Choosing Food Plot Equipment for Your Needs | Great Days Outdoors

Choosing Food Plot Equipment for Your Needs

Keeping a well maintained food plot is invaluable for landowners and hunting clubs alike. To do this, the proper equipment is a must but what equipment do you need for your specific situation? We’ve spoken with some experts to get their advice on how hunters can go about choosing food plot equipment.

 

How to Decide on the Food Plot Equipment You Need

The first question that has to be answered is whether you need a tractor to create the food plot, or can you use implements designed for an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or an UTV (Utility Task Vehicle or Side-by-side). To answer this question, you need to consider:

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  • Will this food plot be a new site?
  • Is this place an old logging road or an old log landing?
  • Is the spot an overgrown field?
  • Are there stumps and roots at this site?
  • Are the rocks there as large as grapefruits?
  • Is the soil tightly packed, for instance like red clay will be?
  • Is the plot larger than 3 acres?
  • Are you planning on having six food plots or more?

 

When You Need a Tractor

Planting for wildlife has become almost as important to hunters as finding, growing and hunting deer and turkeys. Although you can use many tools to plant for wildlife, the amount of land you have, the size of the green fields you intend to plant and the investment you’re willing to make all play a major role in the type of planting equipment you’ll need and choose. For instance, you don’t want to purchase a tractor that’s too small for the land acreages you want to plant or overspend on a tractor that’s not the right size you need to get the job done. 

Great Days Outdoors interviewed Trevor White, a salesman associated with SunSouth, located in Foley, Alabama, for advice on how to select the best farming tools for you, your land and the wildlife you want to manage. 

White suggests that if you’re looking for a tractor to plant small green fields on the property where you hunt, that you consider purchasing a John Deere 3 Series or a 4 Series Compact Tractor. These tractors will enable you to pull small disks behind them, get in and out of the woods easily and come equipped with four-wheel drive that makes planting green fields less difficult. 

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food plot equipment

The John Deere 3038 E Compact Tractor works for smaller green fields.

 

“The first question I ask my customers to help them make the best decisions for tractors for their lands is, ‘What size green field do you intend to plant?’ Quite a few landowners and hunting clubs prefer to plant several, 1/4-acre fields, especially on smaller properties. That’s when I’ll recommend the John Deere 3038E Series, featuring a hydrostatic transmission that increases tractor performance, and can pull a 5-foot implement. This 3038E is the best pick for planting 1/4-acre fields because of its compactness and its ability to get in and out of wood lots easily,” White said. “The price point too is where it needs to be for this type of machinery. This tractor is easy to haul on a 7000 trailer and can break ground, seed, fertilize and plant, making it the ideal tractor for hunting clubs and small green fields.” 

If a landowner wants to plant bigger fields rather than smaller one, what type of tractor should they consider?

 “A John Deere Series 4 tractor, like a 4044M is a good pick. This tractor will allow you to pull a 6-foot frame implement, and because it’s a bigger tractor with more horsepower than a Series 3, you can get work done much faster – particularly on 1-2 acres – than you will with a smaller tractor,” White explained.  “But, if you’re not planting more than 1-2 acres of green fields, then I suggest using a Series 4 tractor. However, if you want more horsepower to plant a larger green field, I’ll recommend a 4052R tractor. Or, to clear land in preparation for a green field, you may want to consider a 4052 heavy-duty tractor.” 

When asked to name the most-popular tractor for landowners and hunting clubs who want to plant their own green fields, White said that the John Deere 3038 or the 4052 both fit the bill.

“These two tractors seem to be the best tractors for planting wildlife food plots, since the 3038 and the 4052 are compact and easy to get in and out of the woods. Both tractors can be hauled easily with a half-ton truck, and they seem to be the most-popular tractors in our region for managing wildlife lands,” he said.

 

food plot equipment tractor

The John Deere 4052 Compact Tractor is heavy duty and is recommended for planting one to two acre green fields.

 

Realizing that a tractor is a major investment for a landowner or a hunting club, White expects the life of these tractors to be 20-30 years if “You maintain your tractor every year.”

White explained how customers can get the best available option to fit their needs.

“Know what he wants the tractor to do, what’s the size of the green fields he intends to plant, what he’ll use to tow the tractor to the worksite, and how much land he’ll break, till, fertilize and plant each year. With that information, your salesperson can help you find the right tractor for you that will give you the most service for the longest time,” Whie said.

To learn more about these tractors, check out https://sunsouth.com/New-Equipment/Deere-Equipment/Compact-Tractors. SunSouth has 10 Alabama locations, five in Georgia and one in Mississippi. You can click on the dealer locator map at https://sunsouth.com/locations for more information.  

 

 ATVs Food Plot Implements

After that initial food-plot planting, many landowners and hunting clubs may want to replant the food plots once or twice a year, with their ATVs and ATV attachments for food plots. The muscled-up ATV engine needs to be at least 450 ccs, have four-wheel drive, feature low-range capabilities and have been well-maintained or be brand-new. An ATV that doesn’t meet these specifications won’t get the job done when you put ATV farming implements on the back of it.

