Tackling both quantity and quality of water in small agricultural catchments provides a number of advantages. The number of hydrological processes and interactions can be analysed in detail which is not the case for large scale hydrological analyses. Usually issues of natural/small water retention can be properly tackled at the smaller scale of an agricultural catchment. Equally, the local impact of climate change or/and changes in local micro-climate can also be analysed in an integrated way with other challenges of small scale catchments. At the level of the small agricultural catchment, water management supports not only sustainable agricultural production but also local ecosystems. A sufficient supply of water for sustainable crop production might become more important in the coming years. At the same time a number of underutilised techniques of water management (natural/small water retention, nutrients recovery from streams, etc.) could be re-introduced into agricultural management for the benefit of farmers, local communities and the environment.
Activities shall assess the use of small water retention approaches for managing excess and shortage of water and nutrient recovery from water streams. The link between agricultural land management and soil-water management for increased nutrient uptake and water retention should be assessed. Work should focus on affordable and easy-to-implement at the farm level solutions including an economic analysis of proposed measures as well as maintenance of the infrastructure. The analysis of proposed techniques for water management should consider the need for adaptation to climate change and its impact on ecosystem services. Work should allow assessing long-term benefits for the farm and the local ecosystem from the implementation of the natural/small water retention measures. Proposals should fall under the ‘multi-actor approach’ ensuring cooperation between farmers and farmers associations, local water management organization, technology providers, research centres and public administration. Preference will be given to proposals focusing on Continental, Pannonia and Boreal biogeographical regions of Europe as defined by the European Environment Agency.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution form the EU of up to EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed properly. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
In the short to medium term:
- Improved understanding of how small water retention within different climatic zones can contribute to water-use efficiency at the farm level;
- Identification of tools and techniques for stream nutrients recovery and re-use of water at the scale of the agricultural catchment;
- Identification of economically sustainable technologies for dry and wet spell water management at the farm and catchment levels.
 Natural/small water retention aims to protect water resources and address water-related challenges by restoring or maintaining ecosystems as well as natural features and characteristics of water bodies using natural means and processes. The use of ‘small’ or ‘natural’ water retention depends on Member States definitions which can include management of small water reservoirs.
 See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.
Illustration Photo: Micro irrigation begins with an economical reuse of irrigation water hydrants at Leafy Greens Farm in the Salinas Valley of California. (credits: USDA Photo by Lance Cheung / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0))