Warm winter hampers agriculture, worsens water pollution
04 Jan 2018, 00:11 ( 15 days ago)
Unusually mild weather and heavy rains this winter have given Finnish environmental officials a sampling of what negative impact the warmer climate may have on agriculture and the water protection career, Finnish national broadcaster Yle said on Tuesday.
Markku Puustinen, an agriculture specialist at the Finnish Environmental Center, told Yle that the situation in southern Finland is now "uncontrollable" and seriously undermines the efforts to block agricultural nutrients from flowing into waterways.
In Finland, hundreds of millions of euros are spent each year on concrete water protection measures. They include the construction of protective lanes and artificial wetland between waterways and agricultural land. If the current situation continues, much of the investment is in vain.
In normal winters, fields should be frozen and covered with snow in Finland, but now fields in southern Finland are wet and barren. Soil and nutrients get washed away to rivers and lakes and will next summer enhance the eutrophication phenomenon.
This winter has witnessed unusually heavy rains, with rivers running at high water levels and thus increasing the flow of nutrients to lakes and to the Baltic Sea.
In the measuring station of Nuuksio, near Helsinki, the total amount of rainfall in 2017 was 944 millimeters, while the figure is 700 millimeters in a normal year. Experts said the level of nutrients for the summer 2018 algae growth will double.
Besides the environmental impact, the situation affects farming directly. It makes ineffective the spending on artificial fertilizers. The fact that fields do not get frozen enhances the growth of fungi.
Farmers try to solve the problem by changing the cycle of breeds. Farmer Joonas Juuso told Yle an oat field will be used for hay now.
Finnish experts are envisioning new ways of preventing the fertilizers from going "down the drain". Seppo Knuuttila, a special researcher at the Finnish Environmental Center, told Yle that instead of focusing on circular economy, the effort should be in conserving nutrients, water and also reducing the area of land used for cultivation.