Hopefully you have been keeping up each week! If not, a few things we have covered are: the 3 Ingredients to Wildlife Management, Why You Need a Summer Food Plot and Site Selection.
Based on those 3 Ingredients, I now have the ideal sites picked out and it’s time to get my hands dirty. One of the things needed to be successful with any food plot, whether gardening in your backyard or large scale farming is a soil sample. A person could spend tons of money trying to grow the right thing, but if you don’t know what your soil is made of, it’s near impossible.
Since starting wildlife management practices, I have come to rely on several resources.
When it was time to do a soil sample, I relied heavily on the local extension agency. The employees that I worked with from the Titus County Extension Agency were great to work with! They taught me a lot about not only how to take a soil sample but also why it was important. The best thing is that a soil sample is only about ten dollars depending on what you are doing the sample for!
The Extension Agency gave me a soil sample bag and reviewed the instructions for taking an accurate soil sample. The only other things you need are a bucket and a shovel. (Make sure the bucket is dry and free from pesticides or it will skew the results.)
It was recommended that I take about 6-8 soil samples per 2 acres. When you take a soil sample, make sure it is in random spots across the land about 6 inches deep. Put the sample into the bucket and mix it thoroughly to break up the clumps. If your soil is muddy or damp, let it air dry before mixing. Next, fill the sample bag to the line and write a good description on it so that you can remember what area of the plot that the soil came from. Follow the mailing instructions from the lab you are working with.
To read the soil samples once the results have been returned, you can take them to the local extension agency, Fertilizer Company, or simply use one of the calculators provided on the Texas A&M Agrilife Extension website. The calculators vary depending on the soil sample that you take. In my case, I was only wanting to find the pH, Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potassium levels.
According to the Agronomy Guide from Purdue University, you will need to re-sample the soil every 2-4 years depending on the results. Make sure that you do the soil sample at approximately the same time of year each year. This will help to ensure results are minimally variable and will help you to accurately track the effect of your fertilizer.
It may seem pretty tedious to take the time to get a soil sample, but I can assure you - spending a little extra time now will save you money and more efficiently help your wildlife in the long run. To find a local county extension office in Texas, go to: http://counties.agrilife.org/
Thanks again to everybody who has commented on the blog and the Priefert Wildlife Facebook page! Wildlife Wednesdays are just getting started!