My best plots…..

Rit

5 year old buck +
My experience with my drill is very similar, also in clay soils. Weeds a plenty, marginal germination, scrubby looking plots, etc. However, they are still drawing deer well. I sold one farm and bought another last fall that was in pasture. It was too late to plot last fall and it was suggested I plant Enlist beans this spring so I could spray gly and 2-4d multiple times to kill the pasture grass and weeds that come up. I'm very pleased. I'm going to broadcast rye when the beans start to yellow and hope it takes. Next year I'll start in with a diverse warm season mix followed by a fall mix hoping the weeds and grass don't come on.

I battle weeds/grass on my other farm as well so it will be going into Enlist beans for a year to hopefully clear the deck. My long term results are still pending but I'm hopfull the good stuff will come on strong following Enlist beans.
Sounds like you have found a winner. Thanks for sharing. I would be interested in hearing your progress and what you think next year. That’s definitely something to chew on.
 

Rit

5 year old buck +
My 6' wood maxx flail mower was about the same price as a 6' land pride rotary cutter. Might be hard to find a used one (or maybe even new one) and do some wheelin n dealin in time for fall plantings but I would think a guy could do it without a big $ hit.
Surely might be hard to find one at this stage to plant like you said. How does yours do at even distribution of the cutting material? What capacity do you use yours for? I probably could rent one easily enough. I am certainly looking at all options. I just spent 2 hours on the rotary cutter and I know for sure that’s not the tool I need for this job.
 

Spike_Horn_Shooter

5 year old buck +
Not an expert by any means. But it looks like water logged clay / silt loam soil. Plenty of fertility, but your soil could be going anaerobic because it’s water logged. Perhaps that’s why tilling produced better plots. Dried things out a bit for the 1st couple inches.

Residue Mowing - could find someone to bail it. Or maybe chop it with a disc bine. That won’t leave windrows.

Residue Management - more legumes for a more balanced C-N ratio??

Tiling or Contour Shank plowing might help but that’s big $$$ for a food plot.
 

Wind Gypsy

5 year old buck +
Surely might be hard to find one at this stage to plant like you said. How does yours do at even distribution of the cutting material? What capacity do you use yours for? I probably could rent one easily enough. I am certainly looking at all options. I just spent 2 hours on the rotary cutter and I know for sure that’s not the tool I need for this job.

It does fantastic spreading out the material evenly.

Edit to add, thus far I have only used it to mow weeds, willows, and the prior year’s rye. It’s the only mower i have so I expect to suspend it a little higher to clip weeds over perennials too. The YouTube videos match what I’ve seen in practice.
 
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Dogshooter

A good 3 year old buck
What about a hay rake and rake off your clumpy residual?

They can be found on the cheap usually.
 
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Rit

5 year old buck +
Not an expert by any means. But it looks like water logged clay / silt loam soil. Plenty of fertility, but your soil could be going anaerobic because it’s water logged. Perhaps that’s why tilling produced better plots. Dried things out a bit for the 1st couple inches.

Residue Mowing - could find someone to bail it. Or maybe chop it with a disc bine. That won’t leave windrows.

Residue Management - more legumes for a more balanced C-N ratio??

Tiling or Contour Shank plowing might help but that’s big $$$ for a food plot.
Anaerobic what a word. I just learned about this a few months ago watching the soil food web classes. I do think the Southern end of this field could be in this condition. The very tip floods in the Spring and I have some fruit trees on the edge of the zone that show some symptoms. But overall the field has too many worms to be 100% anaerobic.

I do wonder at times how fine the line is between anaerobic and aerobic. I also wonder if there are pockets of anaerobic soil conditions. It does have some merit. I think there is a good chance I have more anaerobic soil than aerobic. As I think about it different sections do grow differently.

Some of the other ideas may work I am just not sure I could pull that off this late in the game. Good post.
 

Rit

5 year old buck +
What about a hay rake and rake off your clumpy residual?

They can be found on the cheap usually.
I have thought about this. I don’t have one but this would certainly help the cause. I also have thought about letting it dry and burning it.
 

Rit

5 year old buck +
Waitin’ watching the clock (or weather channel) it’s 4 o’clock, it’s got to stop……

I went out yesterday with the rotary cutter. But before I went out with it I took a little ride on my JD 26 HP lawn tractor just to see what it would do. Comical at best. So as I continued to mow the other half of my plot that thatch took a toll on my rotary cutter. It bogged it down often when I tried to mow the debris. This is a 61hp tractor with over 50 horses to the PTO. Houston we have a problem. No way no how am I going to be able to drill into this let alone make sure that everything is dead underneath. The other half that I drilled on August 19th has germinated but mostly in the space between the windrows. So I sorta have unplanned 30+ inch rows. I’ll have some radish, WW, WR, Oats, spring peas, beans, sunflowers, and some annual clover on that half but the volume will not be very good. Some of the sorghums are regrowing and I didn’t get all the broadleaves.

This isn’t my forever farm and I like killing deer a whole lot more than it will bother me to disturb the soil. I am looking hard for a decent two day rain event. It’s mostly dry in the near future but we all know that can change quick this time of year. It appears the last of the 90s will be ushered out sometime next week.

When that’s gone and we get rain I am going to till the field for a few reasons. 7 years ago when I last disced the soil I didn’t do such a hot job and I have a field full of speed bumps. Not to mention water pools in between the speed bumps because my water infiltration is well below average. You wouldn’t know it looking at it due to all the vegetation but if you drive east and west over the field you bounce at a good clip and if running the drill you can see it causes the seed tubes to drop seed that doesn’t drop into the cutters trench. Tilling the field will allow me to smooth it out.

