Welcome to Kings' January e-newsletter. This edition advises growers of the benefits of the fallow EFA option, encourages participation in the Big Farmland Bird Count, recommends a review of performance to improve next season’s results, reminds of the need for supplementary feeding, announces the 2017 Kings catalogue and introduces Charlotte Helliwell.
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Make the most of EFAs
If you farm 15 hectares or more of arable land, you are required to put 5% of it into an Ecological Focus Area as part of greening rules.
There are many ways that this can be achieved, but some options deliver greater returns for the environment. One of the best ways is to use the fallow option, which has to be in place from 1st January until 30th June, but the land does not have to be left bare. Instead it can be sown with a wild bird seed mix or a nectar mix to significantly enhance its value as an environmental feature and deliver a great resource for pollinators, farmland birds and game birds.
If you’ve already selected the fallow option for this year but have no current cropping plans for the area, it’s not too late. For expert advice on meeting greening rules and making the most of your EFA area, contact your local Kings advisor.
Still time to sign up for the Big Farmland Bird Count
The Big Farmland Bird Count 2017 takes place between 3rd and 12th February.
By taking part, you will be adding valuable data to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust’s ongoing project, as well as measuring the effects of your own hard work to support farmland birds.
The count requires just half an hour of your time. Count sheets can be downloaded from the GWCT website and results are submitted online.
Farmland Bird ID training days are being run across the country to help growers record accurate observations. Find one near you and book here.
Last year, over 970 growers took part in the count, covering 900,000 acres and recording an incredible 130 bird species.
Time to reflect on last year's performance
It could be that weed problems had some detrimental effects on your covers and stewardship mixes. Making a note of any weed issues, the species involved and the severity of the problem will be valuable information when it comes to planning this year’s mixes, allowing you to plant crops which have an agronomic plan to deal with any issues. Noting last season’s crop nutrition applications and results will also help you with that all important benefit of hindsight.
Soil testing in advance of next season’s crops is a simple and inexpensive operation but can have a dramatic effect on establishment. Identifying N, P and K levels and soil pH before drilling will give you time to put right any deficiencies which might be found.
Keep on supplementary feeding
Now is generally the time of year that we experience the hardest weather. For many farmland birds, supplementary feeding has become the key resource for their survival.
With some growers starting to scale back the level of supplementary feeding for game birds at this time of year, additional feeding directed at farmland birds will become increasingly important. Spinning a mixture of seeds such as wheat, oilseed rape, millet and sunflowers on to farm tracks through until April will make all the difference.
Supplementary feeding can be financially supported through stewardship schemes. To discuss mixtures and find out if you and your farmland birds could benefit, talk to your local Kings advisor or call 0800 587 9797.
Kings 2017 catalogue
Kings’ 2017 catalogue will be published next month. Featuring innovative game cover, conservation, green cover and forage products as well as case studies and expert advice from the whole team, it’s a must read for all growers.
This year’s catalogue will be available as a hard copy and electronically. The digital version includes links to our products and even more articles online, meaning selecting and ordering your seed has never been easier.
Subscribers to the Kings newsletter will automatically receive a digital copy of the catalogue. If you’re not a subscriber, or you would like to request a hard copy, please click here.
Meet Charlotte Helliwell
Kings technical advisor and MyCompliance advisor, Charlotte Helliwell, will be guest editing the Kings newsletter from next month. Here she tells us more about herself.
“Where I grew up in rural Northumberland, on the border between Cumbria and Durham, shooting played a big part in the local economy with lots of grouse, partridge and pheasant shoots. I spent my summers earning pocket money by grouse beating for local estates and went on to study a National Diploma at the Northern School of Game and Wildlife, Cumbria, followed by a foundation degree in Countryside Management and Conservation.
I began my career in Cumbria working for both Natural England and a land agency, concentrating on the application of European subsidies through Entry and Higher Level Stewardship and Single Farm Payments as it was then. After a couple of years travelling and working in New Zealand, I joined Kings in 2015 to take up a similar role on a seasonal contract and I haven’t looked back since! My initial role developed into one that was more technical and based in Diss, Norfolk, I now work with growers across the eastern region. It’s a varied and interesting role, but my primary focus for much of the year is working with growers by providing help and advice on all areas of compliance and regulation within the Basic Payment Scheme and particularly Countryside Stewardship.”
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