Regenerative Plotting

Discussion in 'Food Plots for Wildlife' started by MarkDarvin, Aug 30, 2019.

  1. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Let’s put a placeholder up for now. Ever seen plumbers crack on a bumble bee working a chicory flower?

    [​IMG]


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  2. Native Hunter

    Native Hunter Well-Known Member

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    Not many of those flowers survive the way that my deer eat chicory...
     
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  3. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    How about a bee on a sunflower...[​IMG]

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    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  4. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    Years and years ago, Dr. Craig Harper wrote about a mix of cereal grains and heavily reseeding legumes that could simply be mowed once a year to create a perennial plot. At the time, I believe he was trying to simplify and lower the cost of the foodplotting process for those who have very limited time to manage their property. His solution was best in Southern locations, but versions of it were proven to work Up North. In the absence of chemical means to set back undesirable plants, we are left with biological and mechanical means, like timely discing and buckwheat. The problem with either of those is that they are profoundly time-sensitive and must be followed up with other targeted, time-sensitive efforts. To be successful at fooplotting without using any chemicals, and with very limited time to spend on the process, is a very tall order.

    How much are you willing to compromise on the results?

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  5. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Not one bit. This whole concept is to achieve more than any other model with the least inputs of any other model. There are gaps in the growing season that can be exploited to get stuff growing without iron or spray. You can create gaps with a mower. You can also create gaps with maturities and start and finish times of plants you’re using or trying to head off.




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  6. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Regenerative Plotting!
    Thanks, Mark, for starting this thread. I'm going to dedicate a field specifically to this thread, with pictures coming.
    I think the objectives for this thread should be on how to grow deer plots without spraying, and without excessive tillage, especially keeping in mind that many plotters don't have expensive equipment like a no-till drill or a crop roller. However, experiments using equipment like a no-till drill or a crop roller to attain the objective is ok, since the objective is to not use herbicides to maintain a plot, and only using minimal tillage.

    Starting clover with oats in early spring after fall corn has worked for me in starting a notill, nospray foodplot. but after the oats expired the weeds started to invade. Untouched i'd say in less than 3 years the grasses that started the first year would have taken over to the point that there wouldn't be any clover left worth speaking of, and the majority of what's left being cattails. So my challenge is to have the clover continue to regenerate and stay ahead of the grasses without spraying, tilling, or replanting.

    For my experiment that I'm starting, broadleaf weeds are ok, but grasses are my enemy for regenerative plotting. I'm focusing on a combination of clover and cereal grains to try to do this. I'm going to take a beautiful three year old, 2 acre, well established weed free RegalGraze ladino clover plot named "Big Field Lower" as my dedicated test plot to go herbicide free. Any input or ideas will be appreciated.

    My first idea is to mow the clover right after Labor day here and notill rye into it? The rye should suppress the grasses, and if done on an annual basis, hopefully the clover can survive without any herbicides.
     
  7. pinetag

    pinetag Well-Known Member

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    I look forward to following along and hopefully learning how to apply some of these principles to my place. I read an interesting book not long ago titled "Bringing Nature Home: How You can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants." It talked about how the diversity of native species also promotes diversity of native animals and how the entire system works together. It has nothing to do with food plotting but the concepts got me thinking about changes I would like to make when doing habitat work.
     
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  8. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Yep. I’d go thick and add chicory if u don’t have it already. I’d also draw up a list in your head of native plants that are also ok like dandelion and ragweed. So by next spring you’d have:

    Grass - rye
    Legume - clover
    Broadleaf - chicory
    Broadleaf - dandelion
    Broadleaf - ragweed

    Once you see a seed head on your rye, you can mow-kill it. So u could do that or let it go. What your next planting plan is, should drive when u mow it, or if u mow or roll at all.


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  9. Jeff H

    Jeff H Well-Known Member

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    I read something somewhere long ago that "the disk is a poor mans deer plot" In essence simply lightly disking a field can both suppress and promote growth. I believe the timing or more specifically soil temp is critical as certain seeds tend to germinate at different temps. I'm a poor man with land but I have neither a tractor or a disk :(
     
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  10. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    There is an old axiom about the effort required to achieve something that says you can have it done quickly, have it done well and have it done at a low cost...pick which two you want, because all three just isn't realistic. I think this applies to the topic at hand, because the only way to have successful plots at a low cost (without herbicides) is to make multiple, time-sensitive efforts. I am not aware of a way to get great results, with low input costs, while also taking very little time...that's a fairy-tale, in my experience. If you have limited time to make things happen, you WILL pay for it by compromising on results and you may find that spraying gly is almost essential. If you are committed to not spraying gly, you will pay for it by spending a lot more time (in small increments throughout the year) and/or by throwing a lot more money at other means (biological and mechanical) to get good results in spite of being free of chemical applications. If you insist on the absolute best results (subjective as that may be) you're probably going to spend a lot of time AND money, including applying herbicides when and where they are needed.

