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A multi-actor, participatory approach to identify policy and technical barriers to better farming practices that protect our drinking water sources

A multi-actor, participatory approach to identify policy and technical barriers to better farming... Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID- 19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Science of the Total Environment journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/scitotenv A multi-actor, participatory approach to identify policy and technical barriers to better farming practices that protect our drinking water sources a, a,o b b b c Paul Campling , Ingeborg Joris , Maura Calliera , Ettore Capri , Alexandru Marchis ,AnnaKuczyńska , d e f f g g Tom Vereijken , Zuzanna Majewska ,Els Belmans , Lieve Borremans , Elien Dupon , Ellen Pauwelyn , h h h h i j Per-Erik Mellander , Christopher Fennell , Owen Fenton , Edward Burgess , Alexandra Puscas , Elena Isla Gil , k k l m Miren Lopez de Alda ,Gemma FrancèsTudel ,Erling Andersen , Anker Lajer Højber , n b Marzena Nowakowska , Nicoleta Suciu Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek, Boeretang 200, Mol, 2400, Belgium Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, European Observatory on Sustainable Agriculture, DISTAS, Via Emilia Parmense 84, 29122 Piacenza, PC, Italy Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute,4 Rakowiecka Street, 00-975 Warsaw, Poland European Water Stewardship, Oostergoweg 9, 8911, MA, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands Institute of Technology and Life Sciences, Falenty, Al. Hrabska 3, 05-090 Raszyn, Poland Eigen Vermogen van het Instituut voor Landbouw en Visserijonderzoek, Burgemeester van Gansberghelaan 96, Merelbeke 9820, Belgium INAGRO, Ieperseweg 87, Rumbeke Roselare 8800, Belgium Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme/Agricultural Catchments Programme, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, Wexford, Co. Wexford, Ireland Asociatia Ecologic Baia Mare, Florilor Str 8/36, Baia Mare 430273, Romania CPABLLParc Agrari del Baix Llobregat, Can Comas, Camí de la Rivera, s/n, 08820 El Prat de Llobregat, Spain CSICWater, Environmental and Food Chemistry Unit (ENFOCHEM), Department of Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Jordi Girona 18, Barcelona 08034, Spain Kobenhavns Universitet, Norregade 10, Kobenhavn, 1165, Denmark Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Oster Voldgade, 10, Kobenhavn K 1350, Denmark Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute, Pomeranian Branch, 20 Wieniawskiego St., 71-130 Szczecin, Poland Department of Bioscience Engineering, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium HI GH L I GHT S GR APHIC A L A BST R ACT • Protection of drinking water from nutri- ents and pesticides requires a good up- take of BMPs. • The uptake of BMPs was assessed by a participatory approach across Europe. • Barriers preventing the uptake of oblig- atory and voluntary BMPs were identi- fied. • Barriers were related to policy tools at the national and European scale. • Social acceptance among all actors and communication was required right from the start. Abbreviations: SUD, Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive; WFD, Water Framework Directive; BMPs, Best Management Practices; MMs, mitigation measure; PPPs, plant protection products; RBMPs, River Basin Management Plans; CAP, Common Agricultural Policy; PoMs, Programme of Measures. ⁎ Corresponding author. E-mail address: paul.campling@vito.be (P. Campling). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142971 0048-9697/© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 ar ti cl e i n f o ab st ra c t Article history: Despite an improvement of water quality across Europe there are many pollution hotspots for both nitrates and Received 30 June 2020 PPPs, mainly due to agricultural activities. The BMPs and MMs to reduce pollution from agriculture are well Received in revised form 21 September 2020 known, and there are policy instruments in place to ensure drinking water standards, but the current approach Accepted 6 October 2020 has not been efficient enough. Within the H2020 Water Protect project the premise was that there is a need for a Available online 17 October 2020 multi-actor, participatory approach to tackle the issue from a new angle, and to assess why the uptake of known BMPs and MMs was not better among farmers. Seven “Action Labs” were selected that represent major physical, Editor: Paola Verlicchi socio-economical, cultural and farming settings across Europe. A methodology of multi-actor engagement was chosen but with different approaches due to the local context. Initially the level of farmers' awareness about Keywords: water quality issues was matched to the observed uptake rates of BMPs and MMs. In a second survey barriers hin- Best Management Practices Mitigation measures dering theuptakeofmeasureswereidentified. The first survey revealed a low general awareness on the potential Nitrates pollution to drinking water sources. Despite this, between 24% to 88% of the surveyed farmers per Action Lab Plant protection products were already voluntarily adopting one quarter of the selected BMPs and MMs. The second survey demonstrated Common Agricultural Policy the need to address organisational, legislative, sociological and technical barriers. The lack of coordination be- Water contamination tween different institutional bodies promoting measures and the financial incentives needed to invest and oper- ate these often-costly measures need to be considered. The multi-actor, participatory approach with its improved awareness and collaboration made it possible to identify the crucial factors for improvement - to build a social acceptance among all actors and communicate the issues and solutions from the start. © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). 1. Introduction Labs across Europe that represent some of the major differences in physical, socio-economical, cultural and farming systems across Europe. High-quality, safe, and sufficient drinking water is essential for life: we Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Mitigation Measures (MMs) use it for drinking, food preparation and cleaning. However, more than are key elements to limit or prevent water and environmental pollution half of the river and lake water bodies in Europe are reported to be in from agricultural activities. The analysis of their efficacy has thus raised less than good ecological status. The main environmental pressures are several scientific projects and multiple exchanges between regulatory point (38%) and diffuse source pollution (18%) and about 25% of ground- authorities. A number of initiatives have been undertaken across water across Europe is in poor chemical status (EEA, 2018). The wider re- Member States to stimulate their uptake (TOPPS http://www.topps- search community recognises that management of water in a sustainable life.org,MAGPIE https://www.setac.org/magpie, COMPASS https:// way “is the key for the future of food and agriculture” (OECD, 2020a). The balticcompass.org/). This has resulted in the genesis of a wide variety 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges the importance of approaches, implemented at national levels such as good agricultural of water quality and includes a specific water quality objective in Sustain- practices or legislative measures. The increased uptake of measures to able Development Goal (SDGS, 2020). Farming accounts for between 30% reduce nitrogen pollution from agriculture and improvements in and 60% of local water used across Europe and contributes to water pollu- urban waste water treatment have led to a steady reduction in average tion sourced from nutrient, pesticide and other pollutant discharges (e.g. nitrogen concentrations in rivers from 2.7 to 2.1 mg NO3/l (1992 to tractor oils) (OECD, 2020b). Through pollution from nitrates and Plant 2012) and average concentrations in groundwater are well below the Protection Products (PPPs), agriculture is the main source of environmen- Groundwater Quality Standard of 50 mg NO3/l (European Commission, tal pressures causing failure to achieve good chemical status in groundwa- 2012). However, there remains persistent hot spot areas across Europe ter (EEA, 2018). Improvement of water resource use efficiency and at the regional level with nitrate levels well above these averages, so the reduction of water pollution from agricultural systems is seen as one of need to increase the uptake of measures in these areas is paramount to the main policy challenges. Several approaches and tools, such as moni- the continued sustainability of drinking water extraction (European En- toring and models applied at different scales, and innovations for increas- vironment Agency, 2012). ing the efficiency of agricultural production are used in the field of water Several countries in Europe report aquifers having concentrations of quality to support planners and policy-makers in designing cost-effective PPPs that exceed the Environmental Quality Standard (EQS). The reduc- measures for addressing water pollution in agriculture (Mateo-Sagasta tion of the pollution of drinking water sources by PPPs and fertilisers et al., 2017). used by the agricultural sector remains the biggest challenge. Despite Water quality in surface and ground waters has generally improved the increased integration of policies to deliver clean and safe drinking across Europe thanks to the adherence to waste water treatment stan- water over the last 30 years there is clearly a need to increase the en- dards for point emissions and the uptake of BMPs and MMs by the farm- gagement between interdependent actors and stakeholders (European ing sector for diffuse emissions. However, there are still a number of Environment Agency, 2012). Efficiency and innovation do not seem to pollution hotspots across Europe for both nitrates and PPPs, largely be the only parameters that can solve the challenge of sustainable and due to agricultural activities. The BMPs and the MMs to reduce pollution low-impact agriculture, which instead requires a much more complex from nitrates and PPPs are well known, there are also policy instru- analysis with an integrated approach. An integrated approach involves ments in place to ensure that drinking water standards are met, but an understanding of technological problems, social behaviour of rural drinking water companies are still being required to invest and operate communities, economic constraints, the legal and institutional frame- drinking water treatment facilities to deliver drinking water that meet work and contextual agricultural practices (Chartzoulakis and Bertaki, the required standards – so in essence the current approach is not work- 2015). Belmans (2018) suggests that a move towards a more “horizon- ing and more should be done to reduce costly end of pipe drinking tal” and “participatory” water governance between the various actors water treatment solutions. Therefore, the H2020 Water Protect project and stakeholders would be more productive: water companies, farmers, started with the premise that a different multi-actor, participatory ap- nature conservation NGOs, plant protection product producers, fertil- proach was needed to tackle the issue from a new angle and to get to izer producers, food and retail businesses, consumer organisations, en- the bottom of why farmers are not sufficiently taking up known BMPs vironment agencies and ministries. There are other approaches, such and MMs to protect drinking water sources. We selected seven Action as stewardship programmes, financed by food and drink companies to 2 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 protect the quality of local water supplies (Newborne and Dalton, mixed farming (two Action Labs), field crops (three Action Labs), and 2019). In a similar vein certification schemes such as the European permanent crops (two Action Labs). Among the seven Action Labs, Water Stewardship (EWS) Certification Scheme (https://ews.info/) there are three rural land uses (Romania, Ireland, Denmark) and one have the same goal to organize companies to improve the environmen- mixed urban and rural land uses (Belgium) with small water supplies. tal footprint of their value chain and protect water resources (Jones Larger Action Labs, including two mixed urban and rural land uses et al., 2014). (Italy, Spain) and one rural land use (Poland), are delivering drinking In this framework, the H2020 funded project WaterProtect was water to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. In five of the Action established with the aims to: (1) analyse whether the solutions offered Labs the focus is on groundwater that is used either in public supply by the existing governance systems can adequately cover the impact by (Denmark), or both public and private supply (Ireland) or used locally the agriculture; (2) demonstrate how selected mitigation measures from private wells as drinking water or for agricultural use (Spain, have an impact on improving water quality; and (3) contribute to the Italy, Romania). In the Action Labs, the water quality of water resources effective uptake and realisation of Best Management Practices to deliver is under pressure from manuring and agro-chemicals, but different Ac- good water quality. tion Labs chose specific targeted pollutants: four Action Labs focussed A pan-European, multi-actor approach was adapted in the context of mainly on PPPs (Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Spain), whereas three worked seven rural or mixed rural/urban Action Labs (also known as Living mainly on nitrates (Denmark, Poland, Romania). Labs) to determine barriers and factors that hinder the uptake of BMPs and MMs to protect drinking water sources from nitrates and 2.2. Multi-actor engagement PPPs and that have an impact on farmers' decision making and strate- gies. The hypothesis is that water and agriculture policy reforms to sup- Sustainable agriculture is the result of complex “systemic interac- port farmers and policy makers in their decision-making requires an in- tions” between different actors involved in various ways, such as re- depth understanding of the local context and of the policy-related driv- searchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, regional and national organisations, ing factors that impact on water quality. On the basis of this understand- etc. Indeed, a complex socio-ecological issue such as water quality re- ing, recommendations were provided to improve awareness, lated to agriculture cannot be solved by just one actor but rather from collaboration and in some case the uptake of BMPs and MMs in the Ac- a multi-actor approach perspective (Belmans, 2018). All of them have tion Labs. different forms of knowledge (practical, scientific, policy based, etc.) and there is the need to create conditions for interaction between 2. Materials and methods them and combine their knowledge, perspectives, resources, and expe- riences, to identify and discuss solutions and new ideas. Therefore, all 2.1. Area of study: Seven Action Labs across Europe the actors identified in the seven Action Labs that were considered to have an influence on or to be influenced by the environment and the The seven Action Labs are located in six different environmental farming systems, were invited to engage in the study development zones (WUR, 2011) which cover 75% of the area relevant for agriculture and activities. Since it is recognized that at the context level there is (Fig. 1, Table 1). The main farming systems in the EU are considered: not a “one fits all approach”, in each Action Lab the stakeholder Fig. 1. Location of the seven Action Labs across Europe. 3 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 1 Overview of the environmental and farming system characteristics of the seven Action Labs, including the pollutant focus (in bold). Country BE IE PL DK IT ES RO Action Lab Bollaertbeek Wexford Gowienica Vester Hjerk Val Tidone Lower Llobregat Mara Environ-mental zone ATC ATC CON ATN MDN MDS ALS Land use Mixed urb/rur Rural Rural Rural Mixed urb/rur Mixed urb/rur Rural Farming system Field crops Grass & field crops Field crops Field crops Vineyards Minor fruit & veg Extensive grassland/subsistence Size Small Small Interm Interm Small to large Interm Small 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 ~23 km ~10 km ~60 km ~27 km ~206 km ~120 km ~20 km Drinking water SW GW private & public SW GW public GW private SW & GW private GW private Pollutant(s) surveyed PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates Irrigation No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Country: BE Belgium; IE Ireland; PL Poland; DK Denmark; IT Italy; ES Spain; RO Romania. Environmental Zone: ATC Atlantic Central; CON Continental; ATN Atlantic North; MDN Mediterranean North; MDS Mediterranean South; ALS Alpine South. SW surface water, GW groundwater. involvement was conceptualised as an “active engagement” that for flexibility in the implementation, except for the Rural Development followed a stepwise approach. The approach included both water qual- Pillar measures. Consequently, the EU legal framework is built on di- ity analysis (e.g. participatory monitoring) and stakeholders' analysis, rectly applicable Regulations, so there is no requirement for with different levels of participation based on actors' roles that ranged transpositions. from specific consultations to active involvement in the project (e.g. On the other hand, environmental policy, including water policy, has hosting demonstrations, facilitating meetings, field visits etc.…). been founded completely on the subsidiarity principle. This means that Based on the initial knowledge status of each Action Lab, the level of major policy goals are agreed at the EU level, while Member States are collaboration and the specific local objectives, the approach led to a given the powers to implement and enforce by transposing the Direc- range of different strategies throughout the overall process. A detailed tives into national legislation. description of each strategy adopted is provided by Calliera et al. The main environmental policy instruments related to water that (2020, submitted to this VSI). In summary, the strategies included: are to be considered here are: (i) face-to-face meetings (such as seminars, workshops, community events, • EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD), adopted by the or site tours), an exchange/informing qualitative “dialogue-based European Parliament and Member States in 2000, an integrated, method” that allows greater spontaneity and interaction between the river basin management approach to clean and keep clean all researchers and participants; (ii) surveys, exchange questionnaire- European waters (European Parliament and Council, 2000); based quantitative tools, where stakeholders are requested to individu- • EU Floods Directive 2007/60/EC (FD), that requires the assessment ally answer questions by choosing from a limited number of provided and management of flood risks by Member States, to assess if all answers; (iii) participatory monitoring, the engagement of farmers, water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding and to take ad- farmers associations and farmer's consultant organisation in the design equate and coordinated measures to reduce flood risk (European Par- and the setup of water monitoring for the catchment; (iv) participatory liament and Council, 2007); training approach and demonstration farm, exchange/informing activi- • EU Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD), which mandates min- ties able to identify and bridge “the gap between what is and what imum health standards in water intended for human consumption, should be in terms of incumbents' knowledge, skills, attitudes, and be- making linkages with other water-related policies (European Com- haviour for a particular situation at one point in time” (Farm Path mission, 1998); Project, 2014). The collation of information underpinning the multi- • EU Groundwater Directive 2006/118/EC (GWD), which complements actor engagements allows us to summarise the level of stakeholder the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and sets groundwater quality awareness at the beginning of the project in each Action Lab, list the standards, introducing measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollut- stakeholders involved and define the strategies for engagement ants into groundwater (European Parliament and Council, 2006); and, (Table 2). • EU Directive 2013/39/EU, which establishes environmental quality standards for priority substances in surface waters (e.g. identification of new harmful substances, updating of environmental quality stan- 2.3. Coherence of agricultural and environmental policies to protect drink- dards, introduction of a new “watch list” mechanism) (European Par- ing water sources liament and Council, 2013). 2.3.1. Background and identification of the relevant policy architecture To better define the context of the study, it was necessary to carry For EU agriculture policies, the cross-compliance requirements (set out an analysis of the water and agriculture related policies, so as to of minimum agricultural production standards) and the measures in- identify the policy-related driving factors that impact on water quality cluded in the Rural Development Plans are those that define the frame- in the Action Labs. The analysis considers the critical success factors work for the farmers, in order to benefit from EU subsidies. Being part of that enhance the effective integration of environmental water concerns cross-compliance, Directive 128/2009 for the Sustainable Use of Pesti- into agricultural practices, including the contribution of agricultural and cides (SUD) (European Parliament and Council, 2009) is an important environmental policies and regulatory frameworks. instrument to help achieve good water status, although broader in Agriculture and water management go hand in hand, and within the scope, it includes relevant measures aimed at protecting the water re- EU policies related to these two sectors there are many opportunities for sources by restricting the use in certain areas and by implementing synergies and reinforcements (European Commission, 2017). However, buffer zones and other measures to reduce run-off and leaching. the EU water and agriculture policies also have individual objectives and Also included in cross-compliance is the Nitrates Directive (Council different implementation mechanisms, which creates differences in the of the European Union, 1991) that aims at the reduction of pollution depth and coherence of their coordination. from agricultural nitrogen. Several other EU policies have a rather indi- The first element worth noting is that the Common Agricultural Pol- rect impact on water and will not be considered in this analysis. For ex- icy (CAP) for the period 2013–2020 is a fully integrated policy, meaning ample, the recent EU circular economy package includes provisions like that standards are set at EU level with Member States having little room the rules for water reuse or the new rules on fertilisers that open the 4 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 Summary across the seven Action Labs of the initial levels of stakeholder awareness, the stakeholders involved and the strategies for engagement. Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement Bollaertbeek • Farmers are little aware of the problem in their Action lab leader(s) INAGRO (farmer advisory and research) Informing – newsletter area. They know water quality is important, but ILVO (research) Informing – presentation they think local water quality is sufficient and they VITO (research) Exchange – bilateral do not think that their agricultural activities have a Chemical Bayer conversation negative influence on water quality. producers Exchange – multi-actor • Some contract sprayers do know the situation is Distributers of Phytodistributers conversation bad, others didn't acknowledge the situation at all. plant protection Exchange – • The other actors (interviewed at the start of the products questionnaire/survey project) know the quality of the water is bad. Representatives of Phytofar Exchange – chemical implementation training producers Exchange –field visit Spraying machine Dauchy Exchange – interactive dealers Agri Lemahieu workshop Farmers Famers of the Bollaertbeek catchment Contract sprayer Contract sprayers Farmer advisory Boerenbond and unions ABS Boerenbond – Agrobeheercentrum ‘t Boerenlandschap Water producers De Watergroep and suppliers of drinking water Regional/national Province West-Flanders government VMM VLM Regionaal landschap De Westhoek Local government Ieper Heuvelland Vester Hjerk • No big awareness about the drinking water situa- Action lab leader(s) UCPH (research) Informing – newsletter tion among the public. People are relying on the GEUS (research) Exchange – bilateral authorities and waterworks to take action if there SEGES Research conversation is a problem. Farmers Farmers of the catchment area Exchange – multi-actor (consumers) conversation Farmer advisory Landbo Limfjord Exchange – and unions questionnaire/survey Water producers Danish Water Works Exchange – interactive and suppliers of Waterworks Vester Hjerk workshop drinking water Regional/national Stakeholder Advisory Group government Local government Municipality of Skive Inhabitants – Inhabitants of the action lab area consumers The Danish Nature Conservation Organisation Wexford • There is a good awareness of PPPs, such as MCPA, Action lab leader(s) Teagasc Exchange – bilateral potentially causing a problem for Irish drinking Chemical Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA) conversation water. The number of PPP failures has increased in producers Hygeia Chemicals Ltd. Exchange – multi-actor recent years. Seven suppliers, serving; 60,500 peo- NUFARM conversation ple have been reported to have a problem with Research Ulster University Teagasc Students Exchange – MCPA in Ireland. Agricultural Catchments Programme questionnaire/survey • There is a poor knowledge on the underlying pro- Farmers Famers of the catchments Exchange –field visit cesses of MCPA reaching water. It was recognized Farmer unions Teagasc advisors Exchange – interactive that we need more knowledge on the transfer and advisories Agricultural Sustainability Support Advisors (ASSA) workshop pathways and the residence time/breakdown. Water producers Irish Water • There was a perception that MCPA is only inciden- and suppliers of National Federation of Group Water Scheme tally lost to water via surface pathways. drinking water (NFGWS) • Due to the heterogeneity of the landscape a Regional/national Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine targeted approach supported by science is needed government Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) to mitigate MCPA loss to water Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pesticide Control Division of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine Local government Wexford County Council Food processors Glanbia and distributers Inhabitants – Citizens – rural dwellers consumers Val Tidone • No data about the impact of viticulture on ground- Action lab leader(s) UCSC(University) Informing – newsletter water quality of Tidone Valley was available at the ARPAE-ER (Environmental Agency) Informing – presentation beginning of the project. Institutional data is poor APCS (consumer organisation) Informing - leaflet for this area, but data on groundwater quality of Research Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Exchange – bilateral Piacenza province is available in ARPAE's websites. Farmers Farmers of the Val Tidone catchment conversation • Most of the farmers are not aware of the problem. Farmer advisory Confagricoltura (farmer representative) Coldiretti Exchange – multi-actor There is no direct link between the monitoring and unions (farmer representative) conversation results and the communication to them. CIA (farmer representative) Exchange – • One cooperative and one farm have set-up their Consorzio Fitosanitario (farmers advisory) questionnaire/survey (continued on next page) 5 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 (continued) Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement organisation and production in compliance with Water producers Axe Environment (farmers advisory) Exchange – the Italian standard VIVA using indicators for the and suppliers of implementation improvement of their social, environmental and drinking water IRETI (drinking water production, supply Exchange - field visit economic performance. and treatment) Exchange – interactive River basin/ Po River Hydrographic District Basin Authority workshop environmental (river basin agency) protection agency ARPAE (Environmental protection agency) Regional/national Piacenza (government provincial level) government Regione Emilia Romagna (government regional level) Local government Borgonovo (municipality) Ziano (municipality) Castel San Giovanni (municipality) Pianello (municipality) Alta Val Tidone (municipality) Local health agency AUSL Provincial reclamation authority, Consorzio di Bonifica Piacenza Food trader – Vicobarone winery - cellar (Cantina Vicobarone) Industry winery (food processor and trader) Val Tidone winery - cellar (Cantina Val Tidone) (food processor and trader) Consorzio vini DOC Colli Piacentini (local business) Inhabitants - Consumer associations consumers Gowienica • The Gowienica Miedwaińska River Basin has been Action lab leader(s) Polish Geological Institute - National Research Informing – newsletter operating as a nitrate vulnerable zone for 12 years Institute (PGI-NRI) Institute of Technology and Life Informing - leaflet until now and still some farmers have very little Sciences (ITP) West Pomeranian University of Exchange – bilateral knowledge on this subject. Technology (ZUT) conversation • Lack of interest (or little interest) of inhabitants in Farmers Farmers of the Gowienica river catchment Exchange – multi-actor the water quality state in the catchment. Farmer advisory West Pomeranian Farmer's Advisory Centre (ZODR) conversation • Some farmers did not know that the Gowienica and unions Exchange – Miedwianska is a river. Water producers Szczecin Water Services West Pomeranian Water questionnaire/survey • The problem of water quality is known by farmers and suppliers of Services Exchange – and by institutions related to water management drinking water demonstration/field visit and agriculture (NVZ area). Regional/national Department of Environmental Protection, Szczecin Exchange – interactive • Non-agricultural and non-water management government City Hall workshop companies and inhabitants are not aware of the Regional Water Management Authority, National existing problem. State Water Farm Polish Waters (RWMA) • Non-agricultural local companies are not aware of Voivodship Inspectorate for Environmental the problem of water quality in the Gowienica Protection (VIEP) river catchment. They assess surface and ground- Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection water as of good quality. The tap water supplied to (RDOŚ) the recipients mentioned above is also assessed by West Pomeranian Board of Land Reclamation and them as of good quality. Water Facilities in Szczecin (operated until 31.12.2017) Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (ARMA) Faculty of Infrastructure, Agriculture and Regional Development Westpomeranian Voivodeship Office Local government Warnice Borough Stargard Borough Food processors Polish Sugar Inc. and distributers Inhabitants - Inhabitants consumers Mara • Most farmers are not aware that there are some Action lab leader(s) Universitatea Tehnica CLUJ-NAPOCA (UTC) Informing – newsletter problems related to bad agricultural practices. And Ecologic (civil society organisation) Exchange – bilateral if they acknowledge this, they still consider it as a Research Universities conversation small problem and certainly not their individual Experts Exchange – multi-actor problem. Students conversation Farmers Farmers of the Mara river catchment Exchange – Farmer unions Farmer association questionnaire/survey Regional/national EPA Maramures Exchange – government Directorate of Agriculture Maramures demonstration/field visit Water Directorate Maramures Exchange – interactive Local government Ocna Sugatag Municipality workshop County Council Maramures Budesti Commune Industry - Tour operators Tourism Ecotourism destination Ocna Sugatag Tourism Promotion Center Inhabitants - Inhabitants of the villages consumers Children Priest 6 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 (continued) Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement Lower Llobregat • Basically, all stakeholders, including farmers and Action lab leader(s) IDAEA-CSIC (research organization, action lab Informing – newsletter citizens, are aware of the general bad quality of the leader) Informing – project water, but due to the complexity of the area it is AB (local drinking water company) presentation and flyers difficult to know which activities are the most pol- CUADLL (local water administration) Informing – press release luting. CPABLL (local government) Exchange – bilateral • Farmers believe that agriculture is not the main Research Agricultural Machinery Unity (UMA) of the conversation source of pollution. On the contrary, agriculture in Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UMA-UPC) Exchange – multi-actor is perceived as beneficial to protect the area from Higher School of Agriculture of Barcelona attached to conversation further urban expansion. Polytechnic University of Catalonia (ESAB-UPC) Exchange – • Farmers accept the use of treated wastewater for University of Barcelona (UB) questionnaire/survey irrigation but demand improvement of its quality IRTA - research institute of the Government of Exchange – and control of specific parameters, as well as addi- Catalonia adscribed to the Department of Agriculture demonstration/field visit tional infrastructures to protect their crops from Ilersap (analytical company) Exchange – interactive flooding or water shortages. Students workshop Farmers Famers of the Llobregat delta catchment Informing and exchange – Farmer advisory Unió de Pagesos (major agriculture trade union) conference and unions ADV Horta (farmers advisory) ADV Fruita (farmers advisory) Water producers ATLL and suppliers of Aigües d'El Prat drinking water FCC Aqualia SA Regional/national Catalan Water Agency (ACA, basin water authority) government Public Health Secretary (PHS) (Ministry of Health of Catalonia) Department of Agriculture, livestock, fisheries and food (Catalan government) AMB (Metropolitan area of Barcelona) Local government Consortium of the Delta del Llobregat Municipalities Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat: Palleja, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Santa Coloma de Cervelló, Sant Boi de Llobregat, El Prat de Llobreta, Viladecans, Gavà, Castelldefels, El Papiol, Molins de Rei, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Joan Despí, Cornellà de Llobregat i l'Hospitalet de Llobregat. Food processors Mercabarna (wholesale market for the city of and distributers Barcelona) Inhabitants - Inhabitants of the action lab area consumers door to a different approach in water and nutrient management. An- legal frameworks, larger and smaller water collection areas. Each Action other piece of legislation that can play a role in water management Lab was chosen, based on the local specificities and pressures on water and agriculture is the Habitats Directive. resources, to focus on nitrates and/or PPPs (Table 1). Hence, each Action Lab gave a different weight on what is considered relevant in the policy 2.3.2. Methodology and policy evaluation framework framework, based on the pollutant (s) of concern. The policy analysis focuses on two fundamental questions: The Action Lab leaders were asked to evaluate the policy implemen- tation realities in their study area using the following criteria: 1. What are the interactions between the various policies as well as the coherence, exchange of information and coordination at the imple- • Effectiveness of the exchange of information and interaction; mentation level? • Coherence of the requirements, rules and guidelines (as perceived by 2. How are the guidelines, requirements and rules in various policy in- the farmer); struments translated at farmer level in the Action Labs? • Relevance of the implementation mechanism in relation to the objec- The choice of methodology was to structure the evaluation around tives; and, the main stages of the policy cycle. • Added value of coordination and synergies between policy areas. The policy cycle-based assessment has at the centre the policy in- struments, hence facilitating the formulation of specific policy sugges- Due to non-availability of information or data on the efficiency and tions and recommendations (Fig. 2). effectiveness of individual policy instruments in the Action Labs the as- The evaluation of the water and agriculture policies coherence, coor- sessment was based on expert opinions on the integration of water and dination and interaction has included an extensive literature review on agriculture policies using a structured set of 10 key questions (S1). existing relevant reports and policy documents produced at EU level and/or commissioned by EU institutions. To answer the first fundamental question the analysis has established a framework for all potential and possible interactions 2.4. Identification of BMPs and MMs based on existing inventories within the intervention logic for water and agriculture policies of the EU. The realities of implementation in the seven Action Labs areas The first step in the analysis of the uptake of BMPs and MMs to pre- were judged against this framework (see Section 3.1). vent the pollution of drinking water sources from agriculture was to For the second fundamental question, the analysis has included a match the wealth of information from previous European projects that structured questionnaire collecting expert opinions from the Action assess mitigation measures with the local knowledge of the farming sys- Labs (see Section 3.2). The seven Action Labs (case studies) cover differ- tems and the focus issues in the seven Action Labs. The three projects ent climatic conditions, different types of farming systems, different consulted were TOPPS, MAGPIE and COMPASS: 7 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Fig. 2. Policy cycle-based analysis used by WaterProtect. • TOPPS–Life project (http://www.topps-life.org) was designed as a The BMPs selected were chosen on the basis of protecting drinking multi stakeholder project to reduce losses of Plant Protection Products water sources from nitrates and/or Plant Protection Products. While (PPP) to water. The project was funded by the EU through the Life pro- some technical measures provide solutions for a wide range of pollution gram and the ECPA (European Crop Protection Association). The pro- problems, such as grass buffer zones or constructed wetlands, others are ject started in November 2005 and ended in October 2008 and the more problem specific, such as phytase supplementation or drift reduc- TOPPS extension program supported by ECPA is still running. In vari- ing nozzles. Non-technical measures focus on changes in behaviour ous TOPPS projects a broad range of information, training materials rather than the use of technology or techniques, such as only spraying and BMP recommendations to reduce PPP losses to water has been when weather and field conditions allow safe PPPs use. Other BMPs re- developed (point sources, spray drift and runoff). Key perspectives quire new or improved technologies or infrastructure, such as the man- are the correct behaviour of operators, improved equipment and in- agement of polluted water derived from cleaning of sprayers. Many of frastructure. these measures are well known across Europe but are not all fully im- • MAGPIE (https://www.setac.org/magpie) is a comprehensive over- plemented. In addition, these measures may simply not be appropriate view of the state of pesticide risk reduction and pesticide risk mitiga- for a given farming system, due to the physical characteristics of the tion in cultivated landscapes. The project gathers results of numerous area and/or the prevailing socio-economics of the farming sector in an detailed discussions that took place over two workshops and 3 years Action Lab. Therefore, the Action Lab leaders did a first assessment of of intensive work and data analysis by 95 experts and regulators the relevance of selected BMPs in the Action Labs, including a discussion from 24 European countries with a common objective: “translating with stakeholders in the field (farmers, farm advisors, government and science into applicable solutions to farmers for a safer use of pesticides non-government officials). This resulted in an extension of the basket of for the environment”. BMP measures from 56 to 77 (S2). These are grouped into seven catego- • Baltic COMPASS project (Comprehensive Policy Actions and Invest- ries of BMPs (Table 3)reflecting the pollutant focus – nitrates and/or ments in Sustainable Solutions in Agriculture in the Baltic Sea Region, PPPs and whether the measures are related to soil management, farm https://balticcompass.org/) was funded by EU through the Baltic Sea operations, or animal husbandry. Region (BSR) Programme 2007–2013 and involved 22 partners from One category of measures focuses on practices in animal husbandry 9 countries in the Baltic Sea Region: Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, and manure management (N1Manure) and contains farm practices such Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Sweden. The project as e.g. reducing the dietary nitrogen and phosphorus intake or adopting aimed at strengthening cooperation between agriculture and environ- phase feeding of livestock. Also, in this category are management prac- ment sectors to answer to the need for a transnational approach to re- tices on the field such as incorporating manure immediately after appli- duce eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. cation on cultivated land. Another category of BMPs & MMs focusing on Table 3 Overview of BMP and MM categories for pollutant control. Type of pollutant Category of BMP and MMs Number Action Lab survey Nitrates & PPPs Soil management & Plant production – runoff mitigation (N&PPP) 16 ES, IT, RO, DK, IE, PO, BE Nitrates Animal production & Manure management (N1Manure) 16 ES, RO, DK, IE, PO Soil management & Plant production (N2Soil) 10 ES, RO, DK, IE, PO PPPs Soil management & Plant production – PPP runoff mitigation (PPP1Soil) 3IT PPP point source prevention (PPP2Point) 15 ES, IT, IE, PO, BE PPP spray drift mitigation (PPP3Drift) 12 ES, IT, IE, PO, BE General precautionary measures (PPP4General) 5 ES, IE, PO, BE PPP1Soil is focused on PPPs and N&PPP is focused on both N & PPPs. 8 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 nitrate is related to soil management plant production practices market. Voluntary measures are not mandatory by law and can in (N2Soil). Included here are e.g. making a nutrient balance on farm some cases be eligible for funding from Rural Development funds (e.g. and/or field level, using treated urea or liming. A specific subgroup of as erosion-control or biodiversity promoting measures). soil management practices is related to mitigating runoff and is equally relevant for nitrates and PPPs (N&PPP). This category contains runoff 2.6. Follow up surveys to identify the barriers to the uptake of BMPs and control measures such as grass buffer zones, crop rotation to preserve MMs in Action Labs organic matter or establishing retention structures. A small category of measures is related to control of diffuse losses specifically for PPPs Follow up work was carried out after the questionnaire surveys, in (PPP1Soil): permanent grassing in the interrow and weeding the row, line with the multi-actor engagement techniques (described in considering alternative systems for pest control. For PPPs, three more Section 2.2), with the specific objective to establish the barriers to the categories are delineated focusing on point source prevention uptake of BMPs and MMs, so as to understand what motivates farmers (PPP2Point, e.g. use a safe filling and cleaning place for