|Reference : Modelling the effects of the current policy measures in agriculture: an unique model fro...|
|Scientific journals : Article|
|Life sciences : Agriculture & agronomy|
Life sciences : Environmental sciences & ecology
|Modelling the effects of the current policy measures in agriculture: an unique model from field to regional scale in Walloon region of Belgium|
|Sohier, Catherine [Université de Liège - ULg > Sciences et technologie de l'environnement > Hydrologie et hydraulique agricole >]|
|Degre, Aurore [Université de Liège - ULg > Sciences et technologie de l'environnement > Hydrologie et hydraulique agricole >]|
|Environmental Science & Policy|
|[en] nitrogen ; forecasting ; modelling ; nitrate policy ; modelling scale|
|[en] Diffuse nutrient loss from agriculture into the soil, groundwater and surface water affects their quality. Different policies are in force throughout the European Union aiming for their limitation. They were implemented through action plans on a regional scale.
Hydrological modelling can be a powerful method for efficiently evaluating their effectiveness. In order to be useful whatever the action and for every reporting unit (whole Region, water bodies, nitrate vulnerable zones, fields...) the model must be physically based, it must simulate water and nutrient fluxes in the root zone and the vadose zone as well as being geographically flexible. This paper presents such a model and its application in the context of Wallonia (Southern part of Belgium). It also presents a calculation of what water and nutrient flows could be under a given climatic scenario until 2015.
In Belgium, water quality depends upon Regions. Wallonia implemented the European Nitrate Directive through two action plans the first in 2002 and the second in 2007. These actions plans were modelled and compared to a scenario without any modification in the farmers’ practices.
The modelling showed the need for two indicators: nitrate concentration under the root zone as fast indicator of the actions’ efficiency and transfer time from surface to groundwater table. The first action plan hardly modified farmers’ field practices and consequently it did not impact water quality. The second action plan had more impact (reduction up to 10 mg/l NO3 under the root zone). It was mainly due to catch crop introduction in the nitrate vulnerable zone, if they are followed by a reduction of the mineral fertilisation (not mandatory). Our results show that new actions are necessary. We show where and to what extent they have to be implemented.
Nevertheless, the greatest variation in nitrate leaching from the root zone seems to be dependent on the weather, more than the action plans. Particularly the rainy period between 1998 and 2002 had a huge impact on nitrogen flows. Our hydrological modelling is showed to be a powerful tool of nitrogen management in a still uncertain climatic evolution context.
Finally, we showed that patience and perseverance will be necessary to reach the targets of the WFD in the Walloon context. The map of transfer time shows that 8% of the groundwater bodies need over 15 years to be impacted by mitigation measures.
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