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OPTAIN: OPtimal strategies to retAIN and re-use water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across different soil-climatic regions in Europe

Basic info:

Project Title OPtimal strategies to retAIN and re-use water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across different soil-climatic regions in Europe – OPTAIN
Project team: Mateja Škerjanec, Primož Banovec, Nataša Atanasova

60 months

1.9.2020 – 31.8.2025

Project Code: GA No 862756


Lead partner:

Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH – UFZ

Project leader: Mateja Škerjanec (UL FGG)
Other project partner’s organizations: Universität Bern (UBERN)
Swiss Confederation, Eidgenössisches Department für Wirtschaft, Bildung und Forschung (WBF)
Agrártudományi Kutatóközpont (MTA ATK)
Országos Vízügyi Főigazgatóság (OVF)
Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego w Warszawie (WULS)
Instytut Technologiczno – Przyrodniczy (ITP)
Univerza v Ljubljani (UL)
Kmetijsko gozdarska zbornica Slovenije,
Kmetijsko gozdarski zavod Maribor (KGZ MB)
Universiteit Gent (UGent)
Klaipėdos universitetas (KU)
Viešoji įstaiga Lietuvos žemės ūkio konsultavimo tarnyba (LAAS)
Università degli Studi di Milano (UMIL)
Norsk institutt for bioøkonomi (NIBIO)
Pannon Egyetem (UP)
Výzkumný ústav meliorací a ochrany půdy (VUMOP)
Daugavpils Universitāte (DU)
Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet (SLU)
Global Water Partnership Central and Eastern Europe (GWP CEE)
Office International de l’Eau (OIEAU)
HaskoningDHV Nederland B.V. (RHDHV)
Norsk institutt for vannforskning (NIVA)
Source of finance: H2020-SFS-2019-2
Key words: natural/small water and nutrient retention; farm and catchment scale; multi-actor approach; indicators; integrated assessment; multi-objective optimization; policy analysis; learning environment



Natural Small Water Retention Measures (NSWRMs) can help mitigate the conflicts between agricultural water uses (e.g. plant production, animals) and other human and environmental demands for water, including drinking water or maintaining environmental flow. This is crucial, since these conflicts will be probably exacerbated by an increasing number of extreme events such as droughts and heavy rainfall. A more careful management of head watersheds will significantly contribute to a more resilient agriculture and society. Moreover, NSWRMs are contributing simultaneously to the achievement of different Sustainable Development Goals and environmental targets formulated in several water- and agriculture-related European Union policies. Despite a comprehensive set of techniques available to increase water retention on both catchment and farm levels, knowledge is still lacking on the effectiveness of different scale- and region-specific measures across various soil-climatic regions and agricultural systems, especially under changing climate conditions.

Main goals

OPTAIN aims to: (i) identify efficient techniques for the retention and reuse of water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across Continental, Pannonian and Boreal biogeographical regions of Europe, taking into account potential synergies with existing drainage-irrigation systems, and in close cooperation with local actors, (ii) select NSWRMs at farm and catchment level and optimize their spatial allocation and combination, based on environmental and economic sustainability indicators, (iii) improve the Technological Readiness Level of NSWRMs for the benefit of both humans and ecosystems by building on existing knowledge, and (iv) translate all gained knowledge into a learning environment allowing analysis of trade-offs and synergies between multiple values/goals in the management and design of NSWRMs.

Project work packages

WP1: Case studies and harmonised multi-actor Approach;
WP2: Measures and indicators;
WP3: Retrieval of modelling data and solutions to overcome data scarcity;
WP4: Integrated assessment of NSWRM;
WP5: Optimisation of NSWRM plans;
WP6: Synthesis and policy recommendation;
WP7: Dissemination, communication and Learning Environment;
WP8: Project Management;
WP9: Ethics requirements.