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No Till Food Plots - So Easy

jagermeister

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For anyone that cares - I got to be on Jared’s podcast Habitat Podcast - talking about our fall mix and our one-two system. Also what we strive do offer as a company that helps us stand out from the crowd. Happy Friday!!
I haven’t managed to snap any recent pics, but my plot of Nitro Boost is doing quite well. The buckwheat is about knee high already. And the soybeans in the mix have really taken off this week. I’m looking forward to the fall blend as well.
 
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at1010

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I haven’t managed to snap any recent pics, but my plot of Nitro Boost is doing quite well. The buckwheat is about knee high already. And the soybeans in the mix have really taken off this week. I’m looking forward to the fall blend as well.

That is great news!! The buckwheat and sorghum really jump out of the ground once it sets roots, the beans seems to catch up, especially the EAGLE beans as they are such a great forage bean!

I can say in the last 5 days or so, the browse has really increased as the plots are getting to that ultra palatable stage.

Shoot me a text and some pics when you get a chance, brother!
 
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jagermeister

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That is great news!! The buckwheat and sorghum really jump out of the ground once it sets roots, the beans seems to catch up, especially the EAGLE beans as they are such a great forage bean!

I can say in the last 5 days or so, the browse has really increased as the plots are getting to that ultra palatable stage.

Shoot me a text and some pics when you get a chance, brother!
Sure thing buddy! Yep, I’ve seen several deer hitting my plot this week too!
 
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at1010

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Soil Health Friday -Organic Matter

As the soil health movement permeates into food plotting, gardening, etc. the key metric for success seems to be more fluid than ever before. One that is often thrown around is the increase in organic matter, relative to a previous soil test. My goal in writing this is to get the reader to think a bit deeper about how soils function and how OM is built over time.

What does Organic Matter do for our soils?

Organic matter is the humus layers in our soils. This is inherently high in Cation Exchange Capacity (CEC), this allows our soils to hold nutrients. Organic matter is a carbon source and storage vehicle as well, which if not carefully monitored through crop rotations, we can mine with our own microbes’ appetites. Organic matter allows for good water infiltration and will become mineralized per annum, releasing nutrients in bio-available forms to the next crop species to be grown.

Organic matter, in the past, was thought to take centuries to build, but that has been disproven in highly diverse systems, with enhanced microbial populations, and often heavy animal integration- in rotational and controlled grazing systems.

What Organic Matter isn’t-

Organic matter is not indicative of our soil’s functionality, microbial or fungal populations, and communications. We must keep in mind that OM on soil test readings can be extremely variable, especially when sampling procedures are not followed with ultimate precision. Even in areas where we have relatively high OM, we can still see where these soils are heavily reliant on human inputs to yield the grower's goals. Although these OM releases are likely to aid the crop in some way, if the crop and the system in which the crop is grown are reliant on inputs – the overall benefit we get from our natural OM releases will be stunted. There are also areas where our CEC and OM are extremely high, these can often be defined as MUCK-type soils. However, unless we are in a position to run tile, to help with the water drainage – we have reached a point of diminishing returns relative to our goal for higher OM and CEC and yield outputs.

So why is this important to understand and consider?

  1. Don’t feel you are failing if you are not seeing OM increases in a year, I like to track OM for quantifiable nutrient releases over a growing season and to see if I can notice a trend on a 5–10-year program.
  2. Be very leery of anyone telling you to use XYZ input, seed mix, etc., and claiming quantifiable OM increases, in the short term. Ask how the sample was taken, from what locations (same year over year), what depth, shovel, or soil probe, what time of year, what planting methods and mixes have been used over the last 3 years, browse/grazing pressure on the area, etc. Again, soil tests to show quantifiable OM increases need to be scientifically controlled to reduce variability.
  3. Keep in mind Newton's third law- every action in nature has an equal and opposite reaction. Although Newton was referring to physics and not biological processes, there is something to be observed here. Every input, tillage pass, seed mix, etc. have an impact (equal or opposite reaction correlative to our goals) on our soil’s profiles. An example, I often see recommendations for large amounts of manure or chicken litter to be spread to help increase OM (specifically in sandy or rocky soils). On the surface, this sounds appealing, but what we must keep in mind is the nitrate level of these manures and how that might be impacting our microbial populations, nitrate leaching, Calcium on our soil colloid, and plant-to-fungal communications. After large manure applications, these plants now have ample nitrate available (this is somewhat variable depending on the quality of the manure) the reason for the plants to pump exudates and communicate with the microbiome is now stunted. This is reducing our bacterial to fungal communications, which slows our mycorrhizae growth and creation of glomalin – biotic glue that helps create soil aggregates. Soil aggregate creation is extremely important, furthermore in sandy soils! I am not saying we should never add manure or other inputs, but we must be cognizant of their additional impacts on the soil profile, more is not always better. OM is not the only thing that will help us to create a functional soil profile. Organic Matter is a byproduct of a functional system, over time.
So, what can we do to manage our success?

