February 01, 2022
This is the first installment of a new blog series from the Bowtreader Crew. One of critical importance for all who aspire to be called a "Bowtreader."
Among our core values is the joy that comes with living off the land. Which means we work at it all year long - regardless of the season. We know that what we reap is unashamedly attached to what we sow.
It’s February 1st in South GA. That means the days in the woods are about to shift from pursuing our favorite big game animal, the whitetail deer, to caring for the land. If we’ve planned right, our winter food plots are still going strong with plenty of forage to get us to spring green up. However, chances are you see some areas where you can improve like I do.
If you’re like me, you know the frustration of putting in the work to add food plots, only to see a crop that never makes anything. You look back at it and know that we had good rainfall, a proper seedbed, a great stand - everything should have worked, but it didn’t.
Was there too much pressure? Not enough fertilizer? Could something be wrong with the soil?
We’ve all heard a coach or a mentor tell us to focus on the fundamentals. With farming, gardening, growing… that means getting to know our dirt and making sure we’ve got it ready to produce.
Thankfully, living in GA means we have access to one of the best Land Grant Ag Universities in the world. Home of the 2022 College Football National Championship team, the University of Georgia.
A brief visit to your local county extension office is all it takes to get started. Go visit the fine folks there to pick up some soil sample bags and a soil probe.
This is where we start getting technical! But hang in there. Stop wasting your time gathering together all the best gear, the best intel, the coolest maps, only to fall down on this critical step.
Start with a plan! If you have multiple plots that you are going to test, you need to name them. It can be simple; Plot A, B, C, etc.
Be sure you know where each plot is and use something that works for you. I like naming our hunting spots, so you’ll see names like "Briar Patch" and "Mont Gobbler" on ours. Know what you are going to plant. Different crops need different nutrients - plan out what you’re going to grow.
With your plan, and tools in hand, let's head to the woods! When you get to the first plot that you are going to sample, get out the corresponding soil sample bag that you have ALREADY written your details on.
Food plots are typically smaller so the need to take 15-20 samples would be overkill in my opinion. I like doing things in 3’s and 7’s (ask me why!) and 7 seems to be the perfect fit for this task.
Take your bucket and soil probe and take samples from 7 different spots within the planting area of the food plot. Be sure to avoid super wet areas.
When taking soil samples the soil, Lab @ UGA recommends using this depth chart. Use the depth which most closely matches how you till your soil.
Once you have collected the soil from 7 spots in the plot, use your hand to mix the soil up in the bucket. Transfer the soil into the sample bag up to the fill line. Close the bag by folding it down and using the metal closures to secure it.
Repeat this process for the rest of your plots then return the soil probe and the filled soil sample bags to your UGA County Extension office. There is a $6 per sample fee for this service. Your results will be emailed or mailed to you within a couple of weeks.