Niall Whittle, a farmer from Langford, Somerset has won the Outstanding Producer Award in the M&S ‘Farming for the Future’ awards.

The award champions forward-thinking individuals and those whose technical ability or business aptitude promises to make a positive impact on their sector.

Overseeing the production and packing of over 180,000kg of mushrooms every week at Monaghan Mushrooms Farm, Niall not only manages the 300-strong team, but has also transformed the site’s approach to sustainability.

Since 2017, the Langford site replaced all fluorescent lights with energy efficient LED lighting, reducing energy use by 39%. Niall also introduced a computerised environmental control system to improve growth rates and implemented automatic watering systems, reducing water use by nearly a quarter.

“Niall’s passion, determination and leadership means that the Langford site is now one of our benchmark sites in the business,” said Marian Byrne, from Monaghan Mushrooms, who nominated Niall for the award.

“The dedication needed to manage a successful mushroom farm is significant and to do so, whilst also taking steps to become as ‘green’ as possible, highlights just how hard-working Niall is.”

Niall has also gone to great lengths to ensure no waste is going to landfill, and now regularly donates surplus stocks to FareShare, an organisation that redistributes food to the most vulnerable people in the local community.

Steve McLean, head of agriculture and fisheries at M&S, said: “Niall is a very worthy winner who impressed our judging team, particularly with his dedication to sustainable farming, reducing food waste and supporting his local community. We applaud his hard work and are delighted to present him with this award.”