  1. Focus on the 6th soil health principles - https://www.noble.org/regenerative-...h-principles-for-regenerative-cattle-ranches/
  2. When soil testing, take a look at your nutrients from year to year – are they increasing? Decreasing? Why?
  3. Consider a soil health assessment from WARD labs – this type of test is going to give you biological and conventional indicators of your soil’s health. These can be done year over year, to help track multiple indicators of soil health and the overall health of your soils system. https://vitalizeseed.com/product/ward-labs-soil-health-assessment/
  4. Take a shovel into the field and observe the soil. What does it look like? Smell like? Do you notice an increase in earthworms? How does water infiltrate after rain?
  5. Consider how you can use mixes that balance your C: N ratios of plant species, in highly diverse fashions. We have done this for you at Vitalize Seed with our One-Two System! As we increase our soil functionality and nutrient cycling through correct Carbon to Nitrogen balances in our soil profile, everything from increases in nutrient densities, pest resistance, and yes even OM over time.
  6. Don’t overlook the importance of your base saturation balances on your soil colloid and how that can benefit your soil structure.
  7. Don’t get discouraged!!!


Most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process. Continue to learn, ask WHY, and enjoy every day you get a chance to focus on soil health.


Thank you for considering Vitalize Seed as your seed source.


Sincerely –


Albert
 
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at1010

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Knee high by the 4th of July - the Sorghum in our NitroBoost understands the assignment!! This growth continue to impress me this year!

As you zoom in and see the diversity and every area we have to capture sunlight is being utilized
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at1010

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Soil Health Friday -Integrating livestock - but we just have deer!!

One of the 6th principles of soil health revolves around integrating livestock. I’d argue this gets most often overlooked as most don’t have livestock to graze. What if we do have whitetails – can we make this work? Often it comes down to grazing pressure. Various studies show photosynthesis stops when fields are browsed past a certain %. Eventually, these browsed plants will never recover. When our plants are not photosynthesizing, our microbes are not being fed.

This is one of the benefits of planting a diverse and balanced Spring/Summer mix, we use our Nitro Boost to feed the soils and deer. Although it’s highly attractive to whitetails -its heterogeneity, at a time of year when deer have ample natural browse, allows even small acreage to grow great above and below-ground biomass - maximizing photosynthetic capture.

We suggest following this mix with our fall mix (carbon load). Carbon load is heavily focused on carbon biomass creation, which feeds off the N (and other nutrients) that have been fixed through the previous planting. Carbon load is highly browsable and cold tolerant, which allows us to extend our photosynthetic capture - into the coldest months of the year. This further helps to sustain our microbe populations that were fed all summer from the previous planting, supplementally driving our nutrient cycling, through balanced C: N ratios.

The ultimate goal of any well-managed whitetail farm is to ensure we have ample native browse all year, but as hunters, we all still want to attract deer to our Summer and Fall fields. The good news is when deer are urinating and defecating in these fields, this is adding organic matter to our system - this is a WIN! However, this win, does come with a caveat, and that is, it is only a win as long as the deer are not removing more than what is being grown.
As land managers if our goal is to grow the healthiest soil and deer, this is where we must emphasize monitoring browse levels (both native and food plots). If we are observing deer removing far more than we can plant - we need to consider increases in harvests quotas or planting more food - often both are necessary.

