As I’ve mentioned earlier this spring, this year I will be putting in food plots for the first time. The family has finally agreed that the time is right to try food plots on our property in Northern Michigan, so I have been designated the point man to figure out our strategy. Naturally, I’m reading every bit and piece of information I can find in regards to food plot design, preparation and implementation. During my research, one book title came up over and over. “Ultimate Deer Food Plots” by Ed Spinazzola. This book seemed to be one of the most well reviewed and popular books on the topic and it didn’t hurt that he happened to be from my home state of Michigan. So of course, being the impulse buyer I am, I immediately ordered “Ultimate Deer Food Plots” from the QDMA Shed and here I am today reading it in my living room.

I figured for the next week or so, while I’m absorbing all of this food plot knowledge, I ought to share some of my key take aways with you all. So lets talk about the first tip I have picked up on.

Take Your Soil Sample Seriously

Although I’ve heard quite a bit about the importance of soil tests, I’m not sure I truly appreciated the gravity of this process and all that goes into it. You can’t skip this step, because what you plant and how you prepare the plot will be directly directed dependent on the information you will learn from a soil test. Ed recommends that you take 4 samples from a small plot and eight or more samples from a 5 acre or larger plot. Getting 6 inch by 1/2 inch samples of the soil was recommended. Place each sample into it’s own individual ziplock bag and label each according to its location in the plot and what you intend to plant there.

An interesting point he made, is that you should not take your samples from obvious areas that you don’t think would be good for growing plants.

Your soil tests, when returned, should provide ph levels, levels of nutrients such as phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and calcium and  lime recommendations. Your results should also provide you with recommendations for the fertilizer necessary for the crops you intend to grow there. This is all pretty basic Food Plot 101 knowledge, but for those just getting started, I don’t think it can be emphasized enough.

So remember, if you’re just getting started with food plots, don’t underestimate the importance of a soil test. Do a soil test and do it the right way. The results in the long term will be well worth it.