Main authors: Janja Rudolf, Jane Brandt, Gerard Velthof, Mart Ros, Peter Schipper, Yanjiao Mi-Gegotek, Erik van den Berg, Jan-Peter Lesschen
FAIRWAYiS Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: »Rudolf, J. et al. (2021) Recommendations of the most promising package(s) of measures, policies, governance models and tools at national and EU level. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 7.3 76 pp


In this section of FARIWAYiS we provide recommendations of the most promising package(s) of measures, policies, governance models and tools at national and EU level using the results of the FARIWAY research programme and assessments with integrated assessment tools at national and EU level, such as MITERRA-EUROPE and GeoPEARL.

Based on the key messages presented in »Deriving FAIRWAY's key messages, »Appendix 1 in the full report and the assessments on EU and National scale, the following main recommendations of the FAIRWAY project are derived.

Multi-actor platforms

  • Engagement processes in multi-actor platforms require long-term investments in terms of time, resources, and facilitation. This realization should be acknowledged by project partners and funders, as well as participants, to enable management of expectations and contribution of all parties, and to avoid fatigue in the engagement processes.

Water safety plans

  • During all phases of Water Safety Planning, engagement of stakeholders in the development of the methodology and content is essential. Establishing cooperation between large and small suppliers contributes to overcoming barriers for effective risk assessment and management for small suppliers.

Indicators and monitoring

  • Water and nitrate transfer through geological material is not instantaneous. There is a lag time between agricultural nitrogen leaching from the fields and its impact on water quality in aquifers. This time lag should be taken into account when developing drinking water projection strategies.
  • Nitrogen surplus at the farm or regional level is a useful agri-environmental indicator. However, different calculation methods are used between countries. There is a need for harmonization of the calculation method (e.g. the Eurostat gross balance methodology) and of the use of such a common approach at the European level.
  • For monitoring groundwater quality, detecting pollution sources and evaluating mitigation measures it is necessary to rely on a consistent database, which enables scientists to link pollution and mitigation measures to water quality. A lot of data with relevant indicators is available on different spatial and temporal scales, but they are seldom presented in consistent databases with similar set-up. There is a need to harmonize databases in the EU member states and ease the transmission of data to compare Pressure and State indicators. There is also a need to harmonise the methods for analysing all relevant substances and to ease collection of direct or indirect data. There is also a need to solve or at least improve personal data protection related constraints.


  • Implementation of measures to reduce nitrate losses should not only consider the effectiveness, and costs, but also the likelihood of (unwanted) side-effects such as pollution swapping to emissions of ammonia, nitrous oxide and phosphate.
  • For measures to reduce nitrate losses, there is a discrepancy between the type of field- or trial-based measures tested and reported in literature and real-world farm-level management options that are used or reported in the case studies. Developing strategies to mitigate nitrate leaching should not be solely based on results in literature, but should also take successful experiences in practice into account.
  • Reduction of pesticide pollution of drinking water resources demands a combination of input reduction, farm system redesign and point source mitigation.
  • Results of the assessments of most promising nitrate measures using MITERRA-EUROPE show that balanced N fertilization in which the N application is tuned to the N demand of the crop strongly decrease nitrate leaching, and also reduces the emissions of N2O and NH3. Farmers can use decision support tools, the N surplus indicator, soil and plant analyses, and precision farming techniques to apply N balance fertilization practices.
  • Cover crops reduce nitrate leaching; the effect is largest when the growth of a cover crop is combined with balanced N fertilization, so that the N fertilizer application rate can be adjusted to the N released after incorporation of the crop into the soil.
  • Results of calculations with GeoPEARL show that decreasing the input of pesticides, splitting the total application quantity over more application times (more dressings), alteration of pesticides with less harmful products and application of mechanical methods reduce leaching to groundwater and thus protect drinking water resources to a large extent.
  • There are potential synergies for evidence-based practices for reducing nitrate and pesticide pollution of drinking water resources, regarding their applicability, adoptability, and costs across EU. Potential win-win solutions for all stakeholders are shown for bio beds/filters and/or constructed wetland for pesticide pollution, and changes in the application method, grassed waterways and/or changes in cropping system and crop rotation for nitrate pollution.

Decision support tools

  • Decision support tools are helpful in advising farmers about best practices in the application of fertilizers and pesticides. Successful tools are simple and self-explanatory, flexible in data input and output, and should be freely available online in the local language and with a possibility to get support.
  • Many farm management tools promoting smart nutrient and/or pesticide use are available, but only a few explicitly consider the impact of mitigation methods on water quality. There is a need to include measures and indicators in these tools to reduce pollution of water with nitrogen and pesticides.


  • Good drinking water quality delivery requires sufficient capacity at the local level to ensure that implementation of policies and law results in effective local action. This includes feedback mechanisms and intersectoral learning.
  • Improving correlations between directives, policies, objectives and requirements, including cross-referencing them, will strengthen the overall policy framework towards protection of drinking water resources from agricultural pressures.
  • In the context of water resource protection, local adaptation and result-based schemes directed at the implementation of clear objectives have better environmental impacts and higher cost-effectiveness than uniform payments and greening schemes in CAP.

Scientific policy support

  • Project clustering with stakeholder involvement (science, policy, stakeholders, and citizens) is a strategy to make science and research more connected to current policy challenges and stakeholder needs with the aim of establishing sustainable long-term relationships and communication flows.



For full references to papers quoted in this article see » References

Download the full report for Appendix 1

Go To Top