Cross visit to Finland - Outdoor vegetables and soft fruits

14-16 september 2022

In september took place the second IPMWORKS cross visit,  hosted by the Finish hub, facilitated by Marja Kallela and Tiina Heinonen (ProAgria). The participants included 5 farmers from Belgium and vegetable Hub coach Jonathan de Mey and soft fruit Hub coach Jolien Claubout. From Serbia, Florian Farkas and Isidora Stojacic, the Hub coaches of vegetable Hub. After having introduced on the first day the ProAgria Southern Finland’s operations and Finnish agricultural production in figures, participants visited 3 different farms.

First stop, Luomuaki farm

A small organic farm where strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are grown in open field. “Biodiversity on a small farm with a lot of other vegetation around provides natural protection from diseases and pests” says Aki Niemi.

Use of bees to help transport a biological grey mould control agent (Prestop Mix) during strawberry and raspberry flowering time to combat grey mould, biggest disease issue.


  • Experimentation of several new varieties to Finland
  • Field cover by Mypex to control weeds and retain moisture (below)


  • Use of a preventive control tool called Carbon Kick Booster.

Suprising information for visitors :

Strawberries are cultivated in Finland for about 4 years which requires healthy seedlings that do not have root diseases or other dangerous plant pests. This greatly surprised the guests, because in Belgium the strawberry is cultivated as an annual!

All strawberries, raspberries and blackberry from visiting growers are grown covered! How can the crops withstand heavy rainfall or do the birds eat all the berries?

Second stop, Aspila farm

Vegetables are grown there on more than 50 hectares onion, broccoli, cauliflower and iceberg lettuce. In addition, the crop rotation contains a total of about 180 hectares of grain spring wheat and oats.


First observations at the salad block, where the soil surface is covered by the biodegradable agricultural film of the local Bioska. It inhibits the growth of weeds and reduces the need for weeding. In addition, it evens out the moisture conditions of the soil by retaining water, and in early cultivation, a dark film also warms the soil.

How is it planted? The ferrari planting machine that spreads a biodegradable film and plants at the same time.

Finland’s summer nights are bright which accelerates plant growth significantly. The long day conditions are also a stress factor for the plant, as it cannot rest, Marja enlightened us. The main quality problem with iceberg lettuce is tip burn. A biological growth promoter (LalstimOsmo) has been tried over two growing seasons to reduce tip burn with promising results. 

Third stop, Peltosirkku farm

The farm is one of the first in Finland to start growing berries in tunnels: Glen Ample raspberry, Loch Ness blackberry, Ben Tron blackcurrant in tunnels and strawberries in open field and on tabletop. “The yield in the tunnel is many times higher than in the open field. Thanks to the tunnels, the season and harvesting time are made longer,” says Sirkku who farms in summer and works other jobs in winter.

Finns love the strawberry variety Polka for its sweetness. It’s really sweet However it is challenging to grow due to grey mould sensitivity and poor heat tolerance.

  • Growth tunnels are an important weather protection when cultivating open-field,
  • Prestop Mix spread by bees enables to control grey mould,
  • In a hot and dry tunnel, strawberry powdery mildew is easily regulated

This led to discussion on soft fruit pest sloe bug, which is a major problem in Serbia and the rest of Europe


Innovative technics : Ozone water application

The last visited farm as well as the newest farm in the network, have used ozone water to protect the plants with tunnel strawberries and raspberries. The experiences from the first year are encouraging, but the spraying technique has to be improved during the winter to have a successful protection on the second strawberry harvest.

Perspective: Ozone water must reach the entire plant in order for the result to be good, to protect against pests such as thrips or powdery mildew.


Sharing visions

Jonathan de Mey had prepared a presentation on vegetable IPM plant protection from Belgium. Jolien Claubout introduced berry plant pests and their IPM control. In addition to sloe bugs are big, if not the biggest problem, is the Drosophila Suzukii fly. In Finland, only isolated specimens of suzukii-fly have been found, but this may also become a big problem in Finland as the climate warms up and its increace conditions improve