SFI: Having your Herbal Cake and eating it…

The new SFI schemes are prompting many conversations with our growers, especially around herbal leys and particularly SAM 3. Essentially, the new name for GS4 within the older Countryside Stewardship Scheme.

There are many mixtures available in the marketplace for growers to choose from that will be compliant with the scheme’s protocol. But it is not until you really pay attention to these mixtures and investigate what makes up their contents, that you see how different they all are.

A grower could end up with a herbal ley that grows just enough to require a topper over it once a year, or a herbal ley that will perform closer to the outputs of a conventional ley.

A frequent question from growers that are looking to sow a SAM3/GS4 herbal ley in place of a conventional grass ley is; can I maintain production whilst qualifying for the SFI scheme’s intentions, and be able to claim a payment?

In short, herbal leys simply will not match a top performing ley for yield or quality, but we know that we can get close with our mixtures.

Conventional grass mixtures have been designed and tested over many years using varieties that have been bred and cultivated over decades, such as our Circle leys, that have been true to their concept since 1947.

The best performing leys use varieties that complement and will grow together, in harmony. Scheme compliant mixtures simply do not have the ability to compete, whichever way you cut it – wildflowers and herbs will not yield, harmonise, or have the feed value in comparison with modern clovers and ryegrass.

You also have to factor in the animal’s desire to eat what is in front of it and whilst herbs sound ideal, too much is overpowering, and an animal will spend more energy looking for the alternative.

From our experience with CSS and lessons we have learnt, Nickerson and Limagrain have looked to get as close as we can with the mixtures.

First off, we use only seed of the highest quality and vigour and then design a herbal ley with the same approach as a conventional ley. Indeed, as for our SAM 3/GS4 mixtures we start with using one of our conventional leys as a base and remove/add in constituents to make it compliant.

We can also tailor a mixture to include more higher yielding and quality grasses and clovers and less productive legume types, herbs and wildflowers that will offer least in terms of production. We therefore offer different mixtures with different percentages of ryegrass and clover; all of which are compliant with the scheme but will suit growers’ requirements accordingly.

This year, I have been working with a grower, where we have been growing our multispecies 75 as seen in the pictures below.

SFI - have you herbal cake and eat it - J Payne

SFI - have you herbal cake and eat it - J Payne

These photos were taken on the 3rd of August, and this was its 4th cut of the year already and two grazes. Yields were to a point of causing an issue of what to do with the excess! Quality is also very high.

So, can you have your herbal cake and eat it? Well, talk to your local Nickerson Seed Specialist to find out…

Oilseed Rape Establishment 2023…. What have we learnt?

We are all too aware of the damage Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle (CSFB) can cause, it is fair to say that growers who have had no experience with this pest are few and far between and this year was no exception.

We started August with wet weather, which led to some growers drilling early to try and get the crop off and away from Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle. This has largely worked, consequently though there are some big canopies out there, which need to be carefully managed and growth regulators used where necessary.

Early August drilled Ambassador near Newbury, which is looking very well and was well enough established to grow through the main adult grazing period of cabbage stem flea beetle

Early August drilled Ambassador near Newbury looking very well and was well enough established to grow through the main adult grazing period of cabbage stem flea beetle

 

If there is a suspected high larvae count, work by AHDB does show that defoliation either through grazing or flailing can lead to a significant reduction in larvae – although caution needs applied, as this should not be considered after stem extension.

Then we had some hot weather towards the end of August. This undoubtedly drives flea beetle migration and activity, which yet again coincided around the bank holiday weekend. Crops drilled this year, 10 days before and days after the bank holiday weekend have struggled most, from what I have seen.

We then had wetter weather after the middle and end of September. This did lead to conducive growing conditions and these crops on the whole look okay, where not underwater. If crops are looking on the thin side, do not be disheartened just yet, OSR has an amazing ability to compensate for lost plants and fill-in gaps.

Slugs seem to have been more of a problem than Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle for some growers this year, thanks to weather conditions driving their activity. They really cannot be underestimated and require extreme vigilance early on.

In many cases, the crops were initially thinned by slugs and then the Cabbage Stem Flea Beetle attacked. The areas most devasted by slug damage are generally on the clay soils. However, the greatest risk and the most damage occurred where crops had been direct drilled with no tillage. In my opinion, any crop direct drilled – be it OSR, cereals or grass seed – increases the risk of slug damage significantly, compared to conventional establishment techniques.

We have all been aware of the cover crops and the use of slurry and digestate to deter the beetles, but I thought by far the most interesting piece of research this year was showing how beetle numbers can be reduced by cultivating the ground straight after harvest and during peak adult migration.

