Luke People: Old-timer Aims to Make Tomorrow’s Fish Farming Profitable Today

Natural Resources Institute Finland -

Senior scientist Jouni Vielma has found himself knee-deep in developing fish farming for nearly three decades. Next, he wants to transform recirculating aquaculture into a commercial success.

Jouni Vielma has researched fish farming for almost 30 years. Photo: Emilia Kangasluoma. You’ve researched fish farming for almost 30 years. What keeps you fascinated?

“There’s a social need for information. The environmental guidance of aquaculture is very strict in Finland. Companies only get production permits if their environmental impact is minimal. At the same time, Finland is far from self-sufficient in salmonid production. Businesses are able to grow only if their environmental impact can be reduced.”

So the need to reduce environmental impact is especially important in Finland. How can this be achieved?

“At this point, the development of aquatic feeds can reduce nutrient emissions by merely 5 to 10 percent. Recirculating aquaculture systems, or RAS, open up whole new possibilities. They can reduce emissions by up to 90 percent.

Additionally, recirculating aquaculture can help increase production substantially as long as business stays profitable. For the time being, farms in Finland have struggled to do so.

I believe this will change. Very recently two major recirculating farms have opened production in Finland. These facilities alone aim to increase production of Finnish rainbow trout by a third. This is why we do research: to be of assistance and to transform new, expensive technologies profitable.”

That being said, what’s your most important research project at the moment?

“I’m coordinating the Aquaculture innovation program, which is conducted in cooperation with businesses and other major research institutes such as the Finnish Environment Institute, Metsähallitus, Finnish Food Safety Authority, and Finnish Meteorological Institute.”

How would you describe the global prospects of aquaculture?

“The demand for farmed fish and shellfish is growing rapidly. As a research area, the development of aquatic feeds is highly important worldwide. Feed contributes to more than half of production costs of farmed fish. From a consumer perspective, it also has a great importance to the nutritional value of fish. Furthermore, the environmental impact of different feed ingredients varies widely.

At the end of the day, research themes are the same worldwide. One doesn’t need to go further than Norway to see strong investment in new technologies. The production of salmon juveniles has been moved to RAS farms and further production is being sought for offshore. In Norway, salmon production is hundredfold compared to that of Finland, and salmon lice are a large-scale issue. Therefore, Norwegian production is likely to change drastically in the near future.”

Does a fishery expert such as yourself break away from fish in their spare time?

“No, nor would I want to. I fish all year round and whatever my wife requests for dinner, I try to catch. My aim is to fish a wide range of species and to cook up a storm: canned roach, smoked vendace and so on.

I must say that not all my spare time is filled with fish. I’m also an avid follower of Finnish football: I start feeling funny if a whole week passes without attending to a live match.”

Text: Solja Virkkunen

Artikkeli Luke People: Old-timer Aims to Make Tomorrow’s Fish Farming Profitable Today julkaistiin ensimmäisen kerran Luonnonvarakeskus.

Most farmers have a vocational degree

Natural Resources Institute Finland -

According to the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), more than 80 per cent of farmers have a vocational degree. Some 45 per cent of all farmers have a degree in agriculture. Pig farmers are the most highly educated farmers, as more than 90 per cent have a vocational degree.

– We have previously collected information about the agricultural education of farmers. This time, we were able to use the educational register of Statistics Finland, without needing to request information in conjunction with the Farm Structure Survey. At the same time, we had access to more comprehensive information about the education of farmers, says Jaana Kyyrä, senior statistician at Luke.

Some 30 per cent of people responsible for farm management completed vocational training related to farm operations during 2016, with pig farmers attending the highest amount of training.

The use of labour force was investigated in the Farm Structure Survey

In winter 2016–2017 in conjunction with the collection of data for the Farm Structure Survey, agricultural and horticultural companies were asked to describe their use of labour force. This information issued is final.

In 2016, agriculture and horticulture employed approximately 118,000 people in Finland. Of these, 47,200 were farmers or shareholders of a corporate group. Some 34,300 of all agricultural and horticultural employees were family members of farmers. Farms had approximately 4,200 permanent employees, and nearly 32,600 short-term employees. These figures were specified slightly upwards from the preliminary data published in autumn 2017.