Remember, photosynthetic capture is our conduit for feeding microbes, and building soil over time. We cannot rotationally graze whitetails, but we can monitor our native browse and food plots, and manage our grazing/browsing pressure with a trigger. This will create healthier soils, and wildlife, and provide healthy protein for our families.

As always. Get outside and enjoy the process!

Thanks for allowing Vitalize Seed to be considered your source for cover crop seed mixes.

Albert
 

at1010

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Here is a great example of how a diverse, no till system - can add a ton of food in a small area. This plot is about 1/10th of an acre. We no tilled in with a 2 row planter and broadcasted over the top. No fertilizer has been put down here! You can see the sorghum, buckwheat, sunflowers, clovers, beans, etc. all popping and with the amount of diversity it’s handling deer browse well! I Can’t wait to plant the fall blend to really step up the diversity!
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at1010

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Just saw the notice my fall seed mix is going to be shipped.
when?
roundup first or just broadcast over the already seeded area?
help?

Hey buddy! I am going to have all the pre-orders ship tomorrow!!

As for planting, that is up to you! You could
1. spray and broadcast
2. if no major-weed competition, broadcast into standing spring mix
3. broadcast and mow

Lot of ways to skin this cat! Let me know where I can help. thank you for business!
 

at1010

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SEED IS IN STOCK FOR ONLINE AND DEALERS!!


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at1010

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Soil Health Friday – NO TILL ALONE, ISNT ENOUGH!

One of my favorite things to do is pull soil samples and send them to Ward Labs for analysis. I have been blessed to manage the same farm for over a decade. The fields, and results – although improving – are far from surprising. This year was different, this year I got a chance to help manage a brand-new farm in NE Ohio. Everything about this farm is different, from the topography to the soil types to the surrounding agricultural practices. Once we found the 3 acres we were going to plant and bush-hogged off the area, it was time to get the soil probe out and take some samples!

As a point of reference, you can see the soil results above. Due to this being a brand-new field and fairly sizeable, I divided this into three, one-acre sections. Then in each of these sections, I took multiple samples, to give me a solid grid collection area within the sections. I am very happy to see the consistency across the field and results (this implies that my sampling techniques were homogenous and we don’t need to remove any outliers from the equation).

Now, this field has not been farmed for decades. The majority of the farm is heavy brush and brambles, with a few intersecting tree lines full of oak and hickory trees. We carved out this small section to create our 3-acre food plot. One might assume, due to the promotion of no-till, that this field would be loaded with nutrients, I mean – it hasn’t been worked or planted in YEARS, right? Wrong!!

Let’s dive in - although the above-ground biomass and root structures are going to eventually release nutrients, we are in a major nutrient tie-up situation here. Woody plants have been growing and absorbing nutrients for years. The lack of N fixing plants in the field further reduces its ability to cycle nutrients – as we want for a crop or food plot production field. Although this field has been “not tilled” for decades, without the focus on C: N rotations and nutrient cycling, all we have accomplished is bio-mass buildup and tie-up.

How do we know we are having an N tie-up? Well for one the inherent makeup of the field's plant species were woody types, which are going to be higher in C: N ratios, which will take longer to break down. Correlatively to our soil test results, you can see our nitrate readings at 6inchs, are almost non-existent. Our organic matter percentage is decent but relative to the CEC of our soils, and the fact it has not been tilled in decades, further shows that just letting a field fallow, without management, will not build our OM. Lastly, as we look at our base saturations, we see they are not nearly where we’d like them to be for this CEC type, driving the point home further that leaving a field fallow for decades will not create good soil on its own.

So, what is next?

The first thing we will do is get lime down. The PH needs to be raised, as do both our CA and MG base saturations. Simply by getting our PH in balance, and our CA to MG base saturations, we will have a major impact on the soil structure and nutrient availability. This will not happen overnight but will be our point of focus for the next couple of years.

