Rodney Dyer, certified wildlife biologist and consultant to Hunter’s Specialties®, recently explained how consumers can save money and reduce the amount of chemical fertilizer needed to maintain healthy food plots.
“Hunter’s Specialties believes strongly in conservation when it comes to wild game and the environment,” said Dyer. “They have developed a crop rotation plan that reduces the amount of fertilizer needed for optimum growth. Using the Vita- Rack™ Nutritional Plan for your food plot can not only help you grow a healthy deer herd but save the soil and the ‘green’ in your wallet. By rotating the three Vita-Rack seed blends: Vita-Rack Velvet™ Whitetail Clover, Booming Beans™ High Protein Mix and Winter Forage™, you can cut the cost of needed fertilizer by as much as 40%, depending on your location in the country.”
“In the fall, prepare your food plots as normal (follow the directions on the back of the bag). Then plant a plot in Velvet Mix (Plot A). Velvet Mix consists of several highly attractive clovers that the deer will find irresistible. Plant another plot in Winter Forage Mix (Plot B). Winter Forage Mix is a blend of turnips, rape, Alsike clover and sugar beets that provide tons of fall and winter forage for deer. Winter Forage Mix is also full of carbohydrates to help deer maintain their body temperature through the toughest winters. Plot A and Plot B will need to be fertilized with the proper fertilizer recommendations (on the back of the bag). After the first planting you will not need any other fertilizer but 0-20-20, because the Velvet and Booming Beans Mixes are both legumes that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposit it in the soil. Winter Forage Mix will use up the added nitrogen in the soil from the legumes in the Velvet and Booming Beans Mixes.
In Plot A leave the Velvet Mix growing for about three years. During that time rotate Plot B using Winter Forage and Booming Beans each summer and fall. The Winter Forage Mix will use the nitrogen up that the Booming Beans Mix makes so you don’t have to use a Nitrogen fertilizer each time. You will however, need to use a 0-20-20 fertilizer at the first of each planting to replace the Potassium and Phosphorus used by the plants. Don’t forget to fertilize your Velvet Mix in Plot A with 0-20-20 fertilizer each spring and fall.
After three years, swap the plots. In Plot A, switch to planting the Winter Forage Mix and Booming Beans Mix in rotation and in Plot B plant the Velvet Mix. Plot A now has plenty of nitrogen from the clover (a legume), fixating it in the soil over the past three years while it was growing. The Winter Forage mix will flourish on the added nitrogen.
Rotating the different Vita-Rack mixes works well because too much soil nitrogen will actually slow plant growth and cause diseases. Keeping the nitrogen levels in balance by rotating the crops eliminates using extra artificial nitrogen, which is great for the environment and produces up to a 45% savings in fertilizer investment for consumers.”
For more information, log onto the Hunter’s Specialties website at www.hunterspec.com, write to 6000 Huntington Court NE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52402, or call a Consumer Service Specialist at 319-395-0321.