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July Environmental Stewardship Diary

ELS July

6m buffer strips on cultivated land (EE3 & EE9) – the 3m next to the crop should be cut after 15th July; 12m buffer strips for watercourses on cultivated land (EJ9) - the 6m next to the crop should be cut after 15th July; Nectar flower mix (EF4) – if you haven’t done so already, cut half the area of nectar flower mix to 20cm by the end of this week (unless ground-nesting birds are present); Very low input grass (EK3) – you can now (from 1st July) cut, harrow and roll (if you need to); Management of rush pastures (EK4) – you can now (from 1st July) harrow and roll (NOT CUT)


Nectar flower mix (AB1) – if not already done so, establish mix between 15th July and 30th August; Nesting plots for lapwings and stone curlew (AB5) – retain cultivated areas until 31st July (after which they can be sprayed off, cultivated and sown with mustard/turnips to provide extra partridge holding cover); Enhanced overwinter stubble (AB6) – retain stubble and any subsequent regen until 31st July; Flower-rich margins and plots (AB8) – establish mix between 15th July and 15th October; Brassica Fodder crop (AB13) – establish brassica or fodder root crop before 31st July; Harvested low input cereal (AB14) – do not harvest before 15th July; Permanent grassland with very low inputs (GS2) – can be cut for hay or silage from the 1st July, as long as you do not disturb nesting birds; Legume and herb rich sward (GS4) – do not cut or graze between 1st May and 31st July; 4-6m buffer on cultivated land (SW1) – cut between 1-3m of the strip next to the crop edge after 15th July; In-field grass strip (SW3) – cut the entire area after 15th July; 12-24m buffer (SW4) - the 6m next to the crop should be cut after 15th July.

Game Crops

Whilst this extended dry period has been fantastic for wild partridges and pheasants it hasn’t been great for game crops! Unless you have irrigation there really isn’t much you can do about it. If your seedbed preparation didn’t dry out the soil to any great depth and you can see your crop in rows then it should still be ok as the roots will be picking up moisture. If the seed has been in the ground for a while and nothing has come through yet then it will need a huge amount of rain to get it to germinate. Deadlines: maize, kale and sorghum can be drilled up to mid-July and providing they are sown into moisture they will germinate and grow rapidly. After mid-July you are relying on fast growing brassicas (forage rape, stubble turnips) plus fodder radish, mustard, utopia and buckwheat.

Tips: 1. If you can see the rows leave it alone. DO NOT spray for weeds or apply fertiliser as these will only cause more stress to plants already under stress.

2. If the crop is only partially established and the weeds are threatening suggest spraying off with glyphosate now then wait for rain before direct drilling with a catch crop

3. If there is little or no sign of the crop wait until a week after the next rain. If nothing is emerging at that point then you need to redrill.

Cover and Companion Crops 

With harvest looming ever nearer, or even having started for some, thoughts may turn to using cover crops to improve your soils.  Oakbank had some tremendous successes in this area last year and several farmers have mentioned how they can see their spring crops performing better as a result, particularly on drought-prone soils.  Another use of the cover crop was to frustrate Hare Coursers, a cheap and easy solution to this perennial problem for some! Companion Cropping was also successful last year, with BERSEEM CLOVER performing particularly well. Please call the office to discuss your plans, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any scenarios or discussion points.

June E-News


Woodland – we are pleased to announce the launch of a new Oakbank Woodland Division. We completed the purchase of the well-respected East Anglian woodland consultancy, Rod Pass Associates on 1st June. Rod’s business was built on a reputation for outstanding woodland management and his team of consultants (Karen Russell, Anita Stone and Arran Dennis) are amongst the best in the business. We have appointed Ross Guyton MICFor, MArborA, to run our new woodland division, with Rod Pass retained as a consultant. Ross comes with a highly experienced forestry and arboricultural background, working for Landmarc Support Services, managing large areas of forestry on MoD land. He is a keen shooting man and understands the importance of well-managed woodland to sporting estates.  Whether you are considering a CS funded management plan, need an estate wide tree hazard management policy developed, have ancient, semi-natural or conifer woodlands that need improving and managing, need help with marketing high-value timber or simply want to improve your woodland for shooting then we have the consultants to help you. The primary focus of the new Oakbank Woodland Division will be in East Anglia and the East Midlands but if you have a project further afield and want to talk to us about it then please give Ross a call on 07741 655785

ELS JuneNectar flower mixture (EF4) – between mid-June and the end of the first week of July you should cut half of the area of each nectar flower plot down to 20cm to stimulate late flowering. DO NOT CUT IF GROUND NESTING BIRDS ARE PRESENT. Permanent grassland with low inputs (EK2) – from 1st June can be cut, harrowed and rolled. If cut, the cuttings MUST be removed. Very low input grass (EK3) CANNOT be touched until 1st July.

MID-TIER CSWinter Bird Food (AB9) plots should be drilled by 15th June – they must be minimum 6m wide and 0.4Ha in size with maximum size of 5Ha.

Game Crops in June – PLEASE WATCH OUT FOR SLUGS. The recent wet weather has seen an explosion in slug activity and we have already had a few calls from customers who have already lost crops to these voracious pests! Please remember to get weed control carried out either pre-drilling or early post-emergence and get all the fertilizer on nice and early.    

Liquid Fertiliser – if you really want to give your crops a head start then why not go liquid! Bionature’s NHK Delta and 1-4 ALL applied at 2-3 leaves of the crop and again at 6-8 leaves has shown remarkable results, particularly on less good soils which struggle to hold nutrients. And it’s very cost-effective compared to solids as well. For more info please contact Tim Furbank This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 07843378702

Supplementary Feeding

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.

Supplementary Feed 2017 from Oakbank Game and Conservation on Vimeo.


Oakbank are pleased to support The Country Food Trust


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. 





Using Miscanthus as a game cover

Lots of calls this month about using Miscanthus as a Game Crop - find out more here!

Read more ...