Less than 60 per cent of farmers and shareholders of corporate groups worked as full-time farmers. This figure has not changed since 2013, when the previous statistics regarding the agricultural and horticultural labour force were issued.

Dairy cattle production has the highest employment effect. (Photo: Rodeo) Dairy cattle production has the highest employment effect

Even though the majority of agricultural and horticultural employees worked on farms with cereal production as the primary production line, the highest workload was produced on dairy cattle farms. Cereal production farms employed roughly 31,000 employees and dairy cattle farms nearly 18,000 employees. The workload of dairy cattle farms equalled approximately 22,000 person-years and that of cereal production farms equalled more than 10,000 person-years. One person-year equals 1,800 hours.

– On dairy cattle farms, farmers and shareholders of corporate groups produce a high workload. During the year, their workload equalled 1.6 person-years on average. Instead, the workload of family members and permanent employees equalled roughly one person-year, Kyyrä says.


Artikkeli Most farmers have a vocational degree julkaistiin ensimmäisen kerran Luonnonvarakeskus.

Nature-based tourism – global trend, local business and sustainable future?

Natural Resources Institute Finland -

Nature is the key attraction, which brings tourists to Finland. The question is, how to develop business and improve sustainability while the demand grows fast.

On the opening day of the annual travel fair in Helsinki, it is clear where the big news is. The pandas have arrived, all the way from China to Ähtäri Zoo in central Finland. A crowd gathers to hear when two cuties will be presented to the public.

Photo: Marjatta Sihvonen

However, it is not all about pandas. The fair presents a variety of small and medium size companies with their carefully designed products for travellers.

Would you like to pan gold in the midnight sun and have your catch made into a unique engagement ring? Or spend a night on a desolate island on the coast of the Baltic Sea, with silence and sea birds as your only company?

As it turns out from the statistics, many of us would. Nature is the trend, not just in this year’s Helsinki travel fair, but also in ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel fair, where adventure trips and nature-based tourism are among the strongest growing segments of the travel industry.

Fast growth 8.3 million foreign travellers stayed in Finland overnight in 2016. Photo: Pixabay

According to the figures of travel promoting organization Visit Finland, 8.3 million foreign travellers stayed in Finland overnight in 2016. The biggest group comes from Russia, but there are fast growers such as China with 29% increase. The fastest growing region attracting travellers is Lapland, where the number of foreign travellers grew by 18% compared with the previous year.

For Research Professor Liisa Tyrväinen of Luke, these figures, trends and the expected increasing growth rate in future travelling are familiar. Tyrväinen is an expert in nature-based tourism and recreation. She has arrived at the travel fair with her group to present the results of their latest project, which took a deep look at what nature-based travellers look for in Finland and how the business can be developed.

– Conservative estimate is that nature-based tourism comprises about 25% of the Finnish travel business. According to Statistics Finland, nature-based tourism and recreation employ 33 800 man-years. It is a remarkable area already and important in offering job opportunities in our scarcely populated countryside, Tyrväinen says.

Cooperation is the key

Tyrväinen describes the field of nature-based travelling in Finland diverse but scattered.
– We have a lot of small size and even part-time businesses. That is typical of the field here and in other Nordic countries as well.

For some entrepreneurs, the work is part of their chosen lifestyle.
– In a small company, you are often occupied with the daily activities and there is, clearly, not enough time for business development. However, there are also companies, which actively look for growth. They have possibilities for it, as both foreign and domestic demand exist. It is important to try and enter foreign markets, Tyrväinen says.

According to Tyrväinen, Finland can attract nature-based travellers from Europe and groups from China, Japan and the rest of Asia. Tyrväinen gives the companies and other actors of the field one advice above all: cooperation.
– The international market is especially hard for small companies. Cooperation in marketing should be enforced and the value of all cooperation should be better identified, Tyrväinen says.

