Soybeans and Virginia whitetail deer - can they co-exist?

Last night, after .2 of rain fell here in Powhatan, we finished planting a five acre test plot of certified organic soybeans, sourced through our friends @sevenspringsfarm.  This will be our first experiment with a crop that ranks really high on deer menu items.  So this weekend we'll be installing an electric fencing system used by Steve Miles @shalomfarms in Richmond.  Steve has been discouraging deer predation  for ten years using this method, and I've seen his well managed, beautiful vegetable gardens.  So we're going to take a shot at duplicating his method here at the farm.  If successful, we'll have a 5 acre section where we can grow more high value specialty crops without risking a total loss of the investment.  If it really works, I can see us fencing in a lot more acreage (last summer deer cleaned up all 10 acres of buckwheat we'd planted before we could harvest it).  Here's how the fence works for Steve:

Two strands of visible electric fence rope are set 2 feet apart and at heights around 5' and 3'.  This confuses the deer, who have vision that is quite different than ours. Check out this great article if you are interested in how a whitetail deer sees things:

  We ordered these "deer pops" from to attract the deer to the fence - it's supposed to be effective on bears, too, which would be helpful to beekeepers:

When they lick the electrified pop (we'll bait it with a molasses recipe to get them to try it) they'll pull away and hopefully that unpleasant jolt will discourage them from returning.  We've left a large swath of white clover around the perimeter of the field for their grazing pleasure.

Stay tuned!

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