Thursday, 28 May 2015

Cover crop news - Summer 2015

It’s been a busy few months at Loddington as James Watchorn, Phil Jarvis and Richard Barnes have been planning, preparing and planting the spring-sown habitat crops. Having reviewed the performance of the crops through autumn and winter, it was agreed that the crops had achieved the desired results; the shooting season had been a great success, with significant progress seen from the increased area and diversity of cover crops, while farmland birds benefited from the extensive seed supply across the farm.

As we reviewed the first three years of the GWCT and Kings partnership, all agreed that good results
have been achieved in the demonstration and delivery of best practice for integrated game and wildlife management. Our focus is now on creating the diverse range of cover needed to meet the educational needs of a farm that received over 3,000 visitors in 2014, while also meeting Environmental Stewardship obligations and being at the forefront of habitat management.

We’re looking forward to the autumn period as Richard Barnes and Roger Draycott have set up a fascinating trial programme. It will focus on a range of brood-rearing mixtures that have been designed to meet the needs of farmland bird broods in the spring and early summer while coping with some of Loddington’s finest heavy clay soils.

From this work, we’ll look to develop further key components that can establish well in September, ready to deliver a mixed but open canopy and a diverse, insect-rich food source in May and June 2016. Monitoring will be essential to this work and will allow others to learn about the most effective techniques in this vital area for wild game management.

Kings will also be supporting the development and understanding of how green cover crops can benefit the farm, in terms of both agronomy and habitat. Interest in green cover prior to spring-sown arable crops has risen rapidly and the benefits to the rotation and water quality have been proven, but there is still plenty to learn about the benefits they can bring to the wider farmland environment. We look forward to sharing the results.

Get your FREE Cover Crops Guide from the GWCT

Click here to download your essential guide to which game cover crops to plant produced by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust.

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