Most novice ideology around food plotting and farming involves heavy tillage and pulverized soil. Following this, many believe a monoculture crop that is manicured similar to production agriculture is required to draw and attract wildlife. Did you ever stop and wonder, how did wildlife survive prior to man making things look "perfect"? The truth of the matter is, excessive tillage is not required to grow quality food plots and can be detrimental to your soil. So how do we shift our mindsets off of recreational plowing?
This week on the Pennsylvania Woodsman, Mitch chat's with Al Tomechko from Vitalize seed company. Al has built his company around the foundation that better soil builds better wildlife. This is not achieved by any miracle juice, pixie dust, or magic bean planted from overseas. It's achieved by using plant species designed to cycle nutrients in the soil - the way the Great Plains were made over thousands of years. Al discusses how minimal soil disturbance, timely planting, and species management all aid in mining nutrients to the soil surface, making them plant available. The deer and wildlife don't care if the buffet you provide looks messy - a plethora of plants is preferred! Enjoy this soil health and food plotting discussion between two soil nerds, it might help you make better food plots!
[00:00:00] Welcome back to another episode of the Pennsylvania Woodsman Podcast, guys. It's just one of those nights. I am recording our intro on Wednesday night, and it's always interesting in our house. Bedtime has been quite a mess at our house here lately. I, we just can't seem to get our kids in a routine where they're sleeping and going down easy.
It keeps like it's getting later and later fun times. So because of that, I'm gonna keep this intro on the shorter side and let you guys get to it because this is a little bit of a longer episode and it's a detail-oriented episode. This week we're talking with Al to Meko from Vitalized Seed Company, and Al is somebody who is self-taught in a lot of things when it comes to soils, plants, plant, animal [00:01:00] interactions, food plots, farming and he's a wealth of knowledge.
He truly is. He's surrounded himself and done his research at the right places and surrounded himself with good people. and he is full of information. He's somebody that you would definitely want on your side when it comes to learning about food plots and making quality decisions for your own food plots, whether that's seed or just assessing the soil test.
And we're gonna be talking about nutrient cycling, plant health plant animal interactions, doing it in cost effective ways with low inputs of synthetic fertilizer use. And just a general soil health discussion. And I'm gonna give you guys a warning upfront. If you are newer to food plots or you're, you don't nerd out about this stuff, quite like Allen, I do, this episode might not be for you because it's, it is pretty detail oriented.
We go down some rabbit holes in the world of nutrient cycling. What it means with carbon and nitrogens ratios and how that works with the soil and how [00:02:00] we make seed blends that meet this and no-till. And like I said, it's a detail oriented, an upper level conversation.
Maybe two, 300 level type conversation, I would say in the world of food plots it's a great one, Al's full of knowledge and I loved recording this. This was a great conversation. I plan to have al on for more talks because he's just, he's a fun guy and he's got a lot of knowledge. So I think you guys are gonna really value this as we approach food plot planting season.
Maybe you're thinking about how to make one step better in your food plot planning program and this could be an episode that helps you get to that. So let's not waste any more time. Let's get right to it.
Hey everybody. Thanks for tuning in and I have another fantastic guest with me this week. Somebody I've been back and forth with and texting a little bit here and there. And been looking forward to having on this time of year to talk about the wonderful topic I love and it's food plots. But we have a lot more to discuss cause we were yaking each other's ear off for [00:03:00] quite a bit before we got started with this one tonight.
But I've got Al Temeco from Vitalized seat. Al thanks for taking the time to to chat with us. Absolutely. Thanks for having me on buddy. It's always a joy. This is the time of year where I'm thinking a million things when it comes to what I would like to do, leading it, like I always do this, like the season closes for hunting season and I right away go into next season I'm thinking I'm gonna do this.
I got, and I start writing lists down and I'll be going through maps and, okay, this is what I noticed when I was walking this portion of the property and I'm gonna try to convert this to this. And here it is, we're almost into March. And I can tell you that list that I've done and created has almost nil, nada.
Nothing has been done to it, just with the busyness that we got going on. But what's been going on in your world? Yeah, it's the same buddy. I've had three or four times scheduled to, to get out. Either do some shed hunting or just, field scouting or whatever. Looking at browse pressure, browse lines.
I like to try to get out February, march time. Look at [00:04:00] not only food plot browse, but also native browse assessments. I wanna run a chainsaw, , I wanna do all these different things. And I think I've struck out on all three attempts in the last few weeks that I've, I just, stuff has come up, what have you.
It's a busy time of year, it feels like after the holidays, it's man, it'd be great to get out and shed hunts or do this or do that. But then at the same time, The phone doesn't stop ringing. For the full-time job, for the comp seed company job for your buddies checking in, whatever it might be.
There just seems to be a lot going on. So hopefully here starting this this weekend, be getting into some some TSI projects for I, I have the farm and equip, contracts for nrcs and TSI is a big portion of that. After the invasive removal was done. So that's the next step in our project.
Good deal. I'm going through this phase and I've talked about it a lot on the show where, I know busyness at work, busyness of family. I'm trying to adjust my priorities and I'm, I am really trying to curb that, but I also, I don't wanna make excuses for just not doing stuff. And I don't want to [00:05:00] get into like a.
like a groove of just being lazy and pushing stuff to the side either. Like I, I realize as I'm going through some of these changes in life, like my mental toughness is not what I thought it was. And trying to curb my mental strength into being a busy individual, getting all my work done, and a resp being a responsible adult and still driving forward to be a better bow hunter, be a better deer hunter, be a better property manager, and food plotter and agronomist and all those things.
And that's been a struggle in and of itself too. And I know we were talking before who we got started. You're a relatively new dad, man. Tell us a little bit about that before we get rolling onto our rabbit hole discussion of whitetails. One of the benefits of, my buddy Jared's podcast and ha we have Habitat Chat, which is just a group on the, on Facebook, and then of course the seed company.
is getting to know people from not just, Ohio, where I'm from, but from all over the country, right? Look at you and I talking today. That just is some, a [00:06:00] byproduct of today's social media, which say a lot of negative things about social media. But some of the cool things that have happened is the fact that you can meet people from all over and you learn how are you managing?
This I know guys who have 500 acres in Iowa and, they're very successful from a financial perspective. , they're two or three hours from their property or they own a business and it's super busy, or whatever. And it's how do you do it? And I know guys who have like my buddy Jared, he has two twin girls and a little boy, all under, I think he's three kids.
I think the girls just might maybe turn seven or eight. Busy as heck, so my point is I've got to pick a lot of people's brains. And what it really comes down to is how bad do you want that, right? And how bad do you really want to get that work done? And it might suck.
If you're an hour or two hours from your property and you got a Sunday or a Saturday, or you take, you got a Tuesday off work, depending on your work schedule, it's really [00:07:00] easy though, man, I haven't had a day off. I'm just gonna take today to sit on the couch, the kid's not around and just hang out.
But for me, what I've done is. If I got a chance, whether it's a property 15 minutes away or two hours away if I got a day off, I really try to make the most of it. And if that means getting up at five and get out the door by a quarter to six and driving a couple hours and working all day and coming home or whatever it might be I try to make the most of that.
So that's one. And then of course the next is just planning trying to plan ahead, trying to look at the calendars that really makes a big difference. And as we get closer to planting season as as an agronomist, planning is super critical. You don't want to get out to the, your property.
