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E-News August

ELS AUGUST6m buffer strips (EE3 and EE9) – if you have included some wild flowers in your buffer strips (EE12) you may now cut the whole 6m strip and remove the cuttings.

Uncropped, cultivated areas for ground-nesting birds (EF13) – from 1st August can be returned to the normal rotation. If they are sighted in areas which could produce a drive or a holding area then you could establish a catch crop asap.

Extended over-winter stubbles (EF22) – from 1st August can be sprayed off with glyphosate and can return to normal farm management from 15th August.

Management of rush pastures (EK4) – up to a third of the area of rushes in each field can now be cut.

CSS OPTIONS AUGUST – Nectar flower mix (AB1) – if not already done so, establish mix by 30th August;

Nesting plots for lapwings and stone curlew (AB5) – from 1st August they can be sprayed off, cultivated and sown with mustard/turnips to provide extra partridge holding cover; 

Enhanced overwinter stubble (AB6) – return to normal farm rotation from 1st August;

Flower-rich margins and plots (AB8) – cut (and remove if dense) or graze 90% of the area between 15th August and 31st October to leave a plant height of between 10cm and 20cm - leave 10% of the area uncut or ungrazed;

Two-year sown legume fallow (AB15) – establish mix as soon as possible after harvest and before 7th September;

Autumn sown bumblebird mix (AB16) - establish mix as soon as possible after harvest and before 7th September

Game Crops

Whilst some areas of the country had over an inch of rain last weekend, many parts only had a few mm. The drought has caused huge problems with game cover establishment and there is understandable concern that there will be very little cover in which to release redlegs and many cover crop drives are at risk. There is no point in trying to establish fast growing brassicas unless you can guarantee the seed will be sown into damp soil. Broadcasting mustard into gappy or thin game crops will also only work if the seed has contact with moist soil. If you are really up against it then see if the farm will leave a strip of unharvested crop for you or at least a long stubble. Realistically you have this month to get a catch crop established that might deliver decent winter cover. Sowing brassicas into September is unlikely to be successful.   


Whilst we have seen some great benefits from using cover and companion crops, the drought this year means that it is questionable whether planting these crops will be successful. If you have had some rain and are looking to establish a short-term cover between harvest and a second winter crop, a longer-term cover before a spring crop or a companion crop to help with oilseed rape establishment we can help! We have access to some of the best varieties of berseem clover, black oats and oil radish as well as other species such as phacelia, vetch, buckwheat, forage rye, brown and white mustard. To help you get the maximum benefit from these crops we need to know where they fit in the rotation, how long they need to last and any underlying issues that you want the crop to help improve. We also need to know if they have to qualify towards your EFA requirement. And then we need to do a rain dance!


  1. Forestry Commission Ash Dieback Update.

  2. Already this year we have started to see more significant impacts of the disease in the East Anglian region.

Foresters and landowners are being asked to continue to be vigilant for signs of infection, and to regularly inspect their ash trees. In particular, they should consider any safety concerns from the risk of falling branches or whole tree failure from infected trees.

The Forestry Commission website http://www.forestry.gov.uk/ashdieback provides advice and guidance on how to spot, report and manage the disease.

The Government does not encourage the felling of non-infected ash trees or infected trees which do not pose a danger to the public. Such trees should be retained in the landscape where they will continue to provide many amenity and biodiversity benefits. Guidance for felling dangerous, infected trees from the Forest Industry Safety Accord (FISA) is summarised below and restoration grants are available to support replanting.

  1. Chalara (ash dieback) can make felling dead ash trees a particular risk to safety.

    The Forest Industry Safety Accord have provided guidance on planning operations to reduce risk of accident or injury.

Chalara weakens the natural defence of an ash tree, which can allow Honey fungus (Armillaria mellea) to attack. As a result, industry professionals may have to harvest trees which have a very high proportion of deadwood in the crown, with no significant fibre strength at felling height. Careful planning is essential to help ensure the safety of chainsaw operators working in these areas.

The primary consideration must be whether the job can be done by other means. The best control measure is to use mechanical harvesting equipment, where the operator is in a protective cab. Where this is not possible, its very important that a chainsaw operator is both competent and properly equipped.

  1. First UK Tree Champion Announced


    A new Tree Champion to drive forward planting rates and prevent the unnecessary felling of street trees has been appointed by Environment Secretary Michael Gove. Sir William Worsley, current Chair of the National Forest Company, has been tasked with setting the course for the country’s forests and woodlands over the next 25 years and supporting the Government’s manifesto commitments to plant 11 million trees, plus a further one million in our towns and cities.

Link to https://www.gov.uk/government/news/tree-champion-to-expand-englands-woodland

Zig Zag Sawfly

Sadly, another imported tree pest has been discovered in the UK and is beginning to spread quite rapidly - The Elm Zigzag Sawfly (Aproceros leucopoda) was first recorded in Dorking, Surrey in 2017 and it has the potential to become a major competitor of other foliage-feeding species on elm. Elm trees that remain in hedgerows and field margins still support a large diversity of insects, most notably the rare white-letter hairstreak butterfly (Satyrium w-album) and white-spotted pinion moth (Cosmia diffinis); elm thus remains an ecologically important tree. The Zig Zag Sawfly can cause significant defoliation (74-98%) and this level of increased stress on an already stressed species is not good for many other UK species. Keep an eye out for it and report. Please see Forest Research link, photo of damaged leaf and current distribution map below:



  1. FISA Membership

  2. Oakbank are now proudly a corporate member of The Forestry Industry Safety Accord (FISA) which demonstrates a commitment to improving the health, safety and welfare of the woodland management industry. Over 30 founding members have already signed up including four of the largest contracting businesses in the UK and the Forestry Contracting Association. We will be kept up to date with all H&S related topics, issues and developments within the woodland management sector and therefore be able to pass on this knowledge and guidance into the woodlands we manage adding greater value to our customers.