Once your soil test is in and you've chosen your food plot, It's simply a matter of waiting for warmer weather to begin planting. We chose the weekend of April 4th to plant our plot.
The first step was to have the recommended lime and fertilizer delivered. This was no small feat as we needed 8000 lbs/acre of lime and 800 lbs of 5-20-20 fertilizer. We had that delivered to the site and we took it from there.
Step 1. Plowing the Plot
Since its been years since this ground has been farmed, we needed to plow it first. Here we are using our Ford 9N tractor with an old Ferguson double bottom plow. We plowed down to about 10", sufficiently breaking up the soil and turning over the existing vegetation. It took three complete passes before the ground was sufficiently broken up.
Step 2. Tilling
Once the Plow did its thing, we needed to till the soil and break up the big clumps of earth created by the plow. For this, we used our small 4' wide disc harrow.
Step 3. Liming With our ground plowed and tilled, it was time to spread the lime. We spread 7000 lbs per acre on the plot then tilled again. This was the hardest part of the process since we used bags of granulated lime. Each one of the 50 lb bags needed to be loaded and unloaded, then loaded into the spreader. Bulk lime is cheaper and should be used if available.
Step 4. Tilling again We decided to till once more to work the lime into the soil. While this is not entirely necessary, we felt it would mix the lime better than just spreading on top.
Step 5. Raking and Leveling
After the plowing and the tilling, we had exposed lots of roots, branches, rocks and grass clumps. We hooked up our 6' York Rake and started cleaning and leveling the ground. This device worked quite well.
Step 6. Firming the seed bed
Clover, like many other crops, likes a firm seed bed prior to and after seeding. With that in mind we used a 400 lb. water-filled roller which hooked up to the tractor's draw bar. We simply drove around the plot firming up the soil bed.
Step 7. Seeding
With the soil bed firmed up and ready, we loaded the seed into our spreader and distributed a combination of clover and annual ryegrass. We used 100% clover and 20% annual ryegrass.
We seeded at a rate of 10 lbs per acre for the Clover seed. For the Annual Ryegrass we seeded at a rate of 5lbs per acre (an extremely light application)
Step 8. Fertilizing
We then carefully measured the proper amount of fertilizer for our plot and loaded it into the hopper. By setting the height and speed of your spreader, you can get accurate results with your spreader.
We set the spreader for 1/3 the recommended application of 400lbs then made three passes. This assured a better chance of an even application.
Step 9. Rolling in the seed
Clover should never be covered by more than a 1/4" of soil. After our seeds were planted, we took out our roller and drove around the plot, pressing the seed into the soil.
The Lime is down, the soil is plowed and disked, and the seed is planted on a new firm seed bed. Now all we can do is wait!
Next time we will check on our plot's progress and hopefully do some mowing!