Okay. It's, oh, I forgot my c or I forgot it, my spread or I forgot. You have to really have that checklist, be it mental or literally a physical checklist of saying, I'm planning, I'm ready to go. And that's something, for me, like I mentioned, I'm gonna be doing some TSI this weekend.
I have my saw. Oil [00:08:00] chaps, helmet. I have a little tote that I keep, like extra chainsaw chains and tools in. It's all in the truck packed. I packed it this afternoon actually, because I wanted to make sure that there's nothing I'm forgetting. If I wait till I'm walking out the door, I'm gonna forget something, right?
So those little types of things can just make your day and time so much more efficient when you do get that time away. from your little ones or whatnot. Yeah. And I think one thing you mentioned there too is, picking the brain and modeling off of other people. People drive motivation sometimes or help get I love surrounding myself with people who are driven and motivated cuz it motivates me.
But, going down, you're talking about getting ready to do some TSI work and planning season stuff around the corner. Why don't you do a better job of introducing yourself than I did from the standpoint of how'd you get started with Vitalized seed and what's your segue into property management, private land manipulation and food plots?
Yeah I'll try to be somewhat brief. I started hunting at a very young age. My my grandpa actually was [00:09:00] and dad actually was born in Cambria County, Pennsylvania. West southwest, central Pennsylvania, I guess you could say. Grandpa was a coal miner and world War II veteran, and lived a good, long life.
He had passed away at the age of 97, but he, he was a huge influence on my life. Actually, I'm named after him. His name was also Albert, and he was a big deer hunter as most people are in that area of Pennsylvania specifically. It's a really deep heritage of of deer hunting there as is most of the states.
That was a big influence on me. We grew up he, we take go rabbit hunting all the time, so I always was hunting and we hunted a lot of public land. We had some small private land he could hunt, but a lot of 'em had a lot of permission already granted. So never really had my own piece of property to hunt.
, but that enough. I bow hunting through high school and all that, and just small little permission spots, here and there I go to state land or whatnot. And we ended up as a family buying a cabin and some property. Had a barn on there gosh, [00:10:00] 15 years ago now.
And we just fell in love with owning the property. Dad, my, my dad does not hunt but I have some uncles who do and cousins and such. And we always I would say I led the charge, right? Guys like to hunt, but I like, the habitat, like I was, before we even closed on the property, I was trying to understand more and more.
I guess at that time I would've been. I don't know. I was like nine, 18 or 19 years old. Okay. Maybe. So we started looking at this property and learning more and learning about timber contracts and all that stuff. And did have some areas we could do little food plots. It's in eastern Ohio, so it's really heavily timber, like people think of Ohio a lot of times and it gets this false idea of just oh, Ohio, that, must be all agricultural ground.
It's Yeah. Certain pockets are heavy agriculture. Yeah. Beautiful soils southeastern Ohio and in the foothills of Appalachia is not necessarily known for either of those . Yeah. It's [00:11:00] beautiful. It's absolutely breathtaking and beautiful and my, like I said, my grandpa was a coal miner, Appalachias always held a really special place in my heart.
I remember going back into the coal mining town and stuff when I was a little kid seeing my great-grandmother and stuff. So it's always held a really special place in my heart. But from a soil fertility perspective and things, it can be pretty rough growing conditions, and the terrain can be pretty rugged and such.
So yeah, I mean we had some food plots or areas that we could, put in food plots and we started just doing it the traditional way, tilling I was on the Q D M A forms, trying to just absorb, and just There were so many things, Mitch, that were contradictory of each other, yeah. People having different mindsets and doing this and doing that way and going back and forth. I, picking part information from people on a forum is mind boggling. It. And yeah. And I felt like back then it was because of my limited experiences, right? There was just so [00:12:00] many experts and we have that today with Facebook and stuff, it's not that and the thing is nobody does these things with, a malicious intent, I don't think. Nobody's intentionally, but there's an ego driven behind it too, in a lot of cases. There is. And, I tried to look past a lot of that and just, I wanted to learn, yeah. And there was guys saying you gotta do this and you have to sweeten your soil and you have to use fertilizers for this, and you have to do that, and I. I'm like, okay I'm doing all this stuff. I'm spending this money, we're growing great fields. But it's gosh, to till, we got up to the point we were tilling, I don't know, maybe five acres, something like that with, but minimal equipment.
Yeah. It's all, and it's all broken up. Yeah. It's not like you're tilling a five acre totally flat field where you're like, oh, this is okay. You're till, in two acres here that's on a contour, downward 45 degrees slope, and you're having to, keep the bucket on the tractor, all these things, right?
And you're like, [00:13:00] man, that took a long time. And then you have to drive back up and around and off to the road and over to the other field, and it's by the time you do all that, it took an exorbitant amount of time. Oh, tons. And then you don't hit the rain or whatever. So it's man, this kind of stuck.
But overall we had pretty good food plots. What really shifted my. I would say we did that for probably about five years, and over the last six years or so there was a few years in between where I said, all right, I'm just gonna start doing like colver monocultures, cause I can't, I just don't have the time to maintain.
Then it was like, you get on the forms, it's you need to spray, do 4d, you need to three, collect them. You need to mow three times a year. Don't mow it. You don't do mow it. Like it was so much different information on there. And then in all honesty, because of the area in Ohio that, we're in you don't have a lot of, row crop agriculture, but what you do have is a lot of cattle pastures.
So I didn't see a tremendous amount of draw to monoculture, cloverfield and even though it's big timber country, in all honesty, [00:14:00] like the areas that are open, if it's open and sunlight gets to it, you probably have clover , like of some sort, okay. So we just didn't see this tremendous amount of draw to these monoculture Culver fields.
And that was a little disheartening, right? You're like, man, I got this beautiful green field. Could be on the cover of a magazine and where, where are the here? So I wanted to add more, and I heard guys talking about winter rye and I heard guys talking about radish. And I guess all of that long story to tell you that I started adding rye in radish in turnips to my clover.
The, my monoculture are Cloverfield and guys told me, oh, you can't do that. Has to have perfect seed soil contact. It's not gonna work. And sure enough it did, and you. Rott your expectations, but I remember being like, I'm just gonna try this and mow the clover off, and see what happens.
Maybe the bush hog scrapes the dirt a little bit and exposes some seeds and we get some good germination. The first year it was really interesting because I remember going back in the spring and that fall, [00:15:00] obviously hunting over. And I'm like, oh man, that ride didn't take, and that kind of stinks and whatnot.
And then going back in the spring and being like, oh my gosh, there wasn't a weed in the Cloverfield and this winter ride had shot up. It was just beautiful. And I'm like, so I started learning about allopathy, right? Like allopathic traits of rye grain. What's it doing? Root exudates and the body of the rise that decomposes is suppressing, some of these weed seeds from germinating.
Yep. . All of that being said, we were fortunate to, to add more land. And I really started getting into, I was reading a lot more. What about regenerative agriculture? About really started in a lot of the regenerative agriculture. Soil Owners manual the classics like the Gay Brown, the Soil Owners Manual.
Listen to Ray Arch, CTA on YouTube. I started there because I'll never forget, I, we added quite a bit more land than we had owned previously. And there were some bigger areas for fields, and I knew that the deer are, were already in these fields quite often, and I'm like, if [00:16:00] we can plant this, it's gonna be fantastic.
