Water Resources Management in Cooperation with Arg.. (WAgriCo)
Water Resources Management in Cooperation with Argriculture. Compilation and Implementation of Integrative Programmes of Measures According to the WFD to Reduce Diffuse Pollution from Agriculture.
Start date: Oct 1, 2005,
End date: Sep 30, 2008
The project sites in Lower Saxony and in England are important agricultural zones. Intensive use of fertilisers and to some extent pesticides have led to a high level of groundwater pollution. In some areas, the nitrate concentration can reach 200 mg/l. In Lower Saxony, 60% of groundwater bodies are polluted and urgent action is needed to bring it into line with the requirements of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD).
The project aimed to set up new participation methods and technologies to reduce diffuse pollution from agriculture and to promote sustainable water resource management. It intended to demonstrate how the policy objectives of the Sixth Environment Action Programme can be achieved through cooperative action at the local river catchment and farm level. It aimed to subsequently show how agricultural assistance programmes can be amended to support the implementation of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and that synergy actions can be used to increase cost-efficiency.
After the setup up of an efficient project structure, including kick-off events with all project participants, the development of communication and dissemination strategies, designation of pilot areas, and the establishment of a model farm measuring network, six pilot sites were selected: Three in Lower Saxony (LS) and three the United Kingdom (UK) to demonstrate new participation methods and technologies to reduce diffuse pollution from nitrates from agriculture and to promote sustainable water resource management.
As a further step, a list of measures for action-orientated and result-orientated water protection measures was drawn up by the project partners in consultation with local farmers. These selected measures were then tested on the pilot areas in cooperation with the farmers. The project team also carried out an agro-economic analysis to assess the implemented measures and to check their integration into the agro-environmental schemes that are a component of river basin management within the framework of the implementation of the WFD. Different model systems were applied in order to compare estimated reductions with actual reduction. Cost assessments for large-scale programmes of water protective measures were carried out. It was shown how agricultural assistance programmes can be amended to support the implementation of the WFD and that synergistic actions can be used to increase cost-efficiency. Intensive networking activities were carried out and ensured an optimal exchange of project outcomes from local to international level and vice versa. With reference to the international level, four International Steering Group meetings took place with a focus on mutual farm visits and intensive discussion with working groups.
The project team concluded that selected action-oriented measures can improve the nitrate problem substantially, but the target of 50 mg/l in the leachate cannot be achieved in every target area. In areas with high agricultural activity, only 15% to 30% of the targeted reduction in nitrogen levels can be achieved by conventional measures in Germany and even less in the UK (5%-15%). The project concluded that, apart from select areas with high levels of nitrogen efficiency, it will not be possible to reduce nitrogen levels without further improvement.
Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).
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