As we continue our Food Plot Journey there is a critical step that should be taken within a few days of getting the seed down. Actually, it should happen right after the first post-seeding rain comes. There is a specific reason that we?re using this Milorganite, but first let?s look into what Milorganite is.
Milorganite is an organic, human waste product that is used as a fertilizer. Yes, you read that correctly, it is human waste. Milorganite is derived from dried microbes and is a slow-release fertilizer. The nitrogen in Milorganite is not released until growing conditions are favorable for the plant to grow. I would also mention that the level of nitrogen in the Milorganite is not great enough to damage the plants. See an informational video on Milorganite.
Barenbrug USA / Tecomate Seed representative Mike Lee described the reasons for using Milorganite on our food plots. Mike gave an analogy that is useful to help understand the reason for using Milorganite. He quoted ?If I were to cook you a nice, juicy T-bone steak, put it on a plate and set the plate on a picnic table covered with fresh manure, would you really want to eat it?? Obviously you wouldn?t want to eat it. Well, deer are the same way because they aren?t drawn to that smell either. This is beneficial to our food plot because not only does it slowly release fertilizer into our food plot, but it keeps the deer off our food plot and gives the plants time to grow. If we were to just leave the field as it is and let the products grow, then there is a chance that the deer may eat the plants to the ground before the plants have time to develop a good root system. If this were to happen, the field would look like a bunch of nipped-at-the-top green stems and it would kill the plants.
By applying Milorganite to our field we help ourselves out in 2 ways: fertilizing and protecting the plants. You may ask why would we plant a food plot and want to keep the deer out of it, since the purpose is to get deer to eat this stuff. Well, this will only happen for a period of time. After some rain and a few weeks, the smell of the Milorganite will go away and the deer will return. During these weeks when they?re away is when our plants should be growing (if everything goes well).
See benefits of Milorganite
Below is a diagram of how we have structured our food plot
This step is one that you have to execute pretty accurately in order to give your food plot the best chance for success. The timing of putting down the Milorganite is what?s important here. It needs to be done after you have planted the seed and a few days after the first rainfall is received. You can buy Milorganite at Lowe?s for around $13 per bag with each bag containing 36lbs.
With our field, we are dividing it in half with the spreading of Milorganite. Essentially we are creating another cross-section of our field and dividing it in half, but this half will be halving it with one side having Milorganite spread on it and the other side being left alone.
And the journey continues with the wait for something to grow.
Information in this post came from Milorganite?s web site: www.milorganite.com
As you can imagine, a wedding consists of a lot of planning and events which take some time to orchestrate. This minimized my window of available time to put seed in the remote food plot. As you can also imagine, Mother Nature doesn?t wait around on weddings to pass. So, I had to soldier up and get the seed down. I planned on putting the seed out with Mr. J.E. on the morning of my wedding day at 6:30am. Little did I know that I would be up all night and only get 3 hours of sleep before hand. It was rough and if you hear my voice, you can tell I?m struggling on the video. Though, we got the task accomplished.
The remote food plot is located back deep in some woods that we hunt in. The loggers came in and cleared out some rows of pines. To this point, we had cleared out one of the areas where the loggers removed a row of pines. It took some time to clean out, but I think it will be worth it. We then ran a soil sample and put some lime down to try to get the soil pH closer to 7.0. This is the same process that we are doing at our other food plot locations that you are reading about in the other blog entries only this is the remote food plot edition.
Since the ground was recently turned up, we only needed to smooth it back out and then spread the seed. We simply took the 4-wheeler back in the woods with a drag hare and a spreader. We used an old timey drag hare to smooth the soil back out. Mr. J.E. said that the drag was used back in the day behind a mule and you can see the wear and tear on the drag in the video. Though, it did the job and worked well.
After dragging it again, we detached the drag and attached the spreader. A few laps on the 4-wheeler (while I tried to commentate) and that was it. Understand though that we used an extremely large amount of seed for this very small location. The bag will seed one acre and we poured the whole bag over an area about ¼ of an acre. I?m not sure if this will result in an abundance or if it will hurt the food plot. I do know that there is ample amount of seed on the ground though. I guess time will tell on all this.
A week later my dad and I went back to put down some Milorganite in hopes of acting as a fertilizer and keeping the deer off the food plot for a few weeks (as denoted in the previous blog entry). Just a small note to self about this process, it always helps to have the right size pin for the spreader attachment or else you end up pulling the spreader around in circles with your hand! In between 2 Saturdays and a lot of events in between we were able to get the seed and Milorganite down. Since then we?ve had some rain so I hope everything will start to grow. For the next little bit, it?s up to Mother Nature.
