Last year was particularly tough for establishing game cover. The incessant rain and lower than average temperatures in May and June made for difficult conditions.
Germination was poorer than expected, growth was sporadic and a lot of early vigour was lost as the plants struggled with the conditions. Most of us managed to grow a crop of sorts, but it was rare to find a keeper who was satisfied with how they had grown.
Bigger flushes on shoot days and problems running birds on to flushing points, coupled with poorer general holding cover and fewer seeds in the feed-bearing crops, made things difficult. As much as we would like to put last year’s growing season behind us and move on, it is important that we look at its knock-on effects and deal with them now before we start this season’s drilling.
I’d start with testing the soil, simply because it is something you can make a start on without having to wait for the ground to dry out. There is little point in doing anything else until it does dry — and certainly not with machines or you will damage the soil structure further and make any compaction worse.
This year I asked one of our beaters — who has conveniently started working for a firm that trades in feed, seeds and fertilizers — to do the testing for me. He popped across with his sample bags and with what can best be described — to those who haven’t seen a sample taker — as a funnel on a stick. He walked the crops in a series of “W” shapes to balance the sample out, pushing his funnel in and bagging up and labelling as he went.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Songbirds to suffer as NE changes licensing policy
Applications to control avian pests for the conservation of blackbirds and other species are to be refused, sparking possible legal challenge
Some shoots put on small walked-up days for two Guns in the last few weeks of the season — but not all keepers thought it was a good idea
Dueling with gents
Culling low cock pheasants goes against our deep-rooted fieldsports instincts but it is a necessity in many places, says Richard Negus
It is immensely humbling to be given the opportunity to inspire young people who will be taking up the conservation baton in years to come
Clothing firm supports group linked to convict
Anti-shooting group denies connection with criminal extremist as fieldsports community is horrified by high-end retailer’s donation
The Anser to their prayers
Fowlers are giving Orkney farmers beset by greylags a fighting chance, says J R Patterson
More than meets the eye
Vision plays a huge role in how well we shoot and eye dominance issues can be resolved — if we know who to ask, says Simon Reinhold
Opportunity knocks for a new shoot
It’s important to do your homework before taking on any new ground, says Liam Bell
A 250-year-old cartridge fashioned from the pages of a famous novel tells its own remarkable story of the American Revolutionary War
Keeper of the month
Beating the drum for the benefits of game management is hugely rewarding, Miles Bentley tells Will Pocklington
TANYA TURNS DOWN MARRIAGE PROPOSAL!
Fears Texas Tornado’s lover will ride into sunset
PRISON GUARD CAGED FOR DOUBLE MURDER!
Accused of blowing away older lover & her gal pal
Will 2021 be the year Apple's U1 chip goes wide?
Apple has been building its ultra-wideband technology into devices for a couple years now, but it still doesn’t do much…yet.
NCIS SPINOFF STABBED IN THE BAK-ULA!
Mark Harmon’s crime franchise didn’t have room for TWO hunks
THUNDER BY THE BAY MUSIC & MOTORCYCLE FESTIVAL
ONE OF THE BEST EVENTS TO ATTEND AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR IS WITHOUT A DOUBT THUNDER BY THE BAY IN SARASOTA, FLORIDA.
The case for a 12-inch MacBook Air
Go M1 and go smaller.
Face is a disaster at age 75 after endless procedures
THE SQUEAKY WHEEL
Welcome to February, 2021. It’s already one month into the new year, and I gotta wonder how many people made those resolutions on New Year’s and have already quit the attempt to make the changes they wanted to see in their lives. Very unfortunate.
iOS 14: HOW TO MAKE YOUR iPHONE ‘AESTHETIC'
BY USING SHORTCUTS TOGETHER WITH CUSTOM WIDGETS AND THE APP LIBRARY, YOU CAN BUILD A TOTALLY UNIQUE HOME SCREEN LOOK.
JULIA'S TRIAL SEPARATION
Leaving hubby after endless bickering and he’s delighted