The thematic issue "Groundwater and Agriculture" in the journal Grundwasser is planned for early 2023.
Groundwater is not only a drinking water resource, but also an essential basis of valuable aquatic ecosystems in rivers, lakes and wetlands. However, the pollution of groundwater by agricultural activities has been a major problem for sustainable water management for decades. To date, the main focus has been on large-scale water quality pollution from pollutant inputs, but projected increased water demands for irrigated agriculture also pose challenges to the availability of groundwater resources.
Nitrate and pesticide residues in particular can affect groundwater quality. Here, among other factors, livestock numbers and the resulting amount of manure play a significant role in the level and spatial distribution of nitrogen inputs. In this context, monocultures in agriculture must also be critically evaluated, as they are associated with increased fertilizer requirements and plant protection products (PPP) applications. In addition, heavy metals from fertilizers, critical organic substances, residues of veterinary drugs and microplastics from e.g. sewage sludge can endanger groundwater quality. In recent years, important scientific findings have been made on the interplay between agriculture and groundwater, but it is apparent that translating these into specific measures often proves difficult and lengthy. Because groundwater resources are slow to renew and can have long residence times, proactive measures are needed to protect and conserve groundwater resources, especially in the face of changing boundary conditions. In the wake of climate change and the threat of longer periods of drought, it is foreseeable that agriculture will make greater use of groundwater resources for the irrigation of agricultural land in the future. Energy crops could also increasingly compete with food production. This raises questions about the sustainability of agriculture and water use conflicts. Changing water flows in soil and groundwater due to climate change and irrigation also suggest feedbacks with water quality. In particular, effects of droughts and extreme precipitation events on nutrient and pollutant transport and retention are not fully understood.
This thematic issue is intended to address the breadth and complexity of the problems of agriculture, groundwater quality and quantity, offer approaches to solutions, and provide space for perspectives from the scientific community, policy makers, as well as challenges from practitioners. In this regard, contributions on the current state of research as well as practical implementation are welcome. We also encourage submissions on innovative measurement techniques, numerical and data-driven modeling approaches at various spatio-temporal scales, and advanced method development.
Important dates and information:
- Expressions of interest with preliminary title and abstract by the end of April 2022.
- Submission of manuscripts by the end of June 2022.
- Review and revision of manuscripts by mid-November 2022.
- Publication of the thematic issue in March 2023
- Guidelines for authors