the spraying to adopt voluntary measures and what holds them back. An iterative equipment), on spray drift mitigation (PPP3Drift, e.g. use drift reducing process was adopted by the Action Lab leaders (Table 1)from which a nozzles) and general precautionary measures (PPP4General,e.g.ensure check list of possible barriers was established – this was used as a tem- adequate training for sprayer operator). plate to interview the farmers again to understand the underlying bar- riers that influence decision making. The checklist of barriers was 2.5. Questionnaire survey to assess the uptake of BMPs and MMs in Action further organised into the following categories: organisational, legisla- Labs tive, sociological, political and technical. The basket of collaborative tools and results were further used to reflect on how the policy instru- In each of the Action Labs a questionnaire was developed to take to ments could be better used to improve awareness, collaboration and the farmers. The objective of the survey was to gather information in some cases the uptake of BMPS and MMs in the Action Labs in the regarding the uptake of BMPs and MMs within the Action Labs future. (Table 4), and to assess the willingness of farmers to implement addi- tional, innovative measures, depending on costs and benefits. Each Ac- 3. Results tion Lab selected a number of BMPs and MMs from the basket of measures based on the relevance for the area (targeted type of pollut- 3.1. Possible interactions within the intervention logic for water and agri- ant, well established and novel approaches, critical pollutant routes in culture policies the area). This resulted in 7 different questionnaires that started from the same objective but contained different lists of BMPs and MMs. The intervention logic describes the way various elements of a policy The coverage of the survey in the different Action Labs varies but is aim at influencing the target groups towards achieving common objec- considered good: for Bollaertbeek the 49 farmers represent 44% of the tives. The EU policies are developed in an intervention logic that seeks to farmland and 30% of all farmers, with a relatively higher proportion combine various policy instruments and secure synergies to achieve a (56%) of farmers that spray themselves compared to farmers using a multiplier effect on the ground. However, the reality is much more com- contract sprayer. In Wexford, 44% of the farmers responded to the sur- plex in the Action Labs where various specific conditions, administrative vey. In Val Tidone the survey was conducted in two stages with 175 organisation or local culture and ways of working, can facilitate or hin- farmers (38%) taking part in the general survey including BMPs on der such policy interactions. This enabled us to develop an evaluation point pollution (4 BMPs) and 50 farmers (11%) in the second survey in- framework that maps out the potential interactions that exist between cluding BMPs on diffuse pollution (14 BMPs). In Gowienica 60% of the policy implementation instruments (Fig. 3), leading to an assessment farmers took part in the survey covering 93% of the farmland. In Mara of what the intensity and effectiveness of policies are in each Action Lab. River 29% of the farmers responded representing 6.2% of the catchment. In Lower Llobregat River the survey was taken by 24 farmers that are members of a Plant Protection Association (receiving training and ad- 3.2. Integration of the water and agriculture policies in the Action Labs vice) and by 5 farmers that are not. Non-professional farmers could not be reached but the overall response rate was 12%. In Vester Hjerk EU Directives are completed by local state legislation, whereas 7 out of 8 farmers in the capture area were reached (representing 90% European Legislation constitutes the basic pillar of legislation in Mem- of farmland in the capture area) and some additional farmers in the sup- ber States pertaining to e.g. protection of groundwater, buffer zones ply zone. around water bodies, and management of water, it is transposed and The majority of the Action Labs also included obligatory BMPs and implemented by local structures. For instance, the River Basin Manage- MMs in the questionnaire (between 10% of the list in Gowienica up to ment Plans (RBMPs) and Programmes of Measures (PoMs) required by 56% in Lower Llobregat) while two Action Labs only focused on the up- the WFD, are developed and managed by the water authorities and are take of voluntary measures (Val Tidone, Vester Hjerk) (Table 4). Oblig- obviously specific for each basin. atory BMPs and MMs are either mandatory by national law (evaluated High amounts of data regarding water quality are currently routinely in each Action Lab separately) or, in the case of Bollaertbeek, mandatory collected and in the last decades by various institutional actors regard- for certification to be allowed to sell the crop (vegetables) on the ing microbiology and physical-chemical and quality-related parame- ters. However, there are current gaps in data sharing: although legislated parameters are shared among different institutions, the inclu- Table 4 sion of research project results in a common database and open access Overview of the number of farms, number of BMPs &MMs in the survey, and number of BMPs & MMs that are obligatory for each Action Lab. of not regulated parameters is still not implemented. Research data are only available through scientific publications or project reports. Action Lab # Farms # BMPs & MMs surveyed # obligatory The general assessment is that the Rural Development Plans do Lower Llobregat 29 33 19 make use of the information collected in the implementation of the Val Tidone 175 18 0 water related policy instruments. In general, this is done at a higher in- Mara River 40 18 7 tegration level and contextualising the information into the specificob- Vester Hjerk 10 11 0 Wexford 35 32 6 jectives of rural development. Gowienica 72 29 3 The type of data used is not homogenous in the EU, some countries Bollaertbeek 49 30 8 make use of general statistical data, some explore the monitoring data 9 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Fig. 3. Evaluation Framework: opportunities for interactions and exchange of information between various EU water and agriculture related policy instruments. in detail while others integrate such data with specific assessments and of one quarter of the measures per Action Lab ranges from 22% (Vester evaluations done by recognized national or local organisations. Hjerk) to 88% (Gowienica). This means that in Vester Hjerk 3 out of the When it comes to evaluating the coherence between Rural Develop- 11 voluntary measures were implemented by 2 out of 10 farmers, ment and RBMPs, again, the level of integration varies between coun- whereas in Gowienica 6 out of 26 voluntary measures were imple- tries. However, in general, the two programming instruments seem to mented by 63 out of 72 farmers. Information about the potential uptake be generally correlated. of voluntary measures in the Action Lab ranges from 13% of farmers in National action plans adopted, as required by the Sustainable Use of Gowienica to 90% of farmers in Mara adopting 10% additional selected Pesticides Directive 2009/128/EC (European Parliament and Council, measures. This clearly indicates that the potential uptake of voluntary 2009), include quantitative objectives, targets, measurements and time- measures has to be assessed in the context of the different Action Labs tables to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use. Water resources (Fig. 4). and recommendations are made for taking appropriate risk mitigation In each of the Action Labs there is a mix in the number of voluntary measures on the territory to avoid pesticides contamination of water measures, of measures that are well-established, and measures that are resources. not implemented at all. There is a large variation as to what is used Farmers receive information on the standards to be followed within countries. Often reduction of water pollution can be achieved through many channels, mainly from the farmer associations and by changes in the behaviour of operators, which can usually be applied farmer advisory centres. They issue guidelines and management prac- cheaply. Other BMPs require new or improved technologies or infra- tices to make requirements clear and feasible in practice, which is not structure, which is more expensive. Many of these measures are well always possible since the legislation is not always coherent in defini- known in EU countries but were not fully implemented. tions and concepts. Through the expert analysis we can conclude that there is a certain level of complexity for the implementation of the EU legislation at na- tional level, which is often influenced by the political context, adminis- trative or organisational specificities, history or culture of participatory policy making and public consultation. Provisions and national level requirements on water protection are considered to be generally coherent and no contradictions between ob- jectives or measures for their implementation were identified by ex- perts. However, the complexity of the implementation arrangements translates into a difficult communication on the objectives and the re- lated means or measures in place for their achievement. 3.3. The uptake of voluntary BMPs and MMs in Action Labs The number of voluntary measures per Action Lab addressed in the questionnaire survey ranges from 11 (Mara and Vester Hjerk) to 26 Fig. 4. Uptake of voluntary measures by farmers in each Action Lab (light shading 25% measures (Gowienica and Wexford). The percentage uptake by farmers percentile to median, dark shading median to 75% percentile). 10 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 BMPs which are currently implemented and those that were welcome a solution where a common, public cleaning place for cleaning deemed to be implementable mostly are small and simple measures sprayers was provided. Organising these solutions needs facilitation of that do not require big investments or big adaptations in the farming dedicated institutions and/or a leader with good communication skills, system and/or offer clear benefits to farmers; examples of these are as making a consensus among farmers themselves to work together keeping soil cover in autumn and winter (high uptake in Wexford, has also been identified as a potential barrier. Some cases (Val Tidone, Bollaertbeek, Gowienica and Mara River) or not spraying non-target Bollaertbeek) highlighted that farmers showed to be open for coopera- areas (high uptake in Val Tidone, Gowienica, Wexford (mandatory) tion and expressed their interest in obtaining more information about and Bollaertbeek). Increase in productivity is a strong incentive for specific BMPs or how to mitigate defined problems. In another Action farmers to implement BMPs (e.g. crop rotation to preserve soil organic Lab (Gowienica) farmers admitted to participating in many trainings re- matter) while environmental aspects such as need for minimization of lated to BMPs, however these were “too theoretical” and hence were the risk of drift of PPPs or nutrient losses to the environment are poorly not effective since they did not sufficiently contribute to understanding recognized by farmers in some cases, depending on the awareness of the problem. the water quality issues. Knowledge on and perception of effectiveness and usefulness of dif- 3.4. Barriers to the uptake of BMPs in Action Labs ferent BMPs varies between countries. For example, results of the sur- vey in Wexford suggest poor performance of constructed wetlands The follow up survey after the formal questionnaire to determine the and therefore low potential for implementation of this measure. In con- rate of uptake of and potential interest in voluntary BMPs and MMs re- trast to that, in Vester Hjerk landscape level BMPs such as constructed vealed that there are a wide range of barriers that can be categorised wetlands, set aside and afforestation seem to have a relatively high po- under: organisational, legislative, sociological, political and technical tential. Larger and more expensive measures are more difficult to imple- (Table 5), which are fully described in S3 based on accompanying field ment; nonetheless measures perceived as being immediately beneficial notes. for farmers (i.e. giving long term financial benefits) have relatively high The barriers that occur in three or more of the Action Labs provide potential for implementation. For example, the use of GPS technology in guidance in terms of commonality and provide policy makers the re- farming shows high potential for implementation in Wexford, quired focus on the issues that are troubling farmers. The barrier that Gowienica and Vester Hjerk. was most commonly pointed out (by 6 out of 7 participating Action Other measures recognized as effective but not giving direct benefits Labs) was too complex organisational set up of institutions responsible to farmers, e.g. anti-hail nets are not considered interesting or applica- for implementation and execution of water management policies. This ble, mainly due to the excessive costs. For these measures, financial in- was highlighted by Poland, Italy, Spain, Romania, Ireland and Belgium. centives would be necessary to increase their implementation. The general conclusion is that there are too many institutions involved Implementation of measures that require land area, such as for example in water management at national and regional/local levels, which causes vegetated buffer strips at the edge of a field or within a field, are not wel- roles and responsibilities to be unclear and sometimes overlapping. Many comed by farmers due to loss of land for agricultural production. How- countries noted a definite dispersion of competences and a large variabil- ever, farmers in Gowienica indicated that they would be in favor of ity in the stakeholders' perception of the water governance structure and them if given land tax exemptions for these areas and/or state/com- the stakeholders' roles. This confuses farmers and discourages them to mune support in preventing weed infestations. contact specific authorities and inhibits uptake of measures. In some cases (Vester Hjerk, Bollaertbeek, Gowienica) there is a pos- Little cooperation between stakeholders at local level was pointed out itive approach to collaborative solutions, where more farmers and by 5 of out 7 action labs (Poland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Romania) as an- stakeholders are involved. For example, farmers indicated they would other important factor hindering the effectiveness of measures. By lack of Table 5 Key barriers that prevent the uptake of BMPs in the seven Action Labs. Barriers No. of Action Labs Type scale occurrences (countries) Too complex organisational set up of institutions responsible for implementation and execution of water 6 BE, IE, RO, Organisational National/local management policies ES, IT, PO Little cooperation between stakeholders and lack of communication and exchange of information 5 PL,IT, ES, RO, Organisational Local BE Regulations from different policy areas, such as groundwater, surface water, drinking water, agriculture and 4 PL, IT, BE, Legislative National nature conservation are poorly coordinated DK Low awareness of farmers regarding impacts they may cause on the environment 4 PL, IT, RO, BE Sociological Local Inefficient control mechanisms (lack of actions towards non-compliance) 3 PL, RO, BE Legislative National Standards and recommendations from applicable law and action programs are not fully adapted to the occurring 3 PL, ES, IE Legislative National climate changes Systems of support incentives for BMPs are too little 3 PL, RO, BE Legislative National Too little financial support for implementation of more advanced measures that are expensive 3 IT, ES, IE Legislative National Too much bureaucracy 3 PL, IT, BE Legislative National Lack of knowledge transfer from science to policy 3 PL, ES, BE organisational National/local Lack of long-term vision for environmental protection 3 PL, ES, BE Political National Time is needed for stakeholders to adapt to changes 3 IT, ES, IE Sociological National Lack of interest in participation in the process of law creation 3 PL, ES, RO Sociological National/local Multiplicity of regulations, which are often unclear 2 IT, ES Legislative National Regulations are not adequate for the scale of the problem 2 IT, DK Legislative National/local Very centralized authorities impacting on the access to information, data and cooperation 2 PL, RO Organisational National Underfunding of institutions from the water management, environmental protection sector, and agriculture 2 PL, ES Political Local departments makes the implementation of necessary improvements difficult Small impact of consumers on agricultural production 2 PL, ES Sociological Local Inadequate data to establishment link between agricultural activities and quality of water 2 IE, DK Technical Local High costs of monitoring 2 ES, IE Technical Local Tools used for planning are based on models that allow for no or very little differentiation of the area 2 ES, IE Technical Local 11 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 cooperation it is understood that there is not only little integrated effort in In Italy, Spain and Ireland farmers noted that time is needed for stake- defining and implementing measures (which relates to point 2), but also holders to adapt to changes. This regards not only logistical issues such as a lack of communication and exchange of information. This further im- time needed for utilization of older products that have been made plies that the voices of some stakeholders are not heard by others and prohibited but may still be stored by farmers, but also mental ability of that actions taken by the government officials favor specificgroups of people to adapt to changes such as the implementation of new measures. stakeholders. This was highlighted by farmers during multiple workshop In Poland, Spain and Ireland farmers think that standards and rec- meetings in Poland, Belgium, Italy, Romania and Spain. ommendations from applicable law and action programs are not fully Regulations from different policy areas, such as groundwater, sur- adapted to climate changes (e.g. mild winters and earlier start of the face water, drinking water, agriculture and nature conservation are growing season, and periods of allowed fertilization). poorly coordinated. This was indicated by 4 Action Labs: Poland, Italy, Farmers in Poland, Romania and Belgium advocated that systems of Belgium and Denmark. Regulations developed by different governmen- support incentives for best practices in relation to water management as tal departments are only focused on their own interests. This creates sit- well as for agro-ecological approaches are too little. In Poland, there are uations where finding practical solutions at a local level is very difficult, premises that cultivation on a particular land is more beneficial than ap- as requirements of one regulation often contradict requirements of the plying new voluntary BMPs and receiving subsides for that action. This other. On the other hand, the implementation of one measure can often is especially visible in areas with rich soils that can be cultivated inten- fulfill requirements of more than one regulation and this could signifi- sively with profitable results. As a result, little interest is given for new cantly boost their effectiveness, reduce costs and allow for more mea- more environmentally friendly initiatives on a voluntary basis. sures to be introduced. This requires good coordination and an In Italy, Spain and Ireland farmers highlighted that there is too little integrated water management at local levels. financial support for implementation of more advanced measures that In addition, low awareness of farmers regarding impacts they may are expensive. These measures can be attractive to implement but cause on the environment has also been identified as an important bar- their cost and complexity can hinder straightforward implementation. rier, noted by 4 out of 7 action labs (Poland, Italy, Romania, Belgium). Too much bureaucracy is a common complaint expressed by the The field assessments revealed that farmers in general still have a prob- farmers. Filling of paperwork required from farmers causes additional lem with linking how their everyday activities may affect the environ- costs and confusion (Poland, Italy and Spain). ment. It has been noted that the economic sustainability of the activity Three countries, namely, Italy, Poland and Ireland noted the lack of prevails over environmental sustainability. The family economy and knowledge transfer from science to policy. Policy and science are not personal goals influence the transition to sustainable agriculture. None- commonly integrated causing knowledge gaps where decisions are theless, this links closely to the problem of little transparency of envi- made. Important research findings are not efficiently disseminated to ronmental monitoring programmes which do not inform farmers the right stakeholders or are not acknowledged enough in order to sup- about their findings. Farmers are not aware about water quality results port decisions on the right measure, in the right places and at the right from national/regional water monitoring campaigns in their areas and time. For example, the Action Lab studied in Poland has a very long- as such are not aware of impacts they make. lasting history of research, yet their findings have not led to changes Another common barrier highlighted by 3 out of 7 action labs in local policies and regulations. (Poland, Italy and Belgium) was the multiplicity of regulations, which Lack of interest in participation in the process of law creation. Polish, often are unclear. Farmers need to be aware of multiple regulations Spanish and Romanian partners informed that consultation (in general, regarding nitrates, ammonia, PPP, erosion control, etc. some of which and specifically with respect to water management) is still a process are very long and complex. This causes regulations to be difficult to that needs to be learnt and few people are interested to participate in the consultation, mainly specialized NGO's or directly interested stake- apply and to control in practice not only by farmers, but also by civil servants. holders. Farmers have little confidence that their opinions will be incor- Three out of seven action labs (Poland, Romania and Belgium) porated, so they have little motivation to participate. indicated inefficient control mechanisms to be factors inhibiting imple- mentation of measures. There are two aspects in here to be considered. 