Recommendations to strengthen the Nordic bioeconomy

Expanded Nordic cooperation is the key to creating a more resilient bioeconomy, especially in the wake of polycrises. NKJ and SNS can now present a policy brief with recommendations to strengthen and develop the Nordic bioeconomy.


The basis for the recommendations are desktop studies of Nordic initiatives on crises management and resilience, and multiple dialogues with experts from the Nordic bioeconomy.

Addressing the challenges of one crisis, let alone multiple crises affecting the region simultaneously, requires coordinated efforts. Many different perspectives must be taken into account and how the different countries’ bioeconomies work must be clear.

The potential for more joint Nordic efforts to strengthen the resilience of the bioeconomy looks promising. The countries have similar social structures and topographies, there are already companies operating throughout the region, similar political ambitions in, for example, climate measures and existing networks and initiatives create good conditions for Nordic cooperation. It has also been shown that there is a strong interest in jointly meeting the challenges associated with crisis preparedness and crisis management in the bioeconomy.

This policy report presents five policy recommendations. Nordic decision-makers and stakeholders can enable effective progress towards a more resilient Nordic bioeconomy by:

1 Developing a joint roadmap for a resilient Nordic bioeconomy

2 Strengthening the resilience in the Nordic -bioeconomy value chains by identifying and addressing critical dependencies

3 Enabling an efficient, accessible, and safe -sharing of high-quality bioeconomy data across the Nordic region

4 Supporting knowledge sharing between Nordic crises communication functions

5 Integrating the recommendations for a more -resilient Nordic bioeconomy in the development of the Nordic Cooperation Program for 2025-2030


Read more details about the recommendations, and download the policy brief here

New nutritional recommendations for both health and the environment

The new nutrion recommendations are not only guidelines for better health for humans, but also link health with the health of the planet.


In order for our food to be useful and sustainable for the future on Earth, we must eat less meat, and more fish and vegetables. That is the conclusion formulated in the new Nordic nutritional recommendations 2023 which are just launched. The recommendations are based on the best available science on food consumption, health, and the environment and shows that human health and sustainability goes hand in hand.

The nutrition recommendations are the result of four years of hard work by a project group within the Nordic Council of Ministers and lots of researchers and others engaged. The report provides a shared evidence-based foundation which assists the countries in developing dietary guidelines, but also receives international attention.

The new recommendations have changed on a number of points compared to the previous edition.

See what changes have been made to the nutritional recommendations

Find the Nordic nutritional recommendations 2023 here

NKJ report on challenges for reindeer husbandry in the Nordic region

Recently, NKJ arranged a conference on challenges for reindeer husbandry in the Nordic region. The conclusions from the conference and an overall view of the state of reindeer husbandry in the Nordic countries are now available in a report.


The topic of the 2022 conference was challenges to reindeer husbandry, in particular the impact of predators, as well as consequences of a changing climate in Sweden, Finland and Norway. The conference contained four parts: Part 1: Loss of reindeer to predators, Part 2: Governance, Part 3: Ongoing research projects and Part 4:  Reindeer husbandry in a changing climate. The report gives a summary of the presentations and discussions in each part.

The report also gives a long list of key take-aways from the conference. The importance of synthesis between traditional and scientific knowledge is one of the twelve points in the list. Download the report (below) to see all of the messages the participating researchers, authorities, organisations and stakeholders underline.

The Nordic Conference on Reindeer Husbandry was arranged 9-10 November 2022 at NIBIO Svanhovd, Pasvik, Norway.

Download report

See the recorded presentations from the conference

Concrete tools for checking the health of soil

Researchers have gathered science based information from different Nordic countries in a manual on how to check out the health of soil with low-tech methods, readily available and easy to use for farmers and others. The researchers also provide strategies for improving soil health. 


During 2021-2022 researchers gathered in the network “Nordic Network on soil health” (NetSH). They shared research, knowledge and experiences on how to improve and sustain soil health in Nordic agricultural soils. They shared the most relevant low-tech methods for evaluating soil health with each other and in workshops.