. But I'm like, all right, now I'm doing, 10 acres. Eight, eight acres, 10 acres, whatever, twice a year. So you're doing 16 to 20 acres of food plots a year. I'm like this is. This is a lot, this is a lot of property to, to do and I pulled soil samples and I looked at the cost it was gonna cost me just to do a spring planting according to these soil tests.
And. I said, okay, there's gotta be another way, , another way for deer food plots to get more out of the, out of this soil. Yeah. So let me make sure bef I'm sorry to cut you off there, but I'm just making sure I'm cap because a lot of people would hear what you said earlier and talking about a food plot.
Like I was growing good food plots, but I wanted to make a change and make an adjustment. A lot of people, if they've, if they're, if they hear that they're growing a food plot the way they're doing it, they don't see the reason to change. Now, am I understanding you correctly that your motivation behind going down the [00:17:00] pathway of no-till regenerative ag and that's let's just call it the soil health route, that was your motivation solely driven upon trying to find a simpler way to cover that many acres?
Or did you have other motivation behind that method of application for planting and things like that? . Really good question. One, it was covering more acreage. Two, although the fruit plots looked great, I didn't feel like the attractiveness is where it should have been. And I didn't understand why, like even soybeans, right?
Just singular monocultural soybeans. I'm like, I don't, you were in 'em, right? But I'm like, I have a high peer density, why are they not hitting these even harder? So I'm like, something just seems like it's missing. And then last. , I have always been obsessed, and I think a lot of that was probably driven or influenced by Q D M A, but by this idea of like organic matter, right?
Organic matter was thrown around. That was a buzzword for sure. Oh, back 10 years ago, it still is. Don't feel bad. Okay. So I felt like I was so [00:18:00] influenced by this idea of organic matter and more so this contradictory information that would come out is you gotta till it in to get your organic, you gotta incorporate it, right?
That was a, I don't think anybody really says that anymore. , although maybe you hear it, but that was a common one. Oh, in order to get your organic matter up, you have to it in, and other people said never till and stuff. Then I started asking the questions. I put things in clover monocultures, right?
. Cause people said, don't kill. So I put in clover monoculture and three years later four years later, I pulled my organic matter and it was either had decreased or it it stayed the same. Yeah. But I think most of 'em had decreased. Yep. And I'm like, wait a second. And then I started asking, I remember specifically, I won't say any names, but I had asked some different people within Q D M A and which is a great organization, oh, absolutely. I remember them just scratching their head I'm like if all we have to do is not tell, why don't, if I walk out of my yard right here and pull a soil sample, why is the organic matter? 300% that gra all we've done is mowed the grass. Why isn't it just [00:19:00] going through the roof?
So if something's missing here. So there was a level of interest, there was a financial piece, right? , I'm like, I need to do more acreage cause I have a high gear density. I need to do more acreage and I wanna expedite. and then, I continued to start to get more and more interested in that regenerative agriculture piece.
Cause I felt like that was the method that I could do, get the most bang for my buck. Maximizing nutrient cycling, nutrient density, but also attractiveness through multiple times a year. The last thing I'll mention on that particular piece is that was another big thing that was popular back 10 years ago, and I'm sure you remember this, is guys would say I do Nebraska plot, or I do a Clover plot.
And they'd go Nebraska's are good from this date to this date, and the clovers are good from this date to this date, but you've never covered all of the season. And you'd then be like when, where are you? How do you know what exactly when to hunt where? What if it's a warm day? What if it's this day?
And it, it always seemed. , it's just difficult to keep track of a lot of that stuff, right? Like, [00:20:00] where am I gonna hunt? I have deer pulling this way this time of the year, then back this way, this time of the year. And it just seemed like too many choices, in my opinion to, to then try to also, instead of if you do want to uco the fertilizer route, now you're fertilizing for a crop that's gonna be there for a short period short window versus overall, like the overall idea of I idea and function and focus on soil health.
Throughout multiple grow growing seasons, because it's a mixture of crops, right? So all of that just appealed to me and made sense yeah, let's look at this. I started using the term so I'm sure other people have as well, but I started saying, stop calling food plants. Let's call 'em wildlife pastures.
Because it's I want this diversity of a pasture, it doesn't have to be row crop agriculture, that's beautiful, right? It's perfect. It's precise. , but it's okay if this looks like a mixed mosh pasture, that's fine. Let's add that diversity and cycle nutrient. So that's how I got to that level.
Hopefully I answered your question. You absolutely answered my [00:21:00] question. And I'm gonna say this plants that we, any plant, whether it's a food plot or a native plant, a plant is a nutrient exchange portion of exchanges, nutrients to the animal. And that is basically what you're doing you're trying to make an attraction, the more attractive plants are gonna have better nutrient quality.
And there, there's a couple different ways to go around that, but I like your approach in, in what you're saying with cycling different plants through. So let's go down that rabbit hole of. , what exactly is Al getting at with these plants talking about mixing plants and cuc cycling nutrients?
First of all, how does that work and why would I care? And I let you take it off on that generic statement. Yeah. Again, it's a great question. So I guess you should care because I haven't used Ounce a fertilizer. I've used Lyme, which there's a whole discussion there. If we want to talk about Neil Kinser, Dr.
[00:22:00] William Albridge method is to, should you consider Lyme a fertilizer or not? But we won't go down that rabbit hole today. But I have used Lyme, but other than Lyme, and that hasn't been used very much , I have not used ounce of fertilizer in six years. Okay. And I've done that simply through nutrient cycling.
What that means is the first off, the best way that I can explain. Start off to understand nutrient cycline, you have to understand carbon nitrogen ratios. And the easiest way I can explain carbon and nitrogen ratios is one, every plant species has so many parts, carbon in so many parts, nitrogen, right?
And every microbe is made up of parts of carbon and parts of nitrogen. And every microbe in order to survive needs so many of both in order to sustain their biological vigor, if you will. So when you take a monoculture of clover, this is the best visual I've [00:23:00] ever come up with. So if you have a better one, please share it.
But if you take a monoculture clover field and you spray it with Roundup, and you come back two, three weeks later and you looked at that field, You would expect to see almost bare dirt there. There would be very little there. Any, anybody who's ever killed off Cloverfield knows it shrivels up and there, there's just not anything there.
And you ask for why. It didn't blow away, right? It's because clover is inherently low carbon, two nitrogen products. So it's gonna break down faster. Those microbes are gonna consume it. Now, in the bad thing about a carbon monoculture Cloverfield is now that it's all consumed, those microbes are gonna be looking, they're gonna, first off, they're gonna propagate, sign up, they're gonna be going, we need more carbon.
We got all this nitrogen, and there's a bunch of nitrogen. So where's the carbon? Which is why you can actually see a decrease in organic matter, because now they're gonna turn to your organic [00:24:00] matter and you literally can mine it out your soil. So that's why like it is important to understand carbon and nitrogen ratios.
Now, to explain this a little bit further, let's use that same example, but let's. Picture rye grain. If you got this monoculture rye grain and you spray that sucker down with Roundup and you come back two weeks later, your mind is probably picturing a pretty thick that of rye grain still sitting there.
It didn't go anywhere. And you are like why is that? It's just heavier. It didn't blow away. No, it's because it's such high carbon and nitrogen that it simply can't get cycled by the nutrients they need n in order to cycle that high C or high carbon. So first and foremost in, in order to understand how can we have plants extracting and then cycling nutrients from one mix to the next mix, we really have to have that preliminary concept in our minds.
