Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
The launch of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) in 2022 and the subsequent options added in 2023, allows farmers to adopt and maintain sustainable farming practices that will help improve our environment.

 

You can apply for a 3-year SFI agreement to undertake environmental land management actions that will help you to manage your land in a sustainable way. There are 6 SFI actions to choose from, and some work in conjunction with existing Countryside Stewardship.

As SFI is so comprehensive and detailed, in this edition, we will focus on ‘Integrated Pest Management’.

 

IPM is focused on:

Actions & payments for IPM

IPM1

Assess integrated pest management and produce a plan

£989 per year

IPM2

Sow flower-rich grass margins, blocks, or in-field strips

£673 per hectare

IPM3

Use a companion crop on arable land

£55 per hectare

IPM4

No use of insecticide on arable crops and permanent crops

       

 

If you decide to apply for one of these actions, it should help you with managing crop pests, diseases and weed control, and minimise the use of pesticides – leading to increased biodiversity and improvements to water quality, soil and air quality.

To maximise your sustainable farming options, we have designed seed mixtures that are eligible for IPM actions:

IPM2 – Flower-rich margin seed mixture, containing 80% grasses and 20% native UK wildflowers. Ideal for blocks or in-field strips; the mixture, once established will provide habitat and food for predators and pollinators.

IPM3 – Our Grass and clover mixture can be under sown with cereals and our Maize grass mixture can be used to under sow a maize crop, providing an understory habitat.

We suggest, before you decide which SFI action suits your business, that you check out the application process, rules, and payments at:

Sustainable Farming Incentive guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Limagrain provides feed for endangered bird species
The campaign to increase numbers of turtle doves in the UK and stave off extinction of this endangered species is benefitting from feed supplies from seed company Limagrain UK.

Donations of small seeds typically turnips and peas and oilseed rape screenings from the company’s seed plant in Norfolk, that would otherwise be wasted, are supporting birds on the independent Turtle Dove Breeding Project. This project, co-ordinated by Trevor Lay of Waveney Wildlife, supplies all the captive bred birds to the Turtle Dove Trust for release purposes.

“We use mostly domestic, fostering Java Doves and we also encourage the Turtle Doves to rear at least one or two broods themselves,” says Trevor.

The breeding project supplies around 500 turtle doves each year, free of charge. The majority to the Turtle Dove Trust, and to other conservationists or release projects.

Trevor puts the seed material on a range of different ground surfaces such as scrubby grass, gravel, different sand types, ballast and granite chippings, so the young birds get used to foraging for all their seeds. “They are then familiar with searching on different terrain when they are released.

“We aim to release over-wintered birds once the oilseed rape and barley harvest is well underway, so the birds have plentiful feed supplies locally and are not tempted to migrate.”

The UK population has declined by almost 90% during the past 40 years. Captive breeding is helping to ensure that this species of dove does not face extinction. But it relies on donations and so we are always delighted when companies and individuals step up to the mark to help the project.

To learn more about the amazing work this charity is doing to help Turtle Dove populations, visit Turtle Dove Trust 
Reasons to Establish a Legume Fallow

January 2023 saw six new Sustainable Farm Incentive (SFI) standards published, to add to the three existing standards introduced in 2022.

These new standards add a further 19 “actions” that aim to encourage sustainable practices and importantly, increase the number of ways farmers in England can help mitigate the reduction in Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments.

For arable farmers, it’s likely that one of the “actions” with the biggest uptake will be to “Establish and maintain a legume fallow”, as its aims and benefits are virtually identical to the already popular “AB15: Two-year sown legume fallow” option in Countryside Stewardship.

The action pays £593/Ha (the same as AB15) and aims to provide food for pollinators and farmland birds whilst helping to support an integrated pest management (IPM) approach. We know from experience with AB15 that sowing a seed mixture such as LG Legume 2 which meets the required specification, can be a great tool to help reduce blackgrass populations, increase fertility, soil organic matter (SOM) and improve soil structure.

Ensuring these benefits are realised to their full does, however, require the same attention to detail as any other crop.

Reducing blackgrass populations is reliant on ensuring that no new seed is shed for the 2-year duration of the mixture. Under both schemes, the mix can be cut for the purpose of controlling blackgrass which in practice will be 2-3 mowings, timed so that the blackgrass has headed and flowered, but not yet produced viable seed. With correct management, the blackgrass seed bank can be expected to reduce by 70-80% per year.