4. Discussion First of all, lack of actions taken towards those that do not fulfill legal requirements makes farmers to feel above the law and do not motivate As a team we set out a methodology of multi-actor engagement that them to take actions. Another aspect that has been highlighted by started at the same point but needed to be adapted to the local context, farmers themselves is that the lack of control and actions towards meaning that the execution of the approach was different. The strength those who break the law discourages farmers that take actions and do of this method meant that the individual teams in the Action Labs could things according to legal protocols. An additional problem highlighted ensure that farmers and other actors were properly engaged in a mean- by farmers in Poland is that the level of environmental fines is too low ingful and relevant way, with a consistent policy and field assessment for large scale farmers to respect. Farmers often admitted themselves framework. The weakness was that standard statistical comparisons that breaking laws and paying fines was more worthwhile to their busi- concerning the uptake of BMPs and MMs to protect drinking water ness than taking up mitigation measures required by law. sources from nitrates and PPPs cannot be inferred. We therefore discuss Farmers in Poland, Spain and Belgium pointed out that the lack of our results in a qualitative manner to guide our recommendations and long-term vision for environmental protection with respect to water conclusions. We look to match the level of awareness that farmers and agriculture is an important problem. This relates to frequent expressed about water quality issues at the start of the process changes in regulations and lack of continuity in approaches taken. The (Table 2) to the uptake rates of BMPs and MMs observed at the Action environment needs time to respond to changes that have been intro- Lab level (Fig. 4). This is further discussed in light of the barriers to tak- duced. Belgium highlighted that regulations change too often and be- ing up measures identified during the follow-up surveys (Table 5), ac- come stricter and stricter every few years. Farmers, who already counting at the same time for the policy evaluation framework that implement measures and try to do their best are often ‘penalised’ identifies potential interactions between policy instruments (Fig. 3). when stricter rules are imposed. As a result, farmers lose their faith in legislations; they become suspicious and refuse to implement measures 4.1. Action Labs that focussed mainly on PPPs (Bollaertbeek – Belgium, Val on a voluntary basis. In the Water Protect workshops, farmers asked for Tidone – Italy, Wexford – Ireland, and Lower Llobregat - Spain) a clear and long-term vision from the government. The typical 4-years duration of governments does not allow to advance in questions that re- At Bollaertbeek (Belgium) there was a mixed level of awareness quire more time for its implementation. about the potential impact of spraying PPPs – with contract sprayers 12 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 being in general more aware than farmers. In Wexford (Ireland) on the the other typical barriers to the uptake of BMPs and MMs in all Action other hand there was in general a good awareness that the PPP MCPA (a Labs were the complex and poorly coordinated legislation and actions 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid - a herbicide) is a potential prob- from the different government agencies, the lack of specialized person- lem for drinking water supplies further down the catchment, although nel to provide professional guidance on measures, and the perception there was inadequate knowledge about the pollutant transfer path- that there were insufficient control mechanisms for compliance. In ways. At the Lower Llobregat (Spain) basically all stakeholders, includ- Gowienica and Mara – formerly eastern bloc countries – the farmers ing farmers and citizens, were aware of the general bad quality of the found the approach of authorities too centralized with a lack of informa- water, but due to the complexity of the area it is difficult to know tion. In Vester Hjerk the hydrogeology is very complicated so that it was which activities are the most polluting. On the whole farmers believe questionable whether there is a direct link between surface measures that agriculture is not the main source of pollution. In Val Tidone carried out by farmers and the impact on groundwater water quality. (Italy) there was also very little awareness from the farmers that PPPs might have a deleterious effect on the local groundwater. Participatory 4.3. All Action Labs monitoring in all Action Labs was therefore essential to show farmers and other stakeholders that pollution from agriculture was indeed an In terms of using the policy evaluation framework that identifies in- issue. In terms of the rate of uptake of voluntary measures to reduce teractions between policy instruments it is clear that policy instruments the impact of PPPs one quarter of the 22 voluntary measures were al- have to begin to address the organisational, legislative, sociological and ready being implemented by 78% of the farmers surveyed in technical barriers to the uptake of BMPS and MMs. At the farmer level Bollaertbeek with 34% of the farmers are considering additional selected the most important barrier after low awareness is that the process for measures in the future This was very similar to the situation in Wexford them to take up BMPs and MMs is too complex and uncoordinated. where a quarter of the 26 voluntary measures were already being im- This calls for legislation and regulations from both the ministries (or de- plemented by 73% of the farmers surveyed, with 26% of the surveyed partments) of agriculture and environment to be simplified and inte- farmers considering to implement additional selected measures in the grated. Clear and unambiguous messages on production standards and future as well. This rate is slightly lower at the Lower Llobregat Action requirements is needed. The measures should also be selected in an Lab where a quarter of the 14 voluntary measures were already being open and constructive dialogue, which take into account aspirations implemented by 66% of the farmers surveyed but up to 63% of the sur- but also limitations and difficulties of the different actors. Furthermore, veyed farmers considering implementing additional selected measures. the measures should be feasible in practice and if the measure involves Even though the general level awareness of water quality issues in Val extra costs without any return on investment for the farmer, it is clear Tidone was low already 52% of the farmers were implementing a quar- that improved financial incentives need to be provided. With limited ter of the voluntary measures, although 25% of the surveyed farmers public finances it is therefore necessary that cooperation and synergies considering implementing additional selected measures in the future. between the various institutional actors funding measures to be In addition to low awareness the other typical barriers to the uptake improved. of BMPs and MMs in all Action Labs were complaints about the com- While the purpose and technical aspects are usually quite clear and plexity of the legislation and follow-up, including the inherent bureau- straight forward, the desired transition towards a ‘new normal’,includ- cracy involved. In addition, farmers in Bollaertbeek also found that some ing standardization and education of Best Management Practices is al- of the mitigation measures, such as buffer zones, were technically con- most never completed towards satisfying and long-lasting levels. fusing and difficult to implement, whereas on the other hand they are Matters of organisational, financial or cultural origins, which are inevita- looking for measures that could reduce spray drift better. It was felt ble occurrences of life seem to keep us away from what is sensible to do. that there were also not enough control mechanisms to deal with The long value chains that we have built for our food production dilute non-compliant farmers, which was a complaint. In addition, farmers in both the impact and responsibility which the involved people these Action Labs indicated that there was insufficient financial support experience. now to encourage them to step into the voluntary measures requiring There is however, a huge common success factor: bottom up societal major investments. The farmers in Val Tidone also found that some of support. This creates peer pressure to continue performing, when times the measures being promoted were not even suitable for their particular are getting tough. Sometimes, extreme events like water quality issues, landscape and setting. drought, heavy rain, Covid-19, trigger the justification of rapid imple- mentation of BMPs, and addressing the barriers for uptake is an impor- 4.2. Action Labs that focussed mainly on nitrates (Gowienica - Poland, Mara tant outcome of WaterProtect. This can go very fast, whereas the usual - Romania and Vester Hjerk - Denmark) uptake is often a long and difficult process. A conclusion is that the building of societal acceptance, the communication of issues and solu- At Gowienica (Poland), even though the environmental agency has tions before the start, are the crucial success factors for a multi-actor, been operating a nitrate vulnerable zone for more than 12 years, the participatory approach to improve farm management practices and farmers in the area had very little awareness that nitrates are polluting protect our drinking water sources. the surface and ground waters. In Mara (Romania) this lack of aware- ness was also apparent. In Vester Hjerk (Denmark) the assumption 5. Conclusions from the farmers was that if there was a problem in the drinking water supply this would be dealt with by the local water utility com- The EU policy architecture that governs the water and agriculture pany. In terms of the percentage of farmers taking up voluntary mea- areas is complex, partially due to the historical evolution of the two sures, a quarter of the 26 voluntary measures were already being EU policy areas, but also partially due to the complexity of the chal- implemented by 88% of the farmers surveyed in Gowienica with 13% lenges these need to address. Coherence of water and agriculture poli- of the surveyed farmers considering implementing additional selected cies at EU level is recognized as an area where improvement is measures. This contrasts greatly with Vester Hjerk where only 24% of needed. Several actions have been taken at political and technical farmers were taking up one quarters of the 11 voluntary measures level, but there are also further opportunities for improvement. We with 30% of the surveyed farmers considering implementing additional have first taken the step to assess the situation by embarking on a selected measures. Meanwhile in Mara one quarter of the 11 voluntary multi-actor engagement strategy in the seven Action Labs. From this as- measures were already being implemented by 64% of the farmers sur- sessment we can conclude that the general awareness of farmers about veyed, but almost 90% of the farmers were considering implementing the potential pollution problems caused to drinking water sources by additional selected measures in the future. In addition to low awareness the applications of nitrates and PPPs is low. Despite this low awareness 13 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 between 24% to 88% of the surveyed farmers per Action Lab were al- CRediT authorship contribution statement ready voluntarily adopting one quarter of the selected BMPs and MMs. Information about the potential uptake of voluntary measures in the Ac- Paul Campling: Writing - original draft, Conceptualization, Method- tion Lab ranges from 13% to 90% of the farmers being willing to adopt ology, Writing - review & editing, Project administration, Funding acqui- additional selected measures. The follow up surveys provided us a bet- sition. Ingeborg Joris: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, ter understanding of what is preventing farmers from taking the step to Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Project administra- incorporate voluntary BMPs and MMs in their farm management. tion, Funding acquisition, Formal analysis, Visualization. Maura Calliera: Therefore, we can conclude that the next steps are to address the com- Writing - original draft, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, plexity of the process (administrative and technical), the lack of coordi- Validation, Writing - review & editing. Ettore Capri: Conceptualization, nation between the different institutional bodies promoting measures, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Supervision, and the financial incentives needed to invest and operate these often- Funding acquisition. Alexandru Marchis: Writing - original draft, Data costly measures will increase the likelihood of more farmers taking up curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review BMPs and MMs. & editing, Visualization. Anna Kuczyńska: Investigation, Data curation, With these points in mind and using the analysis on the coherence of Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, water and agricultural policies and cross-referencing those with the Funding acquisition. Tom Vereijken: Conceptualization, Methodology. implementation realities, we can make the following policy Zuzanna Majewska: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, recommendations: Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Els Belmans: In- vestigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, 1. The EU should exploit the cycles of policy revisions to better integrate Writing - review & editing. Lieve Borremans: Investigation, Data objectives and create mechanisms and structures of coordination. curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review 2. The strategic planning foreseen in the new implementation arrange- & editing. Elien Dupon: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, ments of the CAP after 2021 needs to be fully exploited to ensure co- Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Ellen Pauwelyn: herence of objectives for water management and agriculture at Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Valida- national level, given that the new policy implementation arrange- tion, Writing - review & editing. Per-Erik Mellander: Investigation, ments give more flexibility to EU Member States in deciding agricul- Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- tural policy priorities, and to allocate much needed resources for view & editing, Funding acquisition. Christopher Fennell: Investigation, farmers to make a positive contribution to sustainable water Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- management. view & editing. Owen Fenton: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptual- 3. Member States should strive to streamline the implementation ization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Edward structures and procedures based on sound governance concepts Burgess: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, that ensure the involvement of all concerned stakeholders in sustain- Validation, Writing - review & editing. Alexandra Puscas: Investigation, able management of water resources & agriculture. Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- 4. Future policy implementation approaches should state the need for view & editing. Elena Isla Gil: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptuali- further exchange of information and data between the various pro- zation, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Miren grammatic and enforcement instruments and structures. Results of Lopez de Alda: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Method- controls over agricultural activities will have to influence priorities ology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Funding acquisition. in water management and, equally, information on water quality Gemma Francès Tudel: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, and quantity issues, should be better transferred to the farmers. Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Erling Andersen: 5. Promoting multi-actor, participatory water governance models are Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Valida- recommended due to their capacity to: easily transfer information tion, Writing - review & editing. Anker Lajer Højber: Investigation, on the water management challenges, collaborative development Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- of solutions, capacity to address local specificities and limitations view & editing, Funding acquisition. Marzena Nowakowska: Investiga- and can create synergies with other action areas. tion, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing 6. Proactive provision of information on the challenges in water quality - review & editing. Nicoleta Suciu: Writing - original draft, Investigation, and their potential cause are essential to ensure awareness at farm Resources, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, level and understanding of the positive contribution farmers can Writing - review & editing. make. Currently, information is often unclear, scattered or not easily accessible. In many cases farmers rely on informal channels (farmer Declaration of competing interest associations, media, extension consultants, etc) to obtain such information. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial 7. The positive contribution to sustainable water management of agri- interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influ- culture, including through implementing BMPs and MMs should be ence the work reported in this paper. evaluated, recognized and communicated. A set of indicators that highlight the contribution agriculture has into water management Acknowledgements (able to capture positive and/or negative trends) will help with farmers' involvement of and will stimulate ownership of the process. This research is part of the WaterProtect project and has received 8. Perception on costs vs. benefits of implementation of various BMPs funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innova- or MMs have an important impact on the willingness of farmers to tion Program under grant agreement No. 727450. The authors and the implement them. Hence, direct information, know-how and as well entire WaterProtect team would like to thank all the actors across the as support for actual investments needed for implementation of seven Action Labs for their commitment and enthusiasm for engaging will play a key role in the future uptake of such measures by farmers. with the WaterProtect project. Finally, on the basis of the approach to improve awareness, collabo- ration and in some cases the uptake of BMPs and MMs in the Action Labs Appendix A. Supplementary data the crucial success factors to achieve this are to build social acceptance among all actors and to communicate the issues and potential solutions Supplementary data to this article can be found online at https://doi. right from the start. org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142971. 14 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 European Parliament and Council, 2009. Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parlia- References ment and of the council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. Official Journal European Commu- Belmans, E., 2018. The multiactor approach enabling engagement of actors in sustainable nities 2009. use of chemicals in agriculture. In: Capri, Ettore, Alix, Anne (Eds.), Advances in Chem- European Parliament and Council, 2013. Directive 2013/39/EU of the European Parlia- ical Pollution, Environmental Management and Protection. Sustainable Use of ment and of the council of 12 august 2013 amending directives 2000/60/EC and Chemicals in Agriculture vol 2. Academic Press, p. 2018 (ISBN: 978-0-12-812866-4 2008/105/EC as regards priority substances in the field of water policy. Official Jour- ISSN: 2468-9289). nal European Communities 2013. Calliera, M., Capria, E., Marsala, R.Z., Russo, E., Bisagni, M., Colla, R., Suciu, N., 2020. The Farm Path Project, 2014. In: Sutherland, Lee-Ann, Darnhofer, Ika, Wilson, Geoff, Zagata, Role of Risk Communication and Stakeholders Involvement in the Adoption of Best Lukas (Eds.), Transition Pathways towards Sustainability in Agriculture: Case Studies Management Practices and for a Sustainable Use of Pesticides in Hilly Vineyards. Sub- From Europe. Front Cover. CABI 244 pages. http://www.fao.org/3/a-i7754e.pdf. mitted to this. VSI. Jones, P., Hillier, D., Comfort, D., 2014. Water stewardship and corporate sustainability: a Chartzoulakis, K., Bertaki, M., 2015. Sustainable water management in agriculture under case study of reputation management in the food and drinks industry. J. Public Aff. climate change. Agriculture and Agricultural Science Procedia 4, 88–98. https://doi.org/10.1002/pa.1534. Council of the European Union, 1991. Council directive 91/676/EEC of 12 December 1991 Mateo-Sagasta, J., Zadeh, S.M., Turral, H., 2017. Water Pollution from Agriculture: A Global concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricul- Review Executive Summary. Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of tural sources. Official Journal European Communities 1991. the United Nations Rome and the International Water Management Institute European Commission, 1998. Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the Colombo. Quality of Water Intended for Human Consumption, Official Journal European Com- Newborne, P., Dalton, J., 2019. Corporate Water Management and Stewardship: Signs of munities, 2007. Evolution Towards Sustainability. Overseas Development Institute, London https:// European Commission, 2012. Communication from the Commission to the European Par- www.odi.org/publications/11491-corporate-water-management-and-stewardship- liament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Commit- signs-evolution-towards-sustainability. tee of the Regions: A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe’s Water Resources, COM/2012/ OECD, 2020a. Agriculture and the environment: better policies to improve the environ- 0673 Final. mental performance of the agriculture sector. http://www.oecd.org/agriculture/ European Commission, 2017. COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT Agriculture topics/agriculture-and-the-environment/. and Sustainable Water Management in the EU, SWD (2017) 153 Final. OECD, 2020b. Water and agriculture: managing water sustainably is key to the future of European Environment Agency, 2012. Towards Efficient Use of Water Resources in food and agriculture. http://www.oecd.org/agriculture/topics/agriculture-and-the- Europe, EEA Report no 1/2012. Copenhagen, Denmark. environment/. European Environment Agency, 2018. European Waters - Assessment of Status and Pres- SDGS, 2020. Goal 6 ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanita- sures, EEA Report no 7/2018, Copenhagen, Denmark. tion for all. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg6. European Parliament and Council, 2000. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parlia- Wageningen University & Research, 2011. Recommendations for establishing action ment and of the council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for community programmes under directive 91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against action in the field of water policy. Official Journal European Communities 2000. pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources contract number N° 07 0307/ European Parliament and Council, 2006. EU groundwater directive 2006/118/EC of the 2010/580551/ETU/B1. Part a - review and further differentiation of pedo-climatic European Parliament and of the council of 12 December 2006 on the protection of zones in Europe. http://publications.europa.eu/resource/cellar/87344fbf-a1e9-4975- groundwater against pollution and deterioration. Official Journal European Commu- b686-ebf941030249.0001.01/DOC_1. nities 2006. European Parliament and Council, 2007. Directive 2007/60/EC of the European Parlia- ment and of the council of 23 October 2007 on the assessment and management of flood risks. Official Journal European Communities 2007. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Science of the Total Environment Pubmed Central

