The webinar, held on the 22nd of March, attracted over a hundred interested attendees online to hear about the multiple possibilities of grassland production. The webinar covered a wide range of topics on the potentials of grass, especially for crop farms. Several income models and benefits for farms from grassland production were presented. Business perspective to grassland production was brought to the event by two CEOs, both from newly established companies. The webinar was organized by MTK, BRANCHES project partner in cooperation with three other projects. The audience came from all over Finland and mainly consisted of farmers and experts from agricultural sector.
The first speech was given by Jukka Rantala, a climate expert at MTK, who spoke about the current state of grass production in Finland. Grasslands cover a large amount of Finnish farmland and are therefore a very significant form of production, supported by the subsidy system. Jukka highlighted the multiple benefits of grasslands, such as carbon sequestration potential and positive contribution on biodiversity and soil attributes.
Maarit Kari from ProAgria gave a presentation on grass production from a profitability perspective. Maarit talked about subsidies for grasslands and recent changes in the subsidy system. Her presentation included many tips for cultivation planning from the perspective of subsidies and practical advice for grasslands in general as well. There were also calculations for field planning. Maarit highlighted the long-term benefits of grassland to the fields, which can be financially very beneficial to the farm.
Esko Rissanen told about his ‘Biogas from Fields’ project, in which he had mapped the potential of grass for a biogas plant to be built in Central Savo region. The extensive mapping work had been fruitful, as they had found a large area of 2000 hectares from 80 to 100 farms from which the biogas plant will use biomass from. Esko's presentation was an interesting overview of the potential of grasslands for biogas production and about their project to conceptualize biogas plant's operating model.
Risto Uusitalo from Golden Fields Factory Oy also brought a business perspective to the event, he told about a new feed processing plant being built in Humppila. The plant will have a production capacity of 70 000 tons of dried hay products per year, which will be exported to Asian market. The company will offer farmers an interesting new market channel for their grass.
At the end of the webinar, Birgitta Vainio-Mattila from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry gave an overview of carbon sequestration and carbon credits. Carbon sequestration was discussed for both peat and mineral soil fields. Significant emission reductions have been detected in peat fields, especially with perennial grasses. Birgitta also talked about criteria for carbon credits and the EU’s plans for carbon farming – which raised a lot of interest.
The webinar was aimed to be as interactive as possible; all participants were encouraged to take a part in the discussion. All presentations generated good discussion throughout the event. In addition, Menti platform was used to engage the audience.
Altogether the webinar was very successful and very well received. It met well the objective to raise awareness of the earning possibilities for crop farms from grass production. The diversity of the content in the event especially gathered a lot of good feedback.
The organizers were:
- BRANCHES / MTK-Keskusliitto
- MTK-Keski-Suomi and ProAgria Keski-Suomi.
- Climate action at the grassroots level / MTK-Satakunta
- Inspired by information / MTK-Pohjois-Savo