Latest News & Events
As many of you know, we have out-grown our current offices but fortunately, a much larger premises has become available next door so this week (4-5th July) we will be moving lock, stock and barrel into brand new offices. This might cause some disruption in terms of phones and IT so if you struggle to get through to the office please try one of our mobiles: Ian 07843378701 or Matt 07540 184927. Please do drop in to see our new offices – the address hasn’t changed and we would be delighted to see you.
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)
MID-TIER COUNTRYSIDE STEWARDSHIP – Don’t forget the deadline for applications to be submitted is July 31st.
CSS OPTIONS JULY –
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.
COMMUNICATION WITH THE RPA
This includes all correspondence with CS advisors and anything to do with a Countryside Stewardship agreement. Any emails addressed to individuals will be bounced back and RPA office numbers will be redirected until 31st July when the lines will then be taken out of service entirely.
Apparently this is progress…………..?
We will ‘watch this space’.
SLUGS – after the heavy rain in early June we saw a lot of slug damage. Please be aware and get slug pellets on at the first sign of damage.
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.
Sam Kennedy – sadly Sam has come to the end of his placement year with us and returns to Harper Adams to complete the final year of his degree. Sam has been a great addition to the Oakbank team this year and we wish him every success for the future.
Woodland and Tree Related News
Managing ash for the future - The latest Government policy on managing ash tree pests and diseases has recently been published – click here for Policy
Best trees to filter air pollution - Silver birch, elder and yew have topped the poll in a recent experiment to see which species best capture diesel pollution particles from traffic. The Scientist explains.
Forest Research release latest National Statistics on woodland – England falls short of Government target - The area of woodland in the UK at 31 March 2019 is estimated to be 3.19 million hectares. This represents 13% of the total land area in the UK, 10% in England, 15% in Wales, 19% in Scotland and 8% in Northern Ireland. Sadly, tree planting in England fell well short of targets in the past year, despite government promises to restore and plant new woodland across the country to combat the climate change crisis. A mere 1,420 ha were planted in England in the year to 31 March 2019 (against the government’s target of 5,000 ha), with smaller areas in Wales and Northern Ireland, at 500 and 240 ha respectively. Link to Forest Research Woodland Statistics
ELS June – Nectar 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 CS – Winter 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 remember to get weed control carried out either pre-drilling or early post-emergence and get all the fertilizer on nice and early.
Woodland Creation Grant Applications – Time is Running Out
Time is running out if you are considering applying for the Countryside Stewardship Woodland Creation grant to plant woodlands this coming winter. The Forestry Commission says to allow 5 months for the application process, which at the moment would take you to late October – not leaving a lot of time to organise contractors if you wished to see trees in the ground before Christmas. Call us now if you require assistance with your woodland creation project!
Asian Long Horn Beetle Eradicated
Defra has announced that the Asian Longhorn Beetle, which was a serious threat to broadleaved trees across the UK, has been eradicated in the UK. It was first detected in 2012 in poplars growing in mid-Kent. DEFRA press release.
UK Timber prices boom Forest Research have released the latest stats on timber production and timber prices for the UK. FR Stats. The average price for coniferous standing sales was £31.66 per cubic metre in the year to March 2019, an increase from £24.64 in the year to March 2018.
The bill for ash dieback The impacts and knock-on effects of ash dieback (ADB) (aka Chalara) to the British economy are estimated at nearly £15 billion. UK experts calculate the costs will exceed £7 billion in the next 10 years alone, comprising clean-up costs at £4.8 billion plus replanting and research, and loss of profits for the forestry sector. Call us if you wish to know more or require assistance in managing your ash tree stock to ensure long-term woodland cover and the H&S element of your trees located near public roads and buildings etc.
Lyme disease. An e-petition is circulating calling on the UK Government to set up an NHS centre of excellence for Lyme disease. Take a look and please consider signing it
Oakbank is recruiting! We are looking for a forestry graduate to join our woodland advisory team. Based at Ellington the successful candidate will join a dynamic team of consultants delivering high quality woodland management plans across East Anglia and the East Midlands. We are looking for someone with a real passion for the countryside, for woodland and for conservation as well as an understanding of the role that shooting plays within this. He/she must be a recent graduate in a forestry related course, a good communicator and self-motivated, with a practical knowledge of woodland management.
GWCT shoot walk at Hainey Farm, Nr Ely.
General Licence Fiasco:
Following Natural England’s ill-advised decision to revoke the general licence for controlling pigeons and corvids (among other species) Defra has now taken over the administration of the licencing.
IMPORTANT: You have until 13th May to respond to Defra’s call for evidence. It is essential that anyone who needs to control corvids or pigeons for the protection of crops or more importantly our farmland birds responds to this questionnaire. Don’t wait for others to do it – our farmland birds need YOU.
