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A cleaner Baltic Sea with advisory services for Polish farmers

Nutrient runoff from agriculture is the main contributor to eutrophication in the Baltic Sea, with many projects being conducted on this subject. However, knowledge has often not reached or been put into use by the majority of farmers around the Baltic Sea. A new project, funded by the BalticSea2020 foundation, has the farmers’ own commitment and knowledge as its starting point. Eutrophication is to be reduced through advisory services and network building.

A number of EU projects with participants from countries around the Baltic Sea have produced interesting knowledge about the “best methods” for reducing nutrient runoff from agriculture. Not least of these are the EU projects Baltic Compass, Baltic Manure and Baltic Deal, which gathered experiences and knowledge from the Baltic region and built up a network of demonstration farms around the Baltic Sea. This is the basis of an innovative project that has been initiated by the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).

- We want to test out measures that are not simply driven by laws and ordinances.  Instead, we want to encourage farmers to take their own initiatives to reduce nutrient runoff and improve water quality, based on their knowledge and experience,” says project manager Barbro Ulén, docent and research leader at the Department of Soil and Environment at SLU.

In the first step, Polish farming advisors will be educated about soil, nutrient balance and the type of nutrient runoff that can be expected in particular circumstances. The advisors will then visit farmers and discuss which measures can lead to reduced pollution. Based on the knowledge of their own farms, the farmers can then focus on measures that can simply and cheaply reduce nutrient runoff. The project will run for three years and will be evaluated through in-depth interviews with both farmers and advisors.

- We are expecting increased levels of knowledge about the extent to which individual farmers – with the help of advisory services, training and networking – can contribute to improving the water environment of the Baltic Sea. The lessons that we learn will be spread to authorities and stakeholders around the Baltic and in the EU,” says Conrad Stralka, Executive Director of BalticSea2020.

The project is being conducted as a partnership between SLU, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the Polish Institute of Technology and Natural Sciences, and the Polish agricultural advisory agency in Radom. The project is funded by BalticSea2020 with contributions from the Baltic Compact EU project.

For more information, please contact:
Barbro Ulén, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Tel: +46(0)18-67 12 51

Lotta Samuelson, projektledare BalticSea2020
Tel: +46 (0)8-673 97 61


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