Welcome to Kings' March e-newsletter. This edition gives answers to some common queries at this time of year, announces further support for Reaseheath College students, details the MyCompliance advisory service and shares information on upcoming events.
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Practical advice for the coming weeks
It’s a busy time of year for the Kings technical helpline and there are some recurring themes in the queries we’re advising on. Here are some of the most common questions.
The ground is starting to dry out. Can I start preparing for spring drilling?
There is still plenty of time for cultivations before the main drilling period in May and June, so please be patient. Care must be taken where compaction issues may be present after heavy rain over the last few weeks, as travelling too early will cause unnecessary damage. If unsure, take a spade to a small representative area to check soil conditions below the surface.
If conditions allow, the following programme is recommended in preparation for drilling, though advice should be sought to inform decision making for your own specific circumstances.
- Spray off existing weeds and plough
- Work seedbed to a fine tilth
- Cambridge roll to lock in moisture
- Allow a flush of weeds to germinate and produce true leaves
- Spray the plot with glyphosate
- Repeat spraying if required to create a stale seedbed
- Wait for ground temperature to increase before drilling.
Some of my kale is now in its second year. What should I do with it?
Kale will become thinner in its second year but with a little TLC, it will still provide excellent holding cover. To help it perform to its full potential, make efforts to keep pigeons away, as they can decimate otherwise excellent crops. Carry out weed control and now that soils are warming, apply a top dressing of nitrogen to encourage growth.
Weeds have appeared in my autumn sown pollen and nectars and floristically enhanced grass margin mixtures. What can I do?
In this situation, the key weapon in your armoury is mowing. Some growers may be reluctant to do this as they believe it will damage the legume elements, but these will in fact actively benefit from regular mowing for the first 12 months. The amount of pollen will initially be reduced but mowing will increase the longevity of the mixture and is included in the prescription management options. Mowing will encourage the legumes to tiller and eventually stop annual weeds growing. Cuttings should be removed where possible to reduce fertility and discourage grass growth.
My grass free pollen and nectar is starting to suffer with an ingress of grass weeds, is there anything I can do?
Once grass starts to grow, it can be removed by applying an appropriate graminicide which will then allow the legumes to grow away. Broadcasting or slotting in some Kings grass free pollen and nectar at a reduced rate will increase the longevity and a couple of early cuts will encourage tillering too.
Supporting the future of countryside management
Students at Reaseheath College in Cheshire will again benefit from a donation of Kings game cover seed this year. Poacher maize, Campaign Mix, Moir Mix and Stubbles Mix will be provided for five acres, along with expert technical advice to help students learn and crops to succeed.
The mixtures will give students a practical look at how to manage game cover and conservation crops, their benefits for farm wildlife and how to integrate them into sporting estates in their future careers.
Last year’s donation of Poacher maize, Campaign Mix and Moir Mix seed, along with expert advice from Kings, has provided a valuable tool in helping students to learn about game cover and conservation mixture management.
“We’re delighted to continue our relationship with Kings,” explains game management course manager Matthew Goodall. “Their support has been invaluable to the game management course. Last year we were able to set up several cover crops on the College’s estate which helped hold the birds and provided much needed new drives. It gives the students a real insight into what they’ll need to do in their future careers and gives them an idea of soil science, crop location and selection and the benefits of cover crops to shoots, not only for game birds but for song birds too.”
Legislation in the farming industry is constantly changing and it can be difficult for growers to keep abreast of developments, which can have huge financial implications if not adhered to. With this in mind, Frontier and Kings experts now provide the MyCompliance service to help growers to navigate the raft of regulations.
The service includes advice on Cross Compliance, farm assurance schemes, greening and stewardship and health and safety, as well as a farm health check. This can be especially useful as growers become accustomed to CAP reform changes and consider the new Countryside Stewardship scheme.
For more information on MyCompliance and to arrange a visit, please click here.
Planning is already well underway for this year’s Cereals event, at which Kings’ extensive crop plot display will provide a backdrop for expert advice and guidance on all things specialist crop related. With particular focus on green cover crops, EFA options, Countryside Stewardship, MyCompliance and, in conjunction with Syngenta, Operation Pollinator, a visit to our stand (421) will be worthwhile for every grower. GWCT experts will also be on hand to discuss our work at the Allerton Project, including soil and water as well as farmland conservation work.
Kings advisors will also be attending Frontier’s 3D Thinking open days over the summer. Click here for more details and to book a place at your local event.
Forthcoming National Gamekeepers Organisation events will include prizes sponsored by Kings. The Golden Pheasant Clay Shoot takes place in Denbighshire on 28th April and the NGO team flush is in Winchester on 26th May.