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Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID- 19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Science of the Total Environment journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/scitotenv A multi-actor, participatory approach to identify policy and technical barriers to better farming practices that protect our drinking water sources a, a,o b b b c Paul Campling , Ingeborg Joris , Maura Calliera , Ettore Capri , Alexandru Marchis ,AnnaKuczyńska , d e f f g g Tom Vereijken , Zuzanna Majewska ,Els Belmans , Lieve Borremans , Elien Dupon , Ellen Pauwelyn , h h h h i j Per-Erik Mellander , Christopher Fennell , Owen Fenton , Edward Burgess , Alexandra Puscas , Elena Isla Gil , k k l m Miren Lopez de Alda ,Gemma FrancèsTudel ,Erling Andersen , Anker Lajer Højber , n b Marzena Nowakowska , Nicoleta Suciu Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek, Boeretang 200, Mol, 2400, Belgium Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, European Observatory on Sustainable Agriculture, DISTAS, Via Emilia Parmense 84, 29122 Piacenza, PC, Italy Polish Geological Institute – National Research Institute,4 Rakowiecka Street, 00-975 Warsaw, Poland European Water Stewardship, Oostergoweg 9, 8911, MA, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands Institute of Technology and Life Sciences, Falenty, Al. Hrabska 3, 05-090 Raszyn, Poland Eigen Vermogen van het Instituut voor Landbouw en Visserijonderzoek, Burgemeester van Gansberghelaan 96, Merelbeke 9820, Belgium INAGRO, Ieperseweg 87, Rumbeke Roselare 8800, Belgium Crops, Environment and Land Use Programme/Agricultural Catchments Programme, Teagasc, Johnstown Castle Environment Research Centre, Wexford, Co. Wexford, Ireland Asociatia Ecologic Baia Mare, Florilor Str 8/36, Baia Mare 430273, Romania CPABLLParc Agrari del Baix Llobregat, Can Comas, Camí de la Rivera, s/n, 08820 El Prat de Llobregat, Spain CSICWater, Environmental and Food Chemistry Unit (ENFOCHEM), Department of Environmental Chemistry, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC), Agencia Estatal Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Jordi Girona 18, Barcelona 08034, Spain Kobenhavns Universitet, Norregade 10, Kobenhavn, 1165, Denmark Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Oster Voldgade, 10, Kobenhavn K 1350, Denmark Polish Geological Institute - National Research Institute, Pomeranian Branch, 20 Wieniawskiego St., 71-130 Szczecin, Poland Department of Bioscience Engineering, University of Antwerp, Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium HI GH L I GHT S GR APHIC A L A BST R ACT • Protection of drinking water from nutri- ents and pesticides requires a good up- take of BMPs. • The uptake of BMPs was assessed by a participatory approach across Europe. • Barriers preventing the uptake of oblig- atory and voluntary BMPs were identi- fied. • Barriers were related to policy tools at the national and European scale. • Social acceptance among all actors and communication was required right from the start. Abbreviations: SUD, Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive; WFD, Water Framework Directive; BMPs, Best Management Practices; MMs, mitigation measure; PPPs, plant protection products; RBMPs, River Basin Management Plans; CAP, Common Agricultural Policy; PoMs, Programme of Measures. ⁎ Corresponding author. E-mail address: paul.campling@vito.be (P. Campling). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.142971 0048-9697/© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 ar ti cl e i n f o ab st ra c t Article history: Despite an improvement of water quality across Europe there are many pollution hotspots for both nitrates and Received 30 June 2020 PPPs, mainly due to agricultural activities. The BMPs and MMs to reduce pollution from agriculture are well Received in revised form 21 September 2020 known, and there are policy instruments in place to ensure drinking water standards, but the current approach Accepted 6 October 2020 has not been efficient enough. Within the H2020 Water Protect project the premise was that there is a need for a Available online 17 October 2020 multi-actor, participatory approach to tackle the issue from a new angle, and to assess why the uptake of known BMPs and MMs was not better among farmers. Seven “Action Labs” were selected that represent major physical, Editor: Paola Verlicchi socio-economical, cultural and farming settings across Europe. A methodology of multi-actor engagement was chosen but with different approaches due to the local context. Initially the level of farmers' awareness about Keywords: water quality issues was matched to the observed uptake rates of BMPs and MMs. In a second survey barriers hin- Best Management Practices Mitigation measures dering theuptakeofmeasureswereidentified. The first survey revealed a low general awareness on the potential Nitrates pollution to drinking water sources. Despite this, between 24% to 88% of the surveyed farmers per Action Lab Plant protection products were already voluntarily adopting one quarter of the selected BMPs and MMs. The second survey demonstrated Common Agricultural Policy the need to address organisational, legislative, sociological and technical barriers. The lack of coordination be- Water contamination tween different institutional bodies promoting measures and the financial incentives needed to invest and oper- ate these often-costly measures need to be considered. The multi-actor, participatory approach with its improved awareness and collaboration made it possible to identify the crucial factors for improvement - to build a social acceptance among all actors and communicate the issues and solutions from the start. © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). 1. Introduction Labs across Europe that represent some of the major differences in physical, socio-economical, cultural and farming systems across Europe. High-quality, safe, and sufficient drinking water is essential for life: we Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Mitigation Measures (MMs) use it for drinking, food preparation and cleaning. However, more than are key elements to limit or prevent water and environmental pollution half of the river and lake water bodies in Europe are reported to be in from agricultural activities. The analysis of their efficacy has thus raised less than good ecological status. The main environmental pressures are several scientific projects and multiple exchanges between regulatory point (38%) and diffuse source pollution (18%) and about 25% of ground- authorities. A number of initiatives have been undertaken across water across Europe is in poor chemical status (EEA, 2018). The wider re- Member States to stimulate their uptake (TOPPS http://www.topps- search community recognises that management of water in a sustainable life.org,MAGPIE https://www.setac.org/magpie, COMPASS https:// way “is the key for the future of food and agriculture” (OECD, 2020a). The balticcompass.org/). This has resulted in the genesis of a wide variety 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges the importance of approaches, implemented at national levels such as good agricultural of water quality and includes a specific water quality objective in Sustain- practices or legislative measures. The increased uptake of measures to able Development Goal (SDGS, 2020). Farming accounts for between 30% reduce nitrogen pollution from agriculture and improvements in and 60% of local water used across Europe and contributes to water pollu- urban waste water treatment have led to a steady reduction in average tion sourced from nutrient, pesticide and other pollutant discharges (e.g. nitrogen concentrations in rivers from 2.7 to 2.1 mg NO3/l (1992 to tractor oils) (OECD, 2020b). Through pollution from nitrates and Plant 2012) and average concentrations in groundwater are well below the Protection Products (PPPs), agriculture is the main source of environmen- Groundwater Quality Standard of 50 mg NO3/l (European Commission, tal pressures causing failure to achieve good chemical status in groundwa- 2012). However, there remains persistent hot spot areas across Europe ter (EEA, 2018). Improvement of water resource use efficiency and at the regional level with nitrate levels well above these averages, so the reduction of water pollution from agricultural systems is seen as one of need to increase the uptake of measures in these areas is paramount to the main policy challenges. Several approaches and tools, such as moni- the continued sustainability of drinking water extraction (European En- toring and models applied at different scales, and innovations for increas- vironment Agency, 2012). ing the efficiency of agricultural production are used in the field of water Several countries in Europe report aquifers having concentrations of quality to support planners and policy-makers in designing cost-effective PPPs that exceed the Environmental Quality Standard (EQS). The reduc- measures for addressing water pollution in agriculture (Mateo-Sagasta tion of the pollution of drinking water sources by PPPs and fertilisers et al., 2017). used by the agricultural sector remains the biggest challenge. Despite Water quality in surface and ground waters has generally improved the increased integration of policies to deliver clean and safe drinking across Europe thanks to the adherence to waste water treatment stan- water over the last 30 years there is clearly a need to increase the en- dards for point emissions and the uptake of BMPs and MMs by the farm- gagement between interdependent actors and stakeholders (European ing sector for diffuse emissions. However, there are still a number of Environment Agency, 2012). Efficiency and innovation do not seem to pollution hotspots across Europe for both nitrates and PPPs, largely be the only parameters that can solve the challenge of sustainable and due to agricultural activities. The BMPs and the MMs to reduce pollution low-impact agriculture, which instead requires a much more complex from nitrates and PPPs are well known, there are also policy instru- analysis with an integrated approach. An integrated approach involves ments in place to ensure that drinking water standards are met, but an understanding of technological problems, social behaviour of rural drinking water companies are still being required to invest and operate communities, economic constraints, the legal and institutional frame- drinking water treatment facilities to deliver drinking water that meet work and contextual agricultural practices (Chartzoulakis and Bertaki, the required standards – so in essence the current approach is not work- 2015). Belmans (2018) suggests that a move towards a more “horizon- ing and more should be done to reduce costly end of pipe drinking tal” and “participatory” water governance between the various actors water treatment solutions. Therefore, the H2020 Water Protect project and stakeholders would be more productive: water companies, farmers, started with the premise that a different multi-actor, participatory ap- nature conservation NGOs, plant protection product producers, fertil- proach was needed to tackle the issue from a new angle and to get to izer producers, food and retail businesses, consumer organisations, en- the bottom of why farmers are not sufficiently taking up known BMPs vironment agencies and ministries. There are other approaches, such and MMs to protect drinking water sources. We selected seven Action as stewardship programmes, financed by food and drink companies to 2 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 protect the quality of local water supplies (Newborne and Dalton, mixed farming (two Action Labs), field crops (three Action Labs), and 2019). In a similar vein certification schemes such as the European permanent crops (two Action Labs). Among the seven Action Labs, Water Stewardship (EWS) Certification Scheme (https://ews.info/) there are three rural land uses (Romania, Ireland, Denmark) and one have the same goal to organize companies to improve the environmen- mixed urban and rural land uses (Belgium) with small water supplies. tal footprint of their value chain and protect water resources (Jones Larger Action Labs, including two mixed urban and rural land uses et al., 2014). (Italy, Spain) and one rural land use (Poland), are delivering drinking In this framework, the H2020 funded project WaterProtect was water to hundreds of thousands of inhabitants. In five of the Action established with the aims to: (1) analyse whether the solutions offered Labs the focus is on groundwater that is used either in public supply by the existing governance systems can adequately cover the impact by (Denmark), or both public and private supply (Ireland) or used locally the agriculture; (2) demonstrate how selected mitigation measures from private wells as drinking water or for agricultural use (Spain, have an impact on improving water quality; and (3) contribute to the Italy, Romania). In the Action Labs, the water quality of water resources effective uptake and realisation of Best Management Practices to deliver is under pressure from manuring and agro-chemicals, but different Ac- good water quality. tion Labs chose specific targeted pollutants: four Action Labs focussed A pan-European, multi-actor approach was adapted in the context of mainly on PPPs (Belgium, Italy, Ireland, Spain), whereas three worked seven rural or mixed rural/urban Action Labs (also known as Living mainly on nitrates (Denmark, Poland, Romania). Labs) to determine barriers and factors that hinder the uptake of BMPs and MMs to protect drinking water sources from nitrates and 2.2. Multi-actor engagement PPPs and that have an impact on farmers' decision making and strate- gies. The hypothesis is that water and agriculture policy reforms to sup- Sustainable agriculture is the result of complex “systemic interac- port farmers and policy makers in their decision-making requires an in- tions” between different actors involved in various ways, such as re- depth understanding of the local context and of the policy-related driv- searchers, farmers, entrepreneurs, regional and national organisations, ing factors that impact on water quality. On the basis of this understand- etc. Indeed, a complex socio-ecological issue such as water quality re- ing, recommendations were provided to improve awareness, lated to agriculture cannot be solved by just one actor but rather from collaboration and in some case the uptake of BMPs and MMs in the Ac- a multi-actor approach perspective (Belmans, 2018). All of them have tion Labs. different forms of knowledge (practical, scientific, policy based, etc.) and there is the need to create conditions for interaction between 2. Materials and methods them and combine their knowledge, perspectives, resources, and expe- riences, to identify and discuss solutions and new ideas. Therefore, all 2.1. Area of study: Seven Action Labs across Europe the actors identified in the seven Action Labs that were considered to have an influence on or to be influenced by the environment and the The seven Action Labs are located in six different environmental farming systems, were invited to engage in the study development zones (WUR, 2011) which cover 75% of the area relevant for agriculture and activities. Since it is recognized that at the context level there is (Fig. 1, Table 1). The main farming systems in the EU are considered: not a “one fits all approach”, in each Action Lab the stakeholder Fig. 1. Location of the seven Action Labs across Europe. 3 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 1 Overview of the environmental and farming system characteristics of the seven Action Labs, including the pollutant focus (in bold). Country BE IE PL DK IT ES RO Action Lab Bollaertbeek Wexford Gowienica Vester Hjerk Val Tidone Lower Llobregat Mara Environ-mental zone ATC ATC CON ATN MDN MDS ALS Land use Mixed urb/rur Rural Rural Rural Mixed urb/rur Mixed urb/rur Rural Farming system Field crops Grass & field crops Field crops Field crops Vineyards Minor fruit & veg Extensive grassland/subsistence Size Small Small Interm Interm Small to large Interm Small 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 ~23 km ~10 km ~60 km ~27 km ~206 km ~120 km ~20 km Drinking water SW GW private & public SW GW public GW private SW & GW private GW private Pollutant(s) surveyed PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates & PPPs Nitrates Irrigation No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Country: BE Belgium; IE Ireland; PL Poland; DK Denmark; IT Italy; ES Spain; RO Romania. Environmental Zone: ATC Atlantic Central; CON Continental; ATN Atlantic North; MDN Mediterranean North; MDS Mediterranean South; ALS Alpine South. SW surface water, GW groundwater. involvement was conceptualised as an “active engagement” that for flexibility in the implementation, except for the Rural Development followed a stepwise approach. The approach included both water qual- Pillar measures. Consequently, the EU legal framework is built on di- ity analysis (e.g. participatory monitoring) and stakeholders' analysis, rectly applicable Regulations, so there is no requirement for with different levels of participation based on actors' roles that ranged transpositions. from specific consultations to active involvement in the project (e.g. On the other hand, environmental policy, including water policy, has hosting demonstrations, facilitating meetings, field visits etc.…). been founded completely on the subsidiarity principle. This means that Based on the initial knowledge status of each Action Lab, the level of major policy goals are agreed at the EU level, while Member States are collaboration and the specific local objectives, the approach led to a given the powers to implement and enforce by transposing the Direc- range of different strategies throughout the overall process. A detailed tives into national legislation. description of each strategy adopted is provided by Calliera et al. The main environmental policy instruments related to water that (2020, submitted to this VSI). In summary, the strategies included: are to be considered here are: (i) face-to-face meetings (such as seminars, workshops, community events, • EU Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (WFD), adopted by the or site tours), an exchange/informing qualitative “dialogue-based European Parliament and Member States in 2000, an integrated, method” that allows greater spontaneity and interaction between the river basin management approach to clean and keep clean all researchers and participants; (ii) surveys, exchange questionnaire- European waters (European Parliament and Council, 2000); based quantitative tools, where stakeholders are requested to individu- • EU Floods Directive 2007/60/EC (FD), that requires the assessment ally answer questions by choosing from a limited number of provided and management of flood risks by Member States, to assess if all answers; (iii) participatory monitoring, the engagement of farmers, water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding and to take ad- farmers associations and farmer's consultant organisation in the design equate and coordinated measures to reduce flood risk (European Par- and the setup of water monitoring for the catchment; (iv) participatory liament and Council, 2007); training approach and demonstration farm, exchange/informing activi- • EU Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD), which mandates min- ties able to identify and bridge “the gap between what is and what imum health standards in water intended for human consumption, should be in terms of incumbents' knowledge, skills, attitudes, and be- making linkages with other water-related policies (European Com- haviour for a particular situation at one point in time” (Farm Path mission, 1998); Project, 2014). The collation of information underpinning the multi- • EU Groundwater Directive 2006/118/EC (GWD), which complements actor engagements allows us to summarise the level of stakeholder the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and sets groundwater quality awareness at the beginning of the project in each Action Lab, list the standards, introducing measures to prevent or limit inputs of pollut- stakeholders involved and define the strategies for engagement ants into groundwater (European Parliament and Council, 2006); and, (Table 2). • EU Directive 2013/39/EU, which establishes environmental quality standards for priority substances in surface waters (e.g. identification of new harmful substances, updating of environmental quality stan- 2.3. Coherence of agricultural and environmental policies to protect drink- dards, introduction of a new “watch list” mechanism) (European Par- ing water sources liament and Council, 2013). 