Game cover crops will only reach their full potential if they are well managed right from the start. A successfully managed shoot is both profitable and rewarding to landowners and the local community, as it contributes positively to the countryside and the overall environment. Check out the following information to help guide you to successful establishment of game cover crops; any regional or particular soil conditions have not been taken into consideration – please call us on 01437 781780 for advice for your specific situation.
Rotations are essential to help reduce soil-borne diseases such as club root in brassicas. A rotational system will also help to improve soil fertility and structure as each crop can benefit the soil in different ways, each requiring different trace elements. Crop rotation is essential where weeds and/or disease have become a persistent problem.
A well prepared seed bed is essential for crop health and development, as a rapidly growing game cover crop has more chance of resisting pest attack. Generally, ploughing and rapid consolidation to conserve moisture is the ideal start for these crops. Ensure the seed bed is fine and firm to help reduce the risk of slug activity.
Where possible we recommend drilling game cover crops. This ensures accurate seed depth and row width and will provide maximum seed to soil contact that will encourage a speedy establishment. Sowing at the correct row width will also improve bird holding and driving capability. Each growing season is completely different, but try not to sow too early to ensure the soil temperature is warm enough to encourage a quick successful germination.
Soil Tests and Fertiliser
Soil testing is essential to determine the soil pH and fertility, which can then be managed accordingly to maximise its potential. Farmyard manure is an excellent way of improving soil structure and adding fertility. Fertiliser will also be required at the early stages of establishment to maximise the output of your game cover crop. Lime may be required for some acid soils to balance the soil pH.
The stale seed bed technique is a well proven weed control system and allows early control of weeds. The technique involves spraying, ploughing and cultivating to encourage weed seeds to germinate in a first flush, then re-spraying; this can be repeated as often as necessary to help achieve a clean seed bed. This technique is very useful where mixtures are grown and no herbicide can be recommended.
Our wide range of seed mixtures such as Northern Star, Partridge Mix, Traditional Mix and Decoy Game Mix contain various combinations of maize, white and red millet, buckwheat, kale, sunflower, mustard, forage rape, linseed, beans, triticale and barley. Check out our Deer Lawn and Rearing Pen mixes which include grasses such as Meadow Fescue, Timothy, Ryegrasses and white clovers.