in poor nutritional and poor tasting grasses (See the piece on food deer love), so it doesn’t hurt my feelings to give that a full coverage of glyphosate and a surfactant in May.
This is when plant growth is really just getting accelerated and things are turning green. Since the plot is so small, we can utilize a backpack sprayer. Usually, there are two sprays required or three for some really tough locations, usually 2 to 3 weeks apart, as new greenery starts to show up.
Late July or early August we can tramp through all the dead junk there.
But here is the kicker about no-plow, no-till planting. You have to get that dead thatch out of the way! So here comes the back breaking labour. Oh, well, you saved on tillage right?
Out with a weed-wacker and trim the dead stuff. Can’t use a lawnmower where we are at, because just too rough in there. After that, it is manual pick up. Again, no equipment access and just too rough, so it’s pick up the stuff by hand or rake off the plot to the bush. With a rake we just rough up the soil a little just to allow a little seed to soil contact.
Using a hand seeder, we have used whitetail Institutes No-Plow for these plots. It is nice for these tough spots. Then finally we rake after broadcasting the seed.
Just a heads up about using this approach.
Saving on tillage doesn’t mean you can entirely ignore all parts of the growing process.
- Make sure to soil test for best results.
- This mix has cereal grains, brassicas and clover which all do better on near neutral soils. It is not that you can’t put this on more acidic soils, it is just that best growth, palatability and sustainability occurs when conditions are more ideal.
- The more the conditions deviate from suitable, the more likely you are to have excessive weed competition and disappointing efforts.
It is always a great idea to use products both suited for deer plots and suited to the region you are in, but unless you tend to some of the agricultural needs, you may still be disappointed.
We tend to mix our own seed combinations due to cost and since we farm, we have easy access to seed and can get what we want. But if you want something easy and great-right out of the bag: we have found that NO PLOW from whitetail institute is one of the best options for “pre-packaged ready to go” no- till food plot plans.
I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for those of you wanting some results but are short of property, money or time. I shall keep you posted.