The legumes within the mix will of course fix atmospheric nitrogen, so there’s no need to apply any fertiliser and there should be significant residual nitrogen remaining for the following crop. It is, however, worth thinking further ahead as ideally there should be a 5-year gap before any pulses are grown, to avoid potential foot rot or nematode issues.

Mixture choice is also very important. The legume fallow mixture can be selected with or without grass (perennial ryegrass), with the correct choice coming down to individual circumstances. A mix with grass will more successfully smother both blackgrass and broad-leaved weeds, and is likely to contribute more SOM than without. Mowing the mixture to control blackgrass will also ensure that no ryegrass seed is returned to the soil, but those without blackgrass problems may be best with a no grass mixture, to avoid future problems with weed ryegrass.

Whichever mix is chosen, sowing should happen as soon as possible after harvest – ideally in August, to make the most of warm soil temperatures.

Download the latest edition of LG GatePost here

Cover Crops for Arable Rotations

The introduction of the Sustainable Farming Incentive (SFI) this year, allows farmers who currently receive Basic Payment Scheme payments to apply for SFI, under which payments will be made for soil improvement.

The are 3 levels of payment for the Arable and Horticultural standard:

 

The use of green manures, catch and cover crops will help to:

Fodder radish has deep roots and good biomass

Fodder radish has deep roots & good biomass

 

There are many species of catch and cover crops to choose from; fodder radishes such as Romesa, have good biomass and are very deep rooting to help compacted soils.

White mustard is another useful cover crop – Severka is fast growing and if sown early, can produce bags of biomass in a short period of time.

Multi species seeds mixtures such as Green Reward are also useful, and contain 7 species to comply with the Intermediate level.

Lift N Fix contains vetch, along with Humbolt winter rye. This mixture is a highly effective nitrogen lifter and provides great cover, which helps suppress weeds before incorporation into the soil.

New guide provides comprehensive blueprint to conservation and gamecover crops

Limagrain UK has introduced new formulations of crop mixtures that meet the latest Countryside Stewardship (CSS) options. These are included in its 2021 HiBird Conservation & Game Cover Crops guide, published recently.

This 36-page guide includes crops for attracting farmland birds and pollinators, as well as grass field margins and in wildflower areas.  It has a comprehensive section for gamecover crops including maize, sorghums, kale, and autumn sown catch crop options.

Importantly, the guide has a clear two-page summary to the crops that fulfil each Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) options, and a table that gives an instant snapshot of each HiBird product, its use, sowing time and seed rate and pack size. And to suit demand, Limagrain is now offering HiBird seed in 0.5 ha pack sizes. Another new addition to is the inclusion of a seed treatment on its game cover maize to prevent bird damage.

“The Government intends removing it’s three greening requirements in 2021 in England so the focus will be on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme to replace some of these areas. The new ELM scheme is currently under evaluation, but options look likely to include whole field options, as well as the traditional margin areas,” says Limagrain UK Forage Marketing Director Martin Titley.

“We think this is the junction when farmers and growers will need to review their conservation areas and see what works well for them, so they can make changes that best meet CSS and that will also help them in the transition to the new ELM scheme.”

Limagrain’s HiBird Conservation & Gamecover crops brochure 2021 is available from Laura Davey on 01472 370151, laura.davey@limagrain.co.uk or downloaded below

LIMAGRAIN 2021 HIBIRD CONSERVATION AND GAMECOVER CROP GUIDE

New Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMS)

The government published an ambitious 25-year environment plan in 2018. The aim is to become the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, including a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Some of these challenges will be met by the launch of the new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), which is due to be rolled out in 2024.

This new Scheme is likely to have 3 main tiers, focusing on different areas:

Tier 1 focusing on environmentally sustainable farming, including soil protection and improvement, field margins and cover crops. Aimed to be easy for farmers to engage with.

Tier 2 locally targeted environmental outcomes, including habitat creation.

Tier 3 landscape scale land use change projects, including forestry and woodland creation.

Some lessons learned from previous Schemes include: a need to have a high level of uptake, better objectives, not overly prescriptive and better access to advisory services – all of which are welcomed. Limagrain UK will continue to monitor the Scheme’s progression, with a view to develop and test some new seed mixtures that will help deliver some of the environmental objectives.

Look out for future updates.

Details for the ELMS timeframes

Limagrain donates valuable bird feed to the Turtle Dove Trust

The Turtle Dove Trust is a registered charity, based in north Suffolk, that breeds turtle doves in captivity, with the aim of releasing birds back into the wild.

