November 30, 2016 Someone Special

Rising awareness and searching for win-win solutions

Nature friendly and farmer-satisfying drainage solutions are a thing to focus on when thinking about decreasing eutrophication in the Baltic Sea – this is main conclusion after two day conference in Bauska, Latvia last week where more than 60 participants, mainly drainage experts and farmers from Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Sweden met.

“Diffuse nutrient inflow from agricultural fields to Baltic Sea is the main part of nutrient load causing eutrophication. Nitrogen and phosphorus reaching sea in last few decades has dramatically increased already bad situation in the Baltic Sea,” explains Ari Kultanen, project manager of “ProAgria Southern Finland”. He clarifies that holistic and contemporary solution is needed – drainage management and the elements of this system must reduce the nutrient inflow and keep optimal moisture level but it is essential to keep them minimal so they do not take large spaces. “”NutrInflow” project which is implemented by partners in Latvia, Finland and Sweden gives principles and example of holistic drainage management and we go to right direction. Our humble objective is to give three internationally valuable examples of modern drainage management,” says A.Kultanen, pointing out that the quality of Baltic Sea begins already at our doorstep – in our homes and fields. 

Ainis Lagzdiņš, professor of Latvia University of Agriculture explains that in his research he has found out that complex solutions works the best, though even they can not assure that after heavy showers they will prevent nutrient inflow: “There are many different options – sedimentation ponds, two-stage ditches, bottom dams, meandering, controlled drainage, constructed wetlands… In holistic approach many of them should be combined according to possibilities.” In the research done in Vecauce monitoring station data shows that two or three days after rainstorm field “gives” the water load to ditches and nutrient retention is decreased. 

The approach of combining different solutions has been implemented in farm “Vilciņi”. Zemgale Planning Region’s melioration expert Mārtiņš Cēsnieks explains that in the ditch (total length – 3.2 km) they used sedimentation ponds, bottom dams and meandering: “Our calculations show that this system detains 95% of suspended particles and 30-40% of nutrient inflow. In the same time she system creates environment for different animal and plant species, but farmer’s biggest advantages are that the possibility of floods is reduced, soil is in its optimal moisture level and overall environment has been upgraded.” 

In Latvia river Lielupe catchment area has been chosen as a pilot territory. Aile stream is one of pilot sites and partners have already chosen five locations for building drainage system. “Nowadays reality in Latvia is that drainage systems are outdated and climate becomes more extreme,” says Maira Dzelzkalēja-Burmistre from union “Farmer’s Parliament”. She explains that still farmer’s knowledge about connections between human work and quality of water in the Baltic Sea is low, but the actions of “NutrInflow” project already have positive feedback. Aile stream has a good potential to show how win-win solutions can be implemented. 

In another pilot territory – Sodīte stream near Jelgava – ground works should begin in 2017. Ingars Rozītis, Jelgava local municipality drainage expert explains that in this case they went one step further: “Near the stream we have Aizupe elementary school. We wanted to involve children who are learning there to take action so that from young age they already have knowledge about environment around them.” Aizupe school is one of most active ones in region and pupils in their science classes are learning about microorganisms living in water. “They have become “Ambassadors of Sodīte” – together with teacher they are monitoring the site, learning about nature and its biodiversity,” says I.Rozītis. 

All the materials with in-depth information from conference in Bauska both in Latvian and English can be found on project’s website. Photo gallery – in project’s Facebook page.

Conference in Bauska has been organized as part of INTERREG IVA project “NutrInflow”. Similar events will be held in following years in Sweden and Finland. 

“We – Nordic countries – have only one Sea that is common and it continues to suffer from eutrophication. This is the last moment to take action and save it, preserving our treasure for next generations. Together we have a clear vision and we are more than confident that “NutrInflow” activities will have positive results,” resumes Sigita Šiļvjane, project manager from Zemgale Planning Region.  

Aigars Ieviņš,

Zemgale Planning Region

PR specialist