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Finland breaking ground in regenerative agriculture

The aim is to make farming more sustainable by promoting the transformation of Finnish farmland from sources of carbon into carbon sinks.

Jaakko Lukumaa

A Finnish collective has launched a free online course to provide farmers with scientific information on practices that improve the soil, yield and environment.

The E-college for Regenerative Agriculture is the result of a collaborative effort by Reaktor and the Baltic Sea Action Group (BSAG) based on Carbon Action, a pilot programme launched with support from the Finnish Innovation Fund (Sitra) and Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI).

Regenerative agriculture has been identified as a key measure for mitigating and adapting to the effects of the climate emergency, in part due to its rehabilitative impact on soil, the largest carbon stock in the terrestrial ecosystem. Research has shown that the approach can have a positive impact on productivity and food security while protecting the climate, water systems and natural diversity.

Finnish farms alone could remove some five megatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount emitted annually by cars, by successfully implementing methods of regenerative agriculture.

“Regenerative agriculture proves that practical solutions to biodiversity loss and the climate crisis exist,” Mari Pantsar, the director of sustainability solutions at Sitra, stated in a press release.

“Finnish farmers can be at the frontline supporting biodiversity and sequestering carbon into soil.”

Consisting of 60 hours’ worth of diverse learning materials and practices with real-life applications, the course was launched earlier this week with the first-year goal of attracting 5 000 attendees, equivalent to about 10 per cent of farmers in Finland.

Finnish farms alone could remove some five megatons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, equivalent to the amount emitted annually by cars. Image: Atria

“Yields and crop security have improved since I began applying the principles of regenerative agriculture,” attested Tuomas Näppilä, a course participant from Urjala, Southern Finland. “Costs have decreased and the handling of animals has become easier with rotational grazing. It is easy to first test these methods on just a few fields.”

Niko Kavenius, a lead designer at Reaktor, revealed that the course generated widespread international interest even before its launch, given the large-scale implementation made possible by online training.

The industry partners of the educational project include food industry behemoths Atria, Fazer and Valio.

“We share the common concern about climate change,” statedMerja Leino, the head of responsibility at Atria. “Making the food chain carbon neutral by 2035 has been adopted as one of the primary objectives at Atria. Regenerative agriculture is an important tool as we seek to rein in climate change.”

Juha Nousiainen, the director of the carbon-neutral milk chain at Valio, called attention to the gulf that persists between the desire and actual ability of people to make sustainable choices.

“It is important for us to train our dairy producers in order to achieve carbon neutrality in the whole milk chain in the future. This way we can offer consumers Finnish products that are produced using regenerative farming practices,” he told.

By: Aleksi Teivainen