Hunters who plant food plots, or “plotters” know that time is always a critical factor. The early days of bow season tend to spring from the summer with such surprise it barely gives the unprepared plotter time to break ground. Any average hunter would say that finding time to go hunting, let alone put in a food plot, is always an issue. Fortunately for plotters there is equipment to ease this burden. In the paragraphs that follow ten pieces of equipment will be examined for their ability to save plotters time and money.
At some point every plotter wants more power for plotting. More power means bigger implements, and more plotting in less time. Utility vehicles or ATVs are ideal for small or remote food plots, but ultimately, to save time and money a plotter must power up to a utility tractor.
Whether you are a full-time hunter or selective season shooter time dictates every step of pre-season preparations. The luxury of waiting for perfect weather and ground conditions to plant doesn’t exist for most plotters. Instead, plotting realistically takes place when time allows, but with a Kubota tractor matched with the right implements, creating food plots can be done quickly.
Rotary cutters are the must have implement to manage any type of property. Likewise they’re THE tool needed to maintain existing plots, or start new ones. Because rotary cutters come in many sizes their specific tasks will vary. With extreme duty cutters clearing smaller trees isn’t a problem, where cutting grass and brush would be the extent for smaller cutters. Cutting the previous seasons leftover crops to later till in the soil is another great use of cutters. Creating trails in thick brush and making stand access locations, along with being a great maintenance tool is why the rotary cutter is by far the most valuable implement a plotter could have.
There are many rotary cutter manufacturers on the market today, but choose wisely because you get what you pay for. Purchasing a quality rotary cutter such as a Woods or Land Pride model saves money because cheaper cutters won’t stand up to the rigorous cutting conditions of clearing new sites.
Sprayers are inexpensive tools that save plotters time. From controlling fire to killing weeds, the sprayers effectiveness is invaluable in keeping a plot under control. The plotter who knows year round maintenance saves time will always have a sprayer at the ready. For smaller plots in hard to reach areas ATV sprayers when used with chainsaws become the remote plotters rotary cutter.
A tough ECHO chainsaw should be in every plotters arsenal. Whether it’s to prune limbs or take down entire trees, ECHO chainsaws provide plotters with long, trouble-free performance making them a necessity for large and small plotters alike. Another power tool by ECHO that will save lots of heartache is the power pruner. The pruner’s long reach create fast, easy, and safe tree pruning for shooting lanes.
Effective food plot sites should be located near and around cover. This means creating new sites, especially larger ones, will most likely consist of lots of tree removal. For this case, chainsaws would be too labor intensive and time consuming. Instead, a skid steer or tractor mounted tree saw, or shears would be more practical. Tree saws are quick and effective at removing hundreds of trees an hour. The powerful blade of the Marshall Tree Saw isn’t affected by mud or rocks, and more importantly it leaves little to no damage to the land. The Turbo Saw offers the same effect, but uses a high speed circular cutting disc which can cut at speeds of up to ten inches per second. Tree shears act like large scissors. In one cut the M&M Hydra-Clip will cut 16 inch trees flush to the ground. When used, tree saws and shears make tree removal safer, faster, and more effective.
If the soil and ground condition are in decent shape plotters should use a tiller. Tillers work really well in existing plots, and for creating fine seedbeds for planting smaller seeds. Tillers aren’t limited to soft dirt though. Some tillers like the Land Pride RTR20 will tackle tougher ground than other tiller models. These rotary tillers are perfect for food plot maintenance and prep. Available in 64 and 72 inch widths, the RTR20 turns up hard packed ground, leaving a perfect seedbed needed to effectively attract whitetails . The reverse tilling action makes these tillers ideal for tough ground conditions. The reverse action “sucks” the tiller into the ground, which prohibits the tiller from “walking” on hard ground. It also incorporates spring loaded “sifting” rods behind the tines to help bury large rocks and debris. The reverse action also brings the dirt to the top while rocks and vegetation get buried. With a heavy duty tiller like the RTR20 plotters can by pass the use of a disc, making this implement more essential to have.
A disc is essential for breaking new ground, incorporating old crop residue, and prepping the ground before planting. Discs work well for breaking hard ground, and can be used without the use of a tiller. However, when used alone several passes must be made before seeding, making the disc less effective.
With all implements there are huge differences in quality and performance. Land Pride’s DH25 and 35 series of disc harrows prove that not all implements are created equal. They’re built with heavy tubular frames, not angle iron, and feature self aligning, sealed ball bearings that are supported by think hangers to resist high torque. With 20 or 22 inch notched disc blades and large gang axles these Land Pride models will resist high loads in the hardest of ground. The DH25 and 35 series will perform well on a variety of tractors ranging from 40 to 100 horsepower, giving plotters the versatility needed to save time during any tillage job.