    Let's have this discussion, by all means, but if we're going to say that you can put aside all chemical means of weed abatement, spend very little time or money on the process, and still get very good results, that's fantasy land. Let's be real and face up to the limitations (or increased demands in other areas) that must be accepted if the decision is made to NOT use chemicals. I'm all for that discussion, and feel it will add value to this forum.
     
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  11. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't jump to absolutes just because we haven't figured it out yet. I decided to make a little sketch of how I think this evolves for everyone.
    evolution.png
     
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  12. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    We know what happens when we kill and till, and by year two or three, it starts getting really hard to try to get back to that very first taste we got of a weed free and gorgeous plot. We were living off the residual good will that was there before we started improving things.
     
  13. catscratch

    catscratch Well-Known Member

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    Great chart Mark! You're starting to sound like a regenerative grazing guy. You sure you're not growing cattle instead of deer? Grazing pressure and hoofs can replace gly and discs...

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  14. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    The grazers hold many of the keys to this. When some dude with zero intervention budget and 12" of annual rain a year gives a lecture on sustainability, I listen.
     
  15. Jason Broom

    Jason Broom Well-Known Member

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    With all due respect, that graph is disingenuous and fanciful, although pretty funny at the same time. :)

    We are asked to not equate what we're doing, as habitat managers, with what farmers do to create a "clean" harvest crop. The very first food plot I ever put in has had glyphosate sprayed on it twice, in 9 years. There are no chemical resistant weeds being created there. The assertion that weeds would somehow become "100% unkillable" and that spraying gly somehow eventually leads to dead soil...is absurd.

    If we're not going to have a reasonable discussion here, meaning it's all going to be pie-in-the-sky stuff, then I'm out.
     
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  16. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Your model isn’t the one I’m talking about. If you’ve sprayed twice in 9 years, I’m hearing you’ve sprayed once in 8 years as well. I’m more focused on the spray-disk-wait/spray-disk-plant model that happens in one season and each season until plots quit working due to mud, crust, dust, that one weed, and sick plants because mineralization has been stopped.

    It only takes two weeks of no living plants to starve your soil workers and alter your fertility cycle. When soil is uncovered, it can be 60-80 degrees hotter than covered soil. This also kills your miners.

    Tillage turns your soil into a industrial park fire below ground. Injected oxygen is like gasoline on the campfire, and you start losing carbon (OM) to the sky. You torch your AMF, sever your nutrient trade routes, kill the truckers, and bring in the looters. You collapse your soil particles and ultimately lose oxygen after the fire. The organic materials that have been worked in now anerobically decompose. And what does that produce? Alcohol. While fun to drink, it also disinfects, or kills your soil workers.

    If a guy can start breaking that cycle of interference, he can start to eliminate the problems that he was having.


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  17. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Great point Jason regarding "very good results". I had "very good results" with a driveway food plot with very low effort once the apple trees were released and the boulders were removed and the ground made somewhat smooth. It was planted with multiple varieties of clover, chicory, rye, a small amount of brassica. It has multiple deer in it more than times than not for all but the worst weather of the year. Maintenance on the plot over the last four years or so has consisted of annual mowing around the apple trees, Oosier dogwood and willow shrubs in late August/early September and that has been it. It is over run with thistle (due to the late timing of it's annual cutting) and it also contains dandelions and other broad leaf weeds. Still though the deer hit it daily so it is meeting at least some of their daily needs to eat, socialize and whatever; thus to my scale it has produced very good to excellent results.

    To many people it might be viewed as just a mess but to others it is "very good" to super excellent. For me and the others that think it very good to super, our major dipstick lines are; is it mostly self-sustainable for five years or more between replanting? And do many area deer spend a lot of their daytime using it? Since the answer is a resounding YES then "very good results" it is. Just don't add neat and pretty or golf course to the dipstick line because then it would not rate so high.

    Note; I had tried eradicating the thistle one summer via spot spraying but it was time not well spent.
     
  18. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Thistle is a highly undervalued plant. They’re the Halliburton of the plant world. Nobody likes them, but we keep calling on them to fix things with no-bid contracts. They also only come when we ask them to.

    After the incursion, they come in and rebuild the roads, pipelines, power grid, and critical services. They are also autotoxic, meaning once their mission is accomplished, they leave on their own. If they didn’t, the planet would be covered in thistle. They will biologically suppress their own germination once soil life has returned. Problem is, that process will take a few years.

    If they do persist, their population goes down immensely. Go chop a bull thistle off at the ground level and look at the fibrous pitchfork girth taproot it’s provided. That will become a highway into the subsoil for subsequent roots and water after that thistle is gone. Thistle drills the tunnel, the next plants and new workers bring the goodies back up.


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  19. Chainsaw

    Chainsaw Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Mark, Had no idea about it helping the soil. Used to encourage it's growth because of all the birds it drew into the yard, once we started cutting the lawn a few times a year they slowly disappeared there.
     
  20. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    I mow my durana clover plots a couple times each summer. I dont have much grass in any of them. I overseed with wheat in early October - along with a little clover seed. Clip one more time after planting. Been working for me for several years now.
     
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