Finalists announced for 2015 Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Martin Hammond

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Martin Hammond - Credit: Submitted

Three champions of conservation farming in Norfolk have been shortlisted for an award which recognises outstanding contributions to nature within agricultural businesses.

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Nigel Bertram

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Nigel Bertram - Credit: Submitted

The Ian MacNicol Memorial Trophy is an annual award organised by Norfolk FWAG (Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group), which will be presented on November 4 at the offices of Anglia Farmers in Honingham Thorpe.

The judges were Sir William Cubitt of the Honing Estate, Chris Coupland from law firm Birketts, last year's winner Richard Wright, of RG Wright and Sons in Hardley, and Heidi Thompson, business manager for Norfolk FWAG.

The 2015 finalists are:

• Martin Hammond – GS Shropshire and Sons, West Dereham.

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Joe Mitchell

Ian MacNicol Awards 2015. Finalist Joe Mitchell - Credit: Submitted

Shropshires is an intensive salad and vegetable production enterprise of 1,200ha on highly organic fen peat near Downham Market. The company supplies salads and onions through G's Fresh to most of the major retailers, and also grows potatoes for packers for supermarkets and sugar beet for British Sugar at the nearby Wissington sugar factory. Wheat and winter been go to Fengrain at March. The farm is in its tenth year of ELS (entry level stewardship), which includes more than 200 miles of managed hedgerows and ditches, 60ha of overwintered stubbles, pollen and nectar mixes and field corner management areas. The judges were impressed by the extent of hedgerow and ditch infrastructure in every field which, in addition to providing habitat for wildlife, acts as the irrigation system for the salad operation and protects against wind erosion of the soil.

• Nigel Bertram – Kempstone Manor Farm, Litcham.

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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. The judges said great attention is given to soil structure and timeliness of operations using large low-pressure machinery. Yields are high but space has also been found for wildlife within this professionally-run operation. The farm is in entry level and higher level stewardship (ELS and HLS), with extensive 6m grass margins, field corner management and arable reversion. The significant archaeological interest on the site has been protected, while boundaries, hedges and ditches are all well managed. The judges were impressed by how Mr Bertram applies the same professional approach to his conservation management as he does to his farming operations.

• Joe Mitchell – Hall Farm, Repps with Bastwick, Great Yarmouth.

Hall Farm is a fourth generation family farm, growing a wide range of crops – wheat, winter and spring barleys, sugar beet, potatoes and vining peas. There is also a herd of 39 suckler cows and nine ewes. The farm is in its forth year of HLS. Farm woodland is subject to a Woodland Management Plan, largely untouched, but used for three non-commercial family game shooting days. The judges said there is considerable public participation and education activities on the farm – with visits from schoolchildren, local villagers and local clergy – and were impressed by the range of habitats that have been conserved, from arable margins to wetland creation on marshes and woodland.