Ian MacNicol Award finalists 2016

Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy

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The Ian MacNicol Memorial trophy is presented to the farmer who in the judges opinion has made the most significant contribution to wildlife conservation on their land.

The judges will look at elements such as existing wildlife that has been conserved, new habitat that has been created, the extent to which these features have been integrated into the farm business, the survey and monitoring work that takes place, the overall enthusiasm and passion of the farmer for this type of work and how effective they have been communicating this to the wider farming community.

The award shows other farmers what a successful conservation farm looks like. It is designed to inspire and motivate all farmers to see what they can do for wildlife on their farms.

The 2016 award

David Lyles from Muckleton Farms near Burnham Market, was celebrating last night after being awarded a top conservation Norfolk farming award.

David was presented with the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy at the annual Norfolk FWAG members’ evening on November 8th. This coveted award celebrates the very best of conservation farming in Norfolk and is organised by Norfolk FWAG. The trophy is awarded to the farmer whom the judges consider has made an outstanding contribution to nature within their farm business.

The evening was jointly sponsored this year by Birketts and Savills. The generous support of these two major players in the industry enables the FWAG Charity to award the winner and runner-up with high quality framed certificates and metal farm gate plaques, and to provide refreshments for the 70 attendees.

Central to the presentation evening was a video which was shot during the judging process. This high quality production by Brian Morris Productions was sponsored this year by Bayer CropScience.

Attendees enjoyed a keynote presentation by the journalist and author Patrick Barkham, on butterflies on farmland. The evening, which was held at the offices of Anglia Farmers, then concluded with a feast of locally produced produce.

Heidi Smith, who heads up Norfolk FWAG said “this was one of the strongest years I have ever seen in terms of the applicants. Each of the four finalists showed outstanding commitments to conservation farming, and the judges found the decision very difficult”.

The winner of the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy Award 2016:

David Lyles, Muckleton Farms, Muckleton, Burnham Market PE31 8JT

Muckleton Farm is a 500 acre wholly arable enterprise only 3.25 miles from the sea near Burnham market. The proximity to the coast makes this farm the first landfall for migrating birds, giving it an impressive bird list.

The land is rolling by Norfolk standards. The glaciated morain valleys give a variety of soil types with chalk on the top, clay on the sides and sand in the bottom. Care is needed to farm this delicate soil make up. Very careful ploughing and strategic siting of beetle banks are used to prevent all the soil ending up in the bottom of the valleys.

David has planted all the hedges, woods and trees on the farm in a lifetime’s worth of investment. Woodland is planted in blocks to maximise edges, and the hedges are only cut one year in three.

David loves to experiment which his conservation management. The judges were impressed with the experimental seed mixtures and collaborations with the RSPB and GWCT which aim to improve seed mixtures to help cover the hungry gap. Bats, hover flies and harvest mice are all subject to their own monitoring and conservation projects on the farm.

The runner-up was John Bingham, the Bingham Partnership, Hereward Barn, Church Lane, Mattishall Dereham, NR20 3QZ. John was also presented with a lifetime achievement award as part of proceedings, for his outstanding contribution to wheat breeding and conservation farming.

The other two highly competitive finalists were:

Michael Goff, Foxburrow Farm, North Elmham, NR20 5LG

Edward Stanton, Park Farm, Snettisham, Kings Lynn, Norfolk, PE31 7NQ

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The 2015 award

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There was standing room only at the offices of Anglia Farmers on the evening of November 4th, as Norfolk FWAG members gathered to hear the results of the 2015 farm conservation award.

This award, known as the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy, is presented to the farmer whom the judges consider has made the most contribution to conservation farming over the year.

The awards ceremony, sponsored this year by solicitors Birketts, and agents Savills, featured an entertaining and challenging presentation by Jake Fiennes from the Raveningham Estate. Attendees were also treated to a video, sponsored by Bayer CropScience which showed the three shortlisted finalist farms when they were looking their best back in the summer.

The winning farm, Kempstone Manor Farm at Litcham is a 277 ha holding growing only combinable crops. The farm is in ELS and HLS with extensive 6 m grass margins, field corner management and arable reversion. The significant archaeological interest on the site has been protected and boundaries, hedges and ditches are all well managed. The judges were impressed by how Nigel brings the same professional approach to his conservation management as he does to his farming operations.

The judges this year were Sir William Cubitt – Honing Estate, Chris Coupland – Birketts, Richard Wright – Hardley, and Heidi Thompson from Norfolk FWAG.

The runners-up in an extremely close contest were Martin Hammond from G’s, Shropshires, West Dereham and Joe Mitchell, Hall Farm, Repps with Bastwick.

If you are proud of the conservation work you have undertaken on your land, and would like to enter the 2016 competition, get in touch with Norfolk FWAG advice@norfolkfwag.co.uk.

The shortlisted finalists competing for this prestigious award were:

Martin Hammond

Martin Hammond

G.S. Shropshire & Sons Ltd, West Dereham

Shropshires is an intensive salad and vegetable production enterprise of 1200ha on highly organic fen peat. They supply salads; lettuce, salary and Chinese leaf, and onions through G’s Fresh to most of the major retailers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M&S, Waitrose, Asda, Aldi and Lidl. They also supply potatoes to packers for supermarkets and sugarbeet to British Sugar at the nearby Wissington sugarbeet factory. Wheat and winter bean go to Fengrain at March. The farm is in its 10th year of ELS and is due for renewal next year. ELS features include over 200 miles of managed hedgerows and ditches, 60 ha of overwintered stubbles, pollen and nectar mixes and field corner management areas. They have been members of the LEAF Marque Scheme for many years. The judges were astonished at the extent of hedgerow and ditch infrastructure in every field which in addition to providing habitat for wildlife, is in effect the irrigation system for the salad growing operation and protects against soil wind erosion.

