A recent event promoting conservation and stewardship to farmers and land managers attracted 40 visitors keen to learn more about these important topics. The open evening on 28th June was organised by Kings Game Cover and Conservation Crops and was held at George Eaton's farm in Buckinghamshire - Rectory Farm.
Rectory Farm is a fully working and successful 148 acre mixed farm incorporating arable, sheep and, of course, stewardship management. The farm also organises a several informal shoots throughout the season.
Embracing the Campaign for the Farmed Environment
The event proved the perfect setting to demonstrate the management of habitats to improve biodiversity and encourage wildlife and farmland birds. Guests were taken on a tour of the farm to look at spring sown and autumn wild bird seed mixtures, wild flower areas, perennial cover strips and pollen and nectar areas. Successful implementation of varieties such as these can help growers to meet Campaign for the Farmed Environment (CFE) and stewardship scheme targets.
Kings' Manager, Richard Barnes led the discussions, with George Eaton providing valuable contributions to the debate. Representatives from the CFE, Natural England and the RSPB were also on hand to give advice and support.
The merits of mixtures with maize
One area that provoked a great deal of interest was the use of maize as a cover crop on farms that organise shoots, such as Rectory Farm. Although maize is clearly still a very popular cover crop, the event highlighted options available to managers other than planting maize as a single crop. Implementing a network of carefully selected seed mixtures will provide food sources for a wider range of farmland wildlife whilst still benefitting game species. Providing insect rich margins and overhead structure for key species identified in the UK's BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan), such as the grey partridge, is also beneficial. As these are perennial features, they can be relied upon all year round.
Richard Barnes said: "We've had a great event here tonight. George's farm is a good example of what can be achieved with some careful planning and management - farmers who reap the greatest rewards combine stewardship with their day to day farm management, they make it part of their plan, just as George has here. I'm sure those who joined us picked up some invaluable tips and we look forward to working with some of them on putting together their own stewardship action plan."
One farmer at the event, Andrew Pitts, of Grange Farm, Mears Ashby in Northamptonshire said: "I left feeling refreshed, invigorated and inspired to continue my own farmland habitat improvement work at home. It was great to see both George and his Natural England adviser working together so well by creating and managing excellent habitats through Environmental Stewardship."
Historically, Mr Eaton has been part of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme and more recently has entered into the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) agreements covering wet grassland, wild bird seed, pollen and nectar and grass margins.
Kings has been providing conservation advice and support to Mr Eaton for three years now. The farm is also used by Kings for on farm trials of innovative seed mixtures and new conservation management techniques.
The evening was one of a number of summer events being organised by Kings to help farmers and land managers across the UK find simple ways to become involved with and benefit from environmental stewardship schemes and the CFE.
For further details see www.kingscrops.co.uk or call Kings on 0800 587 9797.