Welcome to Kings' August e-newsletter. This edition reminds growers to take care of late sown game cover crops, encourages the continuation of stewardship efforts, shares details of Kings trials and updates on the recent Potatoes in Practice event.
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 those below, follow Kings on Twitter.
Take care of young game cover crops
While most game cover crops will now be well established in preparation for the forthcoming season, some of the later sown plots may need a little help to get away successfully. Applying a foliar feed or a top dressing of nitrogen will help push them on during the final few weeks of the growing period. Be sure to keep an eye out for signs of damage by slugs, deer or pigeon too, as these pests could do irreparable damage to young crops if left unchecked. Seek expert advice on how to give your crops the best start despite any such challenges.
Where plans currently include leaving land bare over winter, consider sowing a wild bird seed mix. The likes of kale, triticale and chicory will produce early brood cover as well as good holding cover in the next season. Speak to your local advisor for guidance on the best mixtures for your land and how to establish them.
Act now on Countryside Stewardship
Hesitation over stewardship is understandable given the vote to leave the EU, but earlier this month the UK government announced it would maintain agricultural funding after the eventual Brexit until at least 2020. Confirmation of support beyond this is still awaited, but growers are encouraged to continue their valuable stewardship efforts in any way they can.
For those interested in Countryside Stewardship, mid tier applications must be requested before midnight on 31st August and submitted by the 30th September deadline. This tier focuses especially on wildlife diversity and water quality and has a potential five years of funding attached. While the process is reportedly competitive, 90% were accepted last year.
Trials demonstrate green cover benefits
Harvest is nearing completion across the UK and many growers are now sowing green cover crops to bring valuable benefits to their land over the next few weeks and months.
Others are still learning about the numerous varieties that can boost yields and deliver savings with improved soil health and structure, reduced pests, increased organic matter, captured nutrients and weed and disease suppression.
To provide the best seed and advice to achieve these results, Kings conducts trials at several sites throughout England and Scotland, from Kent to Ross-shire. Alongside game cover and conservation plots, these trials assess different green cover varieties, from small plots to field scale blocks, as well as different timings, treatments and establishment and destruction methods. Along with analysis of in-field performance, fresh weight cuttings are taken to evaluate the nutrients that have been scavenged from the land. All of the data gathered helps to really determine how to achieve the best results from these crops in each region.
Growers will be able to learn more about cover crops and talk to Kings about the best options for their business at a series of cover crop meetings this winter. Check our website and follow us on Twitter for the latest dates and venues. Alternatively, contact your local advisor or call 0800 587 9797.
Cover crops popular with potato growers
Cover crops drew a lot of attention at Potatoes in Practice earlier this month. Held at James Hutton Institute’s Dundee farm, Potatoes in Practice is the UK’s largest field-based potato event, attracting growers, scientists and other professionals from all over the world.
Growers at the event were able to see five cover crops on display that are particularly useful in a potato rotation, from biofumigation mixtures to multi resistant radish. Kings’ expert advisors were on hand to explain how these crops improve soils and reduce nematodes to boost the following potato crop.
Queries included the recommended sowing periods and incorporation methods in a potato rotation. For biofumigation mixes, for example, spring sowing is common as this allows time to achieve bulk before incorporating and sealing the soil to keep the gases in. Taking expert advice is vital, however, to find the right solution for your individual circumstances.
To find out more about the benefits of green cover before a potato crop, speak to your local advisor or contact Kings on 0800 587 9797.