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Water Conservation

Drinking water is our most important staple food. It is largely obtained from groundwater, which can be contaminated by nitrate, phosphate and pesticide residues. Organic farmers protect the groundwater with their particularly environmentally friendly production methods, such as avoiding the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers and pesticides. FiBL advises politicians and farmers in the interests of groundwater protective agriculture.

An example is the work with the government of Lower Franconia: in the long term, the goal is to significantly expand organic farming in the region. This requires coordinated measures, such as advising farmers, financial support, public relations activities and support for product marketing in the region. FiBL Germany was commissioned in 2008 to develop the concept for this campaign and to support the stakeholders in its implementation. Since then, information events and one-day workshops have been held regularly as part of the initiative. They enable a professional exchange on current issues with consultants and colleagues. The events are aimed both at those interested in conversion and at farms that are already organic.  (www.aktiongrundwasserschutz.de/landwirtschaft/oekolandbau). The success of the measures implemented: the growth rates in the conversion from farms to organic production in Lower Franconia are above average.

A further example of active groundwater protection is the initiative Wasserschutzbrot (Water Protecting bread) (www.wasserschutzbrot.de). Conventional farmers refrain from late nitrogen fertilization for the cultivation of quality wheat. This reduces nitrate leaching into groundwater. Mills from the surrounding area grind the "water protection wheat" into "water protection flour". Family-managed, artisan bakeries bake Wasserschutzbrot from it.

The main objective of the feasibility analysis "Ways to more organic farming and groundwater protection in southern Hesse" was to develop model strategies for the region of southern Hesse which would enable conventionally working farms to enter as easily as possible into a groundwater-conserving way of farming and which would aim at a long-term conversion to organic farming.