Green drive on Bernard Matthews farm sites

Brian Watts Brian Watts

Saturday, July 19, 2014
8:00 AM

Managers at Bernard Matthews farm sites have been rising to the challenge of finding ways to increase biodiversity in an initiative launched earlier this year.

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The company’s agricultural team came up with a list of five key initiatives and asked each farm manager to choose three to start implementing by the end of May and, once up and running, to monitor and report on their progress.

The choices were building a dead hedge, a barrier constructed from cut branches, saplings and foliage to provide shelter for small animals and birds; creating a dead wood habitat of decaying wood and old plants as an environment for insects, fungi, mosses and lichens; constructing nest boxes for small song birds to roost or nest; building a bug box used by insects to shelter when nesting or retreating from the cold during the winter and creating wildflower patches to provide cover and food for wildlife.

Among those leading the way have been Brian Watts at River Farm in Great Witchingham.

A Bernard Matthews spokesman said: “Brian has installed a dead hedge on his farm to attract larva, beetles, song birds and small native mammals and has also erected several song bird boxes and planted a two square metre area for wildflowers to grow.

“These projects are being carefully managed by Brian to ensure that our strict biosecurity procedures are still being followed to protect the health and wellbeing of our livestock, at the same time as driving the biodiversity of his farm site.”

The success of this project, along with several other green initiatives on Mr Watts’s farm, including the installation of biomass boilers to replace fossil fuel use and the implementation of new drinkers to conserve water, earned him a place in the finals of a Marks and Spencer Farming for the Future Award.

The awards are held annually to celebrate farmers in the M&S supply base who are going the extra mile in sustainability.

The spokesman said: “This accolade highlights just some of the great work happening across the agricultural division in support of our business sustainability goals.

“Projects are also under way to explore the use of wind and solar energy on a greater number of our farms as well as how we might increase the number of naturally lit turkey houses via the use of solar tubes, which also have the added benefit of reducing heat loss.”

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