Project: Improvement of water and nutrient retention and use efficiency in arable farming systems from field to catchment scale in Europe and North Africa

Acronym WaterFARMING (Reference Number: WaterJPI-JC-2016_21)
Duration 01/03/2017 - 28/02/2020
Project Topic WaterFARMING goal is to enhance the water and nutrient retention capacity and improve use efficiency (Challenge 1) in diverse arable production systems across Europe and North (N) Africa, to reduce soil and water pollution (Challenge 2) for sustainable management of water resources (Challenge 3). The specific objectives are to: i) quantify the potential to enhance retention and use efficiency of water and nutrients at field, farm and catchment scale through water and soil conserving practices in a selected network of production systems; ii) develop environmental, economic and social indicators to evaluate the production systems; iii) design innovative practices and sustainable water and nutrient use production systems and iv) develop a web-based decision support tool for informed-decision making by farmers, advisory services and policy-makers. WaterFARMING will adopt an innovative case-study approach by bringing together a network of locally relevant production systems representative of the diverse pedo-climatic conditions and socio-economic settings in Europe and N. Africa. Key stakeholders (e.g. farmers, farmer networks and advisory services), will be actively involved from the start of the project to co-generate shared knowledge and information, from local to regional scales. WaterFarming is an innovative transdisciplinary team that strategically combines academic expertise (agronomy, ecophysiology, crop, climate and hydrological water quality modelling), advisory services and farmers’ groups in a diverse network of production systems. The network of production systems covers a wide range of catchments (e.g. the Mira Irrigation System, Portugal, the Selke catchment, Germany, the Nile valley, Egypt and the Grombalia aquifer, Tunisia), that represent a gradient of increasing water limitation and supply uncertainty from North Europe-South Europe to N. Africa. The consortium has access to large long-term data for the different catchments and productions systems. Ecosystem-to-catchment scale assessments of water and nutrient budgets and use efficiency will be done using a combination of crop models (DAISY, WOFOST) and Kaya-Porter Identity and hydrological water quality models (HYPE). Based on the water and nutrient use efficiency gaps identified, innovative production systems will be based on ameliorated cropping sequences, crop mixtures and input management to enhance water retention and soil fertility from field, farm and catchment scale. The expected impact is to reduce the outflow from the farming activities to mitigate nutrient losses and reduce economical costs to farmers and address contamination of water bodies’ downstream preserving water quality for better public health, environment and biodiversity. Farmers’ involvement in the project is crucial for successful adoption and dissemination of innovative production systems. On-farm trials will therefore be used as a dissemination platform. Tools and protocols developed in the project will be packaged as an online decision support tool available for use by all relevant stakeholders. Policy briefs will be prepared as inputs to the different framework directives on water, fertilizer and CAP policies. The project will demonstrate how combination of site and context-specific management, underpinned by favourable agricultural policies and participative approaches, can enhance soil and water use productivity. The expected outputs are i) a list of water and nutrient use efficiency gaps in relevant production systems, ii) a set of widely applicable environmental, economic and social indicators iii) innovative practices to improve the network of production systems and iv) a decision support tools for informed decision making by stakeholders.
Network WaterWorks2015
Call 2016 JOINT CALL: Sustainable management of water resources in agriculture, forestry and freshwater aquaculture sectors

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 University of Copenhagen Coordinator Denmark
2 Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research GmbH Partner Germany
3 National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences Partner Egypt
4 Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche - Istituto di Biologia Agroambientale e Forestale Partner Italy
5 Wageningen University Partner The Netherlands
6 Fundação da Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa, cE3c Partner Portugal
7 Centre de recherches et des Technologies des Eaux Partner Tunisia