This year we were not able to get into this field for Spring planting. This field would have done very well with our Nitro-boost as it could use some legumes natural N fixing abilities. However, we need to work with the cards we were dealt, so we will be starting in the fall. We will be letting the grass green up and doing a chemical burndown in August. We will then seed our highly diverse Carbon-Load mix into the dying thatch. This will help to prime the pump, for next Spring’s Nitro-Boost planting. Due to the extremely low amount of nitrate available in the soil, no plantings being done before this fall planting to help promote N-fixation, and a large amount of high C: N biomass/thatch on the surface that needs to be broken down – we will likely use a foliar/starter N, humic acid, and micros application at the time of seeding to help jump start this degraded system.

Over time, by using no-till practices and our 1-2 system from Vitalize Seed that focuses on nutrient cycling, we will wean off the need for fertilization and only amend to balance CA, MG, and PH, on occasion.

Not any one soil is the same, but we love pulling soil samples and coming up with a plan based on the history of that location to ensure success for the growers.

Thank you for considering Vitalize Seed as your seed supplier.

Sincerely -

Albert
 

at1010

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Soil Health Friday –

7th soil health principle? My vote is – Nutrient Cycling!

We often hear the term “build soil” – I am guilty of using it far too often! However, when it comes to a garden, AG, or food-plotting situation it is not as much about “building soil” with a singular mix or planting, as it is about cycling nutrients between plantings. Building soil (increasing our OM, microbe populations, etc.) is simply a bi-product of sound nutrient cycling processes and following the 6 soil health principles.

When we focus on nutrient cycling, we always need to think one step ahead of the current planting. Here at Vitalize Seed we often refer to C: N ratios and the importance of this balance and cycle. We have worked hard to take the guesswork out of this for our customers, hence a Spring planting that feeds the Fall and the Fall planting that feeds the Spring.
As we go from one planting to the next, we need to think in terms of carbon and nitrogen ratios. If we have a very high carbon fall planting, and we follow it with another high carbon Spring planting – we are setting ourselves up for nutrient tie-up – this often leads people to bring out the tiller again! This in and of itself can reduce our ability to "build soil".

To dive into this more, we must remember that the average microbe is made up of 8:1 Carbon to Nitrogen. These microbes need a diet source of at least 24:1 C: N. Hairy-Vetch, for example, is only 11:1 C: N – this means if you have a mono-culture of Hairy-Vetch, you are likely going to have some hungry microbes on your hands, in the near future. These microbes can and will find a carbon source, often mining our own organic matter…not building soil!

A counter-example of this would be cereal rye as the monoculture cover crop, before corn or even sunflowers. Unless you plan to spend a lot of time and money on N fertilizer, you are going to have N tie up. You have given the microbes a significant carbon source, but not enough nitrogen to break down the biomass, this is assuming all no-till. If we add tillage, we can break down the bio-mass faster, but there are negatives that accompany that decision - another blog for another day.

What happens when we do cycle nutrients efficiently?

With our mixes or any balanced system, you can use biology to cycle the above and below-ground biomass to feed the subsequent plantings. This helps to reduce or even eliminate the need for synthetic fertilizers.

How does this work?

We are mining nutrients, making them plant available to the next crop, and assimilating some nutrients into soil organic matter structures through the work of the microbes (bacteria and fungi) breaking down the previous plantings. Due to the C: N focus of our mixes, we can be confident that as the beans break down from the Spring planting, a rye grain will be there to assimilate the nitrate, for example.

Likewise, due to the diversity, a turnip or radish will be doing work by sending a tap root deep into the soil, helping grab any additional nitrate before it leaches out of our system. Due to the promotion of no-till and diverse plantings, we are also promoting fungal system establishment over time, allowing our system to become even more efficient at cycling higher lignin-filled crops. These fungal networks continue to promote the creation of biotic glues that further drive better soil structure, and aggregation, which help to promote healthy microbial populations in our soil profile, driving better soil creation!

All this nutrient gathering and cycling leads to healthier plants, soils, crops, deer, etc., and reduces our needs for inputs.

Thank you for considering Vitalize Seed as your seed source.

Albert
 

at1010

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Vitalize Seed “NitroBoost” is rocking!!! Beans, peas, sorghum, vetch - etc. the legumes are fixing N and the other species are mining N. We will terminate this in a month and plant carbon load into this same field. No fertilizer has been added here. Just using nutrient cycling to feed the plantings. #soil #deer #foodplots #covercrops #diverse #foodplot
 

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