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March Stewardship Diary & News

ELS MARCH – NO MORE HEDGE OR DITCH BANK CUTTING. You may still cut 6m grass buffer strips but ONLY if they contain some flowers. Wild bird seed mixes (EF2) can now be flailed off and the ground cultivated. Unfertilised cereal headlands (EF9) – broad leaf weed control can be carried out until 31st March but ONLY with amidosulfuron. Grass weeds can be controlled anytime using only the products list in the handbook. Unharvested cereal headlands (EF10) – can now be cut down and returned to the rotation. Uncropped, cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds (EF13) – rough cultivated area should be created by 20th March. Low input grassland (EK2 and EK3) – 31st March last opportunity to cut, harrow or roll before the summer. Supplementary Feeding (EF23) – you must keep feeding until 31st March

MID-TIER CS MARCH – NO MORE HEDGE OR DITCH BANK CUTTING. Nectar flower mix (AB1) – if you haven’t done so already then these must be cut down before 30th March (and ideally cuttings removed or shredded). Nesting plots for lapwing and stone curlew (AB5) – plot must be cultivated by 20th March. Flower-rich margins and plots (AB8) - If plant growth is more than 15cm in height before 31 March, cut it (and remove if dense) to achieve a plant height of between 5cm and 10cm. Supplementary winter feeding for farmland birds (AB12) – you must keep feeding until 30th April

Countryside Stewardship – the application window for Mid and Higher Tier CS is now open. If you want any assistance with your application please contact the office asap as we have a limited number of agreements that we can handle.

CSS Mid and Higher-Tier and hedgerow/boundary grant application windows all open 18th February.

Closing dates as follows: Hedgerow/Boundary grants – 3rd May

CSS Higher Tier – 3rd May

CSS Mid Tier – 31st July

Woodland Creation Grants open now with rolling application window.

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.


Game crops in March  

Perennial Crops – check all of your perennial crops this month to see whether they need any inputs/management. If you are not sure what you are looking for please check with us before doing anything drastic!

Miscanthus – we are lifting rhizomes at the moment and putting them into cold store. If you are thinking of planting any miscanthus this season, then please get your order in asap. Planting time is not until mid-April but lifting will have been finished by then so we won’t be able to lift to order.

Game crop advisory visits
– if you would like an advisory visit please contact us asap as our diaries are filling up fast!


World Curlew Day – the 21st March is World Curlew Day and the next few weeks leading up to it are the best time to see displaying curlew. If you do have displaying curlew please focus your predator control around the nesting site as they are extremely vulnerable to predation.

The Freshwater Habitats Trust are running their survey of frog and toad spawn. If you spot any please use their webpage to send in some simple details.

Pheasant release pens - The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust are urging shoots to pay more attention to release pen locations and to limit pheasant releasing density in woodland to the maximum rate of 1000 birds per hectare of pen, in order to reduce negative impacts on woodland flora https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0006320718311339?via%3Dihub


Grey squirrel ragu anyone? Continuing ‘wild harvest’ trend is great news for UK woodlands as increasingly more chefs and food campaigners say that essentials culls such as those of grey squirrels, results in animals – ie food – being wasted. Hence, the view that grey squirrel is the ultimate in ethical meat eating? See link: https://www.theguardian.com/food/shortcuts/2019/feb/04/view-to-a-cull-is-grey-squirrel-the-ultimate-sustainable-meat?-environment_b-gdneco

Spring Newsletter – if you haven’t received your 2019 Oakbank Magazine (complete with Product Guide) or would like additional copies to give to your friends/colleagues, please let us know!



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.


Using Miscanthus as a game cover

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

Read more ...