Spreading sludge on arable land has been a topic of debate for many years. Sludge from purification plants contains both nutrients that we want back in the cycle (such as phosphorus, humus-forming substances, nitrogen and micronutrients) and contaminants that we do not want on arable land (such as cadmium and pharmaceutical residues).
Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for all crops and at the same time a finite and costly resource. Phosphorus is currently extracted from the earth's crust in several locations in the world, and is added as a mineral fertiliser in agriculture. The fact that phosphorus reserves will come to an end, and that they are often contaminated with unwanted substances such as cadmium and other heavy metals are important reasons for creating an effective cycle for plant nutrients. Successfully returning phosphorus and other nutrients from the sludge to arable land, without increasing the content of unwanted substances, is a prerequisite for sustainable cultivation.
Creating a sustainable cycle between town and country is an important social issue which is governed by the rules adopted by parliament and the authorities. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency was commissioned by the government to investigate the possibilities of a sustainable return of phosphorus. The investigation resulted in a proposal that combines intermediate targets for an increased return with lower limit values for unwanted substances.
Lantmännen specifies the requirements for our grain flows
Based on legislation and the authorities' regulatory frameworks and guidelines, it is the farmer who decides which fertiliser is appropriate, based on factors such as conditions on the farm, the crop type and customer requirements. Lantmännen is responsible for specifying the requirements for our grain flows. Our starting-point is that we want safe products at all stages – products in which our customers and consumers have confidence – with no uncertified sludge returned to arable land.
Requirements for grain used as raw materials for our food products
For Lantmännen's own food products, our requirement is that the grain raw material and the field where it is cultivated should not be fertilised with sludge.
For organically grown raw materials, sludge fertilisation must not have occurred during the period in which the land has been approved for organic farming. Before the land is approved for growing organic products, it is required to have been cultivated according to the criteria for organic farming for two years.
Basic requirements for other grain flows (feed, ethanol, etc.)
For other grain flows, it is a basic requirement that sludge fertilisation may only take place with approved sludge from a REVAQ-certified treatment plant. REVAQ is a certification system that ensures the quality of treatment plants' upstream work and the returning of plant nutrients in the sludge to agriculture.