Eutrophication and agriculture

Eutrophication that results from the enrichment of water by nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients, causes a general degradation of the marine ecosystems, including changes in water quality, harmful algal blooms and reduced oxygen concentrations in bottom waters. It directly effects people living on coastal areas who depend on marine ecosystem services for their livelihood, health and recreational opportunities.

The entire Baltic Sea is affected by eutrophication with agriculture being identified as a key source of nutrient input. Farming in the Baltic Sea region has gone through structural changes to meet the needs of globalization, economic and population growth, conventional farm holdings being replaced by large-scale farm enterprises specialized in intensive: crop production with high needs for mineral fertilizers; livestock production with challenges in applying large quantities of manure on fields.

From the field to the plate, many business and mediating actors are involved in the agriculture value chain, many of them located well outside of the Baltic Sea region! Each building block of this chain contributes, directly or indirectly, to agriculture pressures on the environment.

Ocean literacy can help raising awareness on everybody’s responsibility, be it farmers, retailers, decision-makers or consumers–as basis for a profound change of practices and behavior throughout the agriculture value chain.