Turtle doves are an endangered species; the UK population has declined by almost 90% during the last 30-40 years, and captive breeding will help to ensure that this beautiful species of dove does not face extinction, explains Trevor Lay of the East Anglia branch of the Turtle Dove Trust.

“A key part of the project is to feed the released doves until they migrate in the autumn. Ideally this will reduce the need for them to migrate to parts of Europe and North Africa, where they are still actively hunted.”

This is where Limagrain was able to help the Trust. Earlier this year, the company donated several tonnes of oilseed rape screenings, which has provided supplementary feeding for the released birds in gateways, tracks and headlands, as they adjust to foraging for their natural diet.

As a charity, the Trust has very limited funds Trevor explains, so we are always delighted when companies and individuals step up to the mark to help the project. Anyone wanting to find out more about the Trust, please contact him via email on: waveneywildlife@gmail.com

Forage crop specialist joins Limagrain UK

Henry Louth has joined Limagrain UK’s commercial team as key account manager for forage crops in the Midlands and northern England.

Henry Louth has joined Limagrain UK’s commercial team as key account manager for forage crops in the Midlands and northern England. He will also promote Limagrain’s environmental crops and advise on the options for cover crops and stewardship schemes.

Henry Louth Limagrain UK key account manager for forage cropsFrom a Lincolnshire family farming business, Henry studied countryside management at Harper Adams University. He worked in the family’s fresh produce packaging business then, after graduating, he had a sales role with Boston Seeds, marketing grass seed, wildflower seeds and forage crops.

Henry is based in Lincolnshire. A country pursuits enthusiast, Henry also enjoys working Labradors and conservation.

Growers take extra interest in wild bird mixtures in quest to keep their options open this year

Environmental seed mixtures that provide a multi-purpose crop are attracting great interest this year, due in part to a degree of uncertainty surrounding the shooting season.

“Wild bird seed mixtures such as Jack Russell is suitable for CSS options AB9 and OP2, attracts farmland birds and also offers game bird cover,” says Limagrain’s Martin Titley. “It comprises spring triticale, millets, oilseed radish, grain sorghum and sunflower and each species plays its part.”

Triticale and millet offer a seed source at variable heights, and the inclusion of grain sorghum gives structure and promotes the mixture’s winter hardiness, with millet seed shed from early autumn  and oilseed radish providing later feed.

The standing power of this grain sorghum provides cover for many birds and is particularly popular with shoots because of its ability to provide driving cover.

James Grantham, Agrii Agronomist growsLimagrain's  wild bird seed mixture Jack Russell as a multi purpose cover cropJames Grantham, based in south Lincolnshire, agrees that the uncertainty surrounding shooting this year is putting some growers off relying too much on game maize, and many want a crop that is better for conservation and meets the specifications if they are on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS).

An Agrii agronomist, James also helps to run his family’s arable unit and small family shoot and grows Jack Russell in blocks on the farm.

“This crop isn’t used just for a cover crop for game birds, but also because it’s a useful crop for feeding game and wild birds. It also suits some of the environmental schemes that we’re in,” he explains.

“Jack Russell is suitable for the CSS option AB9 and, because it’s attracts and supports farmland birds and insects, it helps us to meet both Entry Level and Higher Level Scheme requirements. And my clients who also grow the mixture for game cover would agree that it also helps them to tick the environmental scheme boxes.

James has a client who switched from growing maize as a game cover crop to Jack Russell because he had a large population of deer on his farm. “In dry conditions, like those we’re experiencing at the moment, food can be scarce for deer and newly emerging maize shoots are very inviting. Deer love this crop and will graze it hard.

“But they don’t seem to like sorghum, which is a key component in this mixture. And I have a client who has grown it in place of maize for the past two years and it gives plenty of game cover, plus the other environment benefits of growing a more diverse crop.”

He adds that for commercial shoots – with or without a deer problem – Jack Russell is an attractive option for game cover, simply because it ticks more boxes.

“Around 75% of my clients would be growing Jack Russell as game cover and the remaining 25% to meet CSS requirements.”

James grows the crop in blocks, rather than field margins, sowing in May, once there’s been sufficient rain. “There has to be moisture in the light sandy Lincolnshire soils to ensure germination. And sorghum doesn’t like cold soil, so I’m looking for temperatures above 10OC.” Limagrains Jack Russell wildbird seed mixture at RSPB Frampton

Another attraction is the lack of kale in the mix. “Some game crop and environmental mixtures include kale. Jack Russell doesn’t,” he adds. “Growers like this – particularly in Lincolnshire – because kale can attract flea beetle which is a UK-wide problem and it’s certainly a serious issue for OSR growers in Lincolnshire.

