The premise of the OSMO project is that knowledge and soil are the most important resources of agriculture. At present, the resource efficiency of agriculture is surprisingly poor in Finland: soil compaction and deficiencies in micro-nutrients restrict harvests.
“Broad-based competence is required to ensure the optimum soil health. We found that no comprehensive network is available in Finland to support farmers in finding practical solutions to these problems”, explains Project Manager Jukka Rajala.
This is why the Ruralia Institute of the University of Helsinki and ProAgria South Ostrobothnia and Western Finland applied for and received special funding for water protection and nutrient recycling from the Rural Development Programme. A number of companies, farmers and foundations decided to join in.
Systematic cooperation is the key
The OSMO project (Knowhow and tools for resource-efficient soil health management in a collaborative network) is in full swing now, tackling the problems related to soil health. The key for success is systematic cooperation with the research sector, advisory services, farmers and businesses.
Eight on-farm trials are underway in Southwest Finland, Satakunta and South Ostrobothnia. The practical trials examine efficient methods for improving the condition of the soil in different lines of production, soil types and tilling methods. New information gained from the trial farms and from abroad will be refined into know-how in farmers’ study groups, field days and training events.
“In the farmers’ study groups, 15-20 farmers meet several times during a six-month period to discuss soil management and how to improve soil conditions. Individual soil management plans will be prepared for each participant on the basis of the meetings. In addition, the project will result in a soil management tool kit intended for wider use", says Jukka Rajala.
“Local advisors who share the information in their work play an important role in this work”, says Rajala.
The OSMO project is in full execution, and it has met with a positive response. The project has already reached several hundreds of farmers.
“Being involved in the farmers’ study group has resulted in a positive brainstorm. I learn new things on a continuous basis and get to discuss issues with other farmers who are in the same situation. In my opinion, every farmer should be prepared to improve the condition of the arable land in the fields. It all starts from the soil", says Melina Lindegren, a member of the Southwest Finland group.
It is beneficial for both the environment and the farmer’s finances when the soil is in good condition, yields a better harvest with less fertilisers and results in less leaching into waterways.
“Research data is abundant, but the refinement of information into competence and practical measures has been lacking. We want to make the information accessible to practical operators, share practical knowledge and prove that, should the farmer so wish, it is possible to improve the condition of their soil very quickly”, says Project Manager Jukka Rajala.
Project manager Jukka Rajala, Ruralia Institute, email@example.com, tel. +358 44 303 2210
Further information on the project:
- OSMO website (the Ruralia Institute)