Berner’s GreenCare Friend of the Environment garden fertilizer made from recycled nutrients, made a good sales record on its first summer. Berner made a sales-based donation to BSAG’s work for the Baltic Sea. Berner Oy will continue co-operation with BSAG next year.

Berner Oy’s Baltic Sea commitment is to explore the new possibilities of recycling nutrients to keep them from entering the waterways. The commitment brought the GreenCare Friend of the Environment garden fertilizer to the S Group’s gardening stores last spring. Berner also supports BSAG’s work for the Baltic Sea through donations based on product sales. The first donation was made at the end of the garden season this autumn.

– The good sales show that the demand for environmentally friendly horticultural products is high. Customers have pointed out this as a practical example of the much talked about Circular Economy. We have also been commended for the fact that raw materials of animal origin have not been used in the product, says product manager Arja Laivonen from Berner Oy.

– We are delighted to continue the co-operation with Berner Oy. Recycling different side streams to produce garden fertilizers, reduces nutrient emissions to the Baltic Sea. In addition, use of such organic fertilizers bring carbon to the soil, and the good condition of the soil contributes to plant growth and nutrient availability, says BSAG’s Secretary General Mathias Bergman.

The entire production chain of GreenCare Friend of the Environment garden fertilizer is as environmentally friendly as possible. Much of the raw materials used in the fertilizer, such as cereal sprouts and side streams of sugar production, have until now been completely untapped as plant nutrients. Herbal sprouts add beneficial micro-organisms to the soil, improve soil structure and add carbon to the soil.

Berner will continue to explore the new possibilities of recycling nutrients and making products in line with circular economy.

The project Baltic Slurry Acidification gathered in Riga, Latvia, 9th – 12th of October in order to have project’s mid-term meeting but also to visit Latvian in-field pilot investment at Lauku Agro. There are already two other in-field systems, one in Sweden and the other in Germany. There should be two more in-fielded systems and two in-storage systems. The theoretical estimates indicate that up to 48 000 kg nitrogen can be saved annually by the project investments alone.

The interest in slurry acidification technologies (SAT) is increasing in the Baltic Sea Region, as the ammonia emissions are increasing in most of the region’s countries. The EU has also introduced stricter emission targets. SATs can be an answer for required reductions as acidification of slurry decreases ammonia emissions but increases yields. The analysis of the marketing potential shows that at the country level an estimated share of liquid manure feasible for SATs varies between 30 % to 85 %.

The project has been conducting field tests during summer 2016 and 2017 and will continue during summer 2018. The main focus of the tests is to quantify the effect slurry acidification has on nitrogen use efficiency (NUE) and yields. The Swedish and German tests from 2016 showed increased NUE and increased yields from slurry acidification, although results were not always statistically significant.  Actual ammonia emissions were also measured in German field trials and the results (LINK) showed strong reduction of ammonia emissions. Results from the 2017 field tests in Finland, Estonia, Poland and Germany have not been compiled and analysed yet.

An initial case-study of the economy of slurry acidification based on Swedish field trials showed the techniques can be profitable during years with normal weather conditions.

The Ministry of the Environment of Finland has commissioned a study regarding internal nutrient storages in the Baltic Sea and their effects on eutrophication. BSAG will participate in making the study as part of international consortium led by Vahanen Environment Oy. The report also examines remedial measures to reduce the eutrophication effects of internal nutrients. BSAG has followed discussions and research dealing with internal nutrient loads and their effects on eutrophication since it was founded in 2008.

Internal nutrient storages in the Baltic Sea are nutrients from previous external loading that are released from sediments into the water due to anoxic conditions in sea bottom, thus increasing eutrophication of the Baltic Sea.

“It is by no means simple to get hold of internal nutrient loads”, BSAG’s representative Mathias Bergman states. “However, it’s clear that they need to be examined, while we also do everything to minimize external nutrient emissions from land.”

The study is part of executing Finland’s Programme of Measures of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which aims to achieve good conditions in the Baltic Sea by the year 2020. New methods for mitigating eutrophication are needed as global warming and changes in precipitation will make achieving the goals yet more difficult.

The study includes a roadmap of measures aiding the recovery of the Baltic Sea and produces information especially for decision makers and for possible implementers of remedial measures.

In addition to the consortium led by Vahanen Environment Oy, experts from Centrum Balticum will examine policies, legislation, international agreements and institutional aspects of implementing remedial measures for internal nutrient load.

Finland´s transition towards circular economy is proceeding in the field of nutrient cycling. The participants of different business ecosystems related to nutrient recycling met for the first time in September 21st in Nokia. Nokia’s ECO3 business area and BSAG’s Breakthrough for nutrient cycling -business ecosystem brought together companies, researchers and other relevant actors acting in a field of nutrient cycling. In addition, Turku’s Bastu and Lappeenranta’s GES regional developer organizations attended to the event.

Meeting intensified co-operation and information flow between actors in nutrient cycling networks. Close co-operation helps Finnish companies and actors develop effective nutrient cycling concepts and solutions for markets.