(I had a million things running through my mind and I forgot the Flip, so I shot this video with the I-Phone...thus the blurriness)
As you know from reading our blog entries, we are putting food plots in at a few different locations with one of those locations being a ?remote food plot?. The location is deemed as ?remote? because it?s in a location that a tractor can?t access?i.e. back deep in the woods. This specific food plot is placed in some planted pines that have recently been ?5th rowed?, that is the lumber guys have removed some rows of the pines and they are now thinned out. To prepare the ground we used Tuffline?s GroundHog MAX and then we came back in and planted some Tecomate Seed Lab Lab Plus.
Since planting the seed, we came back and put out some Milorganite to keep the deer off the food plots for a few weeks while the food plot products grow. We also put out some ?exclusion fences? last week. We?ve had some rain and now the plants are starting to grow as you can see from the images in this blog.
Now that the plants are getting good root systems established and are starting to grow, we went back in and put down some ?Triple-17? fertilizer. We wanted to wait to put the fertilizer down until the plants started to grow, but we didn?t want to let them get too tall before we went back in so as to not damage them. Most of the plants were just a few inches off the ground so we didn?t hurt them. The 17-17-17 fertilizer is made up of Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium which will all help the plants grow even more. It?s kind of like getting some supplements from GNC and taking them for weight lifting in hopes of getting the best results.
There is rain forecasted for the upcoming week, so I?ll be excited to see how the plants continue to grow with the fertilizer now on the ground. Also, I?ve got a game camera out over the plot now, but there are still no animals walking through. Though, keep in mind that this is the intended scenario. The reason we used Milorganite was to temporarily keep them out so the plants will have time to establish. In the coming weeks the Milorganite will start to wear off and hopefully some deer will start to come through.
Since we?ve planted the seed, thrown out some Milorganite, and had a little rain, we expect the plants to start growing a lot soon. One of the steps to our journey is putting out some ?exclusion fences?. We went out on Sunday and put up 2 ?exclusion fences? in our Tecomate Seed Remote Food Plot. I had never heard of an exclusion fence or what it was for before we started this ?Food Plot Journey?, but I have come to realize what this means and the purpose behind it. Initially I asked myself why would we want to exclude any deer from our food plot, but it does make sense?even to a web designer posing like I know what I?m writing about!
An exclusion fence is essentially something used to guard a specific section of a food plot to keep the deer from eating it. Ultimately this demonstrates what an untouched/uneaten plant would look like. You use this as a compare and contrast measurement with the other plants (outside the exclusion fence) to see how much of the foliage is being consumed by the deer. It appears that the conceptual idea is that you plant a food plot and, as deer come by, they eat the leaves and vegetation throughout the summer. Though since a small section of the food plot has wire guarding it, then they don?t touch it. At least that?s what we want to happen.
For our exclusion fence we used some old tomato wire and that seemed to do the job. I imagine you could use chicken wire, chain link fencing, or whatever you have available to create an exclusion fence. We merely drove two stakes in the ground, placed the tomato wire on top of them. We then wired the wire to the stakes to anchor it and that was it. It only took us about 20 minutes to get two of these put down.
Since it had been raining previously, we already have some of the Lab Lab Plus plants starting to show up on the surface. There are also some weeds mixed in the middle of our remote food plot, but we?re going to go back and take care of them soon! So it?s actually starting to grow. I hope we continue to get some more rain to help the plants keep on growing. If they keep growing (and the Milorganite wears off) maybe the deer will start eating them. In time and with cooperation of the weather, we should have some plants growing at 2 levels. One level will be with deer eating the plants which would, as I envision it, be lower to the ground with another level being inside the exclusion fence which should be a little taller. I guess only time will tell. I hope to get some pics of the deer in there during the summer. I?ve got to get a game camera up in there soon.
I would also like to note that the Milorganite was definitely activated by the recent rains. We could smell it while we were working. It wasn?t overpowering and unbearable, but you could certainly get a whiff of it every now and then. I?m sure the deer are aware of the smell too because if not, the plants would have already been eaten down to the ground.
And the journey continues (with hopes of more rain)
As we continue the Tecomate Seed ?Food Plot Journey? the time came to plant the seed. Due to a mix-up at a distribution point we are not planting three different Tecomate products, but rather two. We planted the seed for our summer plot this past weekend (Saturday, May 1st). The products we did plant were Tecomate?s ?Lab Lab? and ?Lab Lab Plus? and I?m very eager to see what will come in the near future.
