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Manure handling for greener fields and a bluer Baltic Sea

23. October 2012


Baltic Sea Region is a home for 90 million people. Most of the food we eat is produced in the region.  A side product of food production is livestock manure. Unwise manure handling causes valuable and partly irreplaceable nutrients to be wasted - they leach to the Baltic Sea and inner Danish waters and pollute the water. Improved manure handling is crucial for sustainable agriculture. It requires co-operation from all the actors, from farmers to policy-makers.

The key actors in achieving more sustainable agriculture in the region are farmers. Farmers are willing to choose environmentally-friendly methods, but there are many obstacles before they can take action. Research about the best methods is required, the best solutions need to be communicated to the farmers. Moreover, governance and policies need to support the solutions. All these aspects are expressed in the A Greener Agriculture for a Bluer Baltic Sea conference in Copenhagen, 24th – 25th of October 2012.

The green island of Bornholm is a practical example of the work where multiple actors cooperate. The farmers at Bornholm have established Skruepresserforeningen (the Manure Separation co-operative). They present in practice how the farmers can make energy and fertiliser out of manure. The agricultural advisory system is involved to increase the prosperity of the farmers and their communities. Farmers and environmental NGO’s work together to find the best solutions. All EU’s agricultural and environmental policies are highly relevant at Bornholm as it is an intensive agri-ecosystem surrounded by the vulnerable Baltic Sea.

- The manure separator enables us to utilize our limited manure resources in a better way, says the initiator of the separator co-operative,  Flemming Jensen.

- It helps me as a farmer, but also the Baltic Sea. I get greener fields using the manure after separation and the Baltic Sea receives less nutrients. The biogas plant saves money by transporting only the solid part of the slurry. For the benefit of farmers, fisheries and tourism, appraises the initiator and biogas board member Flemming Jensen.

The demand for more effective agriculture has lead to separation of crop and livestock farms. This has in turn led to manure concentration on larger farms. Manure separation technology needs to be improved so that the valuable nutrients could be transported and used where they are needed most.

- Improved handling of nutrient-containing material, such as animal and poultry manure, is imperative for the health of the Baltic Sea, says Dietrich Schulz, Co-chairman of Agriculture and Environment Forum of the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM).  

- Wasting valuable resources which could be looped back for crops and energy production, currently causes eutrophication of the sea. Sustainable manure handling improves efficiency in food and feed production and prevents negative environmental impacts.  Recycling of nutrients has been highlighted as a key area in implementation of the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan and the achievements will again be followed up by HELCOM Ministers in October 2013, here in Copenhagen, he continues.  

About the organisors:
The conference is organised and hosted by three EU-financed projects:

Baltic Compass is the focal point for policy issues and the pre-conditions for implementing better agro-environmental measures,
Baltic Manure addresses the potential benefits of manure nutrients and energy and
Baltic Deal focuses on advisory service to farmers

Together, the three Baltic Sea projects have received 14 million euro from the European Union Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013 for their work to develop optimal solutions. A total of approximately 40 partners from around the Baltic Sea and all the riparian countries are involved.

The work is part of the implementation of the EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and will give recommendations for the revised strategy for 2014-2020.

The conference is also supported by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Sweden ,


Photo text:

  1. The mobile slurry separator of the Skruepresserforening at Bornholm.

  1. SyreN+ is a mobile devise to acidify and dose the manure nutrients in the field.


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