Food plots for wildlife

Help wildlife get through the fall and winter with a food plot. You can plant specific forages and vegetation for them, or you can make use of what’s already there on the farm at no or little cost.

Adam Janke is an extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University. He says weedy areas along the edges of fields, wetlands or idled areas in the barn lot provide many habitat benefits. There are plenty of opportunities in the pasture or crop fields as well.

"What comes to mind would be simple things like leaving a few rows of corn or beans along adjacent cover like fence rows or woodlot edges," says Janke. "They can make for a really important food source for wildlife during the winter. And, other things like cover crops could also be good wildlife forage."

There is no hard-and-fast rule as to how much to provide because every farm is different. He says the wildlife will tell you how much they need.

"If you left a few rows of corn, say, for pheasants or deer or turkeys or a bunch of things that would use them, you could go back out in the spring and see how much is left and the wildlife will tell you how much they needed, essentially," he says. "And if you find that maybe you left too much one year and there was still some corn left on the ear, then maybe next year you leave a little bit less, or maybe you’ll find that all the corn got eaten and in the future you can think about leaving a little more."

It’s best to have food sources close to where wildlife hunker down such as forests, windbreaks, and shelter belts. Winter cover is much more effective with a food source nearby.