2.3.1. Background and identification of the relevant policy architecture To better define the context of the study, it was necessary to carry For EU agriculture policies, the cross-compliance requirements (set out an analysis of the water and agriculture related policies, so as to of minimum agricultural production standards) and the measures in- identify the policy-related driving factors that impact on water quality cluded in the Rural Development Plans are those that define the frame- in the Action Labs. The analysis considers the critical success factors work for the farmers, in order to benefit from EU subsidies. Being part of that enhance the effective integration of environmental water concerns cross-compliance, Directive 128/2009 for the Sustainable Use of Pesti- into agricultural practices, including the contribution of agricultural and cides (SUD) (European Parliament and Council, 2009) is an important environmental policies and regulatory frameworks. instrument to help achieve good water status, although broader in Agriculture and water management go hand in hand, and within the scope, it includes relevant measures aimed at protecting the water re- EU policies related to these two sectors there are many opportunities for sources by restricting the use in certain areas and by implementing synergies and reinforcements (European Commission, 2017). However, buffer zones and other measures to reduce run-off and leaching. the EU water and agriculture policies also have individual objectives and Also included in cross-compliance is the Nitrates Directive (Council different implementation mechanisms, which creates differences in the of the European Union, 1991) that aims at the reduction of pollution depth and coherence of their coordination. from agricultural nitrogen. Several other EU policies have a rather indi- The first element worth noting is that the Common Agricultural Pol- rect impact on water and will not be considered in this analysis. For ex- icy (CAP) for the period 2013–2020 is a fully integrated policy, meaning ample, the recent EU circular economy package includes provisions like that standards are set at EU level with Member States having little room the rules for water reuse or the new rules on fertilisers that open the 4 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 Summary across the seven Action Labs of the initial levels of stakeholder awareness, the stakeholders involved and the strategies for engagement. Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement Bollaertbeek • Farmers are little aware of the problem in their Action lab leader(s) INAGRO (farmer advisory and research) Informing – newsletter area. They know water quality is important, but ILVO (research) Informing – presentation they think local water quality is sufficient and they VITO (research) Exchange – bilateral do not think that their agricultural activities have a Chemical Bayer conversation negative influence on water quality. producers Exchange – multi-actor • Some contract sprayers do know the situation is Distributers of Phytodistributers conversation bad, others didn't acknowledge the situation at all. plant protection Exchange – • The other actors (interviewed at the start of the products questionnaire/survey project) know the quality of the water is bad. Representatives of Phytofar Exchange – chemical implementation training producers Exchange –field visit Spraying machine Dauchy Exchange – interactive dealers Agri Lemahieu workshop Farmers Famers of the Bollaertbeek catchment Contract sprayer Contract sprayers Farmer advisory Boerenbond and unions ABS Boerenbond – Agrobeheercentrum ‘t Boerenlandschap Water producers De Watergroep and suppliers of drinking water Regional/national Province West-Flanders government VMM VLM Regionaal landschap De Westhoek Local government Ieper Heuvelland Vester Hjerk • No big awareness about the drinking water situa- Action lab leader(s) UCPH (research) Informing – newsletter tion among the public. People are relying on the GEUS (research) Exchange – bilateral authorities and waterworks to take action if there SEGES Research conversation is a problem. Farmers Farmers of the catchment area Exchange – multi-actor (consumers) conversation Farmer advisory Landbo Limfjord Exchange – and unions questionnaire/survey Water producers Danish Water Works Exchange – interactive and suppliers of Waterworks Vester Hjerk workshop drinking water Regional/national Stakeholder Advisory Group government Local government Municipality of Skive Inhabitants – Inhabitants of the action lab area consumers The Danish Nature Conservation Organisation Wexford • There is a good awareness of PPPs, such as MCPA, Action lab leader(s) Teagasc Exchange – bilateral potentially causing a problem for Irish drinking Chemical Animal and Plant Health Association (APHA) conversation water. The number of PPP failures has increased in producers Hygeia Chemicals Ltd. Exchange – multi-actor recent years. Seven suppliers, serving; 60,500 peo- NUFARM conversation ple have been reported to have a problem with Research Ulster University Teagasc Students Exchange – MCPA in Ireland. Agricultural Catchments Programme questionnaire/survey • There is a poor knowledge on the underlying pro- Farmers Famers of the catchments Exchange –field visit cesses of MCPA reaching water. It was recognized Farmer unions Teagasc advisors Exchange – interactive that we need more knowledge on the transfer and advisories Agricultural Sustainability Support Advisors (ASSA) workshop pathways and the residence time/breakdown. Water producers Irish Water • There was a perception that MCPA is only inciden- and suppliers of National Federation of Group Water Scheme tally lost to water via surface pathways. drinking water (NFGWS) • Due to the heterogeneity of the landscape a Regional/national Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine targeted approach supported by science is needed government Local Authority Waters Programme (LAWPRO) to mitigate MCPA loss to water Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pesticide Control Division of the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine Local government Wexford County Council Food processors Glanbia and distributers Inhabitants – Citizens – rural dwellers consumers Val Tidone • No data about the impact of viticulture on ground- Action lab leader(s) UCSC(University) Informing – newsletter water quality of Tidone Valley was available at the ARPAE-ER (Environmental Agency) Informing – presentation beginning of the project. Institutional data is poor APCS (consumer organisation) Informing - leaflet for this area, but data on groundwater quality of Research Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Exchange – bilateral Piacenza province is available in ARPAE's websites. Farmers Farmers of the Val Tidone catchment conversation • Most of the farmers are not aware of the problem. Farmer advisory Confagricoltura (farmer representative) Coldiretti Exchange – multi-actor There is no direct link between the monitoring and unions (farmer representative) conversation results and the communication to them. CIA (farmer representative) Exchange – • One cooperative and one farm have set-up their Consorzio Fitosanitario (farmers advisory) questionnaire/survey (continued on next page) 5 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 (continued) Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement organisation and production in compliance with Water producers Axe Environment (farmers advisory) Exchange – the Italian standard VIVA using indicators for the and suppliers of implementation improvement of their social, environmental and drinking water IRETI (drinking water production, supply Exchange - field visit economic performance. and treatment) Exchange – interactive River basin/ Po River Hydrographic District Basin Authority workshop environmental (river basin agency) protection agency ARPAE (Environmental protection agency) Regional/national Piacenza (government provincial level) government Regione Emilia Romagna (government regional level) Local government Borgonovo (municipality) Ziano (municipality) Castel San Giovanni (municipality) Pianello (municipality) Alta Val Tidone (municipality) Local health agency AUSL Provincial reclamation authority, Consorzio di Bonifica Piacenza Food trader – Vicobarone winery - cellar (Cantina Vicobarone) Industry winery (food processor and trader) Val Tidone winery - cellar (Cantina Val Tidone) (food processor and trader) Consorzio vini DOC Colli Piacentini (local business) Inhabitants - Consumer associations consumers Gowienica • The Gowienica Miedwaińska River Basin has been Action lab leader(s) Polish Geological Institute - National Research Informing – newsletter operating as a nitrate vulnerable zone for 12 years Institute (PGI-NRI) Institute of Technology and Life Informing - leaflet until now and still some farmers have very little Sciences (ITP) West Pomeranian University of Exchange – bilateral knowledge on this subject. Technology (ZUT) conversation • Lack of interest (or little interest) of inhabitants in Farmers Farmers of the Gowienica river catchment Exchange – multi-actor the water quality state in the catchment. Farmer advisory West Pomeranian Farmer's Advisory Centre (ZODR) conversation • Some farmers did not know that the Gowienica and unions Exchange – Miedwianska is a river. Water producers Szczecin Water Services West Pomeranian Water questionnaire/survey • The problem of water quality is known by farmers and suppliers of Services Exchange – and by institutions related to water management drinking water demonstration/field visit and agriculture (NVZ area). Regional/national Department of Environmental Protection, Szczecin Exchange – interactive • Non-agricultural and non-water management government City Hall workshop companies and inhabitants are not aware of the Regional Water Management Authority, National existing problem. State Water Farm Polish Waters (RWMA) • Non-agricultural local companies are not aware of Voivodship Inspectorate for Environmental the problem of water quality in the Gowienica Protection (VIEP) river catchment. They assess surface and ground- Regional Directorate for Environmental Protection water as of good quality. The tap water supplied to (RDOŚ) the recipients mentioned above is also assessed by West Pomeranian Board of Land Reclamation and them as of good quality. Water Facilities in Szczecin (operated until 31.12.2017) Voivodship Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management Agency for the Restructuring and Modernization of Agriculture (ARMA) Faculty of Infrastructure, Agriculture and Regional Development Westpomeranian Voivodeship Office Local government Warnice Borough Stargard Borough Food processors Polish Sugar Inc. and distributers Inhabitants - Inhabitants consumers Mara • Most farmers are not aware that there are some Action lab leader(s) Universitatea Tehnica CLUJ-NAPOCA (UTC) Informing – newsletter problems related to bad agricultural practices. And Ecologic (civil society organisation) Exchange – bilateral if they acknowledge this, they still consider it as a Research Universities conversation small problem and certainly not their individual Experts Exchange – multi-actor problem. Students conversation Farmers Farmers of the Mara river catchment Exchange – Farmer unions Farmer association questionnaire/survey Regional/national EPA Maramures Exchange – government Directorate of Agriculture Maramures demonstration/field visit Water Directorate Maramures Exchange – interactive Local government Ocna Sugatag Municipality workshop County Council Maramures Budesti Commune Industry - Tour operators Tourism Ecotourism destination Ocna Sugatag Tourism Promotion Center Inhabitants - Inhabitants of the villages consumers Children Priest 6 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Table 2 (continued) Action Lab Initial level of awareness Actors involved Strategies for engagement Lower Llobregat • Basically, all stakeholders, including farmers and Action lab leader(s) IDAEA-CSIC (research organization, action lab Informing – newsletter citizens, are aware of the general bad quality of the leader) Informing – project water, but due to the complexity of the area it is AB (local drinking water company) presentation and flyers difficult to know which activities are the most pol- CUADLL (local water administration) Informing – press release luting. CPABLL (local government) Exchange – bilateral • Farmers believe that agriculture is not the main Research Agricultural Machinery Unity (UMA) of the conversation source of pollution. On the contrary, agriculture in Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UMA-UPC) Exchange – multi-actor is perceived as beneficial to protect the area from Higher School of Agriculture of Barcelona attached to conversation further urban expansion. Polytechnic University of Catalonia (ESAB-UPC) Exchange – • Farmers accept the use of treated wastewater for University of Barcelona (UB) questionnaire/survey irrigation but demand improvement of its quality IRTA - research institute of the Government of Exchange – and control of specific parameters, as well as addi- Catalonia adscribed to the Department of Agriculture demonstration/field visit tional infrastructures to protect their crops from Ilersap (analytical company) Exchange – interactive flooding or water shortages. Students workshop Farmers Famers of the Llobregat delta catchment Informing and exchange – Farmer advisory Unió de Pagesos (major agriculture trade union) conference and unions ADV Horta (farmers advisory) ADV Fruita (farmers advisory) Water producers ATLL and suppliers of Aigües d'El Prat drinking water FCC Aqualia SA Regional/national Catalan Water Agency (ACA, basin water authority) government Public Health Secretary (PHS) (Ministry of Health of Catalonia) Department of Agriculture, livestock, fisheries and food (Catalan government) AMB (Metropolitan area of Barcelona) Local government Consortium of the Delta del Llobregat Municipalities Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat: Palleja, Sant Vicenç dels Horts, Santa Coloma de Cervelló, Sant Boi de Llobregat, El Prat de Llobreta, Viladecans, Gavà, Castelldefels, El Papiol, Molins de Rei, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Sant Joan Despí, Cornellà de Llobregat i l'Hospitalet de Llobregat. Food processors Mercabarna (wholesale market for the city of and distributers Barcelona) Inhabitants - Inhabitants of the action lab area consumers door to a different approach in water and nutrient management. An- legal frameworks, larger and smaller water collection areas. Each Action other piece of legislation that can play a role in water management Lab was chosen, based on the local specificities and pressures on water and agriculture is the Habitats Directive. resources, to focus on nitrates and/or PPPs (Table 1). Hence, each Action Lab gave a different weight on what is considered relevant in the policy 2.3.2. Methodology and policy evaluation framework framework, based on the pollutant (s) of concern. The policy analysis focuses on two fundamental questions: The Action Lab leaders were asked to evaluate the policy implemen- tation realities in their study area using the following criteria: 1. What are the interactions between the various policies as well as the coherence, exchange of information and coordination at the imple- • Effectiveness of the exchange of information and interaction; mentation level? • Coherence of the requirements, rules and guidelines (as perceived by 2. How are the guidelines, requirements and rules in various policy in- the farmer); struments translated at farmer level in the Action Labs? • Relevance of the implementation mechanism in relation to the objec- The choice of methodology was to structure the evaluation around tives; and, the main stages of the policy cycle. • Added value of coordination and synergies between policy areas. The policy cycle-based assessment has at the centre the policy in- struments, hence facilitating the formulation of specific policy sugges- Due to non-availability of information or data on the efficiency and tions and recommendations (Fig. 2). effectiveness of individual policy instruments in the Action Labs the as- The evaluation of the water and agriculture policies coherence, coor- sessment was based on expert opinions on the integration of water and dination and interaction has included an extensive literature review on agriculture policies using a structured set of 10 key questions (S1). existing relevant reports and policy documents produced at EU level and/or commissioned by EU institutions. To answer the first fundamental question the analysis has established a framework for all potential and possible interactions 2.4. Identification of BMPs and MMs based on existing inventories within the intervention logic for water and agriculture policies of the EU. The realities of implementation in the seven Action Labs areas The first step in the analysis of the uptake of BMPs and MMs to pre- were judged against this framework (see Section 3.1). vent the pollution of drinking water sources from agriculture was to For the second fundamental question, the analysis has included a match the wealth of information from previous European projects that structured questionnaire collecting expert opinions from the Action assess mitigation measures with the local knowledge of the farming sys- Labs (see Section 3.2). The seven Action Labs (case studies) cover differ- tems and the focus issues in the seven Action Labs. The three projects ent climatic conditions, different types of farming systems, different consulted were TOPPS, MAGPIE and COMPASS: 7 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Fig. 2. Policy cycle-based analysis used by WaterProtect. • TOPPS–Life project (http://www.topps-life.org) was designed as a The BMPs selected were chosen on the basis of protecting drinking multi stakeholder project to reduce losses of Plant Protection Products water sources from nitrates and/or Plant Protection Products. While (PPP) to water. The project was funded by the EU through the Life pro- some technical measures provide solutions for a wide range of pollution gram and the ECPA (European Crop Protection Association). The pro- problems, such as grass buffer zones or constructed wetlands, others are ject started in November 2005 and ended in October 2008 and the more problem specific, such as phytase supplementation or drift reduc- TOPPS extension program supported by ECPA is still running. In vari- ing nozzles. Non-technical measures focus on changes in behaviour ous TOPPS projects a broad range of information, training materials rather than the use of technology or techniques, such as only spraying and BMP recommendations to reduce PPP losses to water has been when weather and field conditions allow safe PPPs use. Other BMPs re- developed (point sources, spray drift and runoff). Key perspectives quire new or improved technologies or infrastructure, such as the man- are the correct behaviour of operators, improved equipment and in- agement of polluted water derived from cleaning of sprayers. Many of frastructure. these measures are well known across Europe but are not all fully im- • MAGPIE (https://www.setac.org/magpie) is a comprehensive over- plemented. In addition, these measures may simply not be appropriate view of the state of pesticide risk reduction and pesticide risk mitiga- for a given farming system, due to the physical characteristics of the tion in cultivated landscapes. The project gathers results of numerous area and/or the prevailing socio-economics of the farming sector in an detailed discussions that took place over two workshops and 3 years Action Lab. Therefore, the Action Lab leaders did a first assessment of of intensive work and data analysis by 95 experts and regulators the relevance of selected BMPs in the Action Labs, including a discussion from 24 European countries with a common objective: “translating with stakeholders in the field (farmers, farm advisors, government and science into applicable solutions to farmers for a safer use of pesticides non-government officials). This resulted in an extension of the basket of for the environment”. BMP measures from 56 to 77 (S2). These are grouped into seven catego- • Baltic COMPASS project (Comprehensive Policy Actions and Invest- ries of BMPs (Table 3)reflecting the pollutant focus – nitrates and/or ments in Sustainable Solutions in Agriculture in the Baltic Sea Region, PPPs and whether the measures are related to soil management, farm https://balticcompass.org/) was funded by EU through the Baltic Sea operations, or animal husbandry. Region (BSR) Programme 2007–2013 and involved 22 partners from One category of measures focuses on practices in animal husbandry 9 countries in the Baltic Sea Region: Belarus, Denmark, Estonia, and manure management (N1Manure) and contains farm practices such Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Sweden. The project as e.g. reducing the dietary