ECO3 area is developing bio-, circular and water economy related business and innovations on an industrial scale.

Breakthrough for nutrient cycling – an ecosystem of business clusters is a symbiotic partnership network coordinated by BSAG to create joint effort by companies aiming towards sustainable and competitive business models in nutrient management.

Sinebrychoff produces a Baltic Sea friendly Christmas Season beer, as a part of its’ Baltic Sea Commitment to develop barley cultivation in co-operation with Viking Malt and contract farmers. It is already the 10th time that KOFF Christmas beer’s barley can traced to a specific field, and the second time when BSAG has made a Baltic Sea-specific audit on top of Viking Malt’s own audit. Sinebrychoff’s Commitment also aims at making its’ factory in Kerava more environmental friendly.

The Christmas barley comes from Heikki and Pauliina Puputti‘s farm in Eura. Sustainable agriculture means economically viable and negative environmental impacts that minimize production, which does not endanger the carrying capacity of the environment. Baltic Sea -friendly food production is also a climate-friendly food production. This means better use of production inputs, minimizing the nutrient emissions, increasing the soil’s coal reserves and using environment-friendly methods.

In the Puputti’s farm they have calculated nutrient balances; when nitrogen and phosphorus remain in use, they will not leak to waterways to cause eutrophication. They also use a variety of crops, divide the spreading of fertilizers, use protective barriers and produce heat for drying from their own leftover wood. Exceptional compared to many other farms, is also the recycling of nutrients in the Puputti farm; the manure from their own chickens are used as fertilizer in the farm. As more manure is produced than is needed on own fields, half of the manure goes as a raw material to the fertilizer manufacturing elsewhere.

The recycling of nutrients is one step towards sustainable agriculture. It means re-using the nutrients that have already been added to the food chain. Nutrients can be recovered from, for example, animal manure, wastewater purification process, side streams in the food industry and household bio-waste. Better treatment for hazardous substances needs to be executed before recycling of nutrients from urban waste water sludge is possible. Urban wastewater sludge is a however a small fraction of the total nutrient recycling potential.

Telling Tree art+rsrch -group’s project made possible by Kone Foundation’s grant

In spring 2018 the Baltic Sea Action Group will begin a four-year collaboration with the Telling Tree art+rsrch -group. The work will focus on soil, the Baltic Sea and climate change, and in the project artists, curators and writers will work together with researchers. The project will produce works published annually and a collective, travelling mobile exhibition carried out on the project’s final year. This dialogue between art and science is connected to the Carbon Action -pilot project, which is done in collaboration with BSAG, The Finnish Meteorological Institute and Sitra. The Carbon Action -project utilizes latest research and farming practices in search of new ways to store atmospheric carbon into arable land to mitigate climate change.

This new project will combine modern scientific measurements, research tools and scientific data with creative work and imaginative endeavours. The goals are to utilize artistic methods in order to experience life in soil in multisensory ways, examine the relationships and working methods between scientific and artistic fields, and test new kinds of forms of artistic practice. The project will also seek to open up international contacts for soil research that combines art and science.

Telling Tree art+rsrch works in the field of art and artistic research, and it is founded by media- and installation artist Teemu Lehmusruusu. Teemu Lehmusruusu will act both as an artist and the artistic facilitator for the duration of the project. He is also part of the Carbon Action’s steering group. Announcements regarding the first artists to annually participate in the project will be made in the spring of 2018.

“It seems that all roads lead to soil and topics related to it. Interest towards it has also grown in the art world. In this project we will be seeing artistic work ranging from sound art to bio art and from poetry to new media. Both us artists and the researchers will undoubtedly be breaking new ground in our working methods”, remarks Teemu Lehmusruusu.

Breakthrough for nutrient cycling (RaKi)– ecosystem of business clusters is a symbiotic partnership network created to coordinate companies related to nutrient recycling and create joint effort towards sustainable and competitive business models in nutrient management. RaKi-ecosystem was started in spring 2016 and has proceeded fast during 2017.

There are various operating models for business ecosystems. BSAG has focused on networking of actors, active sharing of information, removal of business barriers, monitoring and promotion of relevant legislative environment, encouragement for piloting, demos and investments. Pushing ecosystem forward has required active work with the ecosystem operators. Working methods have included for example networking and thematic events, joint workshops and consultation.

Many ecosystem projects have advanced by leaps and bounds in 2017. New innovations and products have emerged for example in the form of waste water purification, fertilizer-, growing medium- and biochar productization and new local operating models.

Read more about VTT’s Resource container project and trace fertilizer producer Tracegrow.

The Forthcoming spring is going be interesting for the RaKi-ecosystem. In March, the ecosystem will arrange a thematic day for composting and anaerobic digestion. The objective of the day is to find answers on how to best utilize biomasses from the point of view of nutrient recovery and reuse.

