Farmers measure water – Netherlands

This project combined state-of-the-art sensoring techniques and models with a participatory monitoring process with farmers and water authorities to create a common understanding of the main local challenges and possible solutions to enhance water quality. In addition, the process empowered individual farmers to become equal partners with water authorities as they gained knowledge and access to data. Problems with water management differ between regions, but the process of jointly collecting, learning from and acting on data can be applied across regions.

Project summary: 

Water-management in coastal areas has become increasingly complex due to the effects of climate change and land subsidence. Challenges require measures optimised to local conditions and a close cooperation between stakeholders. 
In this project, sensor techniques were used by farmers and governmental bodies such as Dutch water authorities in a process of participatory monitoring. Within pilot-groups, data was shared via a live dashboard and considered in regular meetings, to enable joint learning about the local system’s functioning. Joint dialogue has given a foundation for effective solutions across a broad support base.

Project results: 

The project resulted in an average of 15 farmers per pilot region who gathered data on salinity and/or groundwater-levels with the developed sensor techniques. 
In total more than 80 farmers gained insight as to the salinisation status of their fields, by measurements of Electrical Conductivity (EC) with the AquaPin at different depth. Based on these measurements the urgency for measures on individual fields could be understood.
Over 100 farmers measured salinisation of surface waters in different branches of the water-system, resulting in more than 20,000 measurements. From these measurements, spatial and temporal patterns could be gathered. Such data give insight into possible optimisations of fresh water flushing of the water system.
Over 50 farmers measured hourly groundwater levels with the AquaPin. Previously, insight into temporal changes of groundwater levels was rarely available to farmers, but a lot of useful information can be gathered from such regular measurements. For example, how quickly levels react to rainfall and drought, or, in the case of the farmers in the peatland pilot, to what extent surface water levels affect groundwater levels within a field.