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Dr. Horst Gömann

Agricultural Chambers of North Rhine-Westphalia, Cologne, Germany

“New Agricultural concepts in North Rhine-Westphalia for agricultural water protection"

© Dr. Horst GömannDr. Horst Gömann
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Good to very good site conditions such as climate, soil and close proximity to consumers characterize agricultural production in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). During the last decades a regional specialization of agricultural production has taken place. Particularly important for the agricultural water protection is the intensive animal production in the Münsterland region and horticulture along the river Rhine. Challenges result from the regional accumulation of manure and a high intensity of fertilizer application in some horticulture crops, respectively.

Currently, efforts in agriculture focus on the implementation of the amended fertilizer regulation. The determined higher standards for example in regard to utilization factors of nutrients in manure or maximum permitted nutrient balance surpluses require substantial adjustments on many farms. For example, farms need to increase manure exports and supra-regional manure transports are expected. The adjustments to comply with the amended fertilizer regulation, which is intensively controlled in NRW, will contribute to an improvement of water pollution with nutrients from agricultural production.

In addition to the compliancy with the regulatory law there is further potential for measures of agricultural water protection. In NRW the proven approach of cooperative water protection since middle of the 1980s between water supply companies and farms operating in drinking water abstraction areas will be strengthened. Farms voluntary implement regional tailored measures, where water protection counseling plays an important role. In regions with so called red bodies of groundwater as being at risk the water protection counseling to achieve the objectives of the water framework directive is expanded in three intensity levels. Furthermore, an advisory service for surface water protection on the basis of the second water management plan (2016 – 2021) has been established. Areas for specific action at watercourse segments are the reduction of erosion and run off as well as the prevention of pesticide leaching in surface water.

Knowledge gained from extensive field trials conducted by the chamber of agriculture in NRW analyzing e. g. special issues of cropping, fertilizing, and various technologies of manure application are the basis of the water protection counseling. The objective is to increase the efficiency of nutrient use. The counseling introduces the results into farms. 31 model farms are of particular importance for the knowledge transfer into agricultural practice. Practical solutions and innovative technologies for water protection measures are developed, tested and demonstrated. The impacts of measures are evaluated, inter alia, with the help of suction plates that are installed in practice fields.