Healthy soil functions are important for healthy soil-plant ecosystems on the farms, so strategies for farmers to improve and sustain soil functions, soil structure and soil biology have been in focus. 

NetSH also held an open webinar, “Soil health in the Nordic region”, that gained a lot of attention with 130 participants. In addition to this, there were two online meetings and one on-soil workshop arranged by the network.

Lars Munkholm (Aarhus University) and Annette Vestergaard (SEGES) demonstrating ”Tjek jordens sundhed”, the Danish variant of soil health evaluation on the workshop in Norway (NIBIO Apelsvoll) in June 2022.
Photo: Reidun Pommeresche, NORSØK

MANUALS: How to check your soil?

Methods to evaluate soil health on farms has been demonstrated to make them available to as many as possible. Assessment of soil structure, soil compaction, root growth and soil biology has been discussed in the network and knowledge has been exchanged.

The most important tool is the spade combined with sensory evaluations, including pressing soil clumps between your fingers to evaluate how easily they brake and checking the smell of the soil in different depths.

The manuals are available in four Nordic languages:

• Norwegian: Jordlappen

• Danish: Tjek jordens sundhed

• Finnish: MARA Maan rakenteen aistinvarainen arviointi (2019) – Avointen oppimateriaalien kirjasto ( and Peltomaan laatutesti, Microsoft Word – Peltomaan_laatutesti_Havainto_ohjeet2.doc (

• Swedish: Hur mår min jord?

These methods give a high score to soils with good structure with raisin shaped (rounded and porous) soil aggregates, deep and well growing plant roots, how easily the soil clumps brake, not to hard soil pans and the presence of several pink (inside) root noodles on legume roots and some earthworms in the soil. A healthy soil should relatively fast decompose organic matter, have some dark brown to black color due to organic matter content and have a smell of different fungi, like forest soils. All these methods include focus on comparing soil samples taken with a spade and to visualize and discuss soil functions and soil health with the farmers.

A selection of different low-cost methods showed under the NetSH workshop to visualize and discuss different aspects of soil health, like soil structure, aggregate stability and soil biology. Photo: Sissel Hansen/Reidun Pommeresche, NORSØK


 Compacted soil – a common Nordic problem

In the Nordic region we all experience the most severe soil problems in vegetable and cereal production. Much of this can be linked to soil compaction, with a very hard pan (zone) just below the tillage depth. But also in grass production there are soil structural and drainage challenges. In many cereal fields and some grass fields the straw and plant residues decompose very slowly or almost not at all.

In the Nordic region the soil types range from organic (peat) agricultural soils with more than 40 % soil organic matter to different mineral soils with low content of organic matter. In some areas the content of soil organic carbon (SOC) is creeping under 1,5 % (= 3 % soil organic matter SOM) which often is highlighted as a critical lower limit to several soil functions. In our Nordic cool conditions, we discussed that the content have to be higher than this for the soil to function well. 


Some strategies to improve soil health

A selection of strategies to improve soil health in the Nordic region as discussed in the Network-meetings and on the workshop is listed here. The order of the key words is not ranked.

Mineral soil:
How to improve soil biology? Input of plant residues and other organic material, better crop rotations and plant diversity, enough water and oxygen in the soil, increase the content of SOM if it is very low.
How to improve aggregate stability? Ley (grass/clover) in the crop rotation, green plants most of the year, use of animal manure and compost, and liming with limestone or natural gypsum.
How to avoid soil compaction and improve soil structure? Lowering tire load and tire pressure and not driving on wet soil. Use a mixture of cover crops, sub crop in cereal and when deep tillage is used, sow plants immediately.
How to improve the decomposition rate of straw and plant residues in the soil? Cover crops, cut the material before incorporation, check for drainage problems. Oxygen and gas exchange  very important for decomposition. Improve soil structure.
How to loosen a hard ploughing pan? Crop rotation + mechanically subsoiling, alfa alfa 2 years and animal manure/sludge.