So like what we do at Vital [00:25:00] ic, we have a spring mix. It's more heavy in legumes. I always tell people we are trying to keep ice use nitrogen because I think it's the most frequently talked about. Sure. But this, we can talk about other leachable nutrients, but for sake of time and understand that it just stick with nitrogen.
Like nitrogen goes through a cycle, hits nitrate. When it hits nitrate, it's either, assimilated or it's leachable, in general, right? In every soil pipe C level, we're gonna have variability there, but let's just assume that's true. So we wanna keep nitrogen in the cycle. So what does that mean?
In our spring mix we have legumes in there, beans and peas and sun, an American joint vet, and gosh, cow peas, et cetera. , a bunch of other stuff. Then there's also. Why don't you just plant all that? Because those plants don't need a ton of nitrogen, right? So you also have your barleys and your sunflowers and sorghums, because we're trying to capture from our fall crop, right?
So our fall crop has been terminated. Our spring crop, we call it nitro boost, has been planted into that [00:26:00] fall crop. Now, that fall crop's gonna start breaking down and releasing nutrients because of the end fixation that's happening. A deer comes over, they bite this off. There's n on the roots. That piece of the roots maybe dies now end's released into the soil profile.
There's all these things that are happening. Microbes are living, dying, et cetera. Instead of letting that nitrogen, that the fall crop work through the clovers, through the breakdown of dry grain, et cetera, to totally leak out of the soil profile and lose. That's why you have this mix of lower carbon nitrogen and higher carbon nitrogen or unloving plants or end scavenging plants, be it sunflower, sodom, et cetera.
So we're literally keeping n in the cycle. At the same time, we're giving the microbes a system that's going to help break down that previous crops, higher carbon nitrogen ratio being pumping in into the system. Through the use of legumes. So that's really critical. Now, like our system, we [00:27:00] use, we call it carbon load in the fall, nitro loose in the spring.
So you're really, the first year or two, you're just getting the system primed. You're your Nitro boost is pumping a lot of end carbon load needs a good bit of end, but it has some legumes in there too, like peas and clovers and such. You terminate the nitro boost, you plant the carbon load, the Nitro boost is gonna break down relatively quickly, but you're not gonna lose a lot of those nutrients because you're gonna have Nebraska's and the Greens and all this heavier carbon nutrient scavenging materials sucking that nitrogen up before it leeches outta your profile.
So what happens is you heavily reduce, and again, it really depends on your soil type. I hate it. It's oh, just do this. It's a magic pill. Like I have CECs ranging from 8.8 to over 16. Okay. Pretty nice soil. Overall it's not overly heavy. It's not overly light, it's it, if [00:28:00] this c was a two, we might be like, oh, it's gonna take some time before we're totally weaned off, any type of fertilizer or what have you. So I like to really be transparent in this, but. . As we cycle these nutrients and do these things, the system gets more and more efficient. Here's where the caveats are. Mitch. One, like I said, soil type size of the food fields. . And the reason size comes in is brow brush.
Oh, absolutely. A lot of people overlook. You simply can't, I don't care how diverse your mixes are. I don't care how much above ground biomass you're creating above ground biomass, you're creating, if everything's walking off the field year after year, you're. You're just losing a lot of biomass, and you're Oh, absolutely.
And let's dive into that a little bit, but I wanna make sure I'm recapping this. So if people are listening to this and you're you're not into this in as nerdy as Al and I are. Cause we, we love this stuff. You talked about [00:29:00] clovers and peas and stuff. They have a natural state where they're higher in nitrogen versus carbon, then likewise you're talking about a grass specific species and that's gonna have a higher natural state of carbon.
One thing that would be another thing that would probably start to confuse people and. I'm not sure what the best way to navigate this is, but the timing or the growth stage of a plant has a direct impact on the amount of carbon and nitrogen in a plant new, for instance. You talked about your analogy with the clover.
I would compare that to just Ry or wheat in general. I'm gonna put my agronomy hat on for a second. So we did some projects the other year and did some testing of cover crops that were going to be killed off. And nothing was gonna happen to 'em other than recycle back into the soil and we're gonna plant a cash crop of corn.
And we tinkered with the timing of when that cover crop was terminated and tried to gauge okay, how much of the nitrogen that was in that plant is released and how much of it's actually gonna become plant available throughout the growing [00:30:00] season. And we did that by just taking samples of the plant matter at the same location throughout the entire year.
And on onto the topic of timing. When the rye or the wheat, that cereal crop is green and actively growing and it's in a vegetative stage. It's got a lower carbon and nitrogen ratio. Then when it does, when it's in a reproductive stage. And that's why when har, let's just say you harvest corn rye grain or wheat combine, you get straw.
And that's high in carbon, but that's the same plant that broke down really fast when you killed it at a vegetative stage. So what I'm getting at when a plant is terminated on a certain time, it's gonna release nitrogen. Maybe a little bit quicker than if it has a higher carbon and nitrogen ratio.
That's one thing I think is hard to understand when you're first starting out, is timing is a big deal and I know with your mixes and your approach to nutrient cycling, timing's a big part of this too. So I had to throw that little caveat in there with [00:31:00] that. No, I think it's a great point. Absolutely.
Great point. Yeah. Your spring mix and you were talking about capitalizing and the mixes you have keep going with that. I probably threw you off pace a little bit, but we're talking about nutrient cycling, not putting it on and you, we left off with deer brows and deer pressure.
So one of the things I struggle with is on some of the places I have is I have a lot of deer and people think, I've been in this situation where you go down this rabbit hole of trying to no-till your plants and have fall and summer mixes and then and everything else.
And you think because you've got green plant matter in there, you're just building nutrients and that's not the case. Continue on with that. And help us understand why the browse pressure is so critical for assessing nutrient cycling. Yeah, I don't have any.
robust studies to, to, cite or anything like that. But there's a couple things there's a couple things I can reference that I know to be true. I think it was [00:32:00] Oklahoma State did a bunch of research on paddock grazing, which is just a fancy term for controlled cattle grazing. Okay.
And what they found was that once a plant was browsed, pasted a certain point, and I don't remember all the specifics, but maybe it's when 30% browsed, it reduces its photosynthetic capture and root exudation by X percent. So there's a direct correlation that the more it's browsed, the more photosynthetic capture is reduced or root exudates are reduced.
What happens, what also happens is once it ros to say 60% or 80 per, I think it was 80%, the likelihood of that plant ever growing back. Is very minimal, right? And of course there it varies slightly by plant species and stuff. But this was a very controlled study done on cows specifically measuring photos, synthetic capture.
Or root exudation. So what's interesting about that is like with [00:33:00] beer, you hear this term like, oh, they ate everything lip high. That is like a common term. Guys will say, old girls will say, what about a deer plant? Oh, they ate everything right to the dirt. It's all lip high, whatever term you wanna say.
And it's not only is that pla just cuz it's green, it's probably not photosynthesizing, even if it's still alive, probably not very well, which means you're microbes aren't getting fed. , you're not solubilizing. Nutrients and deer don't defecate like cows. Like they just don't. So a lot of that is getting dropped elsewhere.
