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West Norfolk farmer wins Norfolk FWAG’s Ian MacNicol conservation prize

PUBLISHED: 14:12 09 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:27 10 November 2017

Norfolk FWAG's Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy is presented to Michael Rae (right) by Charlie MacNicol (left) with runner-up Nick Anema (centre). Picture: Norfolk FWAG

Norfolk FWAG's Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy is presented to Michael Rae (right) by Charlie MacNicol (left) with runner-up Nick Anema (centre). Picture: Norfolk FWAG

Norfolk FWAGt

A West Norfolk arable farmer has been rewarded for his stewardship of nature with a farming and wildlife conservation award.

Michael Rae, of Roydon Hall Farms, was presented with the Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy – given to farmers who have made outstanding contributions to nature within their business – at the Norfolk Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) annual general meeting.

Mr Rae farms more than 600ha from the Babingley valley near Flitcham to Roydon Common.

He impressed judges by the consideration given to farm operations to minimise their impact on adjoining sensitive habitats.

At Roydon Hall farms, arable cropping is combined with irrigated vegetable production, growing cereals, mustard, potatoes, parsnips, carrots and sugar beet while unimproved grassland and heathland is grazed by sheep.

There is also more than 50ha of woodland, part of the Roydon Common site of special scientific interest (SSSI), and outlying land at Salters Lode near Denver Sluice.

The farm has been delivering habitat for farm wildlife through stewardship schemes for more than 16 years.

The runner-up for the prize was Nick Anema, of JD & NJ Anema, Westfield near Dereham, and Colin Palmer, of R W Palmer & Son, Manor Farm, Horningtoft, was highly commended.

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 three finalists showed outstanding commitments to conservation farming, and the judges found the decision very difficult.”

The AGM was held at the Anglia Farmers offices in Honingham Thorpe on Wednesday and attendees were also updated on the work Norfolk FWAG has been involved in over the year, as well as a look to the future of nature conservation on farmland.

The evening was sponsored by Birketts and Savills with Bayer CropScience funding a video of the Ian MacNicol Trophy judging process.

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