Agricultural intensification, required to feed the growing world population, may be constrained by limited water resources and increased environmental pollution of soils and waters in the Mediterranean region. In particular, irrigated agriculture may induce negative impacts on the quantity and quality of natural resources such as land degradation by salinization and sodification (“on-site” impacts) and increased salt and nitrate loads in irrigation return flows (IRF) and receiving water bodies (“off-site” impacts). Therefore, an environment-integrated management of these constrained water and soil resources is essential. Accordingly, the EU Water Framework Directive should be expanded to implement water-pollution regulatory standards and policies regulating the discharge and quality of IRF.
The aim of this project is to provide scientific, technical and socio-economic information on salt and nitrogen contamination, and on pollution control measures in Mediterranean irrigated agriculture. The project addresses the thematic issue B.1 (Environment) of the FP6-2003-INCO-MPC-2 call in activities B.1.1 (Comprehensive water policy and integrated planning) and, particularly, B.1.2 (Improving the water consumption efficiency and effectiveness by users and uses). Seven scientific partners and ten stakeholder participants (Water user Associations and Public Water Authority Institutions) from six different countries (Algeria, Morocco, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Kingdom) will participate for the four years of this project.
The main activities of the project will be: (1) input-output mass balances in representative irrigation districts and assessment of salt and nitrogen pollution effects of present agricultural management; (2) model simulation studies analysing potential best management strategies for pollution control; (3) evaluation of these strategies in selected pilot field trials (in particular: scheduling of irrigation, nitrogen fertilisation and reuse of drainage waters for irrigation); (4) socio-economic analysis of present agricultural management and of source-sink pollution control management alternatives; and (5) dissemination of results to water users and policy makers. Feedback with project end-users will take place via the participation of the stakeholders, thus ensuring that all relevant issues are properly addressed.
CIHEAM (International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies) - Spain