I also have surface compaction there is no denying that. I need to break that up period. In my mind at least tilling the entire field it will tear up the debris, alleviate the surface compaction, I’ll have outstanding seed to soil contact, and I won’t have to be concerned with weeds. If my seeds sprout and get ahead of the weeds great. Another thing I noticed is that Johnson grass has a stranglehold on my field. The root structure of these plants is smothering everything I plant out. What I have been doing isn’t working so it’s time to try something else. With no food right now outside of a few strips of clover the deer have all but abandoned my property for the Ag fields. Even though it’s a little later than I have ever planted I am hoping that if I can salvage a good plot once they start taking down the beans and corn I will have a good draw at just the right time.
 

Dogshooter

A good 3 year old buck
I’ve never ran a tiller, more a field cultivator and drag flat guy…are you able to till a field with that much sod/thatch without spraying it a couple weeks prior?

In my experience trying to turn dirt with a green sod layer is a real bitch. Maybe your tractor that is much bigger than mine is the difference? Just thought I’d mention.

Nothing wrong with turning the dirt in my opinion…especially with your soil type. I have the same soils in Wisconsin and get some beautiful plots by turning the dirt down 3-4”. Yes, I buy some fertilizer but in the big picture of cost with the property and hunting gear, fertilizer is pretty a small cost to pay to get a good food source.

There are zero no till farms in my area that I have ever seen, and those guys do this for a living. I just like to play farmer on the weekends :)
 

Rit

5 year old buck +
I’ve never ran a tiller, more a field cultivator and drag flat guy…are you able to till a field with that much sod/thatch without spraying it a couple weeks prior?

In my experience trying to turn dirt with a green sod layer is a real bitch. Maybe your tractor that is much bigger than mine is the difference? Just thought I’d mention.

Nothing wrong with turning the dirt in my opinion…especially with your soil type. I have the same soils in Wisconsin and get some beautiful plots by turning the dirt down 3-4”. Yes, I buy some fertilizer but in the big picture of cost with the property and hunting gear, fertilizer is pretty a small cost to pay to get a good food source.

There are zero no till farms in my area that I have ever seen, and those guys do this for a living. I just like to play farmer on the weekends :)
The short answer is I hope so. I don’t think it’s an actual sod layer that has been laying roots like in pasture for 10 years. I spayed and killed half the field on the 19th of August. I have had various forages growing over the years. I am hoping to scratch up the top layer. I might be in for a long day. Good info.
 

SD51555

5 year old buck +
Waitin’ watching the clock (or weather channel) it’s 4 o’clock, it’s got to stop……

I went out yesterday with the rotary cutter. But before I went out with it I took a little ride on my JD 26 HP lawn tractor just to see what it would do. Comical at best. So as I continued to mow the other half of my plot that thatch took a toll on my rotary cutter. It bogged it down often when I tried to mow the debris. This is a 61hp tractor with over 50 horses to the PTO. Houston we have a problem. No way no how am I going to be able to drill into this let alone make sure that everything is dead underneath. The other half that I drilled on August 19th has germinated but mostly in the space between the windrows. So I sorta have unplanned 30+ inch rows. I’ll have some radish, WW, WR, Oats, spring peas, beans, sunflowers, and some annual clover on that half but the volume will not be very good. Some of the sorghums are regrowing and I didn’t get all the broadleaves.

This isn’t my forever farm and I like killing deer a whole lot more than it will bother me to disturb the soil. I am looking hard for a decent two day rain event. It’s mostly dry in the near future but we all know that can change quick this time of year. It appears the last of the 90s will be ushered out sometime next week.

When that’s gone and we get rain I am going to till the field for a few reasons. 7 years ago when I last disced the soil I didn’t do such a hot job and I have a field full of speed bumps. Not to mention water pools in between the speed bumps because my water infiltration is well below average. You wouldn’t know it looking at it due to all the vegetation but if you drive east and west over the field you bounce at a good clip and if running the drill you can see it causes the seed tubes to drop seed that doesn’t drop into the cutters trench. Tilling the field will allow me to smooth it out.

I also have surface compaction there is no denying that. I need to break that up period. In my mind at least tilling the entire field it will tear up the debris, alleviate the surface compaction, I’ll have outstanding seed to soil contact, and I won’t have to be concerned with weeds. If my seeds sprout and get ahead of the weeds great. Another thing I noticed is that Johnson grass has a stranglehold on my field. The root structure of these plants is smothering everything I plant out. What I have been doing isn’t working so it’s time to try something else. With no food right now outside of a few strips of clover the deer have all but abandoned my property for the Ag fields. Even though it’s a little later than I have ever planted I am hoping that if I can salvage a good plot once they start taking down the beans and corn I will have a good draw at just the right time.
It's an ugly thing having to make an opening, but it's gotta be done, whether that's tillage or chems. The most honest out there will tell you there still needs to be some disruption to be able to change things. Worry about the holistic practices after you get the current problem under control.
 

Tree Spud

5 year old buck +
It's an ugly thing having to make an opening, but it's gotta be done, whether that's tillage or chems. The most honest out there will tell you there still needs to be some disruption to be able to change things. Worry about the holistic practices after you get the current problem under control.

^^^^ this is spot on. There is no absolute correct approach to every food plot. The process to develop your field needs to be adjusted based on onsite conditions.
 

Wind Gypsy

5 year old buck +
It does fantastic spreading out the material evenly.

Edit to add, thus far I have only used it to mow weeds, willows, and the prior year’s rye. It’s the only mower i have so I expect to suspend it a little higher to clip weeds over perennials too. The YouTube videos match what I’ve seen in practice.
Thought of this thread when mowing reed canary grass today to prep for a row of spruce trees in the spring. Works like the YouTube videos show.
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SD51555

5 year old buck +
That is the tool. Looks fantastic!
 
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