Peaty soil:
In agricultural organic (peat) soil the aim should be to reduce carbon losses, instead of trying to increase the carbon content. Improve the soil structure from above, not plowing organic material to deep.

Let the spade become your friend

The Nordic farmer should use the spade to check their soils and a more diverse crop rotation as a start to improve soil health. Focus on soil structure and year around green plant cover will be useful in a future with a more unstable climate, with more heavy rains and droughts.

Some of the participants in the network Sustain Nordic soil health (NetSH) from the workshop June 20-21 2022 in Norway. From left to right in front: Reidun Pommeresche (NORSØK, network leader), Sissel Hansen (NORSØK), Mika Tähtikarhu (Luke), Henrik Vestergaard Poulsen (SEGES), Lars J. Munkholm (Aarhus University), Åsa Myrbeck (RISE), Pirjo Kivijärvi (Luke), Tatiana Rittl (NORSØK) and Mette Thomsen (NIBIO). 2. row from left to right: Franziska Fischer (NIBIO), Till Sehusen (NIBIO). 3. row from right to left: Randi B. Frøseth (NIBIO), Sari Iivonen (FORI/Luke) and Annette V. Vestergaard (SEGES). And in the back Frederik Bøe (NIBIO) and Thomas Julseth Brown.


Sustain Nordic soil health (NetSH)
Reidun Pommeresche, Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture (NORSØK)



Towards a common Nordic management of the wild boar

Svensk text längre ner

With a joint, Nordic working group, the wild boar will be handled in a better way. Wild boar, as is well known, easily cross national borders, which makes the countries dependent on each other in the management of the animal.



Petter Kjellander, professor at the Department of Ecology, unit wildlife, at SLU, has coordinated the compilation of a report that NKJ just published: “Wild boar in the Nordic countries“.

– The Nordic Council of Ministers wants to know about the wild boar situation in the Nordic countries. We have had a look at the biology of the wild boar, but also which conflict areas and management policies exist regarding the wild boar in the different Nordic countries.

So, why is it important to have an overall Nordic picture of the wild boar situation? Well, the wild boars found in Sweden may not stay in Sweden, but can easily cross the border to Norway. With a common and fact-based overview of the situation, it could be easier to deal with problems and get a consensus on necessary and effective measures.

– But regarding this we are in a really difficult situation, says Petter Kjellander, emphasizing the proximity to both Germany, the Baltics and Russia, where there are wild boars that just as easy can cross national borders, and bring the dreaded African swine fever.

The fact that the situations look so different in the different Nordic countries is due to the fact that historically different political decisions have been made based on the different conditions the countries have had. Denmark protects the important pig industry from swine fever by keeping the wild boars from Germany out, in Sweden there is a debate on how the agriculture should be kept safe.

– In Sweden, it has been decided that the wild boar population will be halved in five years.

Sweden has by far the largest tribe in the Nordic countries with at least 300,000 animals, while Norway and Finland have around 1,500 and Denmark and Iceland none at all. With a joint working group, as the report suggests, there is a better chance for more efficient management of the Nordic wild boar population.

– The Swedish administrators could be in a better position to make tougher decisions if  the other Nordic countries are backing them up. Discussing hunting and other management methods will be easier together.

Download the full report (free of charge)


Petter Kjellander about the report:

Anders Rolfsson, viltansvarig LRF Skåne, about handling the wild boar as a farmer:

Swedish text

Mot en gemensam nordisk strategi för vildsvinet

Med ett gemensamt, nordiskt samråd kan vi hantera vildsvinen på ett bättre sätt. Vildsvin tar sig, som bekant, lätt över nationsgränserna, vilket gör länderna beroende av varandra i frågan.


Petter Kjellander, Professor vid Institutionen för ekologi, enheten viltekologi, på SLU, har samordnat sammanställandet av en rapport som NKJ just har publicerat: ”Vildsvin i de nordiska länderna”.

