Good use of nutrients and energy
Efficient recycling of nutrients in agriculture strengthens Finland’s food security and energy self-sufficiency and improves the state of waters. The measures can also boost the solutions for a green transition that will promote a resource-efficient circular economy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration and storage.
New innovations, investments and products are created all the time, but new players, unprejudiced partnerships and cooperation across administrative branches are needed to mainstream a circular economy for nutrients.
Long-term efforts across government terms
The national package of measures concerning the nutrient cycle and renewable energy has been implemented on a long-term basis by several Governments. The work to promote this started already during the second Government led by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (2007–2010). The aim has been to promote the utilisation of nutrients and energy contained in manure and other agricultural biomasses from the perspective of both economic activities and the environment. This work continued under the programmes of the Governments led by Prime Ministers Juha Sipilä (2015–2019) and Sanna Marin (2019–2023).
During the term of Prime Minister Petteri Orpo’s Government, Finland’s self-sufficiency is to be improved through more efficient cycling of materials and nutrients, including as part of biogas production. In terms of its scale, nutrient recycling is considered a significant measure for improving the status of waters, especially that of the Archipelago Sea. Efforts are made to create well-functioning markets for recycled materials for different uses and to increase the percentage of recycled materials in these. The aim is to find system-level solutions cost-effectively, with a key focus on impact assessments. Nutrient cycles are promoted in a way that is technology-neutral and driven by the demand in society. The Government will promote the recycling of phosphorus in manure to areas where there is nutrient deficiency and develop ways to retain nutrients in arable lands by making use of nature’s own ecosystems.
Besides the national measures, the production of renewable energy and recycling of nutrients are promoted through measures under the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU (CAP). Since 2007, funding from the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland has been used for investments in rural and agricultural businesses related to bioenergy and treatment of manure, and these will continue to be funded under the CAP Strategic Plan in 2023–2027. Farmers may also be eligible for support from the environment payment scheme included in the CAP Strategic Plan for the use of recycled nutrient products and manure for fertilisation.
Progress in nutrient recycling
The Programme for Nutrient Recycling is one of the key projects started during the term of the Government led by Prime Minister Sipilä. The pilot programme continued under Prime Minister Marin’s Government, and it was expanded from a research and innovation programme to also cover investments in production-scale nutrient recycling operations. The objectives set in the programme of Marin’s Government included increasing the use of manure as raw material for biogas and recycled fertilisers through a national operational grant for biogas plants (nutrient cycle grant).
Funding from the Programme for Nutrient Recycling is used to promote research, development and innovation activities concerning the recycling of nutrients contained in biomass. Investment aid is targeted to investments in machinery, equipment and buildings for production-scale operations concerning the processing of manure or rejects from biogas plants into highly processed fertiliser or nutrient products. Investment aid supplements the development work done in the pilot projects concerning nutrient recycling. Together, the support for RDI and investments promotes the chain composed of biogas production, manure processing, nutrient recycling and carbon sequestration from ideas and innovation all the way to production-scale operations.
Operational grants for nutrient cycles are targeted to biogas plants that process manure and waste from the management of aquatic vegetation in the biogas process. The aim is to promote the use of these biomasses in biogas plants and encourage to use digestate to manufacture highly processed recycled fertiliser products. The aid is envisaged to be paid on the basis of kilos of phosphorus in manure and aquatic vegetation processed in the biogas plant. The aid scheme should get started towards the end of 2023.
Sanna Tikander, Senior Specialist
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Food Department, Unit for Rural Development Telephone:0295162178
Veli-Pekka Reskola, Senior Officer
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Food Department, Unit for Agriculture Telephone:0295162193
Karoliina Pietiläinen, Senior Specialist
Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Food Department, Unit for Agriculture Telephone:0295162017