nitrogen and phosphorus intake or adopting aimed at strengthening cooperation between agriculture and environ- phase feeding of livestock. Also, in this category are management prac- ment sectors to answer to the need for a transnational approach to re- tices on the field such as incorporating manure immediately after appli- duce eutrophication of the Baltic Sea. cation on cultivated land. Another category of BMPs & MMs focusing on Table 3 Overview of BMP and MM categories for pollutant control. Type of pollutant Category of BMP and MMs Number Action Lab survey Nitrates & PPPs Soil management & Plant production – runoff mitigation (N&PPP) 16 ES, IT, RO, DK, IE, PO, BE Nitrates Animal production & Manure management (N1Manure) 16 ES, RO, DK, IE, PO Soil management & Plant production (N2Soil) 10 ES, RO, DK, IE, PO PPPs Soil management & Plant production – PPP runoff mitigation (PPP1Soil) 3IT PPP point source prevention (PPP2Point) 15 ES, IT, IE, PO, BE PPP spray drift mitigation (PPP3Drift) 12 ES, IT, IE, PO, BE General precautionary measures (PPP4General) 5 ES, IE, PO, BE PPP1Soil is focused on PPPs and N&PPP is focused on both N & PPPs. 8 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 nitrate is related to soil management plant production practices market. Voluntary measures are not mandatory by law and can in (N2Soil). Included here are e.g. making a nutrient balance on farm some cases be eligible for funding from Rural Development funds (e.g. and/or field level, using treated urea or liming. A specific subgroup of as erosion-control or biodiversity promoting measures). soil management practices is related to mitigating runoff and is equally relevant for nitrates and PPPs (N&PPP). This category contains runoff 2.6. Follow up surveys to identify the barriers to the uptake of BMPs and control measures such as grass buffer zones, crop rotation to preserve MMs in Action Labs organic matter or establishing retention structures. A small category of measures is related to control of diffuse losses specifically for PPPs Follow up work was carried out after the questionnaire surveys, in (PPP1Soil): permanent grassing in the interrow and weeding the row, line with the multi-actor engagement techniques (described in considering alternative systems for pest control. For PPPs, three more Section 2.2), with the specific objective to establish the barriers to the categories are delineated focusing on point source prevention uptake of BMPs and MMs, so as to understand what motivates farmers (PPP2Point, e.g. use a safe filling and cleaning place for the spraying to adopt voluntary measures and what holds them back. An iterative equipment), on spray drift mitigation (PPP3Drift, e.g. use drift reducing process was adopted by the Action Lab leaders (Table 1)from which a nozzles) and general precautionary measures (PPP4General,e.g.ensure check list of possible barriers was established – this was used as a tem- adequate training for sprayer operator). plate to interview the farmers again to understand the underlying bar- riers that influence decision making. The checklist of barriers was 2.5. Questionnaire survey to assess the uptake of BMPs and MMs in Action further organised into the following categories: organisational, legisla- Labs tive, sociological, political and technical. The basket of collaborative tools and results were further used to reflect on how the policy instru- In each of the Action Labs a questionnaire was developed to take to ments could be better used to improve awareness, collaboration and the farmers. The objective of the survey was to gather information in some cases the uptake of BMPS and MMs in the Action Labs in the regarding the uptake of BMPs and MMs within the Action Labs future. (Table 4), and to assess the willingness of farmers to implement addi- tional, innovative measures, depending on costs and benefits. Each Ac- 3. Results tion Lab selected a number of BMPs and MMs from the basket of measures based on the relevance for the area (targeted type of pollut- 3.1. Possible interactions within the intervention logic for water and agri- ant, well established and novel approaches, critical pollutant routes in culture policies the area). This resulted in 7 different questionnaires that started from the same objective but contained different lists of BMPs and MMs. The intervention logic describes the way various elements of a policy The coverage of the survey in the different Action Labs varies but is aim at influencing the target groups towards achieving common objec- considered good: for Bollaertbeek the 49 farmers represent 44% of the tives. The EU policies are developed in an intervention logic that seeks to farmland and 30% of all farmers, with a relatively higher proportion combine various policy instruments and secure synergies to achieve a (56%) of farmers that spray themselves compared to farmers using a multiplier effect on the ground. However, the reality is much more com- contract sprayer. In Wexford, 44% of the farmers responded to the sur- plex in the Action Labs where various specific conditions, administrative vey. In Val Tidone the survey was conducted in two stages with 175 organisation or local culture and ways of working, can facilitate or hin- farmers (38%) taking part in the general survey including BMPs on der such policy interactions. This enabled us to develop an evaluation point pollution (4 BMPs) and 50 farmers (11%) in the second survey in- framework that maps out the potential interactions that exist between cluding BMPs on diffuse pollution (14 BMPs). In Gowienica 60% of the policy implementation instruments (Fig. 3), leading to an assessment farmers took part in the survey covering 93% of the farmland. In Mara of what the intensity and effectiveness of policies are in each Action Lab. River 29% of the farmers responded representing 6.2% of the catchment. In Lower Llobregat River the survey was taken by 24 farmers that are members of a Plant Protection Association (receiving training and ad- 3.2. Integration of the water and agriculture policies in the Action Labs vice) and by 5 farmers that are not. Non-professional farmers could not be reached but the overall response rate was 12%. In Vester Hjerk EU Directives are completed by local state legislation, whereas 7 out of 8 farmers in the capture area were reached (representing 90% European Legislation constitutes the basic pillar of legislation in Mem- of farmland in the capture area) and some additional farmers in the sup- ber States pertaining to e.g. protection of groundwater, buffer zones ply zone. around water bodies, and management of water, it is transposed and The majority of the Action Labs also included obligatory BMPs and implemented by local structures. For instance, the River Basin Manage- MMs in the questionnaire (between 10% of the list in Gowienica up to ment Plans (RBMPs) and Programmes of Measures (PoMs) required by 56% in Lower Llobregat) while two Action Labs only focused on the up- the WFD, are developed and managed by the water authorities and are take of voluntary measures (Val Tidone, Vester Hjerk) (Table 4). Oblig- obviously specific for each basin. atory BMPs and MMs are either mandatory by national law (evaluated High amounts of data regarding water quality are currently routinely in each Action Lab separately) or, in the case of Bollaertbeek, mandatory collected and in the last decades by various institutional actors regard- for certification to be allowed to sell the crop (vegetables) on the ing microbiology and physical-chemical and quality-related parame- ters. However, there are current gaps in data sharing: although legislated parameters are shared among different institutions, the inclu- Table 4 sion of research project results in a common database and open access Overview of the number of farms, number of BMPs &MMs in the survey, and number of BMPs & MMs that are obligatory for each Action Lab. of not regulated parameters is still not implemented. Research data are only available through scientific publications or project reports. Action Lab # Farms # BMPs & MMs surveyed # obligatory The general assessment is that the Rural Development Plans do Lower Llobregat 29 33 19 make use of the information collected in the implementation of the Val Tidone 175 18 0 water related policy instruments. In general, this is done at a higher in- Mara River 40 18 7 tegration level and contextualising the information into the specificob- Vester Hjerk 10 11 0 Wexford 35 32 6 jectives of rural development. Gowienica 72 29 3 The type of data used is not homogenous in the EU, some countries Bollaertbeek 49 30 8 make use of general statistical data, some explore the monitoring data 9 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 Fig. 3. Evaluation Framework: opportunities for interactions and exchange of information between various EU water and agriculture related policy instruments. in detail while others integrate such data with specific assessments and of one quarter of the measures per Action Lab ranges from 22% (Vester evaluations done by recognized national or local organisations. Hjerk) to 88% (Gowienica). This means that in Vester Hjerk 3 out of the When it comes to evaluating the coherence between Rural Develop- 11 voluntary measures were implemented by 2 out of 10 farmers, ment and RBMPs, again, the level of integration varies between coun- whereas in Gowienica 6 out of 26 voluntary measures were imple- tries. However, in general, the two programming instruments seem to mented by 63 out of 72 farmers. Information about the potential uptake be generally correlated. of voluntary measures in the Action Lab ranges from 13% of farmers in National action plans adopted, as required by the Sustainable Use of Gowienica to 90% of farmers in Mara adopting 10% additional selected Pesticides Directive 2009/128/EC (European Parliament and Council, measures. This clearly indicates that the potential uptake of voluntary 2009), include quantitative objectives, targets, measurements and time- measures has to be assessed in the context of the different Action Labs tables to reduce the risks and impacts of pesticide use. Water resources (Fig. 4). and recommendations are made for taking appropriate risk mitigation In each of the Action Labs there is a mix in the number of voluntary measures on the territory to avoid pesticides contamination of water measures, of measures that are well-established, and measures that are resources. not implemented at all. There is a large variation as to what is used Farmers receive information on the standards to be followed within countries. Often reduction of water pollution can be achieved through many channels, mainly from the farmer associations and by changes in the behaviour of operators, which can usually be applied farmer advisory centres. They issue guidelines and management prac- cheaply. Other BMPs require new or improved technologies or infra- tices to make requirements clear and feasible in practice, which is not structure, which is more expensive. Many of these measures are well always possible since the legislation is not always coherent in defini- known in EU countries but were not fully implemented. tions and concepts. Through the expert analysis we can conclude that there is a certain level of complexity for the implementation of the EU legislation at na- tional level, which is often influenced by the political context, adminis- trative or organisational specificities, history or culture of participatory policy making and public consultation. Provisions and national level requirements on water protection are considered to be generally coherent and no contradictions between ob- jectives or measures for their implementation were identified by ex- perts. However, the complexity of the implementation arrangements translates into a difficult communication on the objectives and the re- lated means or measures in place for their achievement. 3.3. The uptake of voluntary BMPs and MMs in Action Labs The number of voluntary measures per Action Lab addressed in the questionnaire survey ranges from 11 (Mara and Vester Hjerk) to 26 Fig. 4. Uptake of voluntary measures by farmers in each Action Lab (light shading 25% measures (Gowienica and Wexford). The percentage uptake by farmers percentile to median, dark shading median to 75% percentile). 10 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 BMPs which are currently implemented and those that were welcome a solution where a common, public cleaning place for cleaning deemed to be implementable mostly are small and simple measures sprayers was provided. Organising these solutions needs facilitation of that do not require big investments or big adaptations in the farming dedicated institutions and/or a leader with good communication skills, system and/or offer clear benefits to farmers; examples of these are as making a consensus among farmers themselves to work together keeping soil cover in autumn and winter (high uptake in Wexford, has also been identified as a potential barrier. Some cases (Val Tidone, Bollaertbeek, Gowienica and Mara River) or not spraying non-target Bollaertbeek) highlighted that farmers showed to be open for coopera- areas (high uptake in Val Tidone, Gowienica, Wexford (mandatory) tion and expressed their interest in obtaining more information about and Bollaertbeek). Increase in productivity is a strong incentive for specific BMPs or how to mitigate defined problems. In another Action farmers to implement BMPs (e.g. crop rotation to preserve soil organic Lab (Gowienica) farmers admitted to participating in many trainings re- matter) while environmental aspects such as need for minimization of lated to BMPs, however these were “too theoretical” and hence were the risk of drift of PPPs or nutrient losses to the environment are poorly not effective since they did not sufficiently contribute to understanding recognized by farmers in some cases, depending on the awareness of the problem. the water quality issues. Knowledge on and perception of effectiveness and usefulness of dif- 3.4. Barriers to the uptake of BMPs in Action Labs ferent BMPs varies between countries. For example, results of the sur- vey in Wexford suggest poor performance of constructed wetlands The follow up survey after the formal questionnaire to determine the and therefore low potential for implementation of this measure. In con- rate of uptake of and potential interest in voluntary BMPs and MMs re- trast to that, in Vester Hjerk landscape level BMPs such as constructed vealed that there are a wide range of barriers that can be categorised wetlands, set aside and afforestation seem to have a relatively high po- under: organisational, legislative, sociological, political and technical tential. Larger and more expensive measures are more difficult to imple- (Table 5), which are fully described in S3 based on accompanying field ment; nonetheless measures perceived as being immediately beneficial notes. for farmers (i.e. giving long term financial benefits) have relatively high The barriers that occur in three or more of the Action Labs provide potential for implementation. For example, the use of GPS technology in guidance in terms of commonality and provide policy makers the re- farming shows high potential for implementation in Wexford, quired focus on the issues that are troubling farmers. The barrier that Gowienica and Vester Hjerk. was most commonly pointed out (by 6 out of 7 participating Action Other measures recognized as effective but not giving direct benefits Labs) was too complex organisational set up of institutions responsible to farmers, e.g. anti-hail nets are not considered interesting or applica- for implementation and execution of water management policies. This ble, mainly due to the excessive costs. For these measures, financial in- was highlighted by Poland, Italy, Spain, Romania, Ireland and Belgium. centives would be necessary to increase their implementation. The general conclusion is that there are too many institutions involved Implementation of measures that require land area, such as for example in water management at national and regional/local levels, which causes vegetated buffer strips at the edge of a field or within a field, are not wel- roles and responsibilities to be unclear and sometimes overlapping. Many comed by farmers due to loss of land for agricultural production. How- countries noted a definite dispersion of competences and a large variabil- ever, farmers in Gowienica indicated that they would be in favor of ity in the stakeholders' perception of the water governance structure and them if given land tax exemptions for these areas and/or state/com- the stakeholders' roles. This confuses farmers and discourages them to mune support in preventing weed infestations. contact specific authorities and inhibits uptake of measures. In some cases (Vester Hjerk, Bollaertbeek, Gowienica) there is a pos- Little cooperation between stakeholders at local level was pointed out itive approach to collaborative solutions, where more farmers and by 5 of out 7 action labs (Poland, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Romania) as an- stakeholders are involved. For example, farmers indicated they would other important factor hindering the effectiveness of measures. By lack of Table 5 Key barriers that prevent the uptake of BMPs in the seven Action Labs. Barriers No. of Action Labs Type scale occurrences (countries) Too complex organisational set up of institutions responsible for implementation and execution of water 6 BE, IE, RO, Organisational National/local management policies ES, IT, PO Little cooperation between stakeholders and lack of communication and exchange of information 5 PL,IT, ES, RO, Organisational Local BE Regulations from different policy areas, such as groundwater, surface water, drinking water, agriculture and 4 PL, IT, BE, Legislative National nature conservation are poorly coordinated DK Low awareness of farmers regarding impacts they may cause on the environment 4 PL, IT, RO, BE Sociological Local Inefficient control mechanisms (lack of actions towards non-compliance) 3 PL, RO, BE Legislative National Standards and recommendations from applicable law and action programs are not fully adapted to the occurring 3 PL, ES, IE Legislative National climate changes Systems of support incentives for BMPs are too little 3 PL, RO, BE Legislative National Too little financial support for implementation of more advanced measures that are expensive 3 IT, ES, IE Legislative National Too much bureaucracy 3 PL, IT, BE Legislative National Lack of knowledge transfer from science to policy 3 PL, ES, BE organisational National/local Lack of long-term vision for environmental protection 3 PL, ES, BE Political National Time is needed for stakeholders to adapt to changes 3 IT, ES, IE Sociological National Lack of interest in participation in the process of law creation 3 PL, ES, RO Sociological National/local Multiplicity of regulations, which are often unclear 2 IT, ES Legislative National Regulations are not adequate for the scale of the problem 2 IT, DK Legislative National/local Very centralized authorities impacting on the access to information, data and cooperation 2 PL, RO Organisational National Underfunding of institutions from the water management, environmental protection sector, and agriculture 2 PL, ES Political Local departments makes the implementation of necessary improvements difficult Small impact of consumers on agricultural production 2 PL, ES Sociological Local Inadequate data to establishment link between agricultural activities and quality of water 2 IE, DK Technical Local High costs of monitoring 2 ES, IE Technical Local Tools used for planning are based on models that allow for no or very little differentiation of the area 2 ES, IE Technical Local 11 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 cooperation it is understood that there is not only little integrated effort in In Italy, Spain and Ireland farmers noted that time is needed for stake- defining and implementing measures (which relates to point 2), but also holders to adapt to changes. This regards not only logistical issues such as a lack of communication and exchange of information. This further im- time needed for utilization of older products that have been made plies that the voices of some stakeholders are not heard by others and prohibited but may still be stored by farmers, but also mental ability of that actions taken by the government officials favor specificgroups of people to adapt to changes such as the implementation of new measures. stakeholders. This was highlighted by farmers during multiple workshop In Poland, Spain and Ireland farmers think that standards and rec- meetings in Poland, Belgium, Italy, Romania and Spain. ommendations from applicable law and action programs are not fully Regulations from different policy areas, such as groundwater, sur- adapted to climate changes (e.g. mild winters and earlier start of the face water, drinking water, agriculture and nature conservation are growing season, and periods of allowed fertilization). poorly coordinated. This was indicated by 4 Action Labs: Poland, Italy, Farmers in Poland, Romania and Belgium advocated that systems of Belgium and Denmark. Regulations developed by different governmen- support incentives for best practices in relation to water management as tal departments are only focused on their own interests. This creates sit- well as for agro-ecological approaches are too little. In Poland, there are uations where finding practical solutions at a local level is very difficult, premises that cultivation on a particular land is more beneficial than ap- as requirements of one regulation often contradict requirements of the plying new voluntary BMPs and receiving subsides for that action. This other. On the other hand, the implementation of one measure can often is especially visible in areas with rich soils that can be cultivated inten- fulfill requirements of more than one regulation and this could signifi- sively with profitable results. As a result, little interest is given for new cantly boost their effectiveness, reduce costs and allow for more mea- more environmentally friendly initiatives on a voluntary basis. sures to be introduced. This requires good coordination and an In Italy, Spain and Ireland farmers highlighted that there is too little integrated water management at local levels. financial support for implementation of more advanced measures that In addition, low awareness of farmers regarding impacts they may are expensive. These measures can be attractive to implement but cause on the environment has also been identified as an important bar- their cost and complexity can hinder straightforward implementation. rier, noted by 4 out of 7 action labs (Poland, Italy, Romania, Belgium). Too much bureaucracy is a common complaint expressed by the The field assessments revealed that farmers in general still have a prob- farmers. Filling of paperwork required from farmers causes additional lem with linking how their everyday activities may affect the environ- costs and confusion (Poland, Italy and Spain). ment. It has been noted that the economic sustainability of the activity Three countries, namely, Italy, Poland and Ireland noted the lack of prevails over environmental sustainability. The family economy and knowledge transfer from science to policy. Policy and science are not personal goals influence the transition to sustainable agriculture. None- commonly integrated causing knowledge gaps where decisions are theless, this links closely to the problem of little transparency of envi- made. Important research findings are not efficiently disseminated to ronmental monitoring programmes which do not inform farmers the right stakeholders or are not acknowledged enough in order to sup- about their findings. Farmers are not aware about water quality results port decisions on the right measure, in the right places and at the right from national/regional water monitoring campaigns in their areas and time. For example, the Action Lab studied in Poland has a very long- as such are not aware of impacts they make. lasting history of research, yet their findings have not led to changes Another common barrier highlighted by 3 out of 7 action labs in local policies and regulations. (Poland, Italy and Belgium) was the multiplicity of regulations, which Lack of interest in participation in the process of law creation. Polish, often are unclear. Farmers need to be aware of multiple regulations Spanish and Romanian partners informed that consultation (in general, regarding nitrates, ammonia, PPP, erosion control, etc. some of which and specifically with respect to water management) is still a process are very long and complex. This causes regulations to be difficult to that needs to be learnt and few people are interested to participate in the consultation, mainly specialized NGO's or directly interested stake- apply and to control in practice not only by farmers, but also by civil servants. holders. Farmers have little confidence that their opinions will be incor- Three out of seven action labs (Poland, Romania and Belgium) porated, so they have little motivation to participate. indicated inefficient control mechanisms to be factors inhibiting imple- mentation of measures. There are two aspects in here to be considered. 