Mike Lee of Barenbrug USA/Tecomate Seed, along with Don Willis from DBW Outdoors, were present with Keith Frachiseur representing the GroundHog MAX. We all got together and got seed in the ground at one of our food plot feature locations.
First things first?we got up early and went to Bojangles and got some good biscuits. Then we went to our food plot location. The weather predictions had been forecasting rain and isolated thunderstorms for Saturday, but somehow we made it out without getting wet. I was happy about that since I was shooting video and photos during this whole process. I will say that I learned a lot from Mike as we installed the seed and from asking him questions throughout the day.
We are installing one food plot location of our ?Food Plot Journey? on about 2.4 acres of land where the soil is pretty sandy in upstate, Pageland South Carolina. Since this specific location has been previously worked and cultivated for food plots, the soil sample readout result of the pH came back at 7.0. Since the pH was already in check, we did not have to apply lime at this location.
We had planned on using a no till drill to plant the seed, but were unable to secure the equipment. Instead we used a tractor, a plow, and a spreader to put the seed out. Per Mike?s instructions, we divided the field in half using different planting techniques on each half. On one half we left the dirt rows that were created where we used the disc to prep the field and on the other half we used a drag to smooth the soil out before we broadcast the seed. This left us with a field that was smooth on the right side and the small rows from the disc remained on the left. Then we broadcasted the seed, via the spreader on the tractor, on both sides of the field. Trust me?it was a whole lot easier hanging off the side of that tractor with a camera when we were riding on the smooth side!
After the seed was broadcasted, we went back and drug the right side again with our drag to cover the seed with dirt. On the left side we went back in and lightly disked and harrowed the field to cover the seed with dirt via the lightly discing method. Dividing the field up like this with two different planting techniques will hopefully show us any differences that may occur as result of the differing implementation methods.
Mike?s theory is that the seed on the left side (the side that was lightly disked and harrowed back in) will be a little bit deeper in the soil than the seed on the right said that was smoothly dragged in. Mike believes that the difference in the planting depths of the seed may have an effect on the seed varieties that come up in our field. Mike is afraid the White Grain Milo in the Lab Lab Plus could be planted too deep with the harrowing method and may not establish well. In time, and with rain, we will hopefully have pictures to demonstrate this.
Now that you understand how we divided the field in half and got dirt back on top of the seed, let me explain where we put which type of seed. Mike indicated that the White Grain Milo in the LabLab Plus will grow a little taller than the straight LabLab. Since it?s taller, we planted the LabLab Plus along the outside border of the field in hopes of giving the deer some kind of barrier to create an inner location where they will feel safe and less guarded. Thus, the LabLab is lower in height and was broadcasted inside the middle of the field. See the graphic below to help you understand how we segmented this field. In the near future, we plan on putting up exclusion fences in each quadrant to show you how the products should grow if they are untouched by the deer.
(We will come back after the first rain and put down some Milorganite to protect the food plot a little, but that will come in a later blog entry.)
All the planting took us about 2.5 hours to get done and we were dusty, sweaty, and hungry by the time is was all over. Since these guys were from Georgia and Alabama, I figured I?d take them somewhere that they most likely hadn?t eaten before. That?s right; we took them to the Legendary ?SmokeHouse Grill? in Jefferson, South Carolina. I believe the guys really liked the food and especially liked the barbeque sauce. We ate there for a bit and then headed to Pageland where my mom had some rum cake awaiting us! Nothing like mama?s cooking.
After eating some rum cake we showed the guys our remote food plot, which is in a totally different location. While we were there we discussed options for planting and discussed what would be the best fits for this location. Keith demoed his GroundHog MAX while we were there and turned up the soil again for me. We?re going back in there to plant soon too?probably this coming weekend.
GroundHog MAX Update: If you?re interested in getting one, The GroundHog MAX is now available at your local Tractor Supply Stores.
Below is a video we shot with Keith explaining a little bit about the remote food plots and the GroundHog MAX.
All in all it was a long day, but it was a good day. I learned a lot, got dirty, ate well, and we got the seed down in a good location with guidance from a panel of experts. I really hope that the man upstairs will bless us with some rain in order to get this stuff to grow because I?m curious to see what will happen. So stay tuned for more as we continue to update this blog series with results of this food plot location and others as well.