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.