Håkan and Teri Lee Eriksson from Sweden today received the WWF Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award. This annual competition aims to inspire farmers in the entire Baltic Sea region to take an active part in combating eutrophication. It was launched by WWF, together with Swedbank, and in cooperation with the Baltic Farmers Forum for the Environment, and farmers’ organisations from around the Baltic Sea.
The Swedish couple, chosen by an international jury, was among the winners of national contests in seven Baltic Sea countries. As the regional winners of the competition, they received a 10,000 euro prize provided by Swedbank in recognition of their accomplishment.
“We are thrilled and honoured to have won this year’s Baltic Sea Farmer Award. The award is an inspiration for everyone who works on the farm. We are convinced that there are many pro-environmental improvements that can easily be incorporated in conventional farming practices,” says Håkan and Teri Lee Eriksson of the Wiggeby farm. “As the winners of this award, we hope that others will be inspired to think in a broader perspective resulting in even greater involvement in improving conditions for the environment within the field of agriculture.”
The Baltic Sea is still one of the most threatened seas in the world. Eutrophication or over-fertilization has been identified as the single most important threat to its health and agricultural runoff is the main cause.
“A major solution to this problem is to promote more sustainable farming and land management practices”, says Mats Abrahamsson, Director of the WWF Baltic Ecoregion Programme. “With this award, we want to inspire EU and its Member States that sustainable farming is possible and advantageous for farmers. It should be at the heart of the future Common Agriculture Policy.”
The purpose of the Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award is to highlight best practices in “Baltic-friendly” farming and to recognise and promote farmers who are leading in innovative measures to reduce runoff from their farms.
The award ceremony, hosted by WWF, took place at the International Baltic Sea Conference “A greener agriculture for a bluer Baltic Sea” in Helsinki, Finland.
The jury awarded the couple for “their dedicated commitment to showing how a modern farm can apply environmental measures to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus losses. By using modern and innovative techniques that are being systematically documented, nutrient losses have been significantly reduced. It is the jury's belief that the Erikssons have really gone the extra mile to save the Baltic Sea, and that the measures they have taken can be replicated by many other similar farms in the Baltic Sea region."
At the Wiggeby farm, the Erikssons practice conventional crop farming and by applying modern and traditional techniques they have improved the environmental measures to reduce agricultural runoff. The farm was an early user of an N sensor for spreading fertilisers and manure in order to adjust the dosage to yearly conditions, needs and the changing status of different parts of the field.
Cultivation of grassland in a crop rotation system and creating a pond for phosphorous sedimentation have also helped reduce the risks of nutrient leakage from the farm. The Wiggeby farm has documented every measure applied at the farm since the 1990s and has accumulated a large database that serves as an effective tool for analysis and monitoring.
“The Baltic Sea is one of our most prioritized environmental projects. It is positive that the Baltic Sea Farmer of the Year Award is so widely appreciated. I hope we can continue working with this competition to create a more sustainable Baltic Sea region,” says Claes Fagerström, Group Sponsorship Manager at Swedbank.