Farewell from Nickerson legend Nick Wallace

After 45 years working for Nickerson I have decided to move on to the next stage of my life, which is  retirement.

I thought it was ironic that on my last day on farm I’ve taken a picture of one of the best crops of winter wheat I have seen in my area which happened to be Claire, a winter wheat which must be over 25 years old.  It has been a pleasure helping Nickerson to introduce new varieties to the market and hear the success stories of those that we have introduced, too many varieties to mention.

A massive thank you to all my customers, if it was not for your support and loyalty I would definitely not have lasted the 45 years working for the company and I wish you all every success in your future cropping. I know I am very comfortable leaving the business in a very safe pair of hands – those of Douglas Bonn. We have enjoyed meeting most of you over the last three months and he will continue to look after your requirements in the future.


Again thank you for your support I wish you well

Nick Wallace.

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…

A Word on Grass from Douglas Bonn

As a new year starts thoughts of the coming season are not far away and the development of a grazing wedge or a good first cut of silage should be at the forefront of plans.

The key driver for all soil nutrition is pH and this ideally should be sitting around pH 6.5.  Regular soil testing must be carried out to manage this factor.  The type of fertiliser used makes a huge difference to the pH of the soil.  The use of Calcium Nitrate (CAN) fertilizer has a lesser effect on pH with 1Kg reducing soil pH by 0.4 points where 1 Kg of Ammonium Nitrate and Urea will reduce it by 1.2 points.

A grass ley overwintering with too much growth can cause problems with disease and winter kill.  Sheep winter grazing to reduce winter cover is a useful tool but if the goal is for an early grazing wedge or early first cut of silage sheep should be taken off the grass before the end of January.

Even with the best winter management there will always be an amount of winter kill to manage. In the resent years the introduction and development of the spring tine harrow has revolutionised the management of a grass ley. Running a grass harrow over a sward in early spring will remove any dead grass so creating space for new tillers it will also stimulate the first few centimetres of soil so absorbing atmospheric nitrogen.

The grass plant will “wake up” before visible signs show above ground.  Over winter a grass plant loses much of its root mass, and this is the first part of the plant to grow as it comes out winter.  The first 40 days of this process is key to provide the plant with the infrastructure to give the plant the nutrition it requires for the season    . 

I’ve made some assumptions when looking at the nutritional requirement for first cut silage or the development of a grazing wedge.  I have assumed that the pH is 6.5, the soil indices are +2 and the expected yield of first cut silage is 25 tonnes per hectare @ 30% dry matter.  The plant will therefore require 120Kg nitrogen (if soil pH is less than 6.5 and calcium content is less than 2,000mg/L CAN should be considered as the source of nitrogen), 40Kg of phosphate as P2O5, 80Kg potassium as K2O and 30Kg of sulphur as SO3.


Grass Ley January

Grass Ley March

A word on stubble turnips from our Southern Sales Manager Jon Payne

A real joy in this job is to see my recommendations and our crop genetics working to provide solutions and performing for our growers. Such as this crop of Rondo and Sampson Stubble turnips also sown with Interval Rape/Kale Hybrid. It has been grown as a break crop between an old permanent pasture ahead of a planned Pro Plus grass ley which will be drilled this Autumn. Growing this break crop will lower the pest burden of leather jackets, frit fly and Wireworm for the pro plus reseed whilst also providing a huge feed source for the beef and sheep unit with grazing in situ. It also is giving more feed options and diversity for the grower within their rotation. 

Pictured, Charlie, Jonathan’s son looking very pleased with his crop of Rondo & Samson stubble turnips!


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 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.


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 offers a superb forage with the most rumen friendly protein source


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.