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.
Did you know?
The fertile lowlands along the middle and lower reaches of the Danube rank among the most important agricultural regions in Europe.
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
- Aadequate 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
In 2004 the ICPDR issued an additional recommendation of Best Available Techniques at agro-industrial units.
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