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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)

MID-TIER CS 

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.