Pole wins WWF Baltic Sea region Farmer of the Year int'l competition

Krzysztof Kowalski was named the winner of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)'s international Farmer of the Year competition for the Baltic Sea region on Wednesday.

WWF ecologists, who organised the competition, announced in the Swedish city of Jonkoping that Kowalski had won the award for the many pro-ecological practices used in his farming to the benefit of the Baltic Sea and sustainable agriculture. Kowalski, the second Pole to win the competition, will receive EUR 10,000.

Kowalski was distinguished for employing farming practices that counter the effects of eutrophication, or the over-enrichment of water with nitrogen and phosphorous, which causes excessive growth of cyanobacteria and algae. When algae and cyanobacteria appear excessively in the summer season, swimming areas are closed to tourists.

Kowalski maintains nine ponds on his land, along with buffer areas, trees and bushes as well as cultivating stubble crops and legumes and creating sealed areas for the storage of natural fertilisers, using precise fertilisation, liming the soil, conducting soil research and annual testing of feeds and water for residue of nitrates and pesticides to limit the loss of biogenic substances.

The farmer and his family have also planted over 1,000 trees along the river, at the edges of fields, creating an avenue of trees or "tree islands" between his fields, which not only reduce the flow of nitrates but also create a habitat conducive to wild fauna. "Krzysztof is engaged in cooperation with other farmers, and his farm is a member of the National Network of Educational Farms and the Mazowsze culinary heritage network within the framework of the European Network of Regional Culinary Heritage," the WWF highlighted.

The Farmer of the Year of the Baltic Sea region has been organised since 2009. To date, 50 farmers have been distinguished for applying environmentally friendly innovative practices in their farming to the benefit of the marine environment. The competition is made up of two phases: national and international. In the national phase, a jury made up in Poland of representatives of the ministries of agriculture, environment and maritime economy, assess the ways in which environmental practices contributing to the reduction of nitrate and phosphorous pollution are implemented.

Finalists from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden as well as from Belarus and Ukraine then take part in the second, international phase - Farmer of the Year for the Baltic Sea region, the winner of which receives EUR 10,000.