Wildlife food plots are not just for hunting. They can cover many acres or be quite small. Those small areas can be created by any homeowner, offering outstanding opportunities for wildlife viewing and wildlife photography.
Wildlife Food Plots Are Needed
In 2001 the United States Fish and Wildlife Service determined that nearly 9 million people maintained plantings for the sole benefit of wildlife. This group of conservationists and hunters spent almost $700 million on these plantings.
Sounds pricey, but there are products that make your wildlife food plot sanctuary affordable to maintain. And make it easy. You can create a wildlife food plot with
- a garden rake,
- a kitchen strainer for your seed spreader,
- and a small liquid fertilizer sprayer or just a bottle of AGGRAND liquid fertilizer and a garden hose.
Fertilizing the wildlife food plot is necessary because without the nutrients the plants need, you can end up with dismal results both in the forage area you just prepared and the wildlife drawn to your efforts.
Nutrients for Wildlife Food Plots
Fertilizing wildlife food plots helps to restore, preserve, and manage a natural forage area that offers wildlife higher proteins which bring them to your spot. What you want to create in a wildlife food plot is also a mix of forest, wetland, besides the grassland habitat for fish, wildlife, and for your family and community to enjoy.
Maybe you don’t have a ravine out the back door, but chances are you have a corner of the yard safe from the road where you can manage your food plot for the wildlife in your area. A birdbath or fountain is all you need for a water source.
As conservationists, what we do on our own land can reflect the evolving face of preservation, conservation, and restoration. This is a means for us to assist with the land’s recovery from the human impact of road improvements, malls, logging and farming.
Before your home was built, there was no doubt a prairie, meadow, woods, deep forest. We all realize that every layer of brush cleared is that much less ground cover and food available to wildlife. Wildlife food plots on your corner of the world will provide habitat for migratory birds and resident wildlife. Even if for a few minutes, such as a flock of robins moving south through the woods in their slow-paced migration, that bit of ground cover or over-brush can be lifesaving. And higher protein offers higher energy to better keep strength and heat in the colder weather they often face.
In wildlife management areas and national refuges, management emphasis is given to waterfowl and migratory birds, especially endangered species. In the domestic and farmland wildlife food plot, the welfare of all animals is supported, making less chance of more endangered species being determined.
This is something we can all do, as a family, as a community.
WILDLIFE FOOD PLOTS – FACTS and TIPS
- A food plot is a term coined by United States hunting and outdoor industries. Wildlife food plots are areas set aside, planted and fertilized to act as a food source of clovers, alfalfa, legumes, beans and forage grasses.
- The oldest company to begin the development of seeds, forage grasses and fertilizers for food plots is the Whitetail Institute of North America in 1988, basically for hunting.
- Food plots are not the same as re-vegetation which is planting naturally growing grasses, legumes, shrubs, and trees. Food plots consist of high protein food sources that provide higher nutritional value plants than nature supplies.
- In vegetation, wild plants generally have no more than 12 percent protein.
- Wildlife food plots offer significantly more protein, especially when they are properly fertilized and the soil is treated to grow in its microbiological balance.
- A higher diversity of animals in a greater population will thrive near a food plot.
- These food plot sources are a way to greatly increase the amount of wildlife the land supports, especially when providing food during winter months.
- Even summer and fall wildlife food plots will reduce the pressure on wildlife food sources during winter.
- A no-till wildlife food plot reduces the need for herbicides since dormant broadleaf weeds, such as thistle and dockweed, and fescue or foxtail grass seeds, all deep in the soil are left undisturbed and latent. These are a few of dozens of weed and grass threats to the food plot. To outgrow the threats requires a deep root system to be established with the legumes and forage grasses as quickly as possible. Fertilizer for the food plot makes this happen and helps the plot to resist drought conditions.
- A food plot that is over-seeded and well fertilized will not need as much herbicide, if any. Natural kelp and sulfate of potash foliar spray also greatly reduces the need for herbicides and pesticides.
- Food plots attract squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums, turkeys, pheasants, hawk, deer and more.
- Some are carnivores, some omnivores. You will have created a high protein field that supports the circle of life naturally.
On your land, you can enjoy the balance of nature and your efforts to bring much needed support.
Wildlife viewing areas in the United States can be found at Watchable Wildlife. Here you will find information about re-vegetation and wildlife food plots in their management.
A book we love is
Deer & Turkey Management Beyond Food Plots .
Deer and Turkey Management Beyond Wildlife Food Plots
By Kammermeyer and Thackston covers forest management, taking stock of predatory issues, minerals needed for all animals on individual basis.
This weekend we spent hours photographing trees and the ones the classified forest in our area lost in the 2012 derecho storms (straight line winds, not tornadoes). We did not see deer or much wildlife then. That evening on a drive to town, we came across thirteen deer, in five different groups. Wonderful to live in an area where the deer are thriving.
Yes, we don’t like the hunting. But we do hunt. We do eat venison and turkey, bear, elk, duck and pheasant, though seldome. The hunt must be done with respect and caution for all. But out wildlife food plots are not to hunt from, for us, that’s just us. We understand there are hunters that harvest from their food plots. We use ours for wildlife viewing and photography then travel deep into the forest to do a real hunt.