Welcome to Kings' January e-newsletter. This edition advises on taking care of your soil and the benefits of EFAs, encourages growers to take part in the Big Farmland Bird Count, introduces two new Kings technical advisors and announces the new Kings catalogue and website.
To stay up to date with the latest news from the field, keep in touch with the Kings advisory team and find out what other growers are up to in tweets like these, follow Kings on Twitter.
Kings central technical advisor
Spotlight on soil
February is a great time to focus on soils in advance of drilling next season's crops. Many growers are already conducting soil sampling to identify soil indices before planting and determine which nutrients may be required. This also enables mixtures to be tailored to soil types; soils with a lower pH, for example, are better suited to crops such as triticale, linseed and kale rape.
Growers may be keen to flail and work crops as the shooting season ends, but patience is vital at the moment. Many soils are saturated after excessive rainfall this winter and any vehicle movement could damage soil structure, causing compaction issues which will affect future crop establishment.
Leaving game cover crops in situ for a little longer will also extend their benefits for a range of game and farmland bird species and will help them through the hungry gap if a particularly cold snap occurs. There is plenty of time to carry out crop and plot maintenance, so please don't be too hasty. Remember also that wild bird seed mixtures within Environmental Stewardship agreements cannot be destroyed before 1st March (ELS) or 15th March (HLS).
Careful EFA use brings multiple benefits
The new Countryside Stewardship scheme launches this month. This makes Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) mandatory for participating growers and with a range of options available to fulfil this element, growers are encouraged to select those that will provide fantastic environmental benefits for farmland birds and pollinators.
Fallow land, for example, is a flexible and valuable option that allows the planting of wild bird seed and nectar flower mixes which can bring additional conservation and sporting benefits as well as meeting scheme criteria.
Even for growers that are not part of a stewardship scheme, putting the principles of the fallow land option into practice can bring great value to the business.
For expert advice on stewardship, including the options available and how to transfer between schemes, contact your local Kings advisor, call 0800 587 9797 or email
Join the Big Farmland Bird Count
The GWCT’s Big Farmland Bird Count is back for its third year. Between 6th and 14th February, farmers, landowners and anyone spending time in the countryside are encouraged to count the birds in their local area over just 30 minutes and report their sightings to GWCT. This annual event records the effects of conservation work and results help to highlight the excellent efforts of growers in supporting farmland birds and helping to reverse the decline in numbers.
In 2015, almost 1000 farmers took part in the count, with 127 different species counted over nearly one million acres.
To help support the count, the GWCT is holding 17 farmland bird ID days across the UK to help people learn what to look for. To book a place, find out more about taking part in this year's count and see 2015’s results, please click here.
New year, new team members
To meet grower demand as specialist crops become more popular and the need to understand and comply with new legislation increases, the Kings technical team has two new advisors.
Charlotte Helliwell, Kings' eastern technical advisor, will be based at Diss in Norfolk. Her role will include providing expert advice on Kings' crop range and working closely with Frontier's MyCompliance team to assist growers with meeting relevant regulations.
Neil Harris, Kings' new western technical advisor, will be based at Ross-on-Wye. After 15 years as a Natural England advisor, Neil is bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience to growers in the west and providing advice on the range of Kings product areas, with particular focus on greening options and the new Countryside Stewardship scheme.
Order your 2016 Kings catalogue now
Kings’ 2016 catalogue is currently in production and will be sent to growers in February. This year’s catalogue is filled with innovative game cover, conservation, green cover and forage products and fascinating case studies, as well as expert advice on establishment, management and relevant legislation, making it a must read for growers from the north of Scotland to the south of England. To request your free copy by email or by post, please click here.
Kings' new website will also go live in February. With a new look and easy to use online shop, it features our whole range of specialist crop products as well as up to date news and advice. Combined with support from our expert technical team, it’s designed to provide everything you need to make your crops a success. Follow @kingscrops on Twitter for the launch announcement and highlights from the new site.