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Wildlife-friendly farm wins top nature award

A Co Down farmer behind a major Northern Ireland agri-food business has been recognised for his wildlife-friendly credentials in the regional heat of a national competition.

Martin Hamilton from Comber, who runs the well known food firm Mash Direct, picked up this year's Nature of Farming Award at the Balmoral Show. The accolade is a joint enterprise with the RSPB, Butterfly Conservation, the Ulster Farmer's Union, Plantlife and The Daily Telegraph newspaper to highlight farmers who promote nature and wildlife on their land.

Mr Hamilton and his family have adopted a range of measures, including improvements to lower carbon footprint and energy consumption, the recycling and reuse of water, and environmentally-friendly approaches to pest and weed control.

Judges of the awards scheme found the rare yellowhammer bird, the tree sparrow, Irish hares and field mice all living on the large commercial farm.

Mr Hamilton said that winning the Northern Ireland heat proved that farming ethically and making money are not mutually exclusive.

The farm will now be put forward for the next level of the judging process.