Target reached in the Vantaa river project: 50 farmers involved

Farmers interested in the new water conservation method

In the second year of the River Vantaa Gypsum Project, a total of 50 farms from Riihimäki to Helsinki are taking part to stop eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. This autumn, gypsum will be spread across nearly 2,400 hectares of fields along the Vantaa river as a water conservation measure. Most of the treated land is situated close to the river’s main stem in the areas of Nurmijärvi, Vantaa and Hyvinkää. Gypsum treatment cuts phosphorus leaching by half, reducing eutrophication and the growth conditions for blue-green algae in the Vantaa river and its estuary in Vanhankaupunginlahti.

“The effectiveness of gypsum in reducing runoff of solids and phosphorus is indisputable. According to the project’s preliminary results, gypsum also reduces erosion and phosphorus runoff in areas where other water conservation measures focused on combatting erosion, such as vegetation cover during the winter months, are already largely in use. In this way, gypsum treatment supports other effective measures to further reduce load,” explains Anu Oksanen, Executive Director of the Water Protection Association of the River Vantaa and Helsinki Region.

Gypsum distribution already underway on fields in Vantaa

Some 4 tonnes per hectare of soil improvement gypsum will be spread on the fields. Farms taking part in the project receive the gypsum free of charge, and the project also covers the costs of distributing the gypsum. The first gypsum loads have been delivered to fields, and work on spreading them has begun. In addition to farmers, the cities of Vantaa and Helsinki have joined the water conservation efforts by using gypsum to reduce nutrient runoff in their fields.

Photo: Kirsi Kurki-Miettinen / John Nurmisen Säätiö

The City of Vantaa has been involved in several water conservation projects in the past, and the latest project is an excellent continuation. Tuomas Vaherlehto, estate manager at the City of Vantaa, lists several benefits of gypsum treatment. “Experimenting with new approaches gives us an understanding of how we can improve water quality and improve the recreational use of the Vantaa river. As fields that are in good condition are also easier to maintain and farm, gypsum treatment is hoped to provide a number of different benefits.”

Gypsum treatment to cut phosphorus load by two tonnes

A year ago, already some 1,100 hectares of field were treated with gypsum in the Vantaa river project. With plans to extend the treatment to a total of 3,500 hectares, the project will cut the annual phosphorus and suspended solids loads of agriculture by two and one tonnes, respectively, over the next five years. The positive effects on water quality are enjoyed by nearly one million recreational users along the Vantaa river and Vanhankaupunginlahti.

The River Vantaa Gypsum Project is carried out by the John Nurminen Foundation, the Water Protection Association of the River Vantaa and Helsinki Region (VHVSY), the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Environment Institute. The project is funded by private donors of the John Nurminen Foundation and the Ministry of the Environment. Yara Suomi Oy will donate the gypsum for the project. The gypsum is formed as a byproduct of the company’s fertiliser plant in Siilinjärvi.

“The final spurt was a success, and we achieved all project goals ahead of schedule. A big thanks for this belongs to all farmers who joined the efforts! Now, we hope for good autumn weather to ensure that the gypsum can be spread successfully. We are also delighted to see that gypsum treatment will soon be expanding to Southwest Finland. Gypsum treatment of fields in the catchment basin of the Archipelago Sea would significantly improve the sea’s condition,” says Maija Salmiovirta, Project Manager.

Further information:

John Nurminen Foundation
Marjukka Porvari, Project Manager of the Clean Baltic Sea project, tel. +358 41 549 1535, marjukka.porvari(at)jnfoundation.fi
Maija Salmiovirta, Project Manager, tel. +358 44 203 2213, maija.salmiovirta(at)jnfoundation.fi

Water Protection Association of the River Vantaa and Helsinki Region
Anu Oksanen, Executive Director, tel. +358 50 3726 018, anu.oksanen(at)vantaanjoki.fi
Pasi Valkama, Researcher, tel. +358 44 767 1394, pasi.valkama(at)vantaanjoki.fi

University of Helsinki
Professor Markku Ollikainen, tel. +358 29 415 8065, markku.ollikainen(at)helsinki.fi

Finnish Environment Institute
Petri Ekholm, Senior Researcher, tel. +358 295 251102, petri.ekholm(at)syke.fi

Ministry of the Environment
Laura Saijonmaa, Environment Counsellor, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 261, laura.saijonmaa(at)ym.fi
Sanni Turunen, Project Manager, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 295 250 068, sanni.j.turunen(at)ym.fi

John Nurminen Foundation – Baltic Sea protection and marine culture
Founded in 1992, the purpose of the John Nurminen Foundation is to save the Baltic Sea and its heritage for future generations. The Foundation has been awarded for its work as a communicator of information and producer of marine content. The goal of the Foundation’s Clean Baltic Sea projects is to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea with tangible measures that will reduce the load and environmental risks directed at the sea. Our work is steered by measurable results and impact. www.johnnurmisensaatio.fi/en/

Photo: Kirsi Kurki-Miettinen / John Nurmisen Säätiö