Soil Testing For Food Plots

By Chris Larsen

food plots grow whitetailsMore hunters are adding food plots to their favorite hunting hole than ever before. As hunters look to gain an edge in the antler game, they look to nutrition as the quickest way to get bigger bucks on their property. But it’s not as simple as breaking ground and broadcasting seed everywhere. Most soils in wooded areas are too acidic for optimum planting and will have a low pH number.

The best way to find out your soil’s pH is through a soil test. You can have the test done through a local ag dealer, ag extension office, or by purchasing a home test. Some home tests are better than others, but the advantage is you can get on the spot results. A soil pH of 7.0 is considered neutral and is perfect for growing most food plot crops. A 6.0 is acceptable for most crops, but a 5.0 is 10 times more acidic than a 6.0 and is generally regarded as unacceptable for planting.

Why is acidity a bad thing? It doesn’t matter how much you fertilize soil, if the acidity is too high, plants can not absorb the nutrients within the soil. As the pH level in soil goes up, nutrients are released and plant production increases.  Todd Stittleburg of Antler King explains more about pH levels in this short video.


Special Thanks To Todd Stittleburg from Antler King For The Video Interview

Spreading lime over the soil will bring the pH up and make soil less acidic. Ag lime and pellet lime work the best since they are easily absorbed into the soil. A lot of guys will just spread the lime on the surface and let rain water dissolve the lime into the soil. For best bang for your buck, plow or till the lime into the soil. It takes about a year for lime to dissolve into the soil and have a positive effect on pH levels. Two years are recommended between soil tests, because undissolved lime can skew the results of subsequent tests.

Soil tests will also give you an idea of what your phosphorous and potassium levels are. These numbers will tell you if fertilizer is needed and what fertilizer is most favorable for your soil. Again, if the pH level isn’t high enough, it won’t matter how much fertilizer is added. A soil test can also help determine what the best crops for your property are. This could save you big money and a lot of frustration.

Taking the time to test your soil in the spring may be the best investment you can make before putting in food plots. Soil tests can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches.

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