Latest News & Events
Conservation Agriculture Winter Field Walk
Come along, walk the crops for yourself, question what we are doing, feed into the discussions and take away any ideas that can help your business. Hope to see you there!
ELS – February is the last month for hedge and ditch bank cutting. It is also the last month, in which you are entitled to cut Field corners (EF1), remembering you can only cut once in the five-year agreement period UNLESS you have added wild flowers to the field corner (EE12), in which case you can cut in March/April and again in August/September; Wild bird seed mixes (EF2) must NOT be cut down until 1st March; Overwintered stubbles (EF6) can be returned to the farm rotation from 15th February; Unfertilised cereal headlands (EF9) – broad leaf weed control can be carried out between Feb 1st and 31st March but ONLY with amidosulfuron. Grass weeds can be controlled anytime using only the products list in the handbook; Unharvested cereal headlands (EF10) – broad leaf weed control as per EF9 and the headland must be left uncut until 1st March; Uncropped, cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds (EF13) – rough cultivated area should be created between 1st Feb and 20th March.
MID-TIER CS AB1 Nectar flower mix (AB1) – if you haven’t done so already you have until 30th March to cut your nectar flower plots; Basic overwintered stubbles (AB2) can be returned to the farm rotation from 15th February; Nesting plots for lapwing and stone curlew (AB5) - rough cultivated area must be created by 20th March; Whole crop cereals (AB7) – must retain stubble until 15th Feb. New crop to be established between Feb and April; Unharvested cereal headlands (AB10) – last year’s crop can be destroyed from Feb 1st and new plots established between Feb and April; Cultivated areas for arable plants (AB11) – cultivate between Feb and April (or Sept – Nov).
Supplementary Feeding (EF23/HF24 & AB12) – continues through February.
Managing Floristic Margins – whether in an agreement or not the cutting of floristic plots and margins can be done in February. If you weren’t able to cut and remove the cuttings in the autumn, Feb and March are good months to flail as the stems of the plants are woody and shatter rather than forming a green mulch. Ensure soil conditions allow you to travel without cutting up the ground (heavy frost or a week of dry weather) and use a flail rather than rotary mower.
CSS Mid and Higher-Tier Application window now open until 31st July (mid-tier) and 13th April (higher-tier).
On-line application for Arable ‘Wildlife Offer’ opens on 20th Feb. This is a streamlined CS offer open to any arable farm (as long as a maximum of 100 field parcels) and is not competitive but has restricted options and no capital items.
We have come across several farms who have been poorly advised on stewardship with the advisor plumping for the easiest options rather than those that might deliver the most benefit. In one case the farmer was told not to bother with the supplementary feeding option (AB12) because it was more trouble than it was worth! It is probably the singular most important option for farmland birds and anyone who is going for the farm wildlife package should include this option whether it is a ‘hassle’ or not.
For more information about which scheme would be suitable for you please contact the office.
Hedgerow and Boundary Grants
The Window for the Hedgerow and boundary grants is now open. This grant can pay for coppicing (£4/m), hedge laying (£12.80/m) and gapping up (£9.50/m). There is also money available for stone wall restoration. The maximum grant for a farm business is £10,000 and the field parcel containing the hedge must not be in an active Countryside Stewardship agreement. The window closes at the end of April so if you would like any help with an application please contact Matt in the office.
Game crops in February – bearing in mind February is one of the toughest months for farmland birds please don’t flail off all of your game crops as even a narrow strip will provide some foraging area. Also do not try and work the ground until it has dried out considerably or you will destroy the soil structure.
Hedging and trees – Unless it remains cold, February is usually the last month in which we are lifting hedging and trees and is therefore the last opportunity for you to get planting. Please contact us for a quote.
2018 Magazine and Product Guide – we will be sending out our 2018 Magazine next week. If you have changed your mailing address or would like a copy for someone else, please let us know asap.
Event for your Diary
Tuesday 27th February - College Farm, Somersham, PE28 3ER
Farm Walk in conjunction with Opico and Sky Agriculture to look at how the Cover and Companion Crops have come through the winter. This will include looking at the Micro-Clover trial and seeing how well the Oilseed Rape crops have established.
More details to follow but please call us if you would like to come along.
Supplementary feeding of winter bird food (AB12) is one of the most successful and visibly rewarding options within the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. It fills the "hungry gap" when the seed resources in the Wild Bird Seed Mixes run short and ensures the survival of many of our familiar farmland bird species.
Oakbank offer a full mixing and supply service for this seed, so please contact us in good time for the winter feeding period.
The Country Food Trust has been launched to help feed people in need. Last year they fed 20,000 people across the UK and their aim is to feed over 1 million people in the next five years.
As we know, there is a plentiful supply of pheasants and partridges in the UK, with more being shot each year as the sport grows. At the same time, there are 13 million people in UK in poverty who have to decide between the basic necessities including food, clothing and heating, and last year alone over 1 million people visited Food Banks across the country.
The Country Food Trust produces a delicious Country Casserole and a Country Curry which is donated to those in food poverty. It is sealed in long life pouches, which do not need to be stored in a chilled environment and are easy to prepare.
Obviously whilst pheasant and partridge are a cheap source of meat there are significant processing, preparing and packaging costs and this is where shoots can help. The Casserole and Curry are available to buy through the Wild Meat Company Wild Meat Company and for every meal that you buy (to feed your guns/your beaters/to give guns at the end of the day rather than birds in the feather) the CFT will deliver a free meal to a charity that feeds those in food poverty. In Cambridgeshire we are supporting Winter Comfort and have already delivered 200 free meals to them this month. You can also collect money from your guns to make a donation to the CFT. Every £1 collected will feed a person in need.