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Game Cover Case Study - The Le Strange Shoot

The Le Strange shoot in Norfolk is unique, with open partridge ground around the village of Ringstead and pheasant shooting in the historic parkland in Hunstanton. The shoot turned to Kings Regional Advisor, Meehal Grint, to optimise their game cover and implement areas of perennial cover.

The aim was to aid the establishment of cover strips by providing a wind break, thus creating nesting and brood cover for the good population of grey partridge found on the estate, which are not part of the shoot. Doing this has since reduced the amount of yearly establishment required in the busy spring period, therefore benefiting the shoot by allowing the keeping team more time to concentrate on the vermin control necessary for the grey partridge to breed successfully.

The Le Strange shoot is over 3000 acres and is open to shooting for approximately 30 days each year. The shoot is managed by Head Keeper, Gareth Maund, with his Beat Keeper, Michael Inwood.

Gareth has now been working with Meehal and Kings for six years. Prior to the collaboration, the estate had been using a mixture of sorghum and millet which, although worked well, had an ingress of weeds which was becoming increasingly problematic.maize

This weed burden, namely rogue millet, was the first thing Kings focused on before looking at soil testing and areas of compaction. Meehal worked closely with Matt Taylor, Frontier Agronomist, to create a simple agronomy programme which focused on controlling the weed population and improving the health of the soil. Once those problems were addressed, they were then able to look at implementing some mixture changes.

"The reason I turned to Meehal and Kings was due to the technical knowledge and support they provide. Not only is this with mixture selection, establishment and agronomy but also the practical knowledge to get the best out of what we are doing. Kings provide excellent support when things don’t quite go as originally planned too which, with our unpredictable British weather, does happen." states Gareth.

Working with Gareth, Kings have used Poacher Maize treated with Synergy which provides a direct nutrient source to aid rooting. This variety provides reliable driving/ holding cover and enables the use of a robust herbicide programme to control the rogue millets.

To provide cover throughout the season and mitigate the removal of cover at the end of the season, perennial headlands have also been established on all covers. This mixture of chicory, vetch, and phacelia with Kings kale rape and utopia provides a nurse crop in the first year and cover for several seasons. This caters for the use of an effective pre and post emergence herbicide programme.

Moving forward, it is hopeful that areas of kale can be incorporated on the shoot with a view to further reducing the yearly establishment requirement. Used alongside a mixture of Poacher Maize and Kings New Early Maize, this allows the selection of the appropriate varieties depending on maturity dates and crop height. This ensures the cover is in the right place for earlier partridge drives, but still available come the late season pheasant drives.

Speaking of the project, Meehal states, "The shoot has a very clear vision. Gareth and Michael are passionate about providing a fantastic shooting experience and producing high quality birds. They are willing to experiment to achieve this."

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