The aim of the FAIRWAY project is to develop innovative measures for the agricultural sector to reduce nitrate and pesticide contamination of drinking water sources, going beyond the generic Dutch policy.

Drinking water abstractions in the Netherlands (and the EU) are threatened by diffuse pollution of nitrates and pesticides from agriculture, despite national policies to reduce these pollutants. Therefore, additional measures are needed in water catchment areas to reduce the leaching of nitrate and pesticides from agriculture.

Two Dutch case studies are included in FAIRWAY, one focused on pesticide contamination in Noord-Brabant and one focused on nitrate leaching in Gelderland. This will be carried out together with the relevant actors in the catchment area and will make use of experiences with perspective measures in other EU countries. This will also include an evaluation of the policy and governance around drinking water quality (national and regional governments, water boards, agricultural sector, drinking water companies) and recommendations on how governance can be improved to reduce the contamination of drinking water by nitrates and pesticides in the Netherlands.

Intended output and impact

The project will lead to innovative measures with which farmers can reduce the leaching of nitrate and pesticides into ground and surface water. These include management measures (precision fertilisation, new application techniques for pesticides, use of crop sensors), rapid indicators and monitoring systems that give farmers insight into the effects of their actions on leaching (sensors to determine water quality) and improvement of existing decision support systems (environmental yardstick for pesticides and recycling guide for nitrates). These measures can be applied within a few years, especially the techniques that have been tested elsewhere in the EU.