Equipment for Small Acreage – UTV/ATV
A small acreage in food plots can be planted with UTV/ATV and manual material spreading equipment. We have tried some of the ATV discs and have had them broken on the first field. Discs are made to condition the soil and prepare a seedbed and not to plow. The Kunz Engineering chisel plow is a real plow that works with an ATV. We have used it to plow cherty upland soils and have “plowed out” softball and football size rock chunks while using this chisel plow. In reality you could plant an unlimited number of acres of food plots with ATV equipment but in practice it seems like 5-6 acres would be a reasonable upper limit for acreage to plant. The steps for planting a food plot are included elsewhere in the Learning Center. The following are equipment that we have found to work well in planting a food plot. We have found that combining tractor and ATV equipment especially when 2 or more people are available to work can work to plant as many as 4-6 acres in one day.
- Walk behind bush hogs can be used to mow down existing vegetation. They cost about $1500 to $2000. They can sometimes be rented at home supply stores or equipment rental stores.
- Kunz Engineering (we sell these) has 44″ and 57″ heavy duty pull type rough cut mowers. These mowers are capable of offset mowing as shown in the picture to the right. In addition, the mower can be set for 2″-8″ and the adjustment is very quick. Trails are mowed as close as 2-3″ and perennial plots at 8″. The pull type mowers provide a very even cut. They can be attached to a bush hog and offset to increase mowing production for every hour spent.
- An over the shoulder seed spreader can spread fertilizer in small areas and /or areas where it is hard to get your ATV in or hard to push a walk behind. Be sure to rinse with water upon completion as the fertilizer is hard on the spreaders.
- Walk behind spreaders work fine. Our staff prefers to use them. Be sure to use a very heavy duty one. Cheap ones are just that. Buying a good one is money well spent.
- Tow – Behind spreaders also work very well. If you are traveling over rough steep trails to reach the food plot then it may be best to load the hopper after you reach the food plot.
- ATV Mounted 12 Volt Spreaders are excellent spreaders. Again you get what you pay for. Some models can be controlled from the seat of your ATV.
- NOTE: Earthway makes quality spreaders and we carry them.
- The only ATV plow that we have tried that works even on rough soils is a Kunz Engineering (we sell these) chisel plow. We have used the sand bag weights. It will take at least a 350 cc ATV to pull. Mix the tine types on the shanks with every other wide being the wide spade type and the other being the straight shank. Try using a 3:2 ratio with both types of tines being the 3 and the 2.
Seed Bed Preparation and Seed Covering:
- Large seeds need to be covered about 1/2″ to 3/4″. This is most easily accomplished with a pronged chain link type drag harrow. These can easily be pulled by a 250cc ATV. A drag harrow will help smooth the field with regular use.
Spreading of Seed:
- An over the shoulder spreader is a great way to spread seed. Several acres of seed can be spread in an hour’s time.
- After spreading your final seed there is one final critical step. This is cultipacking the seed. Culitpackers push the seed into a firm contact with the soil which is a critical step for a high percentage germination rate. Culitpackers also provide a seal to the soil thus reducing moisture loss in the critical surface area. If cultipackers are run on the contour of mild slopes the ridges formed by the cultipacker will reduce ersosion from water runoff. In addition, the ridges will melt with rain and provide additional seed cover. Culitpackers can be pulled by tractors or ATV’s. An ATV is preferably in many ways as the footprint of the ATV is also just right for firming the seed contact with the soil. Hitching the cultipacker up to either an ATV or tractor is better if the connection is loose so the cultipacker rolls somewhat with the ground.