In the project, scientists surveyed what kind of services and products are interesting for travellers from different cultures and how nature could be packaged as a product for various clientele. The results offer concrete suggestions for developing the sector in Finland as a whole and provide material for companies to develop their own work.

Making silence and space sustainable At the fair counters, presenters know what makes the deepest impact on foreign travellers in Finland. Silence. Space. Photo: Pixabay

At the fair counters, presenters know what makes the deepest impact on foreign travellers in Finland. Silence. Space. In other words, natural areas without people, villages or traffic. On the other hand, Finland is far away from the most metropolitan areas. These facts pose various challenges to sustainability.

– The most important thing is to make travellers enjoy their stay here longer, because flying here causes co2 emissions. Products and services here, on the spot, should be sustainable. In the long run, sustainability cannot be too much emphasised, Tyrväinen points out.

Another important aspect of sustainability is the multiple use of nature areas. Forestry is a common source of livelihood and most of the forests are owned by family farms. Especially with the rising bioeconomy, forestry and nature-based tourism do not always see eye to eye.

– We have made several landscape preference surveys, which show that foreign and domestic travellers both appreciate natural looking landscapes. Large scale final cuttings are not the environments they want to experience and see. Therefore, we need more dialogue between forestry and travelling industry as well as tools to enable private forest owners to benefit from tourism income, Tyrväinen underlines.

Future networks

Finland has a well-functioning market for wood, but the landscape is not productised – that is, not yet.
– If the landowner does not get compensated for managing the values of landscape and recreation, there will not be enough interest to take care of them. Funding models, where for example tourism companies and travellers actively promote environmental management and contribute to its funding, could be a part of the solution. In the future, tourism enterprises should reflect their role and responsibility in protecting nature and landscape values, Tyrväinen says.

The project has gathered a remarkable amount of information about the state of nature-based tourism business and several seeds for future development. According to the audience in the fair, the ideas are well welcomed. The network of information grows to involve entrepreneurs, governmental representatives as well as scientists.

Text: Marjatta Sihvonen

Artikkeli Nature-based tourism – global trend, local business and sustainable future? julkaistiin ensimmäisen kerran Luonnonvarakeskus.

New partnership between Luke and VTT in Bioruukki speeds up companies product development

Natural Resources Institute Finland -

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland join forces in VTT Bioruukki in Espoo. Luke has installed its pilot equipment in the Bioruukki biomass centre to refine biomass and by-products from forestry and agriculture into new types of high added value products, such as biodegradable materials, cosmetics and food components.

The aim of the five-year partnership agreement is to support the circular bioeconomy by developing sustainable and eco-efficient solutions for the entire value chain of biomass, ranging from the production of biomass to its procurement, processing, refinery and consumption.

Above all, this partnership benefits companies.

“In Bioruukki, companies have access to the extensive competence and expertise of Luke and VTT in the entire production and operating chain”, says director Leena Paavilainen from Luke.

In Bioruukki, companies can carry out product development, without needing to build their own pilot plants. The aim is to offer cost- and resource-efficient services and equipment environments for the R&D activities of companies. In addition, Bioruukki offers various analytics and fractionation technologies.

Luke has installed a pilot-sized hot water extraction system and an extraction system that uses supercritical carbon dioxide. These only use water, carbon dioxide, heat and pressure to fractionate biomass. Renewable biomass provides compounds to replace fossil raw materials and synthetic chemicals. The systems can separatethe most bioactive and efficient compounds from biomass in a sustainable way. Pilots and demonstrations are supported by Luke’s laboratory experiments and diverse analytics aimed to study various fractions. Luke’s food study and test facility and systems in Jokioinen enable the further processing of fractions.

Bioruukki is the largest research environment for the bioeconomy in the Nordic countries and one of VTT’s most significant investments in recent years. The laboratory and piloting facilities of roughly 2,000 m2 in the new biomass centre have mainly been designed for processing forest-based biomass and for producing special pulp.

Luke and VTT are actively looking for business partners to create new bioeconomy products.

Artikkeli New partnership between Luke and VTT in Bioruukki speeds up companies product development julkaistiin ensimmäisen kerran Luonnonvarakeskus.

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