Soil Health Friday -Integrating livestock – 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.


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