4. Discussion First of all, lack of actions taken towards those that do not fulfill legal requirements makes farmers to feel above the law and do not motivate As a team we set out a methodology of multi-actor engagement that them to take actions. Another aspect that has been highlighted by started at the same point but needed to be adapted to the local context, farmers themselves is that the lack of control and actions towards meaning that the execution of the approach was different. The strength those who break the law discourages farmers that take actions and do of this method meant that the individual teams in the Action Labs could things according to legal protocols. An additional problem highlighted ensure that farmers and other actors were properly engaged in a mean- by farmers in Poland is that the level of environmental fines is too low ingful and relevant way, with a consistent policy and field assessment for large scale farmers to respect. Farmers often admitted themselves framework. The weakness was that standard statistical comparisons that breaking laws and paying fines was more worthwhile to their busi- concerning the uptake of BMPs and MMs to protect drinking water ness than taking up mitigation measures required by law. sources from nitrates and PPPs cannot be inferred. We therefore discuss Farmers in Poland, Spain and Belgium pointed out that the lack of our results in a qualitative manner to guide our recommendations and long-term vision for environmental protection with respect to water conclusions. We look to match the level of awareness that farmers and agriculture is an important problem. This relates to frequent expressed about water quality issues at the start of the process changes in regulations and lack of continuity in approaches taken. The (Table 2) to the uptake rates of BMPs and MMs observed at the Action environment needs time to respond to changes that have been intro- Lab level (Fig. 4). This is further discussed in light of the barriers to tak- duced. Belgium highlighted that regulations change too often and be- ing up measures identified during the follow-up surveys (Table 5), ac- come stricter and stricter every few years. Farmers, who already counting at the same time for the policy evaluation framework that implement measures and try to do their best are often ‘penalised’ identifies potential interactions between policy instruments (Fig. 3). when stricter rules are imposed. As a result, farmers lose their faith in legislations; they become suspicious and refuse to implement measures 4.1. Action Labs that focussed mainly on PPPs (Bollaertbeek – Belgium, Val on a voluntary basis. In the Water Protect workshops, farmers asked for Tidone – Italy, Wexford – Ireland, and Lower Llobregat - Spain) a clear and long-term vision from the government. The typical 4-years duration of governments does not allow to advance in questions that re- At Bollaertbeek (Belgium) there was a mixed level of awareness quire more time for its implementation. about the potential impact of spraying PPPs – with contract sprayers 12 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 being in general more aware than farmers. In Wexford (Ireland) on the the other typical barriers to the uptake of BMPs and MMs in all Action other hand there was in general a good awareness that the PPP MCPA (a Labs were the complex and poorly coordinated legislation and actions 2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid - a herbicide) is a potential prob- from the different government agencies, the lack of specialized person- lem for drinking water supplies further down the catchment, although nel to provide professional guidance on measures, and the perception there was inadequate knowledge about the pollutant transfer path- that there were insufficient control mechanisms for compliance. In ways. At the Lower Llobregat (Spain) basically all stakeholders, includ- Gowienica and Mara – formerly eastern bloc countries – the farmers ing farmers and citizens, were aware of the general bad quality of the found the approach of authorities too centralized with a lack of informa- water, but due to the complexity of the area it is difficult to know tion. In Vester Hjerk the hydrogeology is very complicated so that it was which activities are the most polluting. On the whole farmers believe questionable whether there is a direct link between surface measures that agriculture is not the main source of pollution. In Val Tidone carried out by farmers and the impact on groundwater water quality. (Italy) there was also very little awareness from the farmers that PPPs might have a deleterious effect on the local groundwater. Participatory 4.3. All Action Labs monitoring in all Action Labs was therefore essential to show farmers and other stakeholders that pollution from agriculture was indeed an In terms of using the policy evaluation framework that identifies in- issue. In terms of the rate of uptake of voluntary measures to reduce teractions between policy instruments it is clear that policy instruments the impact of PPPs one quarter of the 22 voluntary measures were al- have to begin to address the organisational, legislative, sociological and ready being implemented by 78% of the farmers surveyed in technical barriers to the uptake of BMPS and MMs. At the farmer level Bollaertbeek with 34% of the farmers are considering additional selected the most important barrier after low awareness is that the process for measures in the future This was very similar to the situation in Wexford them to take up BMPs and MMs is too complex and uncoordinated. where a quarter of the 26 voluntary measures were already being im- This calls for legislation and regulations from both the ministries (or de- plemented by 73% of the farmers surveyed, with 26% of the surveyed partments) of agriculture and environment to be simplified and inte- farmers considering to implement additional selected measures in the grated. Clear and unambiguous messages on production standards and future as well. This rate is slightly lower at the Lower Llobregat Action requirements is needed. The measures should also be selected in an Lab where a quarter of the 14 voluntary measures were already being open and constructive dialogue, which take into account aspirations implemented by 66% of the farmers surveyed but up to 63% of the sur- but also limitations and difficulties of the different actors. Furthermore, veyed farmers considering implementing additional selected measures. the measures should be feasible in practice and if the measure involves Even though the general level awareness of water quality issues in Val extra costs without any return on investment for the farmer, it is clear Tidone was low already 52% of the farmers were implementing a quar- that improved financial incentives need to be provided. With limited ter of the voluntary measures, although 25% of the surveyed farmers public finances it is therefore necessary that cooperation and synergies considering implementing additional selected measures in the future. between the various institutional actors funding measures to be In addition to low awareness the other typical barriers to the uptake improved. of BMPs and MMs in all Action Labs were complaints about the com- While the purpose and technical aspects are usually quite clear and plexity of the legislation and follow-up, including the inherent bureau- straight forward, the desired transition towards a ‘new normal’,includ- cracy involved. In addition, farmers in Bollaertbeek also found that some ing standardization and education of Best Management Practices is al- of the mitigation measures, such as buffer zones, were technically con- most never completed towards satisfying and long-lasting levels. fusing and difficult to implement, whereas on the other hand they are Matters of organisational, financial or cultural origins, which are inevita- looking for measures that could reduce spray drift better. It was felt ble occurrences of life seem to keep us away from what is sensible to do. that there were also not enough control mechanisms to deal with The long value chains that we have built for our food production dilute non-compliant farmers, which was a complaint. In addition, farmers in both the impact and responsibility which the involved people these Action Labs indicated that there was insufficient financial support experience. now to encourage them to step into the voluntary measures requiring There is however, a huge common success factor: bottom up societal major investments. The farmers in Val Tidone also found that some of support. This creates peer pressure to continue performing, when times the measures being promoted were not even suitable for their particular are getting tough. Sometimes, extreme events like water quality issues, landscape and setting. drought, heavy rain, Covid-19, trigger the justification of rapid imple- mentation of BMPs, and addressing the barriers for uptake is an impor- 4.2. Action Labs that focussed mainly on nitrates (Gowienica - Poland, Mara tant outcome of WaterProtect. This can go very fast, whereas the usual - Romania and Vester Hjerk - Denmark) uptake is often a long and difficult process. A conclusion is that the building of societal acceptance, the communication of issues and solu- At Gowienica (Poland), even though the environmental agency has tions before the start, are the crucial success factors for a multi-actor, been operating a nitrate vulnerable zone for more than 12 years, the participatory approach to improve farm management practices and farmers in the area had very little awareness that nitrates are polluting protect our drinking water sources. the surface and ground waters. In Mara (Romania) this lack of aware- ness was also apparent. In Vester Hjerk (Denmark) the assumption 5. Conclusions from the farmers was that if there was a problem in the drinking water supply this would be dealt with by the local water utility com- The EU policy architecture that governs the water and agriculture pany. In terms of the percentage of farmers taking up voluntary mea- areas is complex, partially due to the historical evolution of the two sures, a quarter of the 26 voluntary measures were already being EU policy areas, but also partially due to the complexity of the chal- implemented by 88% of the farmers surveyed in Gowienica with 13% lenges these need to address. Coherence of water and agriculture poli- of the surveyed farmers considering implementing additional selected cies at EU level is recognized as an area where improvement is measures. This contrasts greatly with Vester Hjerk where only 24% of needed. Several actions have been taken at political and technical farmers were taking up one quarters of the 11 voluntary measures level, but there are also further opportunities for improvement. We with 30% of the surveyed farmers considering implementing additional have first taken the step to assess the situation by embarking on a selected measures. Meanwhile in Mara one quarter of the 11 voluntary multi-actor engagement strategy in the seven Action Labs. From this as- measures were already being implemented by 64% of the farmers sur- sessment we can conclude that the general awareness of farmers about veyed, but almost 90% of the farmers were considering implementing the potential pollution problems caused to drinking water sources by additional selected measures in the future. In addition to low awareness the applications of nitrates and PPPs is low. Despite this low awareness 13 P. Campling, I. Joris, M. Calliera et al. Science of the Total Environment 755 (2021) 142971 between 24% to 88% of the surveyed farmers per Action Lab were al- CRediT authorship contribution statement ready voluntarily adopting one quarter of the selected BMPs and MMs. Information about the potential uptake of voluntary measures in the Ac- Paul Campling: Writing - original draft, Conceptualization, Method- tion Lab ranges from 13% to 90% of the farmers being willing to adopt ology, Writing - review & editing, Project administration, Funding acqui- additional selected measures. The follow up surveys provided us a bet- sition. Ingeborg Joris: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, ter understanding of what is preventing farmers from taking the step to Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Project administra- incorporate voluntary BMPs and MMs in their farm management. tion, Funding acquisition, Formal analysis, Visualization. Maura Calliera: Therefore, we can conclude that the next steps are to address the com- Writing - original draft, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, plexity of the process (administrative and technical), the lack of coordi- Validation, Writing - review & editing. Ettore Capri: Conceptualization, nation between the different institutional bodies promoting measures, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Supervision, and the financial incentives needed to invest and operate these often- Funding acquisition. Alexandru Marchis: Writing - original draft, Data costly measures will increase the likelihood of more farmers taking up curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review BMPs and MMs. & editing, Visualization. Anna Kuczyńska: Investigation, Data curation, With these points in mind and using the analysis on the coherence of Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, water and agricultural policies and cross-referencing those with the Funding acquisition. Tom Vereijken: Conceptualization, Methodology. implementation realities, we can make the following policy Zuzanna Majewska: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, recommendations: Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Els Belmans: In- vestigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, 1. The EU should exploit the cycles of policy revisions to better integrate Writing - review & editing. Lieve Borremans: Investigation, Data objectives and create mechanisms and structures of coordination. curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review 2. The strategic planning foreseen in the new implementation arrange- & editing. Elien Dupon: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, ments of the CAP after 2021 needs to be fully exploited to ensure co- Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Ellen Pauwelyn: herence of objectives for water management and agriculture at Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Valida- national level, given that the new policy implementation arrange- tion, Writing - review & editing. Per-Erik Mellander: Investigation, ments give more flexibility to EU Member States in deciding agricul- Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- tural policy priorities, and to allocate much needed resources for view & editing, Funding acquisition. Christopher Fennell: Investigation, farmers to make a positive contribution to sustainable water Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- management. view & editing. Owen Fenton: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptual- 3. Member States should strive to streamline the implementation ization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Edward structures and procedures based on sound governance concepts Burgess: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, that ensure the involvement of all concerned stakeholders in sustain- Validation, Writing - review & editing. Alexandra Puscas: Investigation, able management of water resources & agriculture. Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- 4. Future policy implementation approaches should state the need for view & editing. Elena Isla Gil: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptuali- further exchange of information and data between the various pro- zation, Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Miren grammatic and enforcement instruments and structures. Results of Lopez de Alda: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Method- controls over agricultural activities will have to influence priorities ology, Validation, Writing - review & editing, Funding acquisition. in water management and, equally, information on water quality Gemma Francès Tudel: Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, and quantity issues, should be better transferred to the farmers. Methodology, Validation, Writing - review & editing. Erling Andersen: 5. Promoting multi-actor, participatory water governance models are Investigation, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Valida- recommended due to their capacity to: easily transfer information tion, Writing - review & editing. Anker Lajer Højber: Investigation, on the water management challenges, collaborative development Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing - re- of solutions, capacity to address local specificities and limitations view & editing, Funding acquisition. Marzena Nowakowska: Investiga- and can create synergies with other action areas. tion, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, Writing 6. Proactive provision of information on the challenges in water quality - review & editing. Nicoleta Suciu: Writing - original draft, Investigation, and their potential cause are essential to ensure awareness at farm Resources, Data curation, Conceptualization, Methodology, Validation, level and understanding of the positive contribution farmers can Writing - review & editing. make. Currently, information is often unclear, scattered or not easily accessible. In many cases farmers rely on informal channels (farmer Declaration of competing interest associations, media, extension consultants, etc) to obtain such information. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial 7. The positive contribution to sustainable water management of agri- interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influ- culture, including through implementing BMPs and MMs should be ence the work reported in this paper. evaluated, recognized and communicated. A set of indicators that highlight the contribution agriculture has into water management Acknowledgements (able to capture positive and/or negative trends) will help with farmers' involvement of and will stimulate ownership of the process. This research is part of the WaterProtect project and has received 8. Perception on costs vs. benefits of implementation of various BMPs funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innova- or MMs have an important impact on the willingness of farmers to tion Program under grant agreement No. 727450. The authors and the implement them. Hence, direct information, know-how and as well entire WaterProtect team would like to thank all the actors across the as support for actual investments needed for implementation of seven Action Labs for their commitment and enthusiasm for engaging will play a key role in the future uptake of such measures by farmers. with the WaterProtect project. Finally, on the basis of the approach to improve awareness, collabo- ration and in some cases the uptake of BMPs and MMs in the Action Labs Appendix A. 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The Science of the Total EnvironmentPubmed Central

Published: Oct 17, 2020

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