– A possible way to try and save the environment of the Baltic Sea
Artur Granstedt1, Olof Thomsson2, Pentti Seuri3
The goal to reduce the nutrient load to the Baltic Sea to half has not been achieved. Despite major
efforts there has been no meaningful reduction. Instead there are great risks that nitrogen and
phosphorous loads to the Baltic will increase now that the Baltic countries and Poland have
joined the EU. With an increasing number of their farms changing over to a western European
type of specialised agriculture the consequences are likely to be increased algae flowering and
increasing areas of the Baltic Sea with a dead bottom. This specialised agriculture, where grain
farms are separated from intensive animal production farms, results in increased nutrient
surpluses and leaching. This is apparent in the report4 that I, in collaboration with colleagues
from Baltic States, have recently written as part of the EU financed INTERREG project: Baltic
Ecological Recycling Agriculture and Society (BERAS). Published by CUL (Centrum for
Sustainable Agriculture) at SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), this report also
makes it clear, however, that there is still time to stop these negative developments. Plant nutrient
losses per hectare cropland are still low in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland compared to the
other EU countries within the Baltic Sea drainage area.
According to HELCOM’s most recent collation Poland contributes the most nitrogen (28% of the
total load in the Baltic Sea drainage area), followed by Sweden (21%of the total). Poland’s
population and area under cultivation are however almost as large as all the other countries
combined. The Swedish per capita nitrogen load is 21 kg, while in Poland it is only 6 kg.
According to official Swedish calculations about half of the anthropogenic nitrogen load to the
Baltic Sea is from agriculture. For phosphorous it is about a... [continues]
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