SLU news

Johanna Spångberg new director at Epok

Published: 08 April 2020
Portrait of Johanna Spångberg.

Johanna Spångberg will be the new director of Epok when Maria Wivstad retires later this spring. “I look forward to work with agriculture and sustainability issues again”, says Johanna who leaves a position at the Swedish Research Council.

Johanna, born in Lycksele, Northern Sweden, studied the master's degree program in environmental and water technology at Uppsala University. In 2014, she defended her doctoral thesis at the Department of Energy and Technology at SLU. The thesis included system analyzes of recycling of plant nutrients from various waste and residual products, to be used in organic plant production. Among other things, she looked at digested food waste, slaughterhouse and toilet waste and studied aspects such as climate impact, energy use, eutrophication, acidification and the dispersion of cadmium on arable land. It was then compared with the impact from conventional plant production with chemical fertilizers.

“Because I used life cycle analysis as a methodology and compared organic plant production with conventional plant production, I have a good understanding for what the two systems look like, which farming methods are used and more. The studies also showed how complex cultivation systems are. The handling of organic material caused in many scenarios a greater impact on acidification, eutrophication and greenhouse gas emissions than the systems with commercial fertilizers. The cadmium dispersion to agricultural land and the primary energy use, on the other hand, was lower in several of the scenarios with organic material as fertilizer.”

Since 2016, Johanna has worked at the Swedish Research Council at the Department of Research Infrastructure, where she has handled infrastructures in the climate and environmental areas. She has also worked with calls and applications for grants for research infrastructure, inventories of resource needs and in the working group for the national research program on climate that the council leads.

“Now I look forward to work with agriculture and sustainability issues again. It feels very important to find a sustainable balance between producing food for a growing population and at the same time not depleting soils or reducing biodiversity and important ecosystem services. Epok plays an important role in disseminating objective information about organic production and consumption, both to the public, organic producers and decision-makers. It will be exciting to work in the hub for that communication!

Johanna, who in her spare time likes gardening, reading books and play around with her daughter Ester, starts at Epok on the 20th of April. She will then work in parallel with Maria Wivstad until the summer.