The Pros and Cons to Food Plots - Think Outside the Food Plot!
encourage plants like foxtail, pigweed and ragweed to germinate. Consider disking and planting only half of the plot in the spring. Leave the other half idle, as it will provide excellent brooding cover and food over the next year. The next year, plant the idle half and rest the other half--flip-flop that food plot! Below is a great picture of an idled food plot on a conservation area in northeast Missouri. The old food plot was intentionally left idle. As you can see, the plot is full of partridge pea and other annuals. Typically you don't see this much partridge pea in an idled food plot, but when you do, there's usually a lot.
•Establishing food plots can create good hunting and viewing opportunities. This is the real benefit to planting food plots. Look at the back shelf at the local feed store. I bet there's a lot of specialty clover mixes for deer.
•Food plots are fun to plant and fun to watch grow.
•Long linear food plots around the edge or through a field can double as firebreaks when it is time to burn. Plan ahead. If you plan on burning in the fall or winter, plant the food plot to wheat that fall or only disk up half of the fire line/food plot. If you burn in the spring, the disked fire line will be ready for planting that spring.
Cons to Planting Food Plots
•Food plots are of no value to quail if the basic habitat requirements of bobwhite quail are not nearby. Planting a food plot is a waste of time if you do not have shrubby, nesting and brooding cover in the area. Look at the picture below. Will this food plot be of much value to quail during the winter? Probably not since there is no shrubby/low-growing woody cover nearby. There's not much nesting or brooding cover around either. I wouldn't count the food plot as being good brooding cover because there's not a lot of plant diversity in the food plot (my guess is clean tilled and heavy herbicide usage). Read about brooding cover on pages 7 and 8 in the Missouri Bobwhite Quail Habitat Appraisal Guide.
•Food plots will not make up for poor habitat. Realize time spent planting food plots could be better spent improving habitat on the rest of the farm. Create good habitat first