Sweden’s ambition to increase organic farming
Sweden aims to make 30% of its farmland organic by 2030. Big farmers in Skåne are ahead of schedule.
“If we want to keep the added value in our Swedish and Nordic farming, organic is the way to go,” says farmer Mikael Palm of Högalid farm in Skåne, Southern Sweden.
The snow has just melted on the 400 hectares of land. In the barn, there are 550 cows, 285 of them dairy cows. Besides growing grass, the farm rotates rapeseed, corn, broad beans, oats, wheat, and peas.
Mikael and his wife Anna switched to organic farming in 2016, following market demands.
“Our customers were asking for organic products. In fact, we also prefer organic, especially when buying food for the family. Also, it felt good on a personal level to grow more sustainably,” Anna says.
The Swedish government aims at farming 30 percent of the country’s farmland organically by 2030. To support this goal, 60 percent of food in public kitchens, such as hospitals, schools and offices, will be produced organically by 2030. Today, a little over 20 percent of Swedish farmland is organic.
Organic farming offers unique advantages while also presenting specific challenges, resulting in a multifaceted landscape for farmers to navigate. This is something Yara is aware of and works with daily to help farmers in the Nordic region adapt their farms to new requirements.
“Improving soil health and crop resilience are key goals. Yara’s organic based fertilizers and solutions for precision farming offer farmers a tool to reach those goals,” Yara Sweden’s Marketing Operations Manager Emma Brehmer explains.
Organic farming - Preserving farming ecosystems
Rather than “forcing in” a particular crop for profit, Palm works to improve conditions and repair the land year by year. He rotates crops, applies biomass in the ground and minimizes the use of machines to protect the deep structure of fine root systems and earth worm tunnels.
To grow enough grass for the cattle, the farm borrows land from other farmers in the region. This collaboration is a win-win situation. When Palm rotates grass on these fields, he also improves soil. Implementing a rotation system with grass not only suppresses weed growth but also enriches the soil with organic content.
Such method improves the soil's drainage and water retention. It provides more oxygen and space to the roots, and the next crop can enjoy the residual nutrients from the grass. All of this will improve crop establishment and make crops more resilient to drought and harsh weather.
“The job of organic farming is to improve soil health, rather than just consume the soil. That means adding organic material to the ground.”
"Since there is not enough high-performing circulated organic material for organic fertilizer available to cover the crops nutrient demands, both mineral and organic nutrients, as well as a combination of different farming systems will be needed. This will help in feeding the world's growing population with food in a long-term sustainable way and preserve ecosystems for future generations", explains Emma Brehmer.
Complementing organic practices with organo-mineral fertilizers
Yara’s organic based fertilizers complement the organic matter sources that naturally exist on the farm.
On Palm’s farm, the milking cows are at the heart of the operation, providing the basic manure for the crops. The manure is spread on the fields in the autumn and spring. He avoids spreading in the summer on growing crops, because manure nutrients will vaporize on warm days, wasting valuable resources. Palm believes using organic-based pellet fertilizers in the summer is a better alternative. He welcomes Yara's organic fertilizer in the market, as a complement to the manure.
“Also, fertilizer products can give a more precise use of resources. They can be applied specifically where there is a need for more nutrients,” he says.
Yara’s organic based fertilizers are safely sourced from recovered nutrients, reducing waste, and contributing to the resource loop. “Our organic-based fertilizers help contribute to a circular economy by using nutrients safely recycled from other sources”, explains Emma Brehmer.
Like meeting an old friend
Palm is excited that spring has finally arrived in Northern Europe.
“The snow is melting, and the soil is getting ready. It is like seeing an old friend again. The wonderful thing about farming is that if you look after your soil, you get a new chance every year. And every year is an opportunity to do better.”
Yara supports all farmers in implementing efficient, sustainable agricultural practices, regardless of which farming system they use.
With Yara’s organic-based fertilizers, farmers have even more ways to make their farms thrive.
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