Welcome to Kings' August e-newsletter. This edition gives an update on new greening rules, encourages growers to make stewardship efforts in or out of a scheme, advises planning ahead for supplementary feeding, reviews recent events and introduces western technical advisor, Lee Ward.
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Greening changes confirmed
The European Commission ended speculation around changes to greening rules earlier this month as it confirmed the new criteria that will apply from 1st January 2018.
The biggest change is a complete ban on the use of plant protection products on crops grown in Ecological Focus Areas (EFA). The ban also applies to seed dressings. While this will impact growers that have previously used leguminous crops such as peas and beans for their EFAs, it presents a great opportunity to adopt green cover crops. While this option doesn’t have a fast and direct cash return as the peas and beans did, it can bring huge benefits to your business, including improving soil health and structure, avoiding nitrogen loss from overwinter leaching, facilitating direct drilling or minimal cultivations and reducing nematode and soil pest levels.
Other EFA changes include the new option to declare an area as ‘mixed crops’ where small areas of different crops are grown next to each other, trees in a line to be permitted under the hedge option and the extension of the buffer strips option to include field margins as well as buffer strips.
Full details of the changes can be found here. For expert advice on adhering to the rules while also selecting the best options for your business, speak to your local Kings or Frontier advisor.
Stewardship deadline fast approaching
Those applying for Countryside Stewardship schemes for 2018 must submit their application by 30th September. The Mid Tier scheme is focused on pollinators, farmland birds and resource protection and offers good funding over the next five years. While the process is competitive, the last two rounds have shown a high acceptance ratio with a well planned application, so contact your local advisor to discuss the best options for your farm and to give your submission the best chance of success.
If you have not requested a pack for 2018, you are unable to apply this year, but you can still support farmland wildlife and even start planning for 2019; speak to your local advisor for guidance.
Supplementary feeding and holding mixtures
It may still be summer, but it’s advisable to start thinking ahead to supplementary feeding for this winter. Providing seed mixtures during the harder months gives farmland birds a vital food source when supplies are otherwise limited, helping them through the ‘hungry gap’ from November to April.
Kings supplies special holding mixtures and kibbled maize with and without aniseed. These provide valuable alternatives to straight wheat for sporting estates when shooting pressure increases, helping to keep birds where you want them. The high protein mixtures help to keep your game in top condition through the later parts of the season as well as providing added feed value to farmland birds.
Seed can be spun onto the ground or fed via hoppers. The seed mixtures contain wheat, sunflowers, linseed, oilseed rape, sunflower hearts, canary seed and red and white millet and can be supplied in 25kg to one tonne bags.
Support is available through stewardship schemes and with up to £822/t available towards seed costs, supplementary feeding can benefit your business as well as birds. Speak to your local advisor about how this option can be incorporated into your efforts.
Kings’ presence at two events in the last few weeks was valuable for attendees in more ways than one.
At the 2017 Game Fair at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire on 29th July, we were delighted to present a cheque for £1256 to the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust. The money was raised through sales of Winter Wildlife Holding Cover, with £1 donated from every bag sold. In recognition of the valuable work of the GWT in the gamekeeping community, we were pleased to announce during the cheque presentation that we will make a donation from sales in 2018 too. Read the full story here.
Earlier this month, growers also had the opportunity to learn how green cover crops can benefit potato rotations at the annual Potatoes in Practice event in Dundee. As well as taking a tour of crop plots, advisor Clive Wood hosted a seminar on Kings green cover trials in Scotland and soil borne pest management strategies. Integrated pest management with careful cover crop choice was a popular topic of discussion and there was lots of interest in our demonstration of various crop rooting systems (pictured). Speak to your local advisor to find out how cover crops can make a difference to your business.
Meet Lee Ward
This month, Kings western technical advisor, Lee Ward tells us more about himself.
“Based in the Three Counties of Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, I’ve been an agronomist for over 20 years. I’ve seen a lot of change as agronomy has evolved over that time, now encompassing more cultural and nutritional solutions to crop production. My interest in cover crops, game crops and forage has increased over the years and I now have a dual role, as an agronomist for Frontier and also as Kings western technical advisor, supporting a team of agronomists in the south and west and helping with technical and practical solutions on farm.
The Kings range of products now includes green cover cropping, biofumigants, forage, game cover crops and expert advice on the hot topic of Mid and Higher Tier environmental schemes. My role straddles all of these facets and working with Neil Harris, based in Ross on Wye, we offer solutions across the board for both arable and livestock farms and mixed farming businesses.
I spend any spare time on the farm at home where we keep 40 suckler cows, with my wife Ira and two children, Holly and Toby, and catching as much rugby as I can. I have also been known to swing a golf club!”
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