Food Plots

The essential requirements for virtually any wild animal are the same; food, cover, water, and space. Managed food plots seek to improve wildlife habitat by providing larger quantities of nutritious foods, usually in the form of managed herbaceous openings or cultivated plots.

The most economical food plots can be created simply by liming and fertilizing to stimulate the growth of native plants. Fertilization and/or discing usually improves the nutritional quality of native plants, but to avoid wasting time and money, conduct a soil test before applying fertilizer.

Cultivated food plots are often an ill attempt to improve the quality of food for wildlife. Keep in mind that in order to significantly improve the level of nutrition for any particular wildlife species, about 10% of the land base should be cultivated and dedicated solely to that species.

Small (1-2 acre) cultivated food plots do, however, have value in wildlife management when used to attract animals for harvest and observation. Food plots should be managed for moderate production, maximizing edge, and cover. There is little or no benefit for wildlife by increasing food production at the expense of escape cover.

Generally, food plots should be irregular in shape (preferably linear) and strategically placed throughout an area to provide diversity and edge. They should not be developed adjacent to major roads or other access routes. Abandoned logging roads, skid trails, and log decks can be opened or daylighted so that a reasonable stand of cultivated plants can be grown. Certain plantings will attract different species of wildlife. Contact a wildlife biologist to find out the best plantings that will attract the critters you desire.