LEX4BIO National Dissemination Forum (NDF) in Finland


Place: Tietotalo, Jokioinen, Finland

Time: 17th of August 2022


Dissemination of activities and results of LEX4BIO project to the relevant stakeholders at the national level are conducted through National Dissemination Forum (NDF). Since LEX4BIO started in June 2019, first NDF-meeting in Finland was arranged in December 2019. During that meeting challenges and opportunities of bio-based fertilisers in agriculture were discussed and these observations were included in the policy roadmap deliverable (D8.5). According to the DoA, physical NDF-meeting were planned to be organized annually to inform activities of LEX4BIO. However, due to the COVID-19, physical meetings were cancelled in 2020 and 2021, but during the various on-line meetings stakeholders were informed about the on-going activities of LEX4BIO during the years 2020-2021.


Second NDF-meeting in Finland was arranged in Jokioinen on 17th of August 2022. All those stakeholders that participated the first meeting were invited to join the second meeting as well. Although not that many participants joined as compared to first meeting, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MMM),  agriculture advisory services (ProAgria), farmers union (MTK), fertilisers industry (YARA, Biolan), Finnish Food Authorities and biggest provider of municipal water supply and waste manager in Finland (HSY) joined the meeting. During the meeting activities and preliminary results of WPs 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 were  presented and field visit to phosphorus (WP3) and nitrogen (WP4) field sites were conducted.


Audience in the meeting of 2nd National Dissemination Forum in Jokioinen


Nutrient-rich side-streams in the EU and their potential as N and P-fertilizers (Elina Tampio)


Elina presented (MS Teams) justifications for recycling of nutrient-rich side-streams (NRSS) and requirement to reach these targets, e.g. producing more concentrated bio-based fertilisers. Methods for collecting information of available NRSS in the EU were presented. Manure is the most common and biggest fraction of NRRS but information of distribution of manure among different animal types or type of manure is not available at the EU level. Therefore, total amount of N and P in manure was considered by utilizing Eurostat data, reporting only numbers of animals in various categories, e.g poultry and bovine and utilizing excretion data for nutrients (German Fertilizing Ordinance, DüV 2017). It was pointed out that raw data behind Eurostat calculations should be made available for better evaluation of calculation both at the national and the EU level. Representative from YARA informed that they have also conducted calculations of NRSS in the EU and there is potential for collaboration when evaluating this data. It was estimated that biomasses in the EU include about 1.9 million tons of phosphorus and 11 millions tons of nitrogen. Out of these amounts, about 1% is located in Finland and there exist more specific information of the biomasses, regarding to whereabouts, type of biomasses and their fertilization potential at different regions as compared to the EU.


Selection of bio-based fertilisers to be studied in LEX4BIO (Kari Ylivainio)


Background for the selection of BBFs to be studied in LEX4BIO was presented. Online questionnaire for producers of BBFs was send and this information was further updated by directly contacting potential producers as well as reserch projects that are producing new BBFs. Final selection was based on covering different Product Function Categories (PFC; fertilisers) and Component Material Categories (CMC) as stated in the Fertilising Products Regulation (EU 2019/1009). Finally of about 40, both nitrogen- and phosphorus based BBFs were selected. For the study, also sewage sludge based BBFs were included although they are not CE-marked, but are still relevent nutrient source. Other criteria for BBF selection were nutrient content (> 1% of N and P2O5), availability of BBFs, especially for field trials, solid form of BBFs was prioritized and homogeneity of BBFs. Most of the N-based BBFs had a N content of 1-10 % (70%) and organic fertilisers above 10% of N are mainly animal by-products. Some BBFs had P content above 20% (DW), including phosphate precipitates, e.g. struvites. It was pointed out that distribution of fertilizers across Europe was in some cases challenging but all BBFs were finally reached their final destination. Yara is producing BBFs and they are currently distributing these fertilizers from Finland also to other EU countries and this has worked fine.


Agronomic efficiency of N- and P-based fertilisers (Tapio Salo, Kari Ylivainio)


Background information of N- and P-field sites and selected BBFs for the field trials were presented. It was pointed out that in 2021, the first year of the field trials, severe drought during the growing season reduced yield formation and N-trials suffered severely from the drought and no yield was obtained. However, from the larger plots, dedicated for satellite monitoring, 1500 kg ha-1 of barley was harvested, yet far below from normal yield.

