what this project is about
This project intends to create and test a transferable and replicable operating model for enhancing the water-smartness of food systems, both in Finland and elsewhere. The operating model is based on Finnish water expertise and knowhow, combined with understanding of regenerative farming and food systems. The operating model is test-driven in practice on the Åland Islands, with local food companies and farms.
why this is important
making food systems water smarter
Food production is one of the biggest users of fresh water globally. Water scarcity is a dire issue in many places. Improving water use efficiency in both farming and food processing is instrumental in creating regenerative food systems. In farming, focus needs to be also placed on improving soil health to help it absorb and retain water better. Rural landscapes also need to be designed in a way that aids the natural water cycle.
For food companies, both clean and waste water create costs and sustainability concerns. For farms, dealing with droughts and flooding can be a real struggle, in addition to creating costs and sustainability concerns. Managing to retain, recirculate and refine existing water better within the food system can create both cost savings and sustainability benefits.
making food systems more nutrient neutral
When it comes to food system process waters, they often contain plenty of valuable nutrients, mainly phosphorus and nitrogen. These nutrients may create an excessive burden at water treatment facilities or, in the worst case, end up polluting local waterways, causing eutrophication. However, when captured and recycled, these nutrients can be retained within the food system, helping grow our food.
Finnish water technology and service companies, as well as research and education have diverse and valuable expertise. Being able to combine this expertise better will not only help solve some of the most burning issues within food system water management, but also create new business opportunities.