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Johanna Ratia from Finland: Safe fuel storage for farmers

By Erminia Ciarleglio

“Our mission is safe storage of energy”, sums up Johanna Ratia from Farmtools Oy, a company specialising in fuel tanks and based in Ylihärmä, Finland. This is very much a family firm, taken over by Mrs Ratia’s father Pertti in the 1980s. Since 2010 Johanna Ratia is involved in the manufacturing company supplying the agricultural, construction and forestry sectors with tanks, but also other equipment for household and farm. “We take into account the long working life expected of our fuel storage containers and recognise that their dependability is essential for protection of the environment”, adds Mrs Ratia whose company has traded as Farmtools Oy for 40 years now, although tank manufacture has been taking place on-site for more than 60 years.

Mrs Ratia, does supplying high quality steel tanks for agriculture and forestry fuels present special technical challenges?

First of all, our tanks are designed for holding what are known as “class 3” flammable liquids. This means their flash point is between 35°C (95°F) and 60.5°C (141°F) and the liquids are very harmful if leaked into the environment. Providing absolute safety here is one of the most important points. Finnish legislation also regulates safe siting of such storage, so we have a number of standards that we must follow. Our production is according to ISO 9001:2015.

How about the short growing season and hard winters in your country? Do these conditions mean special demands for your company?

Naturally, the short vegetation period means our fuel tanks get most usage during the spring cultivation rush and in grain drying at the end of the season. Forestry is winter work and oil is also important for heating buildings then. We have to cope with a long, dark winter in Finland, but the “midnight sun” during the short summer is a welcome period, full of light.

To be able to fill the needs of our customers at all seasons requires constant attention to the market situation with good communication.  We aim for prompt deliveries, minimising waiting time.

Sustainability is increasingly important. How do the Finnish forestry and timber sectors work towards this?

Forests are very important to Finns, both as natural resource and leisure environment. You could say that all Finns have some kind of relationship with the forest. Sustainable forestry is very diverse in Finland, and of course there are constant challenges in reconciling biodiversity and the economic dimension. Ecological sustainability is sought to safeguard the diversity of forest nature and to keep natural waters clean. Legislation, monitoring, standards and forest management recommendations support these goals. Forest ownership in Finland is mainly private, the land being owned by families, many now living in cities. Especially now during the Covid-19 pandemic, Finns have rushed to holiday in their national parks instead of traveling abroad. This is welcome, and further emphasises the importance of forests, which cover around 230,000 square kilometres or 78 percent of Finland’s land area. This is said to be the largest national area in forest of any European country and tenth largest percentage globally. 

You’ve been a DLG member for nine years now: What do you find are the main benefits?

When we agreed to take over the company from my father ten years ago, the first thing we did was to visit several international trade fairs. These travels with my father, e.g. to DLG events in Hanover, were the most fruitful for me towards understanding agribusiness. My background was in other businesses and it was essential for me to see and understand the agricultural sector. It was obvious to me that joining the DLG would help, not only through the benefits of attending DLG trade fairs but also through all the information made available by the organisation over the whole year. Best of all, however, are the people involved. It is so great to have had the opportunity, through the DLG, of meeting so many nice people from all over the world…. not to mention making lots of good friends in the process!