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Collecting a Soil Sample - The First Step in Creating a Food Plot

I?ve learned that the first step in the creation of a food plot is to get what is called a ?soil sample?.  This soil sample is nothing more than a zip-lock bag of dirt that is collected from the acreage where the envisioned food plot is going.  Once the food plot acreage is selected, a soil sample must be collected from it in order to determine the PH levels in the soil.  Since the land area will most likely be of decent size, it?s best to get a balanced soil sample.  By balanced I mean that it?s best to get soil from the 4 corners of the food plot acreage + some from the middle. Once you collect all the soil, you mix it in the zip-lock bag.  This way you are getting a uniform blend of soil over your intended food plot acreage. 

WeHuntSC.com - Food Plot Journey - Soil Sample
Why is a soil sample necessary?  
Food plot products need a good, fertile environment in which to grow.  This environment will include several variables with one of the most important being a proper level of acidity in the soil.  A soil sample is collected in order to find the current PH levels and to also gain other information about the soil?s composition/makeup.   This is true biology type stuff.  
In South Carolina talk, we?ll most likely be sending our soil sample off to a Clemson grad!
How deep to dig?
To get an accurate representation of the soil at the depth where the seeds will grow, it?s best to dig about 2 ? 3 inches beneath the surface.  We are using a garden spade to collect our soil sample.
 WeHuntSC.com - Food Plot Journey - Soil Sample Depth Image
After the dirt is in the bag
Now that the soil is in the bag it should be taken to the local COOP or Feed & Seed store to have it analyzed. There we will transfer our soil into a soil sample bag and complete the information on the bag indicating what we are going to plant in the food plot. The soil will be sent off and tested and in a few days the results of the sample will be returned with lime and fertilizer recommendations.  The recommendations will indicate how much lime and/or fertilizer will be necessary to create fertile soil for the type of seed in the food plot.
WeHuntSC.com - Food Plot Journey - Ziploc Bag Image
When is the best time to take a soil sample?
We are taking our soil samples in January, i.e. right after hunting season is over.  The reason we are jumping on it quickly is because we will be given lime/fertilizer recommendations for our soil and the lime needs time break down and dissolve into the soil.  The longer the lime is down the better chances it has of balancing out the acidity levels in the soil and creating fertile ground for food plot products to grow.
Tecomate Seed Food Plot Tip from Mike Lee:
If you have a tight budget and you have to decide between putting down the lime or putting down the fertilizer that the soil sample says you need? put the lime down -- no questions asked!

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