This would also have the added bonus of reducing slug numbers, which are always a significant nuisance to the following wheat crop.

Before you drill grass

The two main factors to consider are your soil status and condition.

Ensure the area is tested for appropriate nutrient levels – pH, in particular, is vitally important.

Full Reseed

Full Reseed: soil needs to be consolidated, which starts early. Every pass should aim to further consolidate the seedbed. Do not wait and roll it twice afterwards – the area will be far more level and uniform if you start consolidation early. Ideally, roll prior to sowing as this also gives a more uniform sowing depth.

Longer term leys will achieve a greater ground cover if the seed is broadcast uniformly, as it attains a high percentage of yield from tiller density.

Short term leys tiller density and growth habit are different, so sowing in rowsq using a conventional drill can be an option.

A two-year break from long term grass is ideal to reduce the risk of pests. Failing this, reducing pest population and dense organic matter can often be achieved by using a grazing catch crop, such as stubble turnips.

Overseeding

Overseeding is simply a short-term fix and will not have a long-term benefit.

It will allow a yield increase in many situations but a field by field assessment is essential. Firstly, consider any pests and how to control them. Secondly, assess the level of undesirable plant species that are present.

More Information

To learn more about Circle Leys, download the Brochure here.

Circle Leys Brochure

To view the Circle Leys range, click here

Or contact your local Seed Specialist.
Forages to use with grass

While grass leys provide the backbone of all ruminant diets there are a plethora of other forages.

All these forages maximise their potential when matched with a quality Nickerson Circle Ley.

Maize

Fraser-House-in-maize-cropLG maize is a perfect complement to all Circle Leys, with excellent agronomic and feeding characteristics.

Fodder beet

LG fodder beet provides an excellent energy source combined with superb dietary fibre.

Lucerne

Lucerne offers a superb forage with the most rumen friendly protein source

Cereals

LG cereals offer many opportunities as a complementary feed in terms of wholecrop and grain using numerous different methods

More Information
Contact your local Seed Specialist.
What are GPA and SFC?

To improve establishment, most Circle Leys are treated with a GPA and Seed Film Coating as standard.

Growth Promoting Agent

GPA (Growth Promoting Agent) is a researched blend of nutrients essential for plant growth. These stimulate seedling germination, particularly under stress conditions and also encourage larger root systems, enabling the plants to absorb soil nutrients more efficiently.

Seed Film Coating

Seed Film Coating is a technique that forms a polymer film around the seed in which a range of conventional and innovative seed treatments can be carried. Seed Film Coating offers a number of major benefits to the seed and its application.

• Accurate application of GPA seed treatment
• Increased efficacy of the GPA
• Less dust in the seed
• Improved establishment

More Information

To learn more about Circle Leys, download the Brochure here.

Circle Leys Brochure

To view the Circle Leys range, click here

Or contact your local Seed Specialist.
What sets Nickerson seed quality apart?

The UK’s finest range of grass mixtures

Mixture trialling

Nickerson believe in the importance of mixture trialling. Recommended Lists from DARD, NIAB and SAC are used as a starting point, but these take little account of how individual varieties perform when grown together in a farmer’s grass ley. This is where Nickerson research begins. Circle-Leys-Trial-Site

Mixture trialling is the key to ensuring that only the very best grass mixtures find their way onto your farm.

Highest seed standards possible

Good establishment is essential to achieve full production potential. Poor establishment results in weed invasion, increased poaching and loss of yield. Seed of the highest quality is therefore critical to achieve good establishment.

Germination standards

Nickerson Germination Standards

Purity standards

Purity Standards

More Information

To learn more about Circle Leys, download the Brochure here.

Circle Leys Brochure

To view the Circle Leys range, click here

Or contact your local Seed Specialist.
Why Circle Leys is trusted by generations; past, present and future

Over the last 70 years farming has evolved significantly.

However, during that time the one aspect that hasn’t changed is the need for high quality forage as grazed grass or conserved forage to feed ruminant animals.

Almost 70 years ago Fred Craven created a group of leys for Sir Joseph Nickerson designed with a specific purpose in mind. In the subsequent years we have added to this mixture range as farming has changed and we have adapted the mixtures accordingly.

Core benefits such as yield, disease resistance and other agronomic characteristics are vital to production and are attained through use of unique and varied varieties from a range of plant breeders worldwide.

Unashamedly we have remained totally faithful to the original thought process based around high quality forage. Dry Matter Intake and overall D-value/ME are the main drivers throughout the range, allowing the ruminant to maximise intake and therefore maintenance and production from forage.

More Information

To learn more about Circle Leys, download the Brochure here.

Circle Leys Brochure

To view the Circle Leys range, click here

Or contact your local Seed Specialist.