Two main issues have a high impact in the agricultural food production: the lack of water resources in some European countries and pollution with pesticides. The use of pesticides for pest control is a common practice. However, the usage patterns of water among European countries differ, e.g. Scandinavian countries rely on natural precipitation while many South European countries are facing difficulties in meeting the water demand of crops. In some European countries the use of treated wastewater has been implemented for irrigation when natural freshwater sources are scarce. By means of specific regional water management practices, there is an introduction of different organic pollutants to the soil crops. Accordingly, the AWARE project aims to investigate the fate and potential reduction of pesticides and wastewater-borne contaminants in soil/plants from agricultural crops. Moreover, in the AWARE project we will evaluate environmental risks in agricultural fields due to the use of pesticides and the irrigation practices involving reused wastewater. Both pollution sources may have some inherent risks associated to food production. These goals will be addressed by: i) assessing the microbial degradation of pharmaceuticals in the rhizosphere-dynamic of antibiotic resistance genes as well as by studying the kinetics, metabolism, and fate including formation/sorption of non-extractable residues (NER) (OECD 307, 308) of selected pesticides (NIBIO, UFZ, UM), ii) examining uptake and metabolism of selected contaminants in batch reactor grown plants under two scenarios using either spiked wastewater (worst-case scenario) or real wastewater (CSIC, HMGU); iii) estimating the ecotoxicological impact of targeted contaminants on soil microbial diversity and functions (INRA); iv) evaluating the effects of wastewater reuse in soil and plants on soil-dwelling earthworms, for their involvement in chemical degradation and for the role of earthworm (carboxyl)esterases as biomarkers of pharmaceutical and pesticide exposures (CSIC), v) investigating the effect of riparian zone and advanced designed wetlands to prevent runoff of high-mobile pesticides (NIBIO, UFZ), and vi) assessing at real scale the risks of using wastewater for irrigating crops (UM, HMGU). These challenges and objectives will be addressed through a multidisciplinary pan-european team including experts in environmental chemistry, analytical chemistry, plant physiology, toxicology, risk assessment, remediation and environmental technology processes. Therefore, the added-value of the partnership is related to the different expertise involved and the perfect combination between Universities and Research Institutions. Especially, the AWARE team members have a track record of working with local stakeholders informing them about novel developments. Finally, our training and knowledge exchange activities with farmers, growers, and agronomists, which will build the capacity of these groups to apply novel irrigation strategies more effectively.
Homepage at Water JPI: http://www.waterjpi.eu/joint-calls/joint-call-2016-waterworks-2015/aware