The exceptionally warm and dry growing season affected the profitability of agricultural producers, which had an impact on the development of the agricultural supplies trade. In spite of the challenging conditions in recent years and the significant changes in the business climate, we have been able to strengthen our position in the agricultural trade.
The dry growing season reduced the sales of production inputs during the season, in particular. Nevertheless, we achieved the overall targets set for the Agricultural Trade business area in Finland in spite of the challenging season.
At the beginning of August, we launched a cooperation in Finland with Avena Nordic Grain Ltd by combining our sales and purchasing organizations. The cooperation creates synergies in customer account management, marketing and sales. Our new operating model got off to a good start in fall 2018, which supports positive development in the years to come. The cooperation does not entail any ownership arrangements. While our focus was previously on plant protection products, our expanded range of products now includes the key production inputs of plant production.
Sweden was similarly affected by challenging weather conditions during the growing season. The dry conditions led to lower demand for fungicides in particular. However, the good sowing conditions for fall crops increased the amount of processing in the fall.
Gullviks focuses on the retail sale of plant protection agents, nutrients, seeds, foliage nutrients and products used in forestry that are sold directly to farms. Its strong cooperation with Swedish farmers continued to grow in 2018.
The Baltic countries
The sales of the plant protection products we represent developed very favorably in the Baltic countries. However, the merger of our largest principals, Dow Agrosciences and Dupont Agron, to form Corteva AgriScience, meant that our representation of their products was discontinued at the end of 2018. In connection with this change, we adapted our organization according to the new situation.
Turning used alkaline batteries into clean nutrients for agriculture
Berner and Tracegrow, a cleantech company that produces micronutrients for agriculture, began cooperating in 2018 on the sale and distribution of circular economy nutrients in Finland. The goal of the cooperation is to give farmers access to new solutions based on the circular economy.
Tracegrow is the world’s only company to have developed a technology for refining the trace elements contained in used alkaline batteries into clean nutrients for agriculture. Zinc and manganese are extracted from the batteries and processed into micronutrients. The end product is a high-quality micronutrient for agricultural use.
“Our aim is to develop sustainable agriculture in cooperation with the best possible partners. To optimize crop yields, you need to provide plants with comprehensive nutrients. This technology makes it possible to recycle these nutrients from batteries in an eco-friendly manner instead of mining them,” says Kalle Erkkola, Head of Division, Farmer’s Berner.
“We have developed a technology that enables us to turn used alkaline batteries into micronutrient fertilizers that meet the most stringent purity standards set for fertilizers. The distribution agreement we have signed with Berner is the first of its kind. Their expertise and efficient sales organization will allow us to reach farmers effectively,” says Tatu Leppänen, CEO of Tracegrow.
Tracegrow has been developing its groundbreaking technology for several years and its production plant began operations in Kärsämäki in early June. The micronutrients are produced in Kärsämäki, where Tracegrow’s patented technology is used to extract nutrients needed by plants and purify them of any harmful substances. The products are packaged for distribution at Berner’s production facility in Heinävesi.
Tracegrow is a member of the CleanTech Finland network and it was one of the nominees for the Nordic Council Environment Prize in 2017.