These, the deposits that you are getting are dropped elsewhere. Sure. So it's literally walking off of the field. , so that's some things to keep in mind that I haven't seen, the other thing to keep in mind is like when you look at the six soil health principles, which we don't have to go through all those but one of the most common ones that guys hear is integrating livestock if you have that option, which is amazing, right? It's a very cruel idea. One of the most overlooked aspects of that [00:34:00] in regards to how Deere can be used as livestock is the control. So like when you're integrating livestock on multiple pastures and you're having a mob graze, let's say one acre blocks, but those cattle are eating, Soil A and let's say soil A is inherently high in phosphorus and you have this diverse blend and it's just sucking solubilizing phosphorus like a son of a gun.
And now the cows have been moved cuz you're moving 'em, Mitch, right? You're moving and now they're on paddocks or whatnot. B field B. And then on this one acre, and now those cows are eating and defecating and everything. Now this field B is gonna have a different nutrient profile, it's gonna have a different pH and it's gonna have a different c, e c likely and maybe it's high in iron and other micros that the other field wasn't high in it.
Or zinc. There's a lot I know, and you probably see it the phosphorous, the zinc ratios [00:35:00] that are talked about a lot on corn. And now those cows are moved back to field A and they're defecating and urinated. So the, that's a very controlled way of moving nutrients. Whereas with deer, we just simply are unable to move nutrients that way.
We're in a situation where they come on and they eat and they leave. So in my opinion, I'm not a guy who's oh, you have to shoot every dough, but there are a lot of places, I always say in the Midwest, but I know in your area too, high deer density areas. And it's like we either need to shoot more deer, plant more food, or in a lot of places we gotta do both.
Yeah. And if we're not maximizing that and listen, I'll be the first to tell you I failed this year. I planted more food than I ever have. I got there October 20th. I'm like, how did I no-till drill things. And we're like, on, on my, the first field I checked, right? I'm like, did I have something wrong on the drill?
I panicked for a second. I walked over to the exclusion [00:36:00] fence and it was like October, it was mid-October I think. I can't remember if it was, I think it was the 20th, like I said, but I could be off there, Mitch. It was a 12 inch difference. The ra cuz inside the cage Were beautiful outside.
It was, it looked like I had drilled it three days before. Yeah. That's mind boggling. And that's really poor. So in a sense of, from a simple mindset, you'd think, man, I accomplished my goal. I created food. They ate it. And that was great. And it is, don't get me wrong our goal is to create, attract and create food.
But when you're looking at food, soil from the long-term sustainability in that field it's important to understand that. The quote like you, the quote unquote lip high that you just said is not good for the soil. There. There's a lot of disadvantage to that from a nutrient standpoint, from a root mass standpoint, from all kinds of standpoints.
And it is really tough to manage. I will be the first to admit that I don't have the answer for some places because I mean for, I, I'll just [00:37:00] speak from my own area. It's so segmented and parcelized and there's so much emotion driven behind how you should handle deer and as far as how many you should shoot and some properties like it's just impossible to get enough food planted on.
And even though you maximize the health of landscape, let's say you take a property that's, and make it a diamond in the rough and everything's surrounded, you're gonna create a void in the general area. If it's a high populated area, that's gonna suck to the highly attractive plot and it's gonna decimate your resources anyway.
It's just, it's a complex moving part thing that it's really difficult to manage, especially on your own, especially if it's a small property. But you try to do everything you can. Absolutely. But I think that's why, so like for us, we have we try to add a lot of ving type. Like for example, in our spring we have lab, so we have these beans and these peas, which you'll vine and create a little bit of a mess versus a straight lines of beans.
So one, it makes the deer work a little bit harder, but then you also add things that necessarily aren't an ice cream [00:38:00] crop. Like we have grain sorghum in our spring mix. Now you and I know based on our previous conversation, why is it? Because we're trying to capture nutrients, yeah.
They're solubilized before it leeches outta your profile. But there's also this idea of. They're likely not gonna carry all that. So so cra ORMs, it's working, it's taking up nutrients, it's assimilating all these nutrients. It's solubilizing other nutrients that other, plants are taking in.
It's helping to connect fungal networks between all of the diverse mixes. Like all this cool biological stuff is happening. So another conversation for another day. But going back to the conversation we just had, what's definitely not happening, if it is you really have a problem is that grain sore going, that whole stock and stuff is not getting eight and walking off the feet so you are going to have nutrients that stay on that field, and that's where even like rye grain even if, a lot of biomass is getting removed, a lot of biomass is getting removed, but at the end of the day, when it comes back next spring and it's more lignin filled or higher carbon and [00:39:00] nitrogen as you were describing earlier, like the deer are not gonna eat it.
You are still though, with the rod mining that soil in some sense throughout that whole time, it's getting eight. If every time it grows an inch, they eat in an inch, it grows an inch and eight at an inch every time that plant needed to create that inch. That's nitrogen, that sulfur, that's amino acids.
That's all of the things that are needed to create Plant proteins are now fed into animal, which is then created into, the room it creates animal protein. That, that's the basis of life is, proteins are the building blocks of Right life. Or amino acid is a building blocks of protein, which are building blocks of life.
That's why I'm, I love, the diverse mixes obviously a vital I see. We're huge on it. We think we can definitely impact. I've seen on my own farm, positive, reduction in fertilizer and inputs absolutely unequivocally can do it. But you have to keep in mind that. , every single soil and situation is slightly different, and you have to adjust based on your situation.
[00:40:00] Yeah. Let me give you a situation then also let's, how do you handle that standpoint from regenerative ag and using plant? What if you have a soil that's extremely depleted? Like we're talking about stuff that's a really low pH phosphorus that's negligible and potassium, that's negible and it almost like we're just in, in bare just deathly low nutrient soils.
How do you approach that? Do you see a way to jumpstart that? Is synthetic fertilizer an option in your mind, or are there things we can be doing from a plant side of things that can slow, that can advance the process? What, what's, how do you handle that? So I do think I, I do believe strongly in blending.
conventional agriculture ideologies and regenerative agriculture for exactly what you just stated. I will mention this, I do think that, and maybe I'm wrong, but from what I've seen, I think that [00:41:00] we highly underestimate the ability for what plants can pull out of the soil. Absolutely. Yeah. I think that we, Dr.
Rick Mulvaney has done some studies for anybody that's still elicited just , if you're listening by this point, you are a diehard, yeah. Yeah. I think Dr. Rick Mulvaney out of is it Illinois? Illinois University. University, Illinois. Ha has done some studies on potassium, Dr.
Christine Jones which is a microbiologist out of Australia has done a lot on the phosphorus paradox. There's a lot of information out there. It does this, we did studies last year where I took a three by three cover crop sample from two different fields that are about a quarter mile apart.
So like different soil types. One was an old logging deck. And when I sent in that cover crop sample of our Nitro Boost, we had 45 average between the two samples, 45 pounds of nitrogen. We had about 25 pounds of phosphorus. And we had [00:42:00] 85 pounds of potassium. And neither one of those soils have had ever had an ounce of fertilizer.
So that goes. Now nitrogen, we know we can pull out of the air. So that one's okay, it's gonna get assimilated because you're gonna pull it outta the ear. And even if you didn't plant anything, you'd probably have natural, legumes fall in into a field there and start fixing nitrogen.
But the other two really. That was impressive. 85 pounds of potassium on a soil that has, a base saturation of potassium between two and three and a c of wow. 11 to 12 shoot, Mexico. Where did that come from? Was it microbial biomass that was decomposed? There's so many rabbit holes that again we would talk about that another day, but it's so I think that plants are underappreciated in that sense, in their ability to dominate.
