Agriculture is by far the largest consumer of water, with about 70% of the diverted water being used in irrigation (UNESCO, 20151). Agriculture is also considered as a key source of diffuse pollution with inefficient practices resulting in high water and nutrient (particularly N and P) surpluses that are transferred to water bodies through diffuse processes (runoff and leaching), promoting eutrophication, with associated biodiversity loss.
The project combines the most performant monitoring strategies at the plot scale to provide detailed information of water and nutrient flow, and integrates this information at the catchment scale to close the gap between diffuse loads and water quality degradation. Using the Integrated Water Resources Management perspective, the project contributes directly to the implementation of the Nitrates Directive and of the Water Framework Directive and indirectly to the implementation of the Wastewater Treatment Directive.
The project builds on three basic statements (1) diffuse agriculture pollution is an extra cost for farmers that needs to be minimized; (2) plot scale monitoring can be achieved using low cost sensors and remote sensing; and (3) models are the interdisciplinary tools required to optimise irrigation and fertilization practices and to link spatial and temporal scales. The consortium was built by grouping teams from various disciplines with experience and tools on the various subjects to be addressed in the project. Every team will carry new developments, but at the beginning of the project the consortium they will have all sensors and models necessary to set up the experiments, which will then be improved based on partners’ experiences and following a multidisciplinary approach.