Agriculture has extensive influence on the management and quality of water in river basins.© EU, 2013
A review of agricultural measures under the Water Framework Directive
Examples and strategies for a successful choice and combination of agricultural measures to implement the 2000 Water Framework Directive (WFD) – which commits EU Member States to achieving good status of all water bodies by 2015 – are provided in the JRC's recently published report 'River Basin Network on Water Framework Directive and Agriculture'. Within the framework of the WFD's Common Implementation Strategy, the Pilot Rivers Basins network, coordinated by the JRC, was set up to provide feedback on practical implementation issues.
As agriculture is one of the major priorities to address in order to the achieve the WFD goals, the River Basin Network studied specific implementation issues related to the agricultural sector and assessed a list of agricultural measures from 2010 to 2012 included in the EU river basin management plans. The JRC report documents the network's experience concerning the level of acceptance and implementation of the following agricultural measures: buffer strips, establishment and preservation of wetlands, reduction of water abstraction and fertilisation, better use of fertiliser and manure, plant cover in winter, catchment crops, manure management and storage, and erosion control.
The measures were well accepted by the farmers despite the fact that in some cases financing by the EU's Common Agricultural Policy was judged to be insufficient, notably for the establishment of buffer strips, preservation of wetlands or manure storage. Regarding the reduction of water abstraction, further awareness-raising campaigns are deemed to be necessary. The report also finds that the effects of some measures, such as manure management techniques and minimum tillage, need further assessment.
A web platform has been set up by the JRC, providing access to the outputs of the River Basin Network activity.