The Best Affordable ATV Food Plot Implements

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The title of this story reminds me of a Steve Martin comedy gag that my brothers and I used to listen to on a record when we were kids. The title of the bit was something like, “How to Make a Million Dollars and Never Pay Taxes,” and it started with: “First, get a million dollars.”

Well, I’m assuming you already have an ATV, so I’m not counting that in the $1,000 mentioned in the title. I’m talking about attachments only. Compared to using hand tools, an ATV makes food-plotting infinitely easier and allows you to take your results to another level—but only if you have the right implements. And if you’re plotting on a relatively small scale, like most hunters, you really only need a few things. Just as important, they are not terribly expensive. Here’s what I recommend:

NorthStat ATV mounted sprayer on white background.
This 26-gallon ATV-mounted sprayer cost about $400 and can go anywhere your quad can. Amazon

If you’re on a really tight budget and you’re still young and full of beans, you can get away with just a $75 backpack sprayer. My hunting buddies and I did that for a while, but it takes a lot of time and energy. For around $400, or a little less, a 25- to 30-gallon ATV-mounted or pull-behind sprayer is totally worth it if you’ll be spraying large areas. A farmer friend of mine sprays over 100 acres of food plots every spring with a 25-gallon mounted sprayer much like the NorthStar model shown above. We don’t do nearly that much, but our pull-behind 30-gallon Filmco has allowed us to double or triple the size and number of plots we can prepare and maintain in our limited free time each year.

There are pros and cons to each type. A pull-behind model is easy to attach and remove, doesn’t take up space on your machine, and it gets you a little farther away from the chemicals. But—and this is very important—you will only be happy with a pull-behind if you are plotting on relatively flat ground. Otherwise, this type of sprayer is likely to tip over, repeatedly. If you’ve got a lot of uneven or sloped ground, go with a ATV-mounted sprayer, which can go anywhere your machine can.

GroundHog Max Disc Plow
The GroundHog Max Disc Plow retails for $349.99 alone or $399.99 with hitch kit (shown). Bad Dawg Accessories

You don’t need to turn over dirt to plant food plots, of course. Brassicas and cereal grains make for no-brainer no-till plots, and you can even do beans and peas with the right no-till system and cover crop. But I still highly recommend this disc plow. 

First, it really works. The big complaint about many pull-behind ATV discs is that they don’t weigh enough to really cut into the ground. The GroundHog Max uses the weight of you and your machine to solve that problem. The small size of this implement means you can take it anywhere your ATV will go, including those small, hidden kill plots, and yet it can handle a decent-sized plot, too. We used it to till a 1/2-acre plot the other day, and it ate it up. You do have to be patient; in most cases, you’ll need to make many passes with this disc before you have bare, churned up soil. But look at it this way: Most people with ATVs enjoy riding them, and that’s all you have to do: ride around a bunch with the GroundHog Max attached until you have a nicely tilled plot. 

Read Next: How to Plant the Ultimate No-Till Food Plot

GroundHog Max disc plow
The GroundHog Max Disc Plow uses the weight of the machine to dig deep and churn dirt. Bad Dawg Accessories

But there’s a lot more that you can do with this disc plow. Early last the spring, the farmer we lease from told us he didn’t mind if we added some clover to part of an existing hayfield. We used the GroundHog Max to simply expose a little more soil before over-seeding, and it worked great. As a result, a corner of a field that was mostly grasses is now mostly clover, and I have no doubt definitely noticed.

We also put in a number of no-till brassica plots, and a few passes with this disc definitely increases the soil exposure while maintaining plenty of mulch to help retain moisture. Also, if you’re going to plant beans by broadcasting and you don’t have a drag or cultipacker (see below), you can set this disc a little higher then till lightly while making a bunch of passes; the disc combined with the tires of your machine will allow you to get the proper soil coverage over the seeds. Finally, if, like us, you want to do less spraying and more burning going forward, the GroundHog Max is about perfect for making fire breaks. The video below, from the company, give you a good idea of how it works.

Bottom line: You can get a ton of use out of this thing, all for about $350. Just be sure to look closely at the hitch requirements. If you already have a good, sturdy 2-inch hitch receiver, you’re good to go. If not, you can buy the model with an included hitch kit for only an extra $50, which fits most Honda and Polaris machines, plus a few others. Otherwise, look online for an aftermarket option for your specific machine. Another good thing about the GroundHog max is that you can plow fast enough with it that smaller CC air-cooled machines wont overheat, and that means you don’t need a big, powerful, expensive machine to run this plow.

3. Homemade Drag Harrow

Field Tuff drag harrow.
You can buy this drag harrow from Field Tuff for $235 on Amazon. But making your own is super-cheap and easy. Amazon

You can buy a basic drag harrow for a couple hundred bucks, or you can make one for next to nothing. A pull-behind drag harrow is nice for making a smoother seedbed and for ensuring proper soil coverage after broadcasting larger seeds, like beans and peas. To make your own, simply bolt a few pressure-treated 2x4s over the top some old chain-link fence, then weigh it down with old lumber if you need to. Then just pull it via a yoke of sturdy rope. It’s ugly, but it works, and it’s almost free. 

That’s it. Add a good hand seeder or wheeled push model for say $30 to $50, and you can get a whole lot done, from simple no-till brassica and cereal-grain plots to beans and peas. And so far, the price tag is about $750, which leaves money left over for chemicals, lime, seed, etc. You might want to add a cultipacker down the road, see below, but for now, you have everything you need to take your ATV plotting game to the next level. 



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