The Farmer Brown Food Plot

These writings not anti-food plot. Please do not take them as such. Actually technically speaking, the habitat management techniques discussed here are food plots, but not in the traditional sense.

Food plots hold a very special place in my heart and likely your heart as well. Like many, planting food plots was my first true deer/habitat management experience. We bushogged, tilled, and tilled… and then we added some weight to the harrow and tilled some more and some more. Yes we were in Georgia red clay, and the soil was like asphalt, but we somehow managed. The time spent over the years with friends, family and those closest to me I will always hold dear.

Today there would be no way to even begin to calculate the number of acres of food plots I’ve planted or helped plant and continue to plant. As long as there is deer hunting, I feel like there will be food plots.

‘Food plot’ is a broad term, that could really apply to any planting that is intended for wildlife consumption. But when you start talking food plots in deer hunting circles the definition quickly narrows. A food plot is essentially a sunny area of a field, that is plowed (or no tilled), planted, usually fertilized, and left to grow for deer. For clarity I will now refer to this particular style of food plot as a ‘Farmer Brown Food Plot’ as they follow the same planting and management techniques that Farmer Brown uses to plant the garden behind his house. Nice rows, no weeds, great looking stand of plants. A good lookin farmer brown food plot is a beautiful thing!!

Farmer Brown plots are often mono-culture, meaning only one species of plant is planted, like a cloverplot, or an ironclay pea plot, brassica or corn… etc. Also very common are multi-cultural plots which contain a blend of seeds which, according to the buck on the bag are plants that compliment each other and deer prefer over all the other buck on bag blends. Brassica blends, pea blends, clover blends, inclusion of cereal grains like rye, wheat and oats are all very common and perform well.

There is nothing wrong with Farmer Brown food plots. They provide a quality food source to your deer certain times of the year. Farmer Brown Food plots can produce quite a large quantity of high quality food for a given area during certain times of the year. Inevitably during certain times of the year farmer brown food plots are completely barren of food. This can especially be an issue on small acerage (where space for multi-season plantings is not available), and for large or high density properties when all plots are tilled/planted at the same time, leading to large gaps in food quality and availability. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, ‘man, the deer just disappear from my property during certain times of the year’, you likely are experiencing a food gap, or possibly a cover gap.

The repeated tillage required for most Farmer Brown food plots leads to soil erosion, nutrient erosion or leeching, as well as moisture or water loss due to evaporation over bare soil. Anybody ever plowed, planted and fertilized a plot only to have a month long drought set in and fry it all? Complete plot failure. We’ve all been there. Also, after several years of tillage hardpan can develop and grassy weeds, as well as roundup resistant weeds can become a major problem.

Farmer Brown Food plots undoubtedly work to draw deer onto a property but do very little to actually hold the deer on the property. On many properties deer feel uncomfortable walking out into the openness of a farmer brown food plot. How many times have you stared at an empty food plot for hours only to have it fill up with deer just as shooting light fades?

The main focus of this writing is not to bash or swear off traditional farmer brown food plots, but rather to organize a set of observations and habitat management practices into a logical format that others can benefit from. Basically the goal is to show you there are other ways to do this, often cheaper and more sustainable.

We all want to leave a positive impact on the habitats/land we manage. It’s a great feeling knowing that something you do today will benefit future sportsmen for years to come.

What I want you to hear is that there is a different, highly effective way of food plotting.

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