By Josh Boyd
The allure of hunting over a diligently prepared food plot is unmistakable. To the avid deer hunter, the thought of watching from a treestand as deer filter out into a lush green food plot is what dreams are made of.
While it would be nice to have endless time and resources available to plant such food plots, this is often simply not the case. Planting food plots can be an expensive and time-consuming affair. The price of seed, lime, fertilizer, and fuel for equipment can, and does, add up quickly.
This leads many on a budget to feel as if planting a huntable food plot is off the table. However, by employing a few money-saving tactics, you too can plant the food plot that you have always dreamed of, at a fraction of the cost that you likely thought possible.
Source Your Seed
Seed is never cheap. If you are in doubt, ask the next farmer you run into during spring planting season. While this tends to be a universal truth, there are still several ways that the budget conscience habitat manager can save a few bucks.
Perhaps the easiest way to minimize food plot seed costs is to source seed from your local agricultural co-op, as opposed to purchasing it in premixed food plot blends. While these blends are indeed often a great way to one-stop-shop, they are not typically cost-efficient.
Study different food plot blends that you are currently considering. Most will feature a label that spells out which seed varieties are included within. You can take note of these different forages, and often purchase them on a per-pound basis at a local co-op for far cheaper.
Another wonderful way to locate food plot seed for cheap is to find overstock from the prior planting season. This might take some calling around but is well worth the effort.
This seed can typically be purchased for a fraction of the price of what seed from the current year is being marketed at. While 1-year old seed’s germination rate is often said to drop slightly, a 10%-15% loss will not make or break your food plot like it potentially could a farmer’s crop.
Another great way to save money on supplies when planting food plots is to partner up with those local to you that are facing a similar situation. The saying, “power in numbers” plays a very important role in this scenario.
It is no secret that farmers who buy seed, lime, and fertilizer in bulk can negotiate pricing to a certain extent, this is not a possibility for most who are planting a 1/4 acre food plot.
However, if you are to round up multiple hunters in an area with the same intention, write down each individual’s supply needs, and place a single bulk order, a number of opportunities often come available.
This is especially true when an entire order of this nature is to be purchased from a single supplier. When a potential order of several thousand dollars is on the table, many suppliers are willing to make a few concessions in pricing in order to close a deal.
The savings on such a purchase then trickles down to every hunter who has joined into this purchase agreement.
Make the Best Use of Fuel
If you have spent much time on a tractor, you likely know all too well that most are rather fond of fuel. This can lead to quite an expenditure when attempting to plant a food plot and must be taken into consideration.
If you have a tractor of your own, minimize fuel consumption by being as calculated as possible as you work a field. If you are running a 75 HP tractor, you want to make the most out of every gallon of fuel that it burns. Running lap after lap around a field pulling a 5-foot disc might not be the best way of doing so.
Use the largest implement available, within reason, that your tractor can handle without laboring excessively. This minimizes the number of passes that must be made, in turn, lessening fuel costs.
If you do not own a disc large enough to accomplish this, an offer of some homemade jerky to the farmer next door will often go a long way to getting you one on loan for the afternoon.
If you do not own a tractor, and one must be borrowed or rented, attempt to locate a newer fuel-efficient tractor whenever possible. Modern tractors make better use of fuel than those of the past, primarily as a byproduct of increasingly stringent emissions standards. A tractor of this nature will typically sip a little fuel, as opposed to guzzling it to the point of leaving a hole in your pocket.
Food Plots on a Budget
While it is impossible to eliminate all expenditures associated with planting food plots, those who are thrifty and willing to go the extra mile can certainly save themselves some money. By utilizing any or all of the above-mentioned tactics, you might find planting food plots to be a far more economical proposition than you ever thought possible.