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Latest News

May Stewardship & Woodland News

General Licence Fiasco:

Following Natural England’s ill-advised decision to revoke the general licence for controlling pigeons and corvids (among other species) Defra has now taken over the administration of the licencing.

: You have until 13th May to respond to Defra’s call for evidence. It is essential that anyone who needs to control corvids or pigeons for the protection of crops or more importantly our farmland birds responds to this questionnaire. Don’t wait for others to do it – our farmland birds need YOU.


DEFRA Call for Evidence - Please complete


Whilst Defra are trying to make a decision you can apply for a personal licence to control corvids for the protection of flora and fauna:




Environmental Stewardship Diary  


ELS May – Extended over-winter stubbles (EF22) – Undesirable weed species such as blackgrass, sterile brome and wild oats can be controlled by spraying the affected areas from 15th May.

MID-TIER CS – Nectar Flower Mix (AB1) – rotationally cut 50% of each plot before 31st May, taking care to avoid ground nesting birds; Enhanced overwinter stubble (AB6) – you can spray problem grass weeds from May 15th BUT please remember this option should not be located on fields where you know you have bad blackgrass issues.

MID –TIER APPLICATIONS 2019 – the window for requesting a Mid-Tier application pack closes on 31st May. If you would like to apply for a Mid-Tier scheme with a start date of 1st Jan 2020 you must request a pack before this date. The completed application must then be submitted by 31st July 2019. Please contact Matt in the office if you need any assistance. 

Game Crops

Game crops in May – It’s dry! Great if you are an early hatching pheasant chick but not so great if you are trying to prepare a seedbed! Please wait until you can guarantee drilling seed into moisture before you even consider it. Remember to get the majority of the crop’s fertilizer requirement in the seedbed before drilling. Game crops have a short growing season and need easily available nutrients to help them grow.

Row widths – we make no apology for reiterating the need to ensure crops are drilled on wide enough rows. We do issue game crop agronomy sheets detailing recommended seed rates and row widths so please read them! Far too many crops are drilled on too narrow rows making the crop unattractive to game birds, which prefer room to move about whilst protected by the height and canopy afforded by the crop.




Shows in May/June – Oakbank will have a stand at the following events:

  • Saturday 18th May - Bedfordshire YFC Rally at Walducks Farm, Stewkley;
  • Wednesday 29th and Thursday 30th May – Suffolk Show, Trinity Park, Ipswich;
  • Sunday 2rd June – Cambridgeshire Show at Wimpole Hall;
  • 26th & 27th June – Groundswell 2019 at Lannock Manor Farm, Weston, Hitchin. 

We look forward to catching up with some of you at one or more of these events.

Grants for Sprayer Filling Areas:

On 15th May at Hail Weston Farms, St.Neots, Andrew Down, Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer for our part of the Ouse catchment is hosting a meeting to look at filling areas and to discuss design principles, grants and consent requirements.

This is designed to be helpful to anyone who is planning to install a new filling area in the future with a practical demonstration of the principals involved. 

Starting time is 14:00. To book a place please contact  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




Noble chafer survey – if you have a traditional orchard or wood pasture, especially in the south-east of England, the PTES is encouraging you to look out for the rare Noble chafer beetle this May and June. Find out more at https://ptes.org/campaigns/noble-chafer-beetles/

 Tick Time Again - With the weather warming up, it is tick season again, bringing with it the risk of Lyme disease. Please be aware and read about this potentially crippling disease on the Royal Forestry Society Fact Sheet on Ticks

Woodland news

UK Wildfire Increase – Due to the incredibly warm and dry winter and spring, the UK has already had more wildfires in 2019 than any year on record, reports New Scientist. Wildfires (landscape fires) were always something that happened elsewhere, in hot countries, however due to the UK’s changing climate we are experiencing more and more, year on year.  If you have large areas of woodland, then the fuel load, access and future management should be seriously considered to protect them.

Ancient Woodland Inventory update - The Government has awarded a grant of £210,000 to kick-start a £1.5-million collaboration with Natural England to update and widen the Ancient Woodland Inventory database, reports the Woodland Trust. The inventory, which is managed by Natural England, is a map-based record of around 52,000 ancient woodlands, but there are many more which are missing. This funding will allow them to be properly recognised and recorded to hopefully pave the way for improved woodland management funding.

Future Forestry Adaptation - With ever-increasing discussions and debates about the impacts of climate change, biosecurity and increase frequency of wild fires, Forest England (new name for the Forestry Commission) has produced a small video demonstrating what it has in mind for Thetford Forest? Read and watch the BBC coverage here.

Tree health survey - The Forestry Commission is running a simple survey to sound-out woodland owners’ and users’ views on threats on this vital topic. If you have 3 minutes: Tell them what you know and think