Suffolk farmers celebrate after rare insects found on farms

Ashy Furrow Bee (Lasioglossum sexnotatum), which at one time was thought to have been extinct in Suf

Ashy Furrow Bee (Lasioglossum sexnotatum), which at one time was thought to have been extinct in Suffolk. Picture: ROB GARROD - Credit: Rob Garrod

Two conservation-minded Suffolk farmers are celebrating accolades for their environmental work after their pollen-rich field margins attracted rare insects.

Operation Pollinator: Green Headlands 2017 award winners Andrew Francis and Richard Mann. Picture: M

Operation Pollinator: Green Headlands 2017 award winners Andrew Francis and Richard Mann. Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA - Credit: �Mark Sanderson/Syngenta

Richard Mann of Ken Hall Farms, near Woodbridge, and Andrew Francis of Elveden Estate, near Thetford, scooped Operation Pollinator Green Headland Awards for their efforts on farm.

Their farms were part of an initiative by farm inputs firm Syngenta and supermarket giant Asda, in association with Kings Crops, to plant field headlands around potato and vegetable crops with a flower-rich green manure mix to provide pollen and nectar sources for insects, and give fertility-building soil protection.

Richard took the award for the rarest species found, the Ashy Furrow Bee (Lasioglossom Sexnotatum) following insect monitoring last summer by independent entomologist Paul Lee. The bee, at one time thought to be extinct in Suffolk but subsequently found again, was discovered on field margins by commercial root crops. It was one of 110 different insect species found on the farms’ Green Headland mixes.

Mann Potatoes grows crops over 2000 hectares on the Sandlings Peninsula as part of Asda suppliers Suffolk Produce Ltd.

Operation Pollinator: Greene Headlands 2017 award winners Belinda Bailey, Chris Brown and Richard Ma

Operation Pollinator: Greene Headlands 2017 award winners Belinda Bailey, Chris Brown and Richard Mann. Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA - Credit: �Mark Sanderson/Syngenta

Andrew Francis scooped the award for the highest number of species caught in new pitfall trap monitoring of its headlands, beside potato, parsnip and carrot fields. It showed a huge range, underlining the importance of the Breckland heaths for beetles and ground-dwelling insects.

Paul Lee, speaking at the results event on March 9, said among a number of scarce beetles found at Elveden was the Beet Carrion Beetle Aclypea Opaca.

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Asda senior director of sustainable sourcing Chris Brown said: “This initiative highlights the efforts of UK growers to work towards increasing biodiversity and protecting resources. It is incredibly exciting and positive to see the results of independent monitoring that validates the benefits of good practice and enhancing the farmland environment. It’s a genuinely sustainable initiative that can offer a simple cost effective and time efficient solution to make better use of a hitherto unused area of land, to improve the environment and to protect soil and water.”

Operation Pollinator: Chris Brown, Belinda Bailey and Andrew Francis at the Green Headlands Awards

Operation Pollinator: Chris Brown, Belinda Bailey and Andrew Francis at the Green Headlands Awards 2017. Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA - Credit: �Mark Sanderson/Syngenta

Operation Pollinator: Andrew Francis of Elveden Farms, Green Headlands Awards 2017 winner . Picture

Operation Pollinator: Andrew Francis of Elveden Farms, Green Headlands Awards 2017 winner . Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA - Credit: �Mark Sanderson/Syngenta

Operation Pollinator Awards: Paul Lee. Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA

Operation Pollinator Awards: Paul Lee. Picture: MARK SANDERSON/SYNGENTA - Credit: �Mark Sanderson/Syngenta