The basic food plotting equipment
food plot equipment
You have a lot of options when it comes to food plot equipment. If you’re confused, it may help for you to read up on the food plot planting process first.
Food plot equipment for Tillage
Unless you have a no-till drill, you’ll need to till the soil in some way shape or form. For most food plotting processes, you can accomplish nearly the same results with an ATV as with a tractor. When it comes to tilling soil, this is where the most stark difference exists between an ATV and tractor, and even within tractors. If you’re looking to put in multiple acres of food plots, a tractor is a must. If not, you can probably get away with an ATV implement. Learn more about that here. You’ve got a bunch of tillage options. You should match these to your available ATV/tractor and soil conditions.
Disc plows are a versatile option for a number of food plot equipment tilling options. These plows ‘cut’ the soil, and are a good option for established plots. They also can be an effective tool when tilling soil with rocks. Disc plows are not great option for breaking virgin sod. If you need to do this, check out our suggestions here. Discs are a nice option for the ATV only crowd, as there are a number of available options. The performance of the disc increases with weight, so don’t expect the same performance as a large ag disc, but you can accomplish a lot with this tool.
A PTO tiller or roto-tiller is our go-to choice for most food plot equipment tilling needs. These tools aren’t cheap, but create a great seed bed in the right applications. They spin and mix the soil thoroughly about 4-6″ deep. Tillers are not good in areas with significant rocks, as these can damage the tiller. They also do not do well with any significant vegetation, as this can get wrapped around the tiller shaft. Again, if you’re breaking virgin sod, take a read here.
As the name implies, a chisel plow slices through soil like a chisel. The chisel shapes actually pull the plow into the soil, so you don’t have the same weight needs as a disc plow. It can be a more superficial cut than a disc or tiller, so multiple passes are often required. Removing weeds and vegetation will help your plow work best. Chisel plows are a good option for the ATV crowd.
Bottom / Moldboard Plow
These plows cut deep and turn the soil over, but is not a piece of food plot equipment that typically makes sense to own. They are the go to for breaking sod. However, a separate plow, usually a disc, is required to then break up the large chunks of soil. If you need a moldboard, we recommend renting or borrowing, rather than buying one.
Don’t have an ATV or tractor? A standard hard garden rake is enough to break the soil for micro-plots. Combined with glyphosate and the right seed, you can make a great plot with basic hand tools.
Other food plot equipment
Bigger isn’t always better. When it comes to seeding, we favor a simple hand-held seeder for most applications. This is for a few reasons. First, you have a much greater deal of control with a hand seeder than a larger (push, tow, or electric) spreader. Seed is expensive, often small, and plots generally aren’t too large. A hand seeder will make sure you get good, even coverage of your seed on your plots. It will also make sure you don’t accidentally dump much of you seed in one spot, as can often happen with larger spreaders. A small hand held seeder is a critical tool in the food plot equipment arsenal.
When it comes to fertilizer, pelletized lime, or large/cheap seeds, a larger or electronic spreader is the best choice. There are many good options out there, and we offer a selection push, tow, or mounted spreaders here. A push spreader is great if you don’t have an ATV or tractor to tow it. However, spreading in freshly tilled soil is not an easy task. If you have an ATV, we recommend a tow-behind or mounted spreader to speed the spreading process. Note: If you want your seeder to last, we recommend taking good care of it. Many fertilizers are corrosive to metals, and can cause key parts to rust. We recommend a thorough rinse after each fertilizer application.
If you haven’t read up on our weed management post, please do. Glyphosate is a critical tool in the food plotting process, and a good sprayer is critical for application. Like spreaders, sprayers are available in mounted and tow behind form. We recommend a mounted sprayer if you are able to use it. Tow-behind sprayers tend to bounce significantly, and have lower ground clearance. They also make turning more difficult. When choosing either variety, you’ll also want to choose a version that has a good spray coverage area. You can get either a boom or boomless sprayer with a wide coverage. This speeds the spraying process. If you don’t have an ATV or tractor, backpack sprayers are an alternative option for your food plot equipment collection.
These tools are used to cover seed after you’ve spread it on tilled soil to achieve the necessary seed depth at planting. They are not a required tool, but do help increase your germination rate if used effectively. Personally, we’ve built our own drags out of chain link fence and metal posts. If you decide to go commercial, there are a number of options available to you.
Cultipackers and Rollers
This piece of food plot equipment is used to lightly compact the soil after planting and give good seed-soil contact. Large metal ag cultipackers are available, and give the best results. However they are expensive and difficult to transport and store. We’ve had best success using a water filled lawn roller. This can be pulled by an ATV, can be emptied after use, and is cost effective. We recommend a 48″ size roller. Alternatively, you can also simply drive your ATV/tractor over your plot multiple times after planting to achieve a similar result.
Often called brush hogs, these implements are most often used with tractors to mow plots. For most seed varieties, you can get away without a mower. If you’re planting perennials, such as alfalfa or clover, a mower is a useful tool. It is also very useful when clearing areas to establish new food plots. If you’re managing a larger property, you’ll undoubtedly use it in other applications as well.
All-in-ones / not-till-drills
We include this here for the sake of completion, but we will not cover in depth. These tools are quite expensive and not for the beginning food plotter.
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