City of Helsinki Joins Gypsum Treatment Measures of Agricultural Fields

The City of Helsinki joined the effort to clear the River Vantaanjoki. In September, the city implemented gypsum treatment on some of its own agricultural fields located in Siltamäki, Tattarisuo and Haltiala, covering a total of 22 hectares of land.

The City of Helsinki has long been a trailblazer in environmental issues. The city promotes protection of the Baltic Sea e.g. through the Baltic Sea Challenge, by neutralizing the city’s own nutrient footprint caused by wastewaters, and through the operations of the Helsinki Region Environmental Services (HSY). Some of the current environment protection themes addressed by HSY are investment in improving wastewater treatment processes and developing new innovative solutions: For example, the RAVITA project is piloting phosphorus capture and recycling. Last week, the City of Helsinki and the City of Turku published their third joint Baltic Sea Action Plan for 2019 to 2023. Agricultural water protection measures, for example gypsum treatment of fields, are strongly represented in the plan.

”It is important that the efforts to improve the state of our local waters and the Baltic Sea show in the actions taken by the city. Proof of the effectiveness of the gypsum treatment in reducing nutrient loads is so strong that it was clear that we would implement it in our own fields,” says member of the steering group of the River Vantaanjoki Gypsum Treatment Project, Director General of Helsinki Environment Services Esa Nikunen.

The farm manager of the Haltiala Farm, Jari Kuusinen, explains that the first gypsum treatment of agricultural fields in Helsinki took place already back in 2016. At that time, 18 hectares of land in Haltiala and Tuomarinkylä were treated with gypsum. “The River Vantaanjoki Gypsum Treatment Project was a great inspiration for us and it motivated us to participate in the measures again. Implementation of the gypsum treatment was easy: the logistics chain was managed well, the deliveries arrived on schedule. It took us only one day to spread the gypsum,” says Kuusinen.

Overall, ca. 1,000 hectares of land in the River Vantaanjoki Catchment Area underwent gypsum treatment this year. The measure reduces nutrient load and suspended solids runoff from agricultural fields to the Vantaa River and Gulf of Finland, thus improving the ecological state and recreational value of these water bodies. Gypsum treatments will be continued next year.

The River Vantaanjoki gypsum treatment project is carried out by the John Nurminen Foundation, the Water Protection Association of the Vantaa River and Helsinki Region (VHVSY), The University of Helsinki, and the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). The project is funded by private donors through the Foundation’s fundraising efforts, as well as the Ministry of the Environment as a part of the measures outlined in The Finnish River Basin Management and Marine Strategy Plans, as well as the “Breakthrough of Circular Economy and Clean Solutions” (”Kiertotalouden läpimurto ja puhtaat ratkaisut käyttöön”) key project.

Further information:

Director General of Helsinki Environment Services Esa Nikunen
City of Helsinki
City of Helsinki Urban Environment Division
Tel.: +358 40 5045 175

Project manager Anna Saarentaus
John Nurminen Foundation
Tel.: +358 40 7190208