SEED BED ROLLERS
Plotters looking to maximize their results should use the simple, yet effective, seed bed roller. Without proper seed to soil contact, invested time is wasted. Sure, there are other ways to achieve seed to soil contact, but because food plots aren’t your typical seeding environment plotters should take advantage of bed rollers to insure a successful plot.
Land Pride’s SBR72 not only creates good contact, but it breaks up smaller dirt clods and clumps which greatly improves germination rates. The notched rollers actually form tiny furrows that will retain moisture and hold the seed in place. This seed bed roller can also serve as the roller attachment for Land Pride’s Seeder System. This system is designed for existing sites and includes: a disc harrow, spreader, roller, and drag, which provide plotters the one pass application needed to speed up planting.
The broadcast spreader is an effective tool for dispersing both seed and fertilizer. Pull type models attach to both tractors and utility vehicles, and are inexpensive to a plotters budget. However, spreaders aren’t the most accurate method for seed dispersal, and will waste a percentage of the expensive seeds plotters use. With that said, they are still a necessity, and even plotters who use precision seeders or no till drills could benefit from having a trusty broadcast seeder on hand.
WOODS PRECISION SUPER SEEDER
One plotter’s needs are another plotter’s wants. For
instance hunters who manage numerous plots of considerable size would increase their food plot production by using a Woods Precision Super Seeder. This efficient implement provides one pass planting, saving both time and fuel. With three seed box options plotters can conveniently plant multiple seed types at different depths. The heavy frames of the Woods PSS seeders stay engaged to the ground ensuring accurate control of seed depth. Another time saving feature is that the seed boxes. They can be engaged and disengaged by removing a single lynch pin, which allows plotters to plant exactly what they want, where they want it.
GREAT PLAINS 1006NT COMPACT DRILL
For the professional plotter the Great Plains Manufacturing line of no-till drills can’t be beat! The Great Plains ten foot, end wheel, no-till drill (1006NT) is the perfect combination between the productivity of a large drill and the versatility of a compact one. This machine is designed for the biggest of food plots, and has long been used by conservation groups like Pheasants Forever chapters. The 1006NT Drill features large end wheels designed for unmatched ground gauging in rugged terrain. In addition, the inline end wheels minimize side loading on contours and side-hills, dramatically extending the life of the no-till openers. Other features include 4-speed gearboxes, an automatic clutch that disengages when the drill is lifted, and rain-tight lids for maximum seed and fertilizer protection. With drills like the 1006NT plotters will be so productive they’ll be looking for new ground to plot.
LAND PRIDE’S FOOD PLOT SEEDER
For the plotter who uses utility vehicles or an ATV to power in his plants, the Food Plot Seeder by Land Pride is the ultimate time saver. It’s a highly versatile full component package designed to open and break up soil surfaces by discing the soil for seedbed or planting preparation. It will then spread the seeds while simultaneously pressing the seeds into full soil contact with a trailing fluted roller. The combination of maximum versatility and narrow transport width makes the FPS an excellent choice for far away food plots and plotters with smaller budgets.
LUXURY OR NECESSITY
Keeping in mind that planting food plots is somewhat of a luxury in itself, and that one man’s luxury is another man’s necessity, there are two types of equipment to plot with. There’s equipment that simply gets the job done, and there’s equipment that gets the job done and then some. No till drills and precision seeders are perfect for creating larger food plots in a short amount of time. They combine all essential equipment into one implement making it highly versatile, but not necessarily essential. Likewise tree saws/shears are extremely effective for tree removal when creating a new site, but a chainsaw will do the job too. Sprayers as well aren’t 100% necessary; however they are effective at maintaining a plot throughout the year. An old rotary cutter, disc or tiller, and some sort of spreader are the basics for creating a food plot with a tractor. For those who use ATVs, an all purpose pull behind seeder is both essential and luxurious for creating smaller plots.
Planting food plots can be a successful way to harvest deer. They provide an opportunity for hunters to see large amounts of deer while offering the deer themselves added nutritional supplements. In many ways food plots are simply pleasing to the eye. The vibrant green is an extreme contrast to the burnt orange of October’s rust. When thinking of plotting against the hardy Whitetail, think of the tools needed to create the most productive, yet time efficient food plot. This will allow more time spent scouting and understanding the deer herd, as opposed to changing out implements.