Interreg North Sea Region - NuReDrain

Interreg North Sea Region

The NuReDrain project focusses on nutrient removal and recovery from agricultural discharge and drainage water.
11 different partners are active in this project, which is coordinated by Vlakwa (Contact via Charlotte Boeckaert – Graaf Karel de Goedelaan 34, Kortrijk, Belgium – 0032 56 24 12 61). The NuReDrain project has started on the 1st of March 2017 and will last until the 31st of August 2020.

Description of the project

NuReDrainLogoIn the North Sea region agricultural diffuse losses of nutrients, mainly nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), are a major cause of eutrophication problems in surface waters. Given that the Water Framework Directive (WFD) demands fast water quality improvements and the current regulatory practices seem insufficient, new short-term mitigation measures are needed.
With the NuReDrain project we are willing to demonstrate filter technologies on agricultural waters which can trap both N and P on the short term. As such, N and P will be removed from the agricultural water (e.g., run off water, tile drainage water, greenhouse discharge) before it enters the surface water. Likewise, filter technology will be used for the treatment of surface water for drinking water production. Preventing eutrophication will hence not only improve the water quality but will also reduce drinking water production costs.
The results of the NuReDrain project must offer guidance to policy makers about implementation strategies. To support this decision making, the impact of N and P removal technologies on the surface water quality will be modelled on a catchment in Belgium and Germany. Data are currently gathered to calibrate and validate the SWAT model (Soil & Water Assessment Tool).

French summary
Les pertes diffuses des nutriments agriculturales, principalement l’azote (N) et le phosphore (P), sont une des causes principale de l’eutrophisation des eaux surface, dans la région de la mer du Nord. Pour le moment on est dans une situation dans laquelle la directive-cadre sur l’eau exise une amélioration rapide de la qualité de l’eau, mais que la législation actuelle n’atteint pas cet objectif. C’est pourquoi des mesures nouvelles à court terme sont besoin.
Avec le projet NuReDain on vise à développer et installer des systèmes de filtre qui peuvent éliminer N et P des pertes agriculturales comme la ruissellement et l’eaux des drainages. De cette façon, le N et P, n’atteint plus les eaux surface. En outre, des systèmes pareilles séront utilisés pour éliminer le N et P des eaux surface. Cela améliorera pas seulement la qualité de l’eau, mais aussi le coût de la production d’eau potable.
Les résultats du projet seront la base pour le développement des stratégies d’approche par zone. Pour étayer nos conclusions, l’impact des technologies d’élimination de N et P sur la qualité des eaux surface sera modélisé pour un bassin fluvial en Belgique et en Allemagne.

Dutch summary
In het Noordzee gebied vormen diffuse verliezen van nutriënten, voornamelijk stikstof (N) en fosfor (P), vanuit de landbouw één van de belangrijke oorzaken van eutrofiëring van oppervlaktewateren. Daar de Kaderrichtlijn Water een snelle verbetering van de waterkwaliteit vereist, maar de huidige wetgeving faalt om dit doel te bereiken, zijn nieuwe maatregelen op de korte termijn nodig.
Het NuReDrain project heeft als doel filtersystemen te ontwikkelen en installeren op het veld, die N en P verwijderen uit run off, drainage water en spuiwater van serres. Zo komen N en P niet langer in het oppervlaktewater terecht. Bovendien, zullen gelijkaardige filtersystemen toegepast worden om N en P uit oppervlaktewater te verwijderen. Hierdoor zal niet alleen de waterkwaliteit verbeteren, maar ook de productiekost van drinkwater dalen.
De resultaten van het NuReDrain project zullen een basis vormen voor beleidsmakers om gebiedsgerichte strategieën van aanpak te ontwikkelen. Om onze bevindingen te staven zal de impact van de N en P verwijderingstechnologieën op de kwaliteit van het oppervlaktewater gemodelleerd worden voor een stroomgebied in België en Duitsland. Momenteel worden hiervoor gegevens verzameld om het SWAT model (Bodem- en waterbeoordelingstool) te kalibreren en valideren.


These are the objectives of NuReDrain:

• Reduce N and P pollution from agricultural activities in areas prone to eutrophication in order to improve/restore quality of the aquatic environment.
• Promote resource efficiency by recovering the P lost from agricultural land and ensure re-insertion into the circular economy.

Role of Ghent University

The department of environment will take part in three work packages of the NuReDrain project. The first work package will focus on the bench scale evaluation of P filter materials. In this work package our department will assist in the establishment and fulfilment of standardized test procedures to evaluate potential P sorbing materials (PSM). This means that PSM will be characterized based on their P sorption isotherms and P sorption kinetics, where after the most interesting PSM will be tested in filters built at lab scale. The second work package will focus on the field scale evaluation of P filters. As the department of environment has been running trials with P filters at field level during the past two years our knowledge and experience will form a strong basis to develop and test P filters in a standardized way. The third work package will focus on phosphorus recovery from the PSM. With its fully equipped lab the department of environment will assist in performing lab trials to estimate P fertilizer value of the P saturated PSM. Moreover, our experience with pot and field trials forms a strong basis to perform P fertilizer tests in a standardized way. Finally, our international contacts allow to continuously gain new information and insights which can be tested/implemented within this project.


Prof. Dr. ir. De Neve Stefaan
Department of Environment
Phone number: 0032 9 264 60 61

 This project has received funding from the Interreg North Sea Region programme 2014-2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Province of West-Flanders

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