Whilst Defra are trying to make a decision you can apply for a personal licence to control corvids for the protection of flora and fauna:
Environmental Stewardship Diary
ELS May – Extended over-winter stubbles (EF22) – Undesirable weed species such as blackgrass, sterile brome and wild oats can be controlled by spraying the affected areas from 15th May.
MID-TIER CS – Nectar Flower Mix (AB1) – rotationally cut 50% of each plot before 31st May, taking care to avoid ground nesting birds; Enhanced overwinter stubble (AB6) – you can spray problem grass weeds from May 15th BUT please remember this option should not be located on fields where you know you have bad blackgrass issues.
MID –TIER APPLICATIONS 2019 – the window for requesting a Mid-Tier application pack closes on 31st May. If you would like to apply for a Mid-Tier scheme with a start date of 1st Jan 2020 you must request a pack before this date. The completed application must then be submitted by 31st July 2019. Please contact Matt in the office if you need any assistance.
Game crops in May – It’s dry! Great if you are an early hatching pheasant chick but not so great if you are trying to prepare a seedbed! Please wait until you can guarantee drilling seed into moisture before you even consider it. Remember to get the majority of the crop’s fertilizer requirement in the seedbed before drilling. Game crops have a short growing season and need easily available nutrients to help them grow.
Row widths – we make no apology for reiterating the need to ensure crops are drilled on wide enough rows. We do issue game crop agronomy sheets detailing recommended seed rates and row widths so please read them! Far too many crops are drilled on too narrow rows making the crop unattractive to game birds, which prefer room to move about whilst protected by the height and canopy afforded by the crop.
Shows in May/June – Oakbank will have a stand at the following events:
- Saturday 18th May - Bedfordshire YFC Rally at Walducks Farm, Stewkley;
- Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th May – Suffolk Show, Trinity Park, Ipswich;
- Sunday 2rd June – Cambridgeshire Show at Wimpole Hall;
- 26th & 27th June – Groundswell 2019 at Lannock Manor Farm, Weston, Hitchin.
We look forward to catching up with some of you at one or more of these events.
Grants for Sprayer Filling Areas:
On 15th May at Hail Weston Farms, St.Neots, Andrew Down, Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer for our part of the Ouse catchment is hosting a meeting to look at filling areas and to discuss design principles, grants and consent requirements.
This is designed to be helpful to anyone who is planning to install a new filling area in the future with a practical demonstration of the principals involved.
Noble chafer survey – if you have a traditional orchard or wood pasture, especially in the south-east of England, the PTES is encouraging you to look out for the rare Noble chafer beetle this May and June. Find out more at https://ptes.org/campaigns/noble-chafer-beetles/
Tick Time Again - With the weather warming up, it is tick season again, bringing with it the risk of Lyme disease. Please be aware and read about this potentially crippling disease on the Royal Forestry Society Fact Sheet on Ticks
UK Wildfire Increase – Due to the incredibly warm and dry winter and spring, the UK has already had more wildfires in 2019 than any year on record, reports New Scientist. Wildfires (landscape fires) were always something that happened elsewhere, in hot countries, however due to the UK’s changing climate we are experiencing more and more, year on year. If you have large areas of woodland, then the fuel load, access and future management should be seriously considered to protect them.
Ancient Woodland Inventory update - The Government has awarded a grant of £210,000 to kick-start a £1.5-million collaboration with Natural England to update and widen the Ancient Woodland Inventory database, reports the Woodland Trust. The inventory, which is managed by Natural England, is a map-based record of around 52,000 ancient woodlands, but there are many more which are missing. This funding will allow them to be properly recognised and recorded to hopefully pave the way for improved woodland management funding.
Future Forestry Adaptation - With ever-increasing discussions and debates about the impacts of climate change, biosecurity and increase frequency of wild fires, Forest England (new name for the Forestry Commission) has produced a small video demonstrating what it has in mind for Thetford Forest? Read and watch the BBC coverage here.
Tree health survey - The Forestry Commission is running a simple survey to sound-out woodland owners’ and users’ views on threats on this vital topic. If you have 3 minutes: Tell them what you know and think
Oakbank Game & Conservation Ltd is looking to recruit a recent graduate to its woodland consultancy team. Based at Ellington in Cambridgeshire the successful candidate will join a dynamic team of consultants delivering high quality woodland management across East Anglia and the East Midlands. Oakbank was established in 2005 and is now a well-respected name in farmland conservation and woodland management, with a large client base of farms and sporting estates across the UK and in to Europe.
We are looking for someone with a real passion for the countryside, for woodland and for conservation as well as an understanding of the role that shooting plays within this. You must be a recent graduate in a forestry related course, a good communicator and self-motivated, with a practical knowledge of woodland management. You will work with our expert team to gain further experience and to help you become a member of the Institute of Chartered Foresters.
Oakbank also delivers Mid and Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship Schemes across the UK, as well as supplying seed and advice to deliver successful game covers and conservation crops.
Package, to include vehicle, commensurate with experience.