 

Large green field plantings, like this one, often are best created and maintained by a farmer with a tractor instead of using an ATV or an UTV.

 

Today biologists are encouraging landowners and hunting-club members to plant the same food plot twice a year, once with a cool-season planting and then replanting that same food plot with a warm-season planting to help hold wildlife on that property all year long. 

 

Steps to Follow to Plant for Wildlife

Plowing – If you already have a tractor, the first implement you’ll need is a disk plow. This true plow does primary tillage and leaves behind a rough surface by breaking-up the soil. 

Harrowing – You drag the disc harrow over the field to cut-up and break-up the clumps of earth and turn them into very-fine soil and a fairly-level seed bed. 

Soil Testing – A soil test tells you the chemical makeup of the soils in that specific food plot and will give you recommendations on the amount of lime and fertilizer you need on that field you’ve disked and harrowed.

Liming and Fertilizing – You can use a seeder to set the amount of lime and fertilizer to be spread over the size of the green field you want to plant.

Cultipacking – After you’ve put-out lime and fertilizer, you need the cultipacker to help get the seed bed as level as possible and make the soil somewhat pressed down.

Checking for Rain – Watch the weather forecast before planting to have rain on that field as soon as possible. 

Seeding – After you’ve cultipacked the ground the first time, you need to replace the cultipacker on the back of your tractor with the seeder. Pour the seed or blend of seeds into the seeder.  

Cultipacking – After seeding a green field, take the seeder off the tractor, put the cultipacker back on and go over the field with the cultipacker to push the seed down into the earth.

Planting green fields with both annual and perennial seeds drastically will improve the overall health of your deer herd. 

 

How to Take Care of ATV Food Plot Equipment with J. Wayne Fears

My longtime friend, J. Wayne Fears of New Market, Alabama, is a wildlife biologist, who has managed several hunting lodges and supervised more than 200-hunting clubs for a major timber company. So, Fears has plenty of experience with planting green fields.

 

choosing food plot equipment ATV

One of the advantages of using an ATV or an UTV is you can plant small green fields where  tractors may not be able to go.

 

“One trend I’ve noticed is that after an individual or a small hunting club plants their food plots with ATV implements in September, they often don’t take care of their implements,” Fears explained.  “Every farmer knows that he has to maintain tractor implements after using them and take care of them. You need to clean, oil and lubricate all your implements after using them, according to manufacturers’ recommendations and then have a place to store those implements, so they are out of the weather.” 

To learn more about building, maintaining and planting food plots, check out J. Wayne Fears’ books, “Deer Hunter’s and Land Manager’s Pocket Reference” and “Hunt Club Management Guide.”

 

How to Finance Food Plot Equipment

Will you buy used or new tractor and/or ATV equipment, and who should you consider for a financial partner (lender)? One of the oldest and most-trusted lenders for any type of farming and food plot equipment nationwide has always been the Farm Credit System that was established about a century ago. In recent years, this organization has partnered with and become a part of state agricultural credit unions, like Alabama Ag Credit, a borrower-owned cooperative lender.  

Steven Bozeman is a loan officer with Alabama Ag Credit, who explained that Alabama Ag Credit primarily works with farmers and hunters in the lower 40 counties of Alabama. 

“We can loan up to 75% of the cost of agricultural equipment. For instance, if the implement costs $100,000, the buyer only has to put up 25% – $25,000 and Alabama Ag Credit will loan the other $75,000 to the person. The terms of this type of loan will last from 5-7 years with a fixed interest rate.,” he said.  “However, when you’re considering buying ATV and UTV farming equipment, you only may want to have a 3-year loan, depending on the cost, the age and the size of the implement(s) and the projected useful life of the equipment. This equipment must meet the specs for farming for wildlife, planting green fields and improving the land.”

 

choosing food plot equipment deep woods

Small hunting green fields, like this one, often can be planted deep in the woods, away from a big green field and actually may draw more wildlife early in the morning and late in the evening than a larger green field will.

 

Bozeman pointed out that the purpose of Alabama Ag Credit is to help individuals, hunting clubs and people to buy rural land for farming or planting for wildlife and/or improving the land. 

“Many people, especially first-time land buyers may not ever have heard of Alabama Ag Credit, or may not know that we can help them buy the equipment they need to improve the land for wildlife, as well as farming,” he said.

“If you need help finding an Ag Credit Union, you can go to www.alabamaagcredit.com and find the offices and information about them. We also help direct customers to Farm Credit offices in different states, if that’s where they live or hunt and fish.  Although we do more loans for real estate than we do for implements, we’re becoming more involved in loaning money for all types of equipment. We also provide money for other kinds of land improvements like fencing. You can call me directly at 334-489-7103 or write Steven.Bozeman@AlabamaAgCredit.com,” Bozeman said.

 

Contacts and Resources

SunSouth

www.sunsouth.com

 

 

Alabama Ag Credit

www.alabamaagcredit.com

Steven Bozeman

334-489-7103

Steven.Bozeman@AlabamaAgCredit.com


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