I also think that microbes are a little bit I've heard some people start talking about should we start counting the microbial biomass as a nutrient source? Now remember in what I just shared with you, that was only the above ground bio. [00:43:00] That didn't not count below root structure that didn't count nitrate levels that, I had that whole spring and summer.
I had a heavy Lego plant species growing that didn't count any of the end fixation that was occurring at the root nodule that was just above ground biomass. And then that doesn't count any of my organic matter mineralization and or the previous thatch that was still on the field from the fall planting before.
So you start, going, like you were saying, adding all these numbers up, you're like, man, I don't really need it to be verbalized. You're like this is gonna work really well. Now going back to your question, if I have a guy or girl and they call us and they're like, man, I gotta a two c e c soil.
And I'm looking at the soil test and they're pounds of nitrate at six inches is one. Yeah. Whatever. It's highly degraded. . I personally don't have a problem with using synthetic fertilizers because to me, I think you have to jumpstart that, that pro, that process.
Now I think there's a [00:44:00] lot of, and I think it's getting better every week I think there's a lot of really good organic sources. We could have a down discussion on the sustainability of some of those sources. , there, there's, that's like the counter-argument is, yeah, you're not using a petroleum source product, but you're using something that's not sustainable anyways.
And it's still needs a ton of fossil fuels to, to source it. So really is it that organic , there's that whole discussion. But I do think that's worth talking about too. I think what I'm interested in some of those low c e c soils cuz I think those are probably the toughest.
I could be wrong, but to me, when you get a guy with a one or two, it's basically beach sand. , and it's like even those for deer food plotters, it's like, how much time do you got? Because if you can fold your feed 'em, feed the plants, if you have the time to spray every two weeks, like you could probably really get that soil rocketing.
I also think looking at Michael Rizal innoculants on, on the seed is a really good [00:45:00] idea. Trying to jumpstart that biology in the soil when you're getting those things started. So not only are you creating above ground pretty biomass that looks good, but also trying to get that, that fungal network started, right?
And a little bit calculation I think could go a long way. There and then obviously you gotta on those soils, tillage just is not really an option. If you're gonna do it once, get it done and sell the tiller, because after that, like you've got to just. Keep roots in the ground and keep that system going.
And if you have to fold your feed or synthetic fertilizer to get that thing going, do it. But I think the biggest thing there is just come up with a plan is how you're, how are you gonna approach this, I love that Al, I think you hit the nail in the head. So when I take this back into production agriculture you know that we have a pretty good reliance on chemical fertilizers oil, synthetic fertilizers, chemical use is pretty high on the fields.
Yeah. We might see some more expansion in cover crops. Our [00:46:00] neck of the woods in southeast Pennsylvania, it's probably one of the highest areas in the country for use of cover crops after conventional corn and soybeans, and it's fantastic. The thing people have to understand when you're thinking about this from an agronomic perspective, we demand a lot out of our soils from yield because yield is a very important contribution to profitability.
And you're creating a double edged sword. You want to be profitable, you want to drive yield, and you want to do so in a lot of agronomic ways, but in order to maximize. Try to maximize a cover crop that might be very difficult to do due to the length of your growing season. Now, I have a grower that I've worked with a little bit over the years, and he's extremely he's doing so many wonderful things on his operation.
A as far as regenerative bag, he's doing things like putting corn on wide rows and putting cover crops in throughout the growing season. Then he's el incorporating cattle onto to graze that to help with the nutrient cycling [00:47:00] while still getting a cash crop off and tinkering with things like that.
And what he, one thing I've said with him and we've said together, you can put anything in a, into a depleted system and you can see a response. That's a, that's an important statement. But the other thing he said, and it was onto what you said about jumpstarting, he. , I don't think it's right that we have to have this mindset that there's one way or the highway to do this.
Blending things together in order to make it work is important. So he said, so if I'm farming in a situation that I don't want to till, but I've got a I've got a new farm I picked up, it's rugged, it's bumpy, it's all kinds of things, and the pH is a 4.9. He goes, it's important that I address the pH with lime, he said, and I might tell it that first year to smooth it out for the longevity of having a good field to work in.
Then building from there, and the same thing with fertilizer. If he can reduce the amount of synthetic fertilizer and just rely solely on animal [00:48:00] manure that he's producing on his farm or bringing onto the farm and supplying an or quote unquote organic form of fertilizer to his crop and reducing that synthetic, that's fantastic.
But if it's so depleted that he has to substitute it, that's okay. It's jumpstarting the system, it's working. So there's, all I'm getting at with this tangent, rand, is there's more than one way to skin a cat. Translate this into food plots. We've got a lot more flexibility in what we have cuz we're not trying to pull a cash crop and make money off of this so we can allow plants to do some different things without intensive harvest.
Is what I was getting at. So that's absolutely, that's my little tangent, but I think that's a very good point because I sometimes I've had to , I've gotten very uncomfortable on podcasts before where I'm having, we're talking regenerative and we're basically talking double cover cropping.
Yeah. And the seed system is, again, I wouldn't, I'm passionate about it, I love it, but at the same time, I wouldn't, I always say I wouldn't plan anything else on my farm. Like that's what I'm planting, or I wouldn't sell it if I wouldn't plant it on my farm, is [00:49:00] what I meant to say.
, and that's what I plant in all my fields. It gets the one due system and it's worked very well. And I'm expanding even more fields this coming year based on some things that have changed locally there and giving me an opportunity to plant a little bit more good deal.
But I hate this idea with regenerative agriculture that creates this polarization, be it in the food plot world, be it in the ag agricultural world. I've learned more from. 60, 65 year old farmers in southeastern Ohio who've run corn on corn for 60 years and 30 C e C soils, still moldboard plow next to a creek that I've learned from any book.
. And could they do things a little bit more I'm sure, yeah. But at the end of the day, having those real world conversations and you want to talk the farmer piece and understanding they're paying their bills, like understanding there's an inherent risk in cover [00:50:00] cropping or no-tilling versus what you've always done.
There's all of these other things to consider. So I always tell people, like even in the food plot world, if you're taking a step toward soil conservation, because I hate like the soil health term or even building soil, I used to have a, I used to say build better soil was kinda like my hashtag or whatever.
Yeah. But. I almost got away from saying that because I got so tired of it. And I always say now it's like any step towards soil conservation is a step in the right direction because if you're typically remote board plowing and now you're doing, vertical tillage on the corn and running the cover crop or whatever where you used to just till it or disk everything under, and now you got a tiller and you're gonna only do two inches.
Is it perfect? Probably not. But we might turn around in 10 years and find out that, we should have been planting things differently. Yeah. Who knows? So it's I just think that we, in order to have good progress, [00:51:00] we need to work together. And I really believe in what you mentioned that farmer said is one, blending ideas, two, not arguing with each other.
and then a as far as the food plot piece goes. And you know this a hell of a lot better than I do, Mitch, but it's like this idea behind comparing food, plotting to farming. I see it all the time, right? Yeah. No farmer wants to pay more than they have to for fertilizer. Let's keep that really clear.
And they're also using precision agriculture. , so explain a little bit about what that is, but like for me, right? From my basic understanding is like you are being as precise, right? Precision precise as possible with seed depth, down pressure rigging fertilizer biologicals, potentially infer on the sea.
Everything is a, closing, closing wheels. Perfect. You don't have any sidewalk compaction like it is adjusting as you go through the fields, right? Based on the different calculation and layering [00:52:00] yield data with all that that's quite a bit different than filling a bag of triple 13.
