Water bodies are an important part of the Finnish countryside. They also have great recreational value.
A great part of Finland’s surface area is covered by water. Inland water bodies cover some 10% (34,539 km²) of the country’s total surface area. The Finnish maritime area covers 52,471 km². The Finnish coastline is extensive, fragmented and enclosed by large archipelagos.
Finland’s share of the loading in the Baltic Sea is 3.8% for phosphorus and 3.7% for nitrogen. In Finland, agriculture is estimated to account for approximately 68.6% of the phosphorus loading caused by human activities, while this figure for nitrogen is approximately 56.2%. The impacts of loading caused by agriculture are the most obvious in the Archipelago Sea, the rivers in Southern Finland and the Gulf of Finland. These catchment areas include a great deal of arable land and erodible soils.
Manure is being spread on 5–10% of the fields on arable farms. Nutrient leaching from manure is a growing problem due to the concentration of livestock farming and its separation from arable farming.
Recycling nutrients originating from agriculture is one of the key projects in the Finnish Bioeconomy Strategy. Agricultural production is governed by the EU Nitrates Directive and the national legislation based on it.
The Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland includes various measures to reduce the environmental pressures agriculture puts on waters. Key measures relate to environment payments and training and advisory services.