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Summary

In central Poland, agriculture suffers from frequent occurrence of drought, resulting in crop losses and economic damage. Polish farmers are therefore under increasing pressure to make the most of their business. The availability of water plays a key role in achieving an effective agricultural management. This project focuses on the optimization of the water supply and demand for agriculture in order to minimize drought damage.

The consortium, consisting of the Dutch companies Nelen & Schuurmans, Meteo Consult, Dacom and the Polish ITP strives to prevent wasting of high quality water for the agriculture. Recently, studies have shown that a better control of water flow will contribute to solve the water shortage. The target of this project is to develop the best possible alignment in this area between farmers and water managers. This concerns not only the focus on durable water management, but also the focus on an economic impulse for the agricultural sector by reducing crop damage. The knowledge and experiences from practical situations in the Netherlands with regard to the strategic control of water flows will be transferred to our project partners in Poland.

The project objective is three-fold
1)    To implement a smart controlling unit for water streams in the pilot area, so the risk of water in agriculture is reduced:
-    Disclosing information of water supply from weather and water models, the water needs of farmers and the infrastructure of local water  systems.
-    To provide specific advice on the local water needs and possible interventions, such as irrigation.
-    Managing automatically several controlling units such as inlets, weirs, and pumping stations, as well as irrigation equipment based on the advice;
2)    Knowledge transfer and increasing the intensive cooperation between the Dutch and Polish project partners;
3)    Strengthening the Dutch consortium Nelen & Schuurmans, Meteo Consult and Dacom to extend their  (world)market share.

Project description

In many countries drought damage (or wetness) in agriculture is a significant problem. Due to the expected climate change these problems may become even bigger. Smart control of water flows, adapted to the water needs in the agricultural sector can reduce water shortages and flooding. The control of water flows results in higher crop yields and a higher economic benefit will be gained. Particular in arable farming and fruit cultivation irrigation is widely used. For other forms of agriculture such as livestock (grass and com country) it is important that the groundwater level is high enough in the summer.

In the Netherlands knowledge is available about controlling water streams. Dutch water managers are experts in preventing excessive water levels. Water management in dry summer periods is increasing. Controlling modules and methodology used by the Dutch water boards can also be deployed abroad and applied for other sectors such as agriculture. Detailed information concerning the water system, soil moisture, weather conditions and farming practice is necessary to optimalize the water supply and demand from the agriculture. Information for water demand and water supply is easily accessible via a website to farmers (individually or collectively) for specific crops (automatically) to determine the best strategy.

For demonstrating the Dutch successful control of water flows for agriculture in other countries this project has chosen to select a pilot area in Poland. During dry periods the alignment of water supply and demand is crucial in this area. In consultation with the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences in Poland the flow area of the Gasawka river in central Poland will be used. This region is facing several drought problems and 95% of this area is in agricultural use.