I have two properties, 120 acres of which I maintain 7 acres of one continuous, winding plot, and the three acres we live on that has approximately a one acre plot.
I have seldom worked all seven acres in one year as the plot is split into three different plant offerings consisting of a combination of perennials and annuals. Another 10 acres are crops planted by a pro.
Installed my first plot in ‘96 with a rototiller hand seeder and rake. Killed a gaggle of turkeys and numerous deer off of it. Today, I think I am just a frustrated farmer as most of my plot work I could have my farmer do it and minimize my own equipment needs, storage etc.
Guys like Troy are great at improvising and keeping equipment cots down, but I lack the skill set and time to do that. Maybe a discussion on this can help those getting started narrow down what they really need versus what they just want?
I would most likely be able to do without a tractor, just an ATV, broadcast seeder, sprayer and drag. Might have to wait on my farmer some, but it would have save a lot of money. Obviously though I do not have the acreage in plots that many of you maintain.
On 680 acres I have 200 acres tillable that is generally wheat, milo and beans. I have 2 one acre food plots and one 3 acre plot. 1 acre is on my acreage that is in CRP and required to be planted every spring to maintain the CRP contract. Either the farmer plants it to beans when he does his planting or if he can't get to it, I broadcast milo.
I have 1 acre that is in white clover right now and doing well. The 3 acre plot was in alfalfa, which was great but it aged out last year and will be something else this year.
On a 345 acre place I have 2 plots about 3/4 acre each. Generally wheat and turnips on both
On a 240 acre place I have one small plot, maybe half an acre. Wheat and turnip here as well.
I can do all my food plot work with a 1985 (35 HP) 1050 JD that cost me $6500, 6' disc, $200, 5' bushhog, $800, 15 gallon ATV sprayer, $200 and a pull behind fertilizer spreader made for a garden tractor, $60.
Most of my plots are disced up then I broadcast the seed behind the tractor or ATV and then lightly disc it again. It's all fairly simple and cheap.
My goal with food plots is to have something around for them to eat year round so they don't have to wander off and look for food. I don't hunt the food plots and have never killed a buck on a plot. It's all about keeping the does happy and at home.
You can do a lot with just an ATV and fertilizer spreader and sprayer but having a small tractor, especially one with a loader is very useful.
First year, last year, I maintained about 4 acres using a plotmaster and ATV. The soil is sandy so the all in one plotmaster worked fine. It didn't do so well the year before on hard packed soil on a different property. We went with a 4x4 mix(4 annuals/4 perennials) on the feeder plot and buck forage oats on the hunting plots. The 4x4 did exceptionally well whereas the BFO not so much. Leaving the 4x4 plot alone and likely overseed this fall, going with a Sweet 16 summer mix on 2 of the smaller plots and buckwheat on the others. Buckwheat will be overseeded with clover(Ladino and Red/Crimson) in the fall.
This year, I ran into a new problem using the ATV seed spreader on the front to spread some pelletized lime. The spin plate sits kinda low and the 4x4 mix has hairy vetch which is coming on like crazy but it's a climbing plant and would get caught in the spinner and stop the motor.
Bought a 34 hp Kubota with a front end loader along with a 3pt fertilizer spreader but didn't have with me for the lime so ended up hand broadcasting a LOT of bags. The tractor in combination with the ATV will be perfect for our setup. ATV for the sprayer is fine and we use it to pull the cultipacker. Our goal is to have enough equipment for 2-3 guys to be working at same time(tractor, 2 ATVs, 2 cultipackers and 2 spreaders).
There aren't many ag fields within 5 miles of our place so hopes are to provide enough year round forage to hold does and bring in the bucks during the fall.
Acquired over the years: Massey 135 tractor, 6' bush hog, 8' disc, 10' cultipacker, 8' seed drill, 2 row planter (seldom used since purchasing the seed drill), shoulder harness seed spreaders for the small stuff, 200# pull behind rotary spreader (fertilizer & lime), 25 gallon sprayer w/6" boom mounts to the 4 wheeler, 6' chain link fence drag (seldom used since obtaining the cultipacker). Gets the job done...
120 acres, no ag - 5 acres food plots
130 acres, 40 acres ag - 2.25 acres food plots (adding 3 acres next year, and maybe 3 - 4 later).
40 acres, no ag, 4.5 acres CRP - 2.8 acres food plots
70 acres, 60 ag, 1.5 CRP - no food plots (plan on converting the CRP to a food plot in 2 years)
ATV, hand and ATV sprayer, spread lime/fert by hand, bag seed spreader, old farm drag, lawn roller. In the past I've hired a neighbor to till, I do the rest. This year, going to no-till (for the most part). I tested last year, worked great!