Much of the South is covered in acidic soils, because much of the available hunting land is covered in evergreen forests and high-organic soils. But hunters can still plant good food plots and attract wildlife by using the right plants and the right nutrient plan.
All food plots need a little nutrient supplement to kick off and maintain rigorous growth to attract wildlife and support re-growth from heavy browsing. However, some fertilizers can produce excess hydrogen ions that will further contribute to the acidity in the soil.
One of the best fertilizers to use for supplementing nitrogen to a crop is organic residue like cow manure or chicken droppings, but they are potential sources for excess hydrogen ions that will immediately degrade soil pHs.
Nitrogen is one of the building blocks required for growth. Other nitrogen sources commonly used for crops are anhydrous ammonia, ammonium nitrate and urea. While these sources provide excellent nitrogen transfer capabilities, they can have an acidifying effect, pushing a borderline crop into the dead zone.
Unless planting legumes, nitrogen is a necessary ingredient, but it is the ammonium in the fertilizers that acidifies, and the nitrite portion is more basic. Not all nitrogen fertilizers are created in equal portions. It is good measure to know the percentage of each in a nitrogen-based fertilizer. Also, nitrogen supplements formulated with calcium can offset the acidic effects. When available, calcium nitrate is a good substitute and can provide a good source of nutrition for growing crops without negatively affecting the soil chemistry.