Agriculture has long been a major source of income for many people living in the Danube River Basin. But today agriculture is also a major source of pollutants including fertilisers and pesticides, as well as effluent from huge pig farms and agro-industrial units. Animal breeding and manuare disposal are important agricultural point sources of agriculture pollution.
Inappropriate agricultural practices in some areas have polluted rivers and groundwater, and led to soil erosion. Many wetlands have been converted into farmland, drained, contaminated or otherwise degraded. Fertile topsoils have also been eroded in many agricultural regions. These changes have affected the structure and biodiversity of ecosystems. Unsustainable agricultural practices also reduce the standard of living for farmers and rural communities in the long term.
The modernisation and intensification of agriculture in the new EU countries is expected to bring about an increase in the loads of agricultural pollutants affecting the Danube and the Back Sea.
The agricultural water protection measures, as set out in the Joint Action Programme (JAP) as well as in the draft Danube River Basin Managment Plan address both point and diffuse sources of pollution.
To combat agricultural pollution, the ICPDR compiled an inventory of all relevant point discharges of agriculture, designed to serve as a tool for decision-makers and the local environmental and agricultural authorities to control pollution and improve water quality in the Danube.
ICPDR recommendations on best agro-industrial techniques address the following issues:
- Development and implementation of good agricultural practice
- Adequate use of pesticides and fertilisers
- Proper storage and handling of manure
- Proper treatment of wastewater discharges from farms
- Reductions in run-off and erosion
- Promotion of organic farming
- Proper operation of irrigation and drainage systems
- Suitable restoration, management and conservation of wetlands
The ICPDR has issued an additional recommendation of Best Available Techniques at agro-industrial units that you can download below.
- Recommendations: BAT for Agriculture (36.46 KB)
The Joint Action Programme of the ICPDR outlined the specific steps that were agreed to be taken over the period 2001-2005 to achieve the environmental objectives outlined in the Danube River Protection Convention including many large-scale measures to reduce water pollution, to promote nature conservation, to restore ecosystems, and to safeguard the long-term sustainable management of the environment.
The UNDP/GEF Danube Regional Project was launched to reinforce regional cooperation of the Danube countries. It supported the development of national policies and legislation and the definition of priority actions for pollution control. This all to ensure a common approach to the protection of international waters, sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity.
daNUbs was a mulitnational EU research project carried out under the leadership of the Technical University of Vienna. The results from this project include estimates of nutrient inputs into the river network (MONERIS), as well as an assessment of the loads of nitrogen, phosphorus and silica transported via the river network. These results indicate that the nutrient status in the Black Sea has significantly improved since the 1980s.
The MONERIS model calculates the emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus to the surface water, by different pathways as well as the instream retention in the surface water network Through MONERIS the nutrient loads within the Danube river network has been calculated for today and a scenario has been developed for 2015.