Cover Crop Update from Allerton by Kings Crops


By Richard Barnes, Sales Manager for King Crops

Following a very wet, cold spring it’s increasingly apparent that habitats for wild game need to contain a combination of options. Reliance on one crop type literally puts all your eggs in one basket and, in challenging conditions, will most likely result in a messy omelette.

Our long-term work with the team at the Allerton Project at Loddington, has focused on creating multifunctional habitats to deliver benefits for gamebirds and the wider farmed environment. Autumn-sown brood-rearing and wild bird seed mixtures, put in to support the Interreg Grey Partridge Project, are well established coming into summer, even after the poor weather. Given the heavy soil at Loddington, establishing crops in late August/early September ensures overhead sanctuary and insect-rich brood-rearing habitat is ready for birds in the late spring/early summer.

We have seen some very exciting developments with novel crops such as sweet fennel and perennial rye, both of which are included in development mixtures at the Project. In addition to autumn sowing of these crops, we have planted spring-sown mixtures of the same components to compare the effect of timing.

Success needs an integrated approach, with autumn and spring wild bird seed mixtures creating a range of habitats. Layer these on top of second-year wild bird seed mixtures and perennial nectar or flower-rich margins and you will start to see, weather permitting, encouraging results.

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