Welcome to Kings' September e-newsletter. This edition invites growers to learn from increased green cover data, announces some new holding mixes, shares a grower’s view on the successful Highland Mix and encourages stewardship planning.
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 advantage of increased green cover data
Growers are set to benefit from even more comprehensive data on green cover crops as Kings demonstrates its commitment to research with more trials than ever this year.
Now in year six, the network has increased to more than 40 trials sites stretching from Invergordon to Folkestone. The sites range from small scale sites in conjunction with individual growers to long term projects with key partners, including Natural England, Catchment Sensitive Farming and local water companies. The geographical spread allows for regional variations to be taken into account.
Green cover crops have a huge range of benefits but variety selection and management in line with farm needs and local conditions is crucial. Differences in sowing date, available sunlight and winter conditions, for example, showed significant differences in the capture of available nutrients last year, with 25kg/ha measured in the far reaches of Scotland compared to a huge 175kg/ha in East Anglia.
The trials will continue to assess methods of establishment, management, destruction and establishment of following crops, focusing particularly on biomass and nutrient analysis, slug management and nematode control.
Growers can learn more about this year’s trials and Kings’ cumulative findings at a number of events, with at least one at every site this winter. Check the Kings event page and follow @Kingscrops on Twitter for details as they are confirmed.
Prepare for winter feeding with new mixes
In preparation for winter feeding, Kings has created some new mixes to hold game birds and keep them in good condition during the colder months.
- Holding mix 1 contains wheat, maize with aniseed, red dari/sorghum, kibbled peas, tic beans, black sunflower and red millet. It’s ideal for spreading and spin feeding on the ground.
- Holding mix 2 includes maize with aniseed, red dari, kibbled peas, red millet and sunflower hearts. It’s designed to be used for spreading and in hoppers and can be mixed with farm saved wheat where required.
- Kibbled maize with or without aniseed.
Seed is available in bulk bags and 20-25kg bags at competitive prices and mixes can be adapted to suit individual needs.
As well as these new mixes, Kings’ popular supplementary feeds suit a range of stewardship schemes and can be delivered ready to feed or as premixes to be combined with farm saved wheat.
Praise for new Highland Mix
To bring growers the best varieties and management techniques, Kings’ expert team is constantly assessing crop performance. At this time of year, advisors are analysing game cover establishment to determine whether any tweaks may be needed in management or mixture content.
Highland Mix has been particularly notable this year. New for 2016, the mix contains wheat, barley, oats, triticale and linseed and has a wide herbicide option. It’s useful as a break crop where brassicas have been grown repeatedly and has been popular where growers have faced broadleaved weed challenges or poorer soils in the uplands.
Kevin Bandeen of Cortachy Estate manages around 40 acres of game cover near Brechin, Angus. He grew Highland Mix for the first time this year and has no hesitation in endorsing it.
“The conditions here are quite harsh,” he explains. “There’s a narrower window for establishment with no time for stale seedbeds, so the ability to control weeds is really important. Highland Mix really suits us as it allows that weed control and I like that it’s a mix as well. The linseed in particular is an attraction to birds, especially partridges. It was easy to establish and copes well with the poorer conditions up here. I’d definitely recommend it.”
Never too early to plan for stewardship
The application window for Mid Tier Countryside Stewardship schemes closes at the end of this month. Understandably, some growers will have hesitated over applying, unsure whether to invest their time and money given the scheme’s EU funding and the recent Brexit vote. But the UK government has issued reassurance that the scheme will run until at least 2020, so growers are encouraged to start planning early for the next round of applications ready for a 2018 start.
Whether for capital grants for water quality, boundary restoration options or the full land management that comes with Mid Tier, the best chance of scheme acceptance is knowing exactly what Natural England is targeting in the local area.
For a full range of help and advice, turn to your local Kings advisor or call Kings on 0800 587 9797.