In addition, on April the RaKi-ecosystem will organize a site visit to Cooperl production faculties in Bretagne France. Cooperl is one of the largest pork producers in Europe with an annual production of more than 5 million porks. The purpose of the trip is to explore large scale pork production with emphasis on manure and nutrient utilization.

baltic slurry acidification

The Finnish partners of Baltic Slurry Acidification project perform field tests with acidified slurry in cooperation with University of Helsinki. The aim of the test is to examine the effect of acidified slurry on spring wheat. On 23rd of August guests from Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Environment and Helsinki Commission explored the test plots in a field event organised by BSAG.

In this test, fertilization was done manually on the shoots simulating slurry spreading with a trailing hose. The test plots were divided in four: 1) unfertilized control plot, 2) mineral fertilizer (NPK), 3) untreated slurry and 4) acidified slurry. The early measurement didn’t show notable difference between the fertilized test plots, but the final measurements after harvest will give results on yield, protein content and nitrogen efficiency. The tests are performed by Karoliina Yrjölä, a student at the University of Helsinki under supervision of professor Laura Alakukku.
The project is a flagship for the Policy Area Bioeconomy in the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. Thus representatives of PA Bioeconomy from the Ministry of Agriculture as well as representatives of Policy Area Nutri were invited to explore the field tests.

– The acidification of slurry is a very interesting and promising method to reduce ammonia losses. We hope for more infomation and results from the project to support our decision-making when we try to find ways to meet the future emission reduction targets in Finland, says Ministerial Adviser Marja-Liisa Tapio-Biström from the Ministry of Agriculture.

Field tests are being carried out in other Baltic Slurry Acidification member countries also. Different kind of slurry on different plants are being tested. The project is now up to speed in testing and can start producing test results and analysis this autumn. The project will end in February 2019.

Visitors to Viikki test plots
Visitors to Viikki test plots on 23 August 2017.
Photo: Kaj Granholm
golden fields
Spring wheat fertilized with acidified pig slurry on the University of Helsinki test plots in Viikki on 23 August 2017. Photo: Kaj Granholm.

The sea bottom near cities is often damaged by harmful substances introduced through human activity.  The same environments also often suffer from eutrophication. Eko Harden Technologies’ Commitment looks for a way to remediate contaminated sediments and help control eutrophication. A research project is being carried out in Töölö Bay in co-operation with the Finnish Environment Institute and the City of Helsinki.

Eko Harden Technologies has patented EKOGRID® technology which is used to treat contaminated soil and ground water world-wide. The company’s Baltic Sea Commitment is to test the method in an aquatic environment.

“The method has been in use in land areas, and with its help it has been possible to improve spoiled areas. The equipment produces a weak electric field in the area, which has been shown to accelerate the decay of harmful substances in soil. We set the equipment in Töölö Bay, in the center of Helsinki to study the breaking of the harmful substances, such as oil and PAH compunds in the sediment”, says Iisak Lusua of Eko Harden Technologies Oy.

Preliminary investigations carried out in an aquatic environment have suggested that the equipment could have an inhibiting effect on the internal nutrient input which maintains eutrophication. Treating or removing polluted and/or nutrient rich sediments could in future, be a potential way to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. More than half of the current phosphorus load to the Baltic Sea comes from internal load and new innovative ways to tackle this problem on local level are needed.

“The active field work, when three rafts will be anchored in Töölö Bay, will take about a year. Conducting the research will not disturb the environment and when the study is over the rafts and the equipment will be removed from the bay”, tells Iisak Lusua from Eko Harden.

The City of Helsinki will monitor the long-term effects of the method.  Eko Harden’s Commitment’s runs till the end of the research project when the new possibilities are mapped based on the research results.

In 2012, Nordkalk embarked on its journey to help out the Baltic Sea by signing a 5-year-long Commitment with BSAG.  The main goal of the Commitment was to reduce the phosphorus burden on the Baltic Sea by using Nordkalk’s FOSTOP concept.


Nordkalk’s FOSTOP concept tackles the challenge of phosphorous runoff. FOSTOP is used for the structure liming of fields, the stabilization of sludge, and for lime filters and drains that help to reduce leakage and contribute to the recycling of phosphorus. Actions to reduce phosphorus leakages and to enable phosphorus re-use are extremely important because phosphorus is irreplaceable in food production and its reserves are depleting.

In the Commitment Nordkalk created FOSTOP concepts tailored for Finland and Sweden, and it also began a search for suitable test areas. In Sweden, the test results for structural liming were promising. Liming improved the structure of the soil, and phosphorus leakages decreased.

Due to bad weather conditions, structural liming could not be tested in Finland. However, the structure-liming product was introduced to the Finnish market in 2015, and interest towards the product has been growing. FOSTOP filters were tested in Finland during 2013 and 2014 with promising results. A significant reduction of phosphorous was observed in the tests.

“The concept and the tests related to FOSTOP have attracted a lot of interest. Even though Nordkalk’s Commitment will come to an end, the work will continue. ” Jan Drugge, Nordkalk’s Sales Manager said.

In addition to the genuinely important content of its Commitment, Nordkalk has made an annual donation of € 20,000 to BSAG. The donation has played a significant role in supporting the continuity of BSAG’s work.​​