Phosphorus runoff from agricultural land creates problems not only in the Baltic Sea, but also in many Swedish lakes and water courses. Together with seven neighboring farms and agricultural advisers, Hubert Gelin started a project in 2006 with the aim to minimize phosphorous leakage from the farms’ common catchment area.
One of the main activities in the project has been to construct a two km long two-stage ditch, which is a relatively new and untested agri-environmental method in Sweden.
“The two-stage ditch means that the erosion of hillsides is avoided and that
the water level on the fields at high flows is minimized,” explains Hubert. “It’s important to transport water away from our fields, since they have a very high clay content. Through the drainage work, the yields will increase and soils will be easier to manage.”
In addition to the two-stage ditch, the farms have constructed lime-filter ditches and a phosphorous dam – and they also use structural liming and nutrient balances to decrease nutrient leakage. The farms collaborate with researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Science and since sampling and measurement series are available for the area, it’s possible to follow up on the effects of the farms’ efforts.
In the future, Hubert hopes that their methods will be used by more farmers, and that economic support will be given to those who want to undertake similar projects.
“I think it’s positive that we have voluntarily taken the path towards doing something good for the environment,” says Hubert.
“After 40 years as a farmer, it feels really good to be able to make a difference for the environment and take care of our land for the future,” he adds.
In 2015, Hubert Gelin received the national Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts to reduce nutrient runoff on his farm.
Location: Norsholm in southeastern Sweden
Type of farm: Conventional livestock and crop farm (54 ha)
Main production: Spring lamb and cereals
Key practices: Construction of a two km long two-stage ditch to reduce phosphorous leakage, lime-filter ditches, structural liming, use of nutrient balances at farm level
National jury motivation: “Together with seven other farms, Hubert Gelin has conducted a series of measures to mitigate the problem of phosphorous leakage to the Baltic Sea. Some of the measures are well known whereas others are new and innovative. The latter includes construction of two-stage ditches and lime filter ditches – which are still relatively untested in Sweden. Hubert has been the driving force behind implementing the measures, and also the driving force in the collaboration between the farms, researchers and authorities. Since there are sampling and measurement series available for the area it’s possible to follow up on the effects of the measures – making the knowledge base in many ways unique.”