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Soil Science Makes The Difference One Of The Keys To Managing Wildlife Is Right Under Your Feet



here’s a familiar phrase from the Bible that says “you reap what you sow” and that’s very true. Another level to that, is the harvest you intend to produce is only as good as the soil you sow into. I subscribe to the belief that if you enhance the fertility of your dirt you will see a direct improvement in the quality of whitetail, turkey, quail or whatever you’re managing for. Plants are transfer agents, which means they obtain the nutrients for your wildlife directly from the soil; calcium, boron, magnesium and so on. Plants are created in such a way that they will produce protein and other needed vitamins and minerals but they get the energy to do so from the supply found only in the soil.That’s why I say if your fields are green it doesn’t confirm that 34% protein is being produced in chicory. Those numbers are taken from strict research facilities that amend the soils to the “letter of the law.” Take vitamin A for an example. In deficient quantities, animals are more susceptible to disease, and blindness. They get vitamin A from green fields rather than harvested grains, but if you have poor soils your plants will struggle to produce and provide this vitamin. Almost all the nutrients are found, produced and made soluble (available to the plant) in what’s called the humus layer of our soils. If you were to look at the profile of a freshly dug hole, you would see multiple layers in the dirt, from dark brown, to red. The first layer of quality soil would be very dark, that’s your humus layer. It’s made up of organic matter; dead insects, animal remains, decaying plants. This is the most important part of your soil and should be taken a little more seriously. When you apply fertilizer based on soil test results, this is where it is broken down and fed to the plants, but

only if the humus layer is healthy and alive with the organisms (also called microbes) needed to literally do the work in the dirt. If your soil is deficient in these microbes, fertilizer will not get used as efficient as possible. Plants will be much more susceptible to disease. Water will not be retained or even permeate to the plant roots. Research has shown that a whitetail’s antler growth is not ‘just’ left up to genetics but rather proved that in areas where amended soils supplied quality

vegetation, bone growth flourished. That tells me that one of the greatest keys to managing our properties has been directly under our feet. There are some great products on the market to help improve soil health and fertilizer efficiency as well as methods we could implement. Such as using more organic compound like manures. So in short, healthy soils do produce healthier animals and that’s the dirt on food plots.

Seed labels might seem unnecessary, but in fact, they contain the information critical to the success of your food plots.

Welcome to W2’s Wildlife Habitat & Land Management. This section is dedicated to our growing number of readers interested in managing their property, hunting leases and even back yards. If you have a product, service or tips you would like to promote in W2, contact Edwards at 434.664.7163 or bobbywoodsandwaters@ This month’s submission was written by Adam Korman of Patriot Outdoors Land and Wildlife Management and Eden Habitat Development. WOODSANDWATERSMAGAZINE.COM


April 2012

soil testing, blue prints to healthy dirt  

talks about the importance of quality soil testing and following the labs recommendations

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