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Breckland farm wins innovation award from Marks and Spencer

Giles, Tom and Matthew Abrey of RG Abrey Farms. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

Giles, Tom and Matthew Abrey of RG Abrey Farms. Picture: Sonya Duncan.

ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHIC © 2010

A Breckland farming business has been rewarded for its excellence in innovation by one of the major national food retailers which it supplies.

RG Abrey Farms, based at East Wretham, won the innovation category at Marks and Spencer’s Farming for the Future awards, presented at the Royal Welsh Show.

The third generation family business, led by three cousins, started in 1939 and has now grown to more than 7,500 acres of land across Norfolk and Suffolk, growing 100,000 tonnes of root vegetable crops a year including potatoes supplied to M&S through Manor Fresh Limited.

The award recognised the farm’s “progressive approach to farming, inspired by a vision to be as energy-efficient and environmentally sympathetic as possible”.

It includes the installation of solar panels and investment in an anaerobic digester which produces 95pc of the energy for the farm’s Norfolk headquarters in addition to liquid and fibre residue, which is used as a fertiliser.

Meanwhile, a state-of-the-art remote management system enables managers to remotely connect to farm machinery to monitor machine use and fuel consumption, run diagnostics and conduct operational planning.

To further improve efficiency, the business is investigating the use of in-field robotics to help with crop care and harvesting.

Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries at M&S, said: “RG Abrey Farms is a very worthy winner, impressing our judging team with their innovative approach to all aspects of the business and use of technology to ensure a more sustainable business.”

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