You're just wring it out there with a Exactly. Bag spreader and I tell people that because when you hear things like nitrogen volatilization, right? For food platters that might be a lot bigger of a deal if you're just going out there not incorporating the fertilizer. You don't have a growing root there that needs nitrogen.
You don't even have a plant yet. You're like, I've seen guys say, oh, I'm putting my fertilizer down. They're not planting for three weeks. Yep. I'm like, what do you do? Phosphorus, maybe potassium might be okay depending on the soil type. But like your nitrogen, it's in the Ohio River. It's Exactly.
So explain a little bit like, look, I'm like interviewing you now, but I think it would be helpful just tell a little bit about like how do you, if you were talking to somebody who'd never heard of precision agriculture, like. How do you explain it? Define it. That's a loaded question. And to keep it condensed, it can be difficult, but I'm gonna do my best.
So [00:53:00] let's just take a field. Let's just say it's a 20 acre field, which that's a, like a small chunk in your world over there in Ohio, but that's a big field here. So let's just take a 20 acre field. I know darn that be based on the terrain and topography and the soil types of our soil.
There's a lot of variation in that soil. And one area might be lower and a higher cc and one might be a lower CCC in Stoney or there, there's all kinds of shifting paradigms. So I'll do things like soil test different regions of that field and map it out in a gps. And maybe I do that based on a a whole bunch of yield data that's been taken.
A combine goes through the field. It's collecting data of how much crop is being removed in those sections of the field. You do that for a long period of time, numerous years. You start to. Develop trends in where's a high productive area and where's a low productive area. So then from there we'll say, okay, why is that happening?
So then maybe you test it for nutrients and things like that. Or maybe you're just realizing that the soil's that different and we need to put more [00:54:00] seeds in the good areas and less seeds in the bad areas. So what I can do then is develop a prescription precision ag and you can place lu nutrients at corrected rates in those, like at a fine tune rate.
Rather than just saying, Hey, this whole 20 acre field needs 200 pounds per acre of punish. Maybe at one end of the field it's getting 300 pounds per acre of potash, which is K two O potassium. And maybe at another end it. 75 pounds, maybe it needs none. Maybe we've got sufficient levels. So I guess in a short end nutshell, from the fertility end of things, that would be how I would describe it.
So when you get into that level of detail we're taking we're taking concepts from agriculture, but how much of that do you relate to in a food plot? A, a little bit, but it, there's a lot of differences there. And I think that's where the reason I wanted to ask you that is first off it's fascinating.
Oh, it guess. And also I think that [00:55:00] I see a lot of people get paralysis by analysis. When it comes to food plotting, right? I've seen people say, don't plant a mix because all the seeds need different depths. Don't, you can't run mixes through drills because the seeds need different depths, right?
Yeah. What are some other things, right? Some species are gonna outcompete, you gotta get your seeding rates appropriate and stuff like that, which I wanna say, I'll let you finish your comment, but that's one of the things I wanna wrap up with, but we'll circle back to that. So I always loved to learn from those who know a lot more than me, so I, I remember, gosh, a while, I started talking to farmers and all over, he's called farmer in Iowa. He's big at regen, ag guy doing a ton of crop cover cropping. And I'm like, how are you getting your mixes down? Cause they're beautiful, right? He's doing 60 inch corn. And so how are you doing it?
Oh, we we fly it on. I'm like, you just fly it on. . Yeah. We no-till our corn at 60 inches and come in a few months later. We just fly out our radish and rye and everything and it just falls and we pray for rain. I'm like, okay, it looks [00:56:00] great. Yeah, it works out real. Other times I, we just fill up the drill and go, yeah. We just get close to calibrated. And so I think that what happens sometimes is guys get so focused on this perfect idea, and one of the things that I think is funny is I'm for, I have a no-till drill. I'm fortunate I have a nicer tractor and everything, and it's but even then it's not precision agriculture.
There's contour to the ground, there's variation in soil type, but even with a no-till drill at, if you think you have your depth set perfectly just through driving, like you're going to have variation. And guess what? If you were running a monoculture or a diverse plant, things are gonna grow. So it's if you get the sea, I always tell people, what do you recommend for your mixes?
I go, if you're planting green, quarter inch to a half inch into the soil. Yep. That's it. And you're like, whoa. Really? I thought soybeans had to be, an inch and a half deep and covered up. I've dropped [00:57:00] soybeans out that rolled off the gravel drive and dam, soybean plant was growing.
Yep. Little balls of energy want to grow if you give them water, and especially in a decently high fertility area. So I just tell people like whether you have a no-till drill. Mitch, for years I walk through chest high rye and, Nebraska's and crimson clover and Harry vetch for my fall blend.
And I'd broadcast into it and I'd come back with just a bush hog and mow it off and leave. Yep. And the field looked. I still do that in some cases. Yeah. The field looked awesome. Yep. So it's , but wait, there wasn't this perfect seed depth. There wasn't this, there wasn't that. It's it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to be.
It just, you might now, one thing you will say, you might have to adjust seeding rates. You might have to go a little higher. Higher, a little lower. On our spring mix, lot of legumes, they can handle brows. Legumes can handle pretty tight growing conditions versus, say like Nebraska, so on that case, I tell [00:58:00] people you have a high deer density, lower food, you might want up the seeding rate, the plants per square foot, if you will.
And for the guy who maybe he's planting 10 acres, that guy, and, he doesn't have an overly high deer density. He probably can keep it at 45 pounds to the acre. Like those type of minor adjustments.
No. Nobody's gonna be able to tell you except you you just gotta get out and know your, like I can give guidance. Yeah, but I can't really tell you unless I'm driving the tractor for you. And looking at trail camera data and doing the browse surveys and looking at exclusion fences.
I'm not gonna be able to tell you, Hey, we need to up this seating right by X. I've just say that on the fall mixes. You gotta be really careful, guys. Love to just sling it out there if you want rasco and bold production and good top production. You don't want to overcrowd those particular species.
So let's wrap up with that because I think that's a great point. And if you're still with us, this is [00:59:00] probably the part we're gonna get into more of the hunting strategy, fall food plot stuff that everybody loves and craves. But Al one of the things that I've noticed, and it's annoying, is there, there's these mindsets of my way or the highway and the fall food plot setups, and there's a lot of competition that says we have to put certain mixes out a certain way, or we're not gonna have season long attraction.
If we don't do it this way, we're not gonna have season long attraction. And if you try to blend certain species together it won't work that, that it's a bad mix. I'll give you a good example. I've had people tell me that mixing a cereal grain with a brassica, like a radish, that's a bad mix.
If you ever see that mix, it's a bad mix and don't buy it, which is Not completely false, it's relative to seeding rate. It's very important in how you manage the seeding rate. It can be done I'm gonna use this example. So for dairy farmers in our area, it's very popular to just put rye out.
So for, to put a [01:00:00] lot of ryle, maybe 150 pounds per acre and threw a drill with raw, that's a thick crop. If you're gonna put in two pounds of radish per acre with that, they're not gonna be in the best situation to have maximum above ground and tuber growth. That doesn't mean for a food plot that they can't be mixed if you're doing things appropriately.
And this is my opinion and you can tell me if you disagree. I'd really like you to just say or go. The avenue of why do you choose the plants in your mix for the fall? Not necessarily from a nutrient cycling standpoint, but from a a deer hunting attraction at talk about the beginning of the season to end of the season, that hunting end of the spectrum that everybody, all the big wig hunters wanna talk about.
