WATERAGRI is a new H2020 research & innovation project that aims to re-introduce and enhance solutions for water retention and nutrient recycling in order to enable agricultural production that can sustain growing populations and cope with present and envisioned climate change challenges. As such, the project strives to generate a deeper, more detailed and integrated understanding of the hydrological processes and interactions shaping water resources in Europe. To achieve these ambitious objectives, WATERAGRI will further develop traditional drainage and irrigation solutions and re-introduce nature-based solutions such as constructed wetlands and bio-inspired drainage systems in the agricultural landscape, which leads to better retention of both water and nutrients. Also, WATERAGRI plans to evaluate specific water and nutrient retention needs with the farming community, develop a set of affordable and easy-to-implement technologies, test them at the field level and deploy a sound business framework for their uptake at the farm and agricultural catchment level.
The project activities will include 10 well-developed case studies with focus on specific biogeographical regions of Europe: Boreal Zone (Finland), Continental Zone (Sweden, France, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Austria, Italy) and Pannonian Zone (Hungary). Here, the economically sustainable WATERAGRI technologies will be tested and deployed for different land use/crop types – from grass production and pasture to organic and conventional (fruit) farming. The test field sizes will vary from 1ha up to 1000 ha.
WATERAGRI will bring a decision-support framework for the farming community and a set of individual water retention and nutrient recovery solutions.
WATERAGRI decision-support framework includes 6 models that allows different functionalities such as data assimilation, optimisation of irrigation scheduling and fertilisation, water-vapour sorption, zoning landscape matrix, etc. In addition, to facilitate decision-making in an actual situation the framework will be supplemented by Serious gaming component that will enable simulation and quantification of the impact of a farmer’s decision on technical, economic and environmental aspects of the analysed problem.
Innovative and sustainable WATERAGRI Water Retention solutions will bring 8 technologies to European farmers, including farm-constructed wetlands, remote sensing pipeline, irrigation and agrometeorological monitoring, biochar for water retention, etc.
WATERAGRI Nutrient recovery solutions will also offer a set of 5 advanced and nature-based technologies including farm-constructed wetlands for nutrient recovery, drainage systems, bio-based membranes, biochar adsorbents and microfluidics.
WATERAGRI Consortium consists of a group of 23 partners from 12 European countries who teamed up under the lead of Lund University (Sweden). Among the partners, there are 4 and 3 world-leading water retention and nutrient capture experts respectively from prominent European water and soil research institutions and centers as well as international experts on stakeholder engagement and communication. WATERAGRI project is expected to start in May 2020 and will last 4 years.