Greater precipitation in 2022 as compared to previous year has led to a better yield formation so far. Leaf area index, measured from the N-trial, showed increasing value as application rate of mineral N fertilizer increased (0, 25, 50, 75, 100 and 125 kg N ha-1) and values measured from the BBF treatments (100 kg total-N ha-1) were equivalence to those measured in treatments with 50 and 75 kg mineral-N ha-1. It was also pointed out that in other countries, N-BBFs seemed to be equivalent to mineral N fertilizer. One reason for that was suggested to be the longer growing season as compared to Finland and thus more time for organic N to mineralize into a plant available form.


Tapio Salo presenting results from the nitrogen field trials.



Phosphorus trial was established on a P poor field, yet barley yield without P fertilization was about 3000 kg ha-1 and maximum yield was about 3600 kg ha-1. Better yields as compared to this area on average was partly considered to be the consequence of a good soil structure as the field has been permanent grassland since 1990´s. Leaf sample analyses showed that P concentration in the youngest emerging leaves (at the stem elonganation stage) were adequate and P deficiency was not observed. At the equal P application rate of 30 kg ha-1, most of the BBFs produced corresponding yield to TSP. In 2022 field plots (5*10 m) were splitted and residual value of BBFs were studied on the other side of the plot (2,5*10 m) whereas 30 kg total-P ha-1 was provided to other side of the plot.


In a greenhouse trials, all the P-BBFs were evaluated and preliminary results were presented, showing that mineral fertilizer equivalenve varied between 15-100%. Also within the same CMC categories, fertilizer equivalence varied. Independent of starting material of BBFs, several P-BBFs had equal fertilizer value to mineral P fertilizer.


Fertilizing efficiency of P-BBFs are compared to mineral P fertilizers. In order to receive yield response in greenhouse trials, P deficient soil is needed. It was pointed out during discussion whether fertilizer equivalence, determined in P deficient soil, would also be relevant in soil with a higher P status. In LEX4BIO we are considering that the fertilizer equivalence is the same independent of soil P status, but as the strenght of P deficiency varies, based on P availability, also crops responses may vary, e.g. the amount of root exudates for enhancing P solubility when strenght of P deficiencu varies. Also soil P adsorption properties changes as soil P content increases. Therefore, this issue needs to be taken into account when evaluating sufficiency of BBFs for replacing mineral P fertilizers.


Phosphorus fertilization requirement is dependent on soil P status. LUCAS soil samples, covering all EU member states, provides information of P status of agricultural fields. This information was further improved by considering soil texture and pH as well for evaluating critical P content in soil. Discussion was raised as data showed (Recena et al., under review) that critical soil P content increased in the direction from south to north and from east to west. Also soil P status showed to be even, especially in Netherland and Belgium, more than four-fold as compared to critical P value.


Safety of bio-based fertilizers (Riikka Keskinen)


Safety of BBF is studied in WP5 and the work in this WP is dependent on outputs from other WPs and therefore its activities have started later as compared to other WPs. Relevant risks as related to the use of BBFs includes formation of antibiotic resistance in soil, harmfull organic substances, heavy metals and microplastics. Risk assessment as related to the use of BBFs includes heavy metal losses to surface waters and concentration in harvested yield and thus to food safety. Background information of heavy metals in agricultural soils is obtained by analysing LUCAS soil samples with EUF-method (WP3) and transfer factor of heavy metals from soil to crops is determined from the field trials conducted in WP3&4 as well as from data maining of literature. Analyses of studied BBFs revealed that only in few BBFs heavy metal concentrations exceeded the limit values set by the Fertilising Products Regulation and N fertilizers contained lower concentrations than P-BBFs.


Riikka Keskinen presenting potential risks related to the use of BBFs.


After the presentation of the current activities, both phosphorus and nitrogen field trials were visited. As pointed out by the visitors, barley growth was good and no clear yield deviations among different P fertilization treatments were observed. It was surprising that even without any P fertilization barley stand looked as good as those receiving P. However, it was noted that yield differences needs to be at least several hundred kg per hectare before yield differences are visible. Also, yield quality may differ although it was noted that this would be more evident with N fertilization.


After travelling from phosphorus field trials to nitrogen field trials, it was evident that approaching thunderstrom would make visit to nitrogen trial unsafety and visit was decided to cancel. Instead Tapio Salo briefly introduced current status of the nitrogen field trial.

Visiting phosphorus field trial and evaluating potential yield responses caused by different BBFs. Harvesting of field trial will take place after couple of weeks. Due to approaching thunderstorm (below), field visit to nitrogen trial was decided to cancel.