How can decision support tools help reduce nitrate and pesticide pollution from agriculture? A literature review and practical insights from the EU FAIRWAY project

Fiona Nicholson*, Rikke Krogshave Laursen, Rachel Cassidy, Luke Farrow, Linda Tendler, John Williams, Nicolas Surdyk, Gerard Velthof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The FAIRWAY project reviewed approaches for protecting drinking water from nitrate and pesticide pollution. A comprehensive assessment of decision support tools (DSTs) used by farmers, advisors, water managers and policy makers across the European Union as an aid to meeting CAP objectives and targets was undertaken, encompassing paper-based guidelines, farm-level and catchment level software, and complex research models. More than 150 DSTs were identified, with 36 ranked for further investigation based on how widely they were used and/or their potential relevance to the FAIRWAY case studies. Of those, most were farm management tools promoting smart nutrient/pesticide use, with only three explicitly considering the impact of mitigation methods on water quality. Following demonstration and evaluation, 12 DSTs were selected for practical testing at nine diverse case study sites, based on their pertinence to local challenges and scales of interest. Barriers to DST exchange between member states were identified and information was collected about user requirements and attitudes. Key obstacles to exchange include differences in legislation, advisory frameworks, country-specific data and calibration requirements, geo-climate and issues around language. Notably, DSTs from different countries using the same input data sometimes delivered very different results. Whilst many countries have developed DSTs to address similar problems, all case study participants were able to draw inspiration from elsewhere. The support and advice provided by skilled advisors was highly valued, empowering end users to most effectively use DST outputs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number768
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Catchment management
  • Diffuse pollution
  • Drinking water
  • DST
  • Farm advisors
  • Farm management
  • Model
  • Software

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