Yeah. So I forget about the hunting aspects cuz I'm so passionate about the soil. But I love , I do obviously love to hunt. And for our blends in specifically the fall blend, [01:01:00] we are a huge believer in diversity. I have 16 different species in my farmland. From a hunting perspective, what is most, most palatable early is a good bit of the Austrian winter peas.
, the oats, the grains. . And then of course Nebraska's do tend to come on a little bit later. I have seen where in people using our program we've only been in business now for just celebrating a year, but we've been using the mixes for years before that, and before we ever played on starting a business.
And what I've seen is as nutrients increase the palatability in browse building out of food , or food plot, excuse me, increases significantly. Like I, if I planted just Nebraska's, I'd be out of food back October 12th. Yep. So I took a picture the other night and it was February 22nd or 21st or 20th, I can't remember.
I had a bunch of deer feeding in the field [01:02:00] and you go how could that be? You got your grains that are still alive other than the oats will die off. . But that's why it's a very small percentage in, in our mix is I don't see a huge draw difference between winter orry, winter wheat, tri and oats.
So I have all of those in our mix for different root structures. Different different root structures, excuse me, different growth after spring greenup et cetera. And I also have clovers, crimson clover for example fixation, lanza, verine. That's all in fall mix.
I also have hairy ve so I have all of these things mixed, but the key, like you mentioned is the balance. So we had pictures of guys who had Nebraska bulb. , huge. Just, you're almost like, gosh darn that it's hard to believe of how big some of those were, purple tops. And we use a lot of forage Nebraska varieties too, that don't necessarily create a big bulb.
Are made for brows. They were, most of 'em were formulated for the cattle industry, like winfred, for [01:03:00] Nebraska's, collar collars, AP and turnips, et cetera. And we used a bunch of different things like that. And we're changing. So why is that important, right? Because you're never cleaning.
You're never cleaning the plate. You're never cleaning the plate. They can browse and browse it to, like I said, lip high earlier, right? That quarter inch off the ground. God, I bet you anything that as soon as you get a warm day and some sunshine, those are gonna try to grow. And they might grow a quarter inch and the deer might come back and nip it, but you've never wiped the plate clean.
And that is so important, not only from a deer health perspective. , right? Because you're just constantly giving them something to eat. Whereas it would just be a barren desert, had it been a monoculture of something, but also from obviously, as we mentioned earlier, a soil health perspective, trying to keep that living root in the soil at all times.
So my biggest thing for that is you're not gonna change everybody's mind. We have pictures. I've seen stuff that you've made, made your own [01:04:00] mixers or done whatever however you put your stuff together. And it's like guys are using diversity with a ton of success, a ton of success, and they're growing things together.
And the deer love it. And the biggest thing on that is if you think it shines during hunting season, wait till spring with these diverse bloods. Because if you think it's good during deer season, which it is, it's amazing. Wait till spring, especially if you're a Turkey owner. , when you have hairy ve with seeds on it and crimson clover and the bees are in there and the raging and the trita kale and the winter wheat are starting to go to seed head and they're at different heights and the turkeys are coming in nipping at the seedheads and the bugs and everything are in there.
And you're literally creating like a micro ecosystem within these fields where there's just good predators being bugs and everything coming in there. Oh, and then by the way, yeah, the deer's just gonna continue to feed. You can feed deer with a good fall food plot mix from fall to fall. [01:05:00] And that's honestly Mitch, what I recommend when I get a guy, he goes, Hey man, I got a quarter acre, and a high your, what do you recommend?
I'm like, here's what I tell you. Get a soil sample, plan our fall mix and leave that fall mix until the next fall. Terminate it and plan it again. I like that. because there's not a hu you're not gonna get sunflowers to grow in a quarter acre. Like you just have to be realistic for the grower's goals, right?
. So that's like what I would recommend for somebody doing that. And it's amazing the above ground biomass and deer that and other animals too that will utilize that type of. Al I couldn't agree more. And we've been rolling on this for a while, and I wanna be conscious of your time.
And the other thing I wanna be mindful of is the fact that people who are listening to this, if you're new to Food Plots and you're listening to this, thank you for listening this far because Al and I like to talk about this stuff. It's passionate, it's confusing it's a little bit it's a little bit [01:06:00] overwhelming if you're listening to this from a, from an outside looking in.
If you're somebody who's geeking out and trying to learn stuff about this all the time and you're into this stuff I think we did a pretty good job of keeping it structured and organized. But if you're looking at it from the outside looking in without a lot of experience, it probably just sounded like a mess.
Mumbo jumbo on the world of soil. But Al I love I love the stuff you talked about. I love the way you explained nutrient cycling. I love the way that you translated that into ways that a deer hunter and somebody who just wants to go out and make good food plots and have a. Good hunting season can relate to it.
That's what's most important, because at the end of the day, that's what most of us are trying to do. And I really like the way you you approach this. I want you to close us out with just where can people find more information about you, about vitalized seed or anything else you've got going on with within that within that entity?
Yeah, thanks a lot. This was a lot of fun and there's so many things to [01:07:00] talk about, right? We, next time we gotta talk about, nutrient uptake and protein synthesis in the plant and how that can, is more easily digestible. That there's so many things in how you can achieve that with really healthy soils, right?
, that's a whole nother discussion, but I, before I, I mention anything else about the seed company is I'd like people to realize, There are so many great resources today at our fingertips to learn. And I'm self-taught on all of this. I didn't go to school for agronomy. If you wanna learn about this stuff, Dr.
William Abrash, Ray Arleta on YouTube, ag PhD radio, contacting your local agronomist, contact a local farmer. Hey, what are you doing? How are you pulling soil samples? Contact the labs. I, we work with Ward labs that vitalize seeding. , I'm I'm sure they're hoping I get out of the business because I'm asking them questions constantly.
They're soil sciences or pH PhDs. They're brilliant people and nobody's just gonna wake up one day and go, yep, I [01:08:00] understand all of this. It just, it doesn't work that way. So we have to keep asking why. And by working together, asking those questions and reading various types of research from.
Various different areas is how we continue to progress our own knowledge and then we can share that with others. For myself, with the little bit that I've gathered, over the last 10, 15 years of being really passionate about this, I try to give try to give that back with our seed company, vitalize seed.
Trying to make it simple with the one two system. That's really how I try to give back on that website is I like, write a lot of blogs to try to explain some of this stuff and simplify it. Vitalize c.com, I think it's under the blog slash journal section. So that's really the best way.
Habitat Chat is my body's pockets habitat podcast. Habitat shots of Facebook group. We do a little bit there. Vitalized Seed is another, has its own page on Facebook and also on Instagram. I'm trying to think. That's really it, that's where I spend most of my time. [01:09:00] And I'm just happy to answer questions anytime, every email that comes through on the website I'm answering it.
So if you have questions, whether you use our mixes or not, I'm happy to talk with you. Happy to try to give you my advice on a soil sampler and whatnot. A absolutely. And please do reach out cuz al's a wealth of knowledge and as, as you can tell, extremely passionate. Al thanks for coming on the show.
I, I look forward to having you again and talking about more things, food plot driven. It's, I love it. It's just a passion of mine and I love connecting it to deer hunting, cuz let's face it, we all love shooting deer. Absolutely buddy, thank you so much for having me. It's really my pleasure.