Nigel Bertram

Nigel Bertram

Kempstone Manor Farm, Litcham

Kempstone Manor Farm is a 277ha holding growing only combinable crops. The farm is farmed under a management agreement with a neighbouring contractor, Robert Salmon. Great attention is given to soil structure and timeliness of operations using large low-pressure machinery for quick in/out operations especially in the autumn. Yields are high, but in this professionally run operation, space has also been found for wildlife. The farm is in ELS and HLS with extensive 6 m grass margins, field corners management and arable reversion. The significant archaeological interest on the site has been protected and boundaries hedges and ditches are all well managed. The judges were impressed by how Nigel brings the same professional approach to his conservation management as he does to his farming operations.

Joe Mitchell

Joe Mitchell

Hall Farm – Repps with Bastwick, Great Yarmouth

Hall Farm is a 4th Generation family farm, growing a wide range of crops, wheat, winter and spring barleys, sugar beet, potatoes and vining peas. They run a herd of 39 suckler cows and 9 ewes. The farm is in its 4th year of HLS. Farm woodland is subject to a Woodland Management Plan, largely untouched, but used for 3 non-commercial family game shooting days. There is considerable public participation and education activities on the farm with visits from schoolchildren, local villagers and local clergy. The judges liked the range of habitats that have been protected and conserved on the farm, from arable margins to wetland creation on marshes and woodland.

The judges for this year’s award were:

  • Sir William Cubbitt – Honing
  • Chris Coupland – Birketts
  • Richard Wright – RG Wright & Sons
  • Heidi Thompson – Norfolk FWAG

Central to the presentation evening was a video which was shot during the judging process. We are pleased to say that the video was sponsored by Bayer. Last year’s video can be viewed here.

The 2014 award

2014 Winner

Richard Wright, of R.G Wright & Sons of Hardley, near Norwich, has been presented with the 2014 Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy.

The prize is presented annually to recognise an outstanding contribution to conservation on farmland.

The award event was hosted by Norfolk FWAG at the offices of Anglia Farmers at Honingham Thorpe, near Norwich, and sponsored by Birketts LLP.

R.G Wright and Sons’ Chestnut Farm is a third generation family farm in the Yare valley. The farm is run using a mixture of traditional farming values with new modern input, producing wheat, malting barley, sugarbeet, beef and conservation packaging.

They run a 110 head beef finisher herd which is grazed on the grassland and is over- wintered in cattle yards using straw from the arable crops, and haylage from the grassland. The manure they produce is used as organic manure for the sugarbeet and wheat crops.

The farm is in a HLS conservation scheme; this was established 2 years ago to replace ELS and ESA conservation which were both coming to a close. An interesting farm diversification project produces packaging from farm renewable products.

The judges were impressed by the breadth of habitats that had been enhanced across the farm and the integration of conservation measures throughout the holding. They also praised the innovative use of options, such as effective use of arable options on the marshes which are really delivering for wildlife.

The runner-up was Toby Bulgin, of Beatbush Farm, High Fen in Methwold. Two farms were highly-commended – Sir David Ralli of DC & JC Ralli Farms at Panworth Hall Farm, Ashill and Richard Waddingham of Manor Farm, Briston.

Toby Bulgin – Beatbush Organic is a family run business that started in 1999 in Essex. While looking for an alternative way to take the business forward, Toby Bulgin purchased High Fen in the Norfolk fens.

High Fen was bought as an arable root farm and reverted to wet grassland with support from Natural England. The previous owner had struggled with flooding and it was felt that High Fen was an ideal site for arable reversion to wet grassland due to the ability to raise water levels in line with the Countryside Stewardship Scheme prescriptions. Toby has since restored 288 ha of wetland habitat, consisting of wet grassland, scrapes, and ponds.

Wetland restoration is difficult to get right. The judges were impressed by the scale, ambition and effectiveness of what has been undertaken at High Fen.

The judges were impressed by the way all aspects of conservation had been addressed and integrated across the farm with a network of habitat. Monitoring efforts were also praised with grey partridge counts taking place in the last 8 years as part of the GWCT scheme.

Richard Waddingham – Manor Farm sits on the terminal moraine, as the end of the glacier which covered England 10,000 years ago. Two rivers rise on the farm, the Glaven flows 8 miles north meeting the sea at Cley, the Bure flows 40 miles east to Yarmouth. Manor Farm is a mixed farm growing carrots on the light soils and wheat, beans, grass, potatoes and sugar beet in the heavier soils in the south. The farm has an exceptional number of spring fed ponds, all managed for wildlife.

The judges couldn’t fail to be impressed by the network of 39 ponds and the sheer passion that Richard brings to this enterprise.

FWAG works for us because it’s a very hands-on approach, Henry and Heidi have local knowledge, I can call them and ask them for advice when I need it.

It works because they offer advice, and they have knowledge of farming as well as conservation, they get the balance of both just right. They’ve helped show us how farming and conservation can work hand in hand.

The changes it’s made to the farm and the working environment are great, it’s a pleasure to work with Norfolk FWAG.

Richard Wright

R.G Wright and Sons

2014 Finalist videos

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