– Nordiska Ministerrådet vill veta hur vildsvinssituationen ser ut i de nordiska länderna. Vi har tittat på vildsvinens biologi, men också vilka konfliktområden och förvaltningspolicies som finns kring vildsvinen i de olika nordiska länderna.

Så, varför är det viktigt att ha en samlad nordisk bild av vildsvinsläget? Jo, vildsvinen som finns i Sverige kanske inte behagar stanna i Sverige, utan tar sig lätt över gränsen till Norge. Med en gemensam och faktabaserad bild av läget kan det bli lättare att hantera problem och få en samsyn på nödvändiga och verksamma åtgärder.

– Men där är vi verkligen i en svår situation, säger Petter Kjellander och pekar på närheten till både Tyskland, Baltikum och Ryssland, där det också finns vildsvin som har lika lätt att ta sig över nationsgränser och som kan bära på den fruktade Afrikanska svinpesten.

Att situationerna ser så olika ut i de olika nordiska länderna beror på att man historiskt har fattat helt olika politiska beslut utifrån de olika förutsättningar som man har haft. Danmark skyddar sin stora grisindustri från svinpesten genom att hålla ute vildsvinen från Tyskland, Sverige har en debatt om hur böndernas grödor ska hållas skadefria.

– I Sverige har det fattats beslut om att vildsvinsstammen ska halveras på fem år.

Sverige har den absolut i särklass största stammen i Norden med minst 300 000 djur, medan Norge och Finland har runt 1 500 och Danmark och Island inga alls. Med ett gemensamt samråd, som rapporten föreslår, finns chans till en effektivare förvaltning av den nordiska vildsvinsstammen.

– Det hade kunnat hjälpa de svenska förvaltarna att fatta tuffare beslut om de har de andra nordiska länderna i ryggen. Det kan också bli lättare i frågor som jakttryck och andra sätt att hantera stammen om vi pratar med en mun i stället för att streta åt olika håll.

Ladda ner rapporten (gratis)

Great interest in learning more about soil as a carbon sink

There were a huge interest in joining our seminar about the current state of knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. But we want to provide those who missed it, and those who wants to refresh the memory, the presentations from our speakers.


November 26th we met to have an overview of the state of Nordic knowledge on soil as a carbon sink. There are good conditions for Nordic cooperation due to the countries’ similar soil types, climate and policies.

But where are we at? Is there a common Nordic base in terms of knowledge? These were our speakers:

Prof emeritus Johan Bouma, board member in the European Commission’s mission in the area of Soil health and food: “Exploring the exciting potential of  the Nordic countries to capture soil carbon following climate change”


Prof Katarina Hedlund, Lund University: “How to turn agriculture soils into carbon sinks”


Prof Raisa Makipää, LUKE: “Forest soils and their carbon sequestration potential”

Nordic ministers will use soil as a carbon sink

Farmers and foresters in the Nordic countries can be crucial for the climate. Forest and agricultural land is a possible option for storage of carbon that otherwise would remain in the atmosphere and cause climate change.

The Nordic ministers for agriculture now want to make the farmers – whom are often blamed for parts of the climate change – to be their allies in the work for increased carbon storage in the soil. Changed land use will help mitigating climate change. 

NKJ and SNS have dug deeper in the issue. Find and enjoy our report and brochure below.

Towards a sustainable milk production

Maybe the Nordic and Baltic milk production is a little bit more sustainable now compared to a year ago? That is what the participants in the NKJ network hope for after one year of network activities.

Reindeers walking on a paved road. Photo.

Nordic and Baltic researchers have been networking for a year within the frames of the NKJ network  to increase the knowledge about native cattle breeds milk and reindeer milk. This research could give new opportunities in the Nordic and Baltic dairy sectors and be of help in product development.


The networking gives advantages in creating synergies between research groups and coordinating resources in an effective way.  It is also important in giving young researchers possibilities to train and work interdisciplinary.