“You can spray for flea beetle but, again, spraying an environmental crop with an insecticide is as daft as it sounds. Growers don’t want to be doing that – it’s time consuming and expensive.”

He does think that some potential growers are also put off because the mix contains several species and is more difficult to ‘keep clean’ with a herbicide, but Stomp Aqua is an option if necessary.

“That’s why some prefer to stick with maize, despite it not helping with CSS or wild-bird and insect populations. They want a weed free crop with a clear ‘bottom’ to allow birds to move around more easily.

“But I have some clients who have switched to a multi-purpose mixture this year due to uncertainly around Covid-19 restrictions. They’re looking to tick other boxes this year, rather than simply focusing on game birds.

“They’re thinking in broader terms about the environment and looking improve biodiversity on their farms. Mixtures that are very good for the environment – that attract and support insects and wild birds – are great options.”

Popular wild bird seed mixture keeps options open

A wild bird seed mixture – comprising spring triticale, millets, oilseed radish, grain sorghum and sunflower – is proving very popular this spring, as farmers and growers are looking more towards sowing multi-purpose crop

Jack Russell is attracting a lot of interest this year,” says Limagrain’s Martin Titley.

“The uncertainty surrounding shooting this year is putting some growers off relying too much on game maize, and many want a crop that is better for conservation and meets the specifications if they are on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS).

“This wild bird seed mixture can offer it all. It is suitable for CSS options AB9 and OP2, attracts farmland birds and also offers game bird cover.”

James Grantham, based in south Lincolnshire, agrees. An Agrii agronomist, he also helps to run his family’s arable unit and small family shoot and grows
Jack Russell in blocks on the farm.

“This crop isn’t used just for a cover crop for game birds, but also because it’s a useful crop for feeding game and wild birds. It also suits some of the environmental schemes that we’re in,” he explains.Limagrains Jack Russell wildbird seed mixture at RSPB Frampton

“Jack Russell is suitable for the CSS option AB9 and, because it’s attracts and supports farmland birds and insects, it helps us to meet both Entry Level and Higher Level Scheme requirements. And my clients who also grow the mixture for game cover would agree that it also helps them to tick the environmental scheme boxes.

“It’s a multi-tasker – that’s just one reason why it’s an attractive option for growers. It offers three things – game cover, wild-bird feed and CSS compliance.”

James has a client who switched from growing maize as a game cover crop to Jack Russell because he had a large population of deer on his farm. “In dry conditions, like those we’re experiencing at the moment, food can be scarce for deer and newly emerging maize shoots are very inviting. Deer love this crop and will graze it hard.

“But they don’t seem to like sorghum, which is a key component in this mixture. And I have a client who has grown it in place of maize for the past two years and it gives plenty of game cover, plus the other environment benefits of growing a more diverse crop.”

He adds that for commercial shoots – with or without a deer problem – Jack Russell is an attractive option for game cover, simply because it ticks more boxes.

“Around 75% of my clients would be growing Jack Russell as game cover and the remaining 25% to meet CSS requirements.”

James GranthamJames grows the crop in blocks, rather than field margins, sowing in May, once there’s been sufficient rain. “There has to be moisture in the light sandy Lincolnshire soils to ensure germination. And sorghum doesn’t like cold soil, so I’m looking for temperatures above 10OC.”

The mixture of species in Jack Russell brings multiple benefits. Sunflowers offer a very colourful crop, and the triticale and millet offer a seed source at variable heights.

The inclusion of grain sorghum gives structure and promotes the mixture’s winter hardiness, with millet seed shed from early autumn  and oilseed radish providing later feed.

The standing power of this grain sorghum provides cover for many birds and is particularly popular with shoots because of its ability to provide driving cover.

“Shoots can tick all the boxes without taking too much land out of commercial use – this is a multi-tasker,” adds James.

Another attraction is the lack of kale in the mix. “Some game crop and environmental mixtures include kale. Jack Russell doesn’t. Growers like this – particularly in Lincolnshire – because kale can attract flea beetle which is a UK-wide problem and it’s certainly a serious issue for OSR growers in Lincolnshire.

“You can spray for flea beetle but, again, spraying an environmental crop with an insecticide is as daft as it sounds. Growers don’t want to be doing that – it’s time consuming and expensive.”

He does think that some potential growers are also put off because the mix contains several species and is more difficult to ‘keep clean’ with a herbicide, but Stomp Aqua is an option if necessary.

