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Welcome to Kings' July e-newsletter. This edition shares what we know about potential EFA changes so far, highlights the need to continue monitoring crops, encourages growers to consider Countryside Stewardship and autumn sown options, reviews recent events and introduces eastern technical advisor, Paul Brown.

twitter bird logoTo stay up to date with the latest news from the field, keep in touch with the Kings advisory team and find out what other growers are up to in tweets like those below, follow Kings on Twitter. 

enews July17 tweets

 Meehal 2





 Meehal Grint

Kings central technical advisor

Proposed EFA changes for 2018

enews July17 green coverProposed EU Commission changes to the Ecological Focus Area (EFA) system are causing concern and uncertainty among many growers. The changes are yet to be confirmed and would apply only from 2018; they do not affect any EFA rules in 2017. There is no need to take any action now, though it’s worth considering the options for 2018.

Among the proposals is an expectation that the use of agrochemicals on peas and beans in EFAs will be banned. This will mean few if any growers will continue this option, and will instead need to turn to the other EFA options in 2018: fallow, hedges, buffers and catch and cover crops.

Catch crops (planted between harvest and autumn drilling) and cover crops (planted between harvest and spring drilling) are therefore expected to become more popular and will need to be planned for autumn 2018.

If this may be an option for you next year, it might be useful to try an area this autumn. With harvest now well underway, establishing a cover crop behind the combine from July to September has fantastic benefits as well as meeting EFA requirements (detailed below) if required. Crops such as oil radish capture nutrients left over in the soil from the previous cash crop, as well as improving soil biota and structure and reducing soil erosion. Land that is fallow now presents another opportunity, as a short term cover crop can revitalise the soil in as little as eight weeks before autumn drilling.

To identify the best options for your business, expert advice is essential. Speak to your local Kings or Frontier contact or call 0800 587 9797.

  Catch crop Cover crop




A mixture of at least one cereal (rye, oats or barley) and one non-cereal (vetch, phacelia, mustard, oil radish or lucerne).

Sown by 31st August and retained until 1st October, after which the crop can be grazed or destroyed.

A mixture of at least one cereal (rye, oats or barley) and one non-cereal (vetch, phacelia, mustard, oil radish or lucerne).

Must be sown by 1st October and retained until 15th January.




A cereal nurse crop with undersown grass

Established between 1st March and 1st August

Retained until 31st December.

Must consist of two or more of only the following crops: alfalfa, barley, clover, mustard, oats, phacelia , radish, rye, triticale and vetch

Established between 1st March and 1st October

Retained until 31st December.

Monitor late sown mixes

enews July17 pests


Most game cover and wild bird seed crops will now be well away as the coming season approaches, but some crops may be showing signs of stress, particularly after the recent lack of moisture and high heat. In these situations, foliar feeding can make a vast difference, enabling the crop to recover and kick on.

Where late sown mixtures have been established, keep monitoring for pests such as slugs, flea beetle, pigeons and hares. Should any be found, take appropriate action; a top dressing of fertiliser or foliar feed will encourage crops to grow away from damage. For brassica mixtures, keep an eye out for cabbage white butterflies too as their caterpillars can destroy crops in a matter of hours. Seek expert advice if you have concerns or are unsure. 


Harvest stewardship options

enews July17 autumn sowingMid Tier Countryside Stewardship applications must be submitted by 30th September for schemes starting in January 2018, but if you haven’t requested your application pack yet, you must do so by 31st July. The scheme offers valuable support in targeting soil and water issues, improving biodiversity or protecting the historic environment depending on the outcomes you choose for your business.

A particularly valuable option is to sow flower rich grass mix, nectar flower mix and wild bird seed mixtures in autumn. As well as helping to spread the workload, warm soil temperature, daylight length and moisture availability aid establishment and give crops a good start ahead of potentially poor weather and weed challenges in spring too.

To find out how autumn sown crops can meet your stewardship needs or for advice on new or existing Countryside Stewardship schemes, contact your local Kings or Frontier advisor, or call 0800 587 9797.

Making room for pollinators need not harm farm productivity

enews July17 cfe eventsFarmers attending two recent Campaign for the Farmed Environment events heard from experts that supporting pollinators and crop pest predators can help improve crop yields, delivering a win-win for farming and wildlife.

The two events, held in Hertfordshire and Gloucestershire, were in partnership with Kings and Syngenta. Speakers shared their research as well as guidance on managing margins for pollinators.

At the Hertfordshire event, Professor Richard Pywell (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) spoke, while Dr Jonathan Storkey (Rothamsted Research) presented in Gloucestershire.

The invited experts shared their findings from a six year, large scale study on a commercial arable farm with field beans, oilseed rape and wheat. Improved pollination combined with natural pest control led to increased crop yields, especially in field beans which saw a 35% increase. With improved yields overall, farm output was largely unaffected by taking 3% to 8% of land at field edges out of production to create habitats for beneficials. This will encourage farmers looking to increase crop yields while minimising their environmental impact.

Hertfordshire host farmer Robert Law said: “It’s all about having the right habitat, in the right quantity, in the right place. You don’t need a lot to make a difference.”

Read the full story here.

Meet Paul Brown

enews July17 paulThis month, Kings eastern technical advisor, Paul Brown tells us more about himself.

“I very much enjoy working for Kings as it has different challenges every day, helping farmers, land managers and gamekeepers to move their business in the countryside forward.  

As well as day to day advising, I’ve been heavily involved in our green cover crop research and development over the last five years. My chief interests at present are nematode control and nitrogen capture with cover crops, along with soil health and biogas crops.

In addition to being Kings’ eastern technical advisor, I’m fortunate to be the seed development manager for Frontier, which allows me to be involved in mainstream seed production for cereals, pulses and oilseeds, particularly on raw material selection. I’ve worked at Diss in Norfolk, which is one of the largest seed production units in the UK and where all Kings seed production takes place, for over 25 years.

With a family farming background in Berkshire and a lifelong interest in agriculture and the countryside, I gained my degree in agricultural plant science from Nottingham University. Since then I’ve worked with farmers’ crop production and seed needs for over 40 years, joining Kings to focus on game cover and stewardship back in the 1990s.

I now manage our family farm in Kent which is in Higher Tier Countryside Stewardship having just been in HLS for 10 years. When I’m not too busy with farm administration, I enjoy relaxing by birdwatching, walking on the North Norfolk coast, restoring vintage farm tractors and cooking.”

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