making dirt?

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by buckdeer1, Nov 30, 2018.

  1. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    I didn't know what else to call the thread but has anyone taken really bad soil and improved it to be able to plan a food plot?Alot of my soil is real light but I am wanting a small plot in an area that we won't even farm,its so sandy.I am thinking about starting small on it maybe 30ft wide by 200 ft long.I normally would just use my ag field in this area but I think next year we will plant cotton and that doesn't make to good of deer attractant.I am planning on digging out about 2 ft deep then mixing cow manure and topsoil,then tilling and doing soil test.What we do to deer hunt?I know sounds crazy but hey Grant Woods bought deer dirt
     
  2. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    A lot of the guys doing throw n mow are in very sandy regions. I think they avoid tillage and start by planting anything that will grow. Roots are the goal more so than thatch. I've had luck turning heavy clay into looseish soil doing this approach.

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  3. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    northern New York
    Hardiness Zone:
    literally on the line of 4b/5a
    We had 600 yards of sand put into a low spot at one of our cottages; why sand? We used sand because it was what we had available close by. We then put 1 inch of rotted horse manure on top. Mixing it in would have been a waste as organic matter washes thru the sand anyhow. It made an acceptable lawn where otherwise nothing much could have been grown.
     
  4. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    I'm not familiar with sand, but I do tend to have marginal soils. With proper seed and rotation selection, I've got those soils to 6.5 phs, and soil analysis is VH in all categories. This achieved in just a couple years of rotation . Before you drop the plow, google some of the no till people on youtube and watch, as well as follow many on here. Good luck.
     
  5. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    Virginia
    Hardiness Zone:
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    Check out the throw n mow thread. Somewhere in there are pics of the results for turning sand into soil using this method. I believe it was Crimson n' Camo that posted them.

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  6. bigbluetruck

    bigbluetruck Active Member

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    With sand, you cant put enough manure on it, if you can get horse, turkey or chicken litter, those would actually be preferable to cattle manure because of the extra material from the hay from horses and the shavings in the turkey and chicken barns and the horse barns as well. The stomachs of the cattle make sure everything is used up so its highly concentrated which is nice once you've got decent soil because you can use less of it, but the extra material will help build the soil faster.

    As far as what crops to grow, the more biomass you can grow the better, the sand will eat biomass faster than anything else. High diversity and biomass are the keys. Green Cover Seed has some good videos, also I believe Ray Archuleta raised OM a full percentage with a mix he used, doubt it was sand, but that's still amazing.

    I would take a soil test before adding the manure or litter, then wait until next spring to take another. Doing the way you suggested may throw off the results and it still wont be accurate. You can go off your soil test and use some generalities about the manure you applied and the amount and get a decent food plot, wont be the maximum production and youll probably still end up applying plenty of fertilizer, but a little extra will help to get the manure broke down faster. Also getting the manure spread as evenly as possible and maybe a very light tillage pass will help to make it as even as possible and help to anchor the manure in place, after that no till as much as possible.
     
  7. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    The cattle manure has quite a bit of hay scrapes left and I have an unlimited supply.I figure I will need 2ft of depth,not going very big though
     
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  8. FarmerD

    FarmerD Active Member

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    Not sure what you're thinking with the "2 ft depth thoughts", but I would focus on the top 6" of your soil. Get your soil test done and get your soil ph where it needs to be, for starters, in the top 4"-6". Make sure your P & K is up there too, as those do not move thru the soil very easily.

    Tillage will burn up organic matter, but get the top 6" of soil "right", now and add as much manure as you can and till it in. Some nitrogen will help break the manure down.

    Then consider CNC's throw and mow process or if you feel you need to, only till the top 2" of soil, to cover your seed, in future years.

    If you have access to unlimited supply of manure, start a large manure pile and compost it for a year or 2, if that's feasible. Keep adding to that pile. Then, when it's broken down, you can lightly spread it lightly on top your plot, as often as you like.

    Invest in a good sprayer, if you're still going to till. If you do the throw and mow, consider getting a sickle bar mower.

    Just my 2 cents!
     
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  9. FarmerD

    FarmerD Active Member

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    Then let your selection cover crop/food plot seeds, work their magic farther down your soil profile.
     
  10. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I've been wanting a sickle bar mower for TnM for years. Do you use one? I think one would work great for laying thatch down...
     
  11. FarmerD

    FarmerD Active Member

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    :) I grew up on a farm and always had 100 head of cattle. We raised and cut our own hay, so, yes I have used one, many a time! The benefit of the sickle bar mower, vs a bush hog, is it will lay down an even layer of thatch, where a bush hog has a tendency to pile it up in the center. It will just make it easier for your seedlings to come thru and you should get a nicer "stand" of crop.

    Sickle bar mowers are more expensive and do have more moving parts, but if you can find a good used one, you'll probably never wear it out. You need to avoid the same things you would with a bush hog, like stumps, rocks, poles ...... :)
     
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  12. bigbluetruck

    bigbluetruck Active Member

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    If you want a sickle bar mower, the only ones worth owning are the balance head IH followed by the New Hollsnds, not sure what models of NH though

    Also remember that the sickle mower is much more dangerous, lots of guys missing the tip of a finger or 2 because of them

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  13. FarmerD

    FarmerD Active Member

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    ^^^^^ Very true
     
  14. bigbluetruck

    bigbluetruck Active Member

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    The unlimited supply trumps everything else.

    I guess I'm lost, 2ft of depth for what?

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  15. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    I believe he is going to dig a strip 2ft deep and then fill it with a mix of manure and topsoil.
     
  16. MattJK

    MattJK Member

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    Lots of three legged dogs once met a sickle bar mower.

    I use a flail mower - an old Brady stalk chopper - but I still want a sickle bar mower. I am convinced that some seed is damaged with flail or bush hog mowing.
     
  17. buckdeer1

    buckdeer1 Well-Known Member

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    Yes thats what I was thinking and the reason being was that it is so sandy of soil that with just 6 inches afraid that it would dry too fast once moisture drain below the shallow new topsoil.This part is sand down probably 20ft to the water table
     
  18. Deadeye

    Deadeye Active Member

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    Location:
    Central Florida with Hunting Lease in NW Florida
    Hardiness Zone:
    8-10
    I just started doing my plots in NW Florida where the soil is very sandy. Add to it the fact that it is all Planted Pines and I've got my work cut out for me.

    I started with discing a strip through the Pines about 10-12 ft wide by lengths of 70-100 yards long. I didn't do a soil test, and I'm willing to admit that was a Major Mistake. There is simply no way to know just how much Lime you are going to need to start a new plot without doing one. Lesson Learned.

    I limed and fert according to the Bag of Seed and the results have been varied. Either the Deer are eating it to the ground or it just isn't doing as well as I hoped. Either way it is growing and time will tell. I plan to add addition strips to make the areas wider and hopefully allow for more browsing without eating to the ground.

    Sand is a fickle beast, it can dry out quickly or with some clay mixed in hold water way to much. Best of luck to you in your endeavor.

    One thing to add about using Cow Manure, it tends to carry the seeds of unwanted plants likes Pig Weed and can destroy a plot of good ground quickly, so watch how you use it.
     
  19. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    The AgPhd guys dug some root pits where they did extremely deep manure injection (Maybe 20" or even deeper). They dug the root pit the summer after a previous fall application. The entire trench had turned black like topsoil. I tried to find the video to show the band, but couldn't find it. It was very cool, and it looked like it was the beginning of a permanent hot spot of biological activity deeper down.
     
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