“That’s why some prefer to stick with maize, despite it not helping with CSS or wild-bird and insect populations. They want a weed free crop with a clear ‘bottom’ to allow birds to move around more easily.

“But I have some clients who have switched to Jack Russell this year due to uncertainly around Covid-19 restrictions. They’re looking to tick other boxes this year, rather than simply focusing on game birds.

“They’re thinking in broader terms about the environment and looking improve biodiversity on their farms. Mixtures that are very good for the environment – that attract and support insects and wild birds – are great options.”

WILD BIRD SEED MIXTURE ADDS VALUE AT RSPB FRAMPTON

 

The value of growing Jack Russell as an environmental crop for attracting wild birds was demonstrated at the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh, near Boston in Lincolnshire, where three acres were grown in 2019, supplied by Limagrain UK.

“We were pleased with how the mixture performed,” says RSPB Frampton’s warden Toby Collett. “The sunflowers are the obvious feature and attract bees and other pollinators, including hoverflies and butterflies, during the summer.”

As the heads mature and produce seed the insects are replaced by seed-eating birds. “At Frampton this means particularly large flocks of declining house sparrows, but also good numbers of greenfinches.”

He adds that the other species in the mixture provide feed for pheasants, partridges, finches and buntings.

“The plants seed at different heights to suit different species and they shed seed from early autumn and through until Christmas,” he says, confirming that, due to its success, Jack Russell is being used again in 2020.

 

Conservation crops provide key focus in new Limagrain publication

Limagrain has published its latest HiBird publication with increased emphasis on the sowing options for Countryside stewardship and environmental management schemes.

Available online or in print, the LG Conservation and Gamecover Crops brochure assigns each of its 17 sowing options – from beetle banks to wild bird food and crops for pollinators – to the particular Countryside Stewardship options that it is suited to, and lists its particular environmental benefits. All options, apart from the EFA fallow land options, meet the higher and mid-tier schemes.

One of its most popular wild bird mixtures suitable for AB9 is Jack Russell mixture; a herbicide tolerant mixture of spring triticale, millet, oilseed radish, grain sorghum and sunflower. “This gives fantastic colour and feed for a year,” says Limagrain’s Martin Titley. “It is typically sown in May or June and sheds seed from early autumn with the grain sorghum giving structure and winter hardiness.”

Hibird Conservation and Gamecover Mixtures 2020

A crop pollinator option, in the HiBird portfolio, is the Multispecies Ley mixture, which is a combination of grass, legume and wildflower varieties. “This meets a range of Countryside Stewardship options and also creates legume and herb-rich swards that is productive for sheep and cattle and will also improve soil structure” he adds.

“And if farmers are looking grass buffer strips that will produce new wildlife habitats and, if used near watercourses, help prevent pollutants form surface run-off, the CFE Field Margin Mix is well-suited and includes low growing grasses, legumes and wildflowers.

“Conservation and environmental cropping schemes will play a larger part in our future land management,” says Mr Titley. “We’ve made the latest HiBird portfolio as comprehensive as possible to guide growers on the most suitable conservation and gamecover crops. The range includes seed mixtures for all UK farmland sites and environmental schemes.

“We encourage growers to be discerning with their choices and select those seeds mixtures that best suits their own situation so they can maximise the benefits.”

Download the LG Conservation and Gamecover Crops brochure here

Seed products offer soil benefits

Improved soil structure, weed control and more efficient fertiliser use, are all benefits to be gained by growing a cover crop.

You can take full benefit of an ‘added value’ cover crop after cereal or maize harvest, which will maximise your soils’ potential. Soil is one of your most valued natural resources, so it’s important to make good cropping choices that will help improve its properties.

There are many species of cover crop to choose from. Oilseed radishes (such as Edwin) have beet cyst nematode (BCN) resistance, as well as a very deep rooting system that will help compacted soils. White mustard is another useful cover crop; it is fast growing and if sown early, has bags of biomass. Varieties such as Vitaro are a non-host to both potato cyst nematode and cereal cyst nematodes.

Mixtures are also useful, especially if you are on EFA land. Sprinter is a mixture of black oat silke, and vetch. It is ideal for later sowing and acts as a good weed suppressant. The vetch is a legume species, so will produce free Nitrogen too. Lift N Fix also contains vetch, along with winter forage rye variety; Humbolt. This mixture is a highly effective Nitrogen lifter and can be grazed in early spring after the EFA period.