Nigel Bertram from Kempstone Manor Farm, Litcham, was celebrating last night after being awarded a top conservation Norfolk farming award.

Nigel was presented with the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy at the annual Norfolk FWAG members evening on November 4th. 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 has enabled improvements to be made to the award including better quality certificates and metal farm gate plaques for the winner and both runners-up.

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.

The keynote address was given by Jake Fiennes of the Raveningham Estate who shared his experiences of delivering for both shooting interests and conservation. The trophy was then presented to Nigel Bertram by Charlie MacNicol.

The judges for this year’s award were: Sir William Cubbitt – Hoveton, Chris Coupland – Birketts LLP, Richard Wright – RG Wright & Sons, Heidi Thompson – Norfolk FWAG

The judges were impressed by the range of measures which have been adopted at Kempstone Manor Farm, and the extent to which they coexisted happily with an extremely efficient farming enterprise. The protection of the historic environment was particularly outstanding, as were several projects to restore ancient green lanes and drove ways. Heidi Thompson from Norfolk FWAG said “Nigel approaches his nature conservation with the same professionalism and gusto that he applies to growing crops. The wildlife measures extend right across the farm, providing an extensive network of corridors for nature immediately alongside outstanding crops of wheat.”

The shortlisted finalists for the 2015 award were:

Winner: Nigel Bertram

Winner: 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.

Runner Up -Martin Hammond

Runner Up -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: 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 been 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 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.

Runner up - Joe Mitchell

Runner up - 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.