One practical example of the advantages of the networking, is that milk samples have been exchanged between countries and institutions. Milk samples from native Swedish cattle breeds have been exchanged between Lund University in Sweden and AU Food in Denmark for analyses of protein composition using LC-MS to generate research data on native cattle breeds.

Published article – Comparison of milk protein composition

Important travelling

Poring milk in a glass. Photo.There has also been an exchange of data to enhance research. People have been traveling too between countries and have had the possibility to do experiments.

M.Sc. Tora Asledottir from NMBU in Norway visited AU Food, Denmark, in January and March 2016. The exchange of research data and mobility of Tora Asledottir involved experiments regarding digestability patterns of beta-casein A1 and A2 variants with human gastric enzymes and detection of peptide fragments, caseinomorhins 7 in both variants. The visit involved analyses of flourescamine, peptidomics, SDS-PAGE and protein content. The visit also gave a good chance to discuss the data and paper writing.

Another exchange of brains and data was the visit of the PhD-student Kajsa Nilsson from Lund University in Sweden at NMBU, Norway, in December 2017. The visit involved experiments regarding rennetinduced coagulation phases of coagulating and non-coagulating milk from the Swedish Red breed. It also involved protein profiling of para-κ-casein and genetic variants of caseins and whey proteins using capillary electrophoresis as well as zeta-potential measurements. Analyses, discussion and paper writing was done too.


Workshops, meetings and a PhD course have been arranged by the network. A major outcome has been to promote advanced research and research training for PhD students and young researchers in the region through various organized activities. The network has improved transfer of scientifically based information on dairy technology and food for health science to the industry and established new research collaborations in the Nordic-Baltic region, which is of great importance for future research within the research field of dairy and health.

To facilitate future research exchanges and mobility after the end of the network, a portfolio of research techniques and methodologies have been established between all the network partners.

Climate change – an important issue for reindeer husbandry

Climate change is a challenge in many ways, and that applies to reindeer husbandry too. NKJ co-organized a seminar about future needs for research in the sector.


Reindeer husbandry Boy and reindeer standing in winter landscape. Illustration.Nordregio has written a report, Reindeer Husbandry in Sapmi, commissioned by NKJ. The report is a summary of the relevant research done the last ten years. It was presented at, and formed a basis for, a seminar about reindeer husbandry research in Tromsø, Norway, before Christmas.


The purpose of the seminar was to get a good overview of the problems and possibilities the reindeer husbandry is facing in the future.

– We want to develop the reindeer husbandry moving towards future, says Sunna Marie Pentha, adviser at the Norwegian Agricultural and food department.

Environmental issues

Anna Berlina, Nordregio, initiated the seminar with presenting the report to the participants. Ethel Seljevold, Fylkesmannen, Troms, talked about the opportunities there are in reindeer husbandry, and was followed by Carlos das Neves and Torill Mørch, Norwegian Veterinary Institute, who talked about the challenges the sector approaches when it comes to animal health.

But the most important and urgent issue to discuss might be the climate change, which changes the terms of reindeer husbandry. The warming up of the atmosphere makes the snow come later. That makes it harder for animal owners to gather their herd and transportations become difficult because the snowmobile can’t be used. It also interacts with the movements of the herd because lakes and other waters doesn’t freeze when it usually does. The possible effects of climate change on pastures was summarized by Kari Anne Bråthen, University of Tromsø.

Technical development

Rune Storvold, NORUT, och Erlend Vinje, NIBIO, gave some insight in the new opportunities technology brings to reindeer husbandry.

– The last four or five years, more and more animal owners use drones to handle their reindeers, says Sunna Marie Pentha.

The second day of the seminar was all about the future research needs in the sector. Marit Meløy from the Norwegian Saami Parliament initiated the discussions, and then the participants had discussions in smaller groups to pinpoint the needs and give their suggestions.

– The workshops gave some really useful concrete suggestions for further research, says Sunna Marie Pentha.

– NKJ can be important for the future reindeer husbandry because of the contacts you have, and the funding you can give, she says.

Download the report – Reindeer Husbandry in Sapmi (PDF)