*This October, 2006 no till food plot picture illustrates not only the potential effectiveness of the planting method, but the incredible amount of forage that can be created to a high volume of food at a time when the local ag fields and native habitat is quickly decreasing in forage value. This long, winding plot can also be used to create precision stand locations. To find out more, try reading, “Thin Is In, For Food Plot Designs”.
Easy Steps For A No Till Food Plot: Turning the clock back all the way to 1999, my annual no till food plot process began in the early Spring, when the various grasses and broadleafs were in their first aggressive growing phase. During the beginning of the annual Spring growing season, is the most important time to begin your food plots!
1. When the new growth of various weeds and grasses are 6-10″ and growing aggressively, it is time for your first of 3 total sprayings. Typically the timing of this spraying will be somewhere between April 15th and May 15th, depending on where you live in the North 1/2 of the country. I rely on a 2 quarts per acre spraying of 41% glyphosate solution for the first spraying. If you have particularly stubborn weed growth, it can be effective to add 1 pint per acre of a broadleaf-specific product (e.g., 2-4D) to this early Spring spraying. This first spraying of the year is the most important because it limits the future weed debris that can hinder seed to soil contact in the coming months. If the seeds that you eventually will plant are broadcasted on top of dead grass and weeds instead of soil, your no till food plot will not grow. A second and third spraying should be completed between 4 – 6 weeks apart with 1 quart per acre of glyphosate, instead of 2 quarts. After completion of the third spraying, a sufficient amount of soil should be exposed to begin planting activities. I like to time my sprayings to end by the latter half of July, so the plots are ready for a broadcasting of brassicas. This is too early to plant a single planting of wheat or rye, so I recommend that you return a last time to broadcast the small cereal grains around Labor Day. This produces a crop of fresh young growth that is timed perfectly for the opener of most State archery season.
-You may even have an area you want to develop into a food plot that contains early successional growth such as aspen or red willow. If young saplings exist, simply drive over them with your ATV, spray them, and let the glyphosate do its job. By late summer the trees will be nothing more than dried out and decaying branches with exposed soil underneath.
-Whether you are spraying into early successional growth or an abandoned field of native regeneration, I have a spraying rate that has worked exceptionally well since 1999. With a 25 gallon ATV sprayer I use 2 quarts per acre of glyphosate to kill 2 acres. I add the water first, and then add the glyphosate towards the end of filling the tank to mix the solution. Whether you are using a single or 2-nozzle sprayer on the back of the ATV, a speed of approximately 7-8 mph should apply the appropriate amount of herbicide with this setup. By starting with a smaller field of a 1/4 to 1/2 acre in size, you can apply the mixture at the recommended rate, check the tank to see how much spray is left, and then make adjustments in your speed if necessary.
-If an ATV isn’t currently in your budget, the sprayings can also be completed with a 4-gallon backpack sprayer. This approach involves a lot more walking and isn’t as efficient since you spend a lot more time repeatedly filling the backpack sprayer, but it works! I have used a ½ pint of glyphosate to kill one-eighth of an acre, and the results were the same as if I had used an ATV, so don’t be afraid to tackle a spraying and planting without the use of an ATV.