Dotnuvėlė basin belongs to the boreal biogeographical region and is located in the central lowlands of Lithuania, covering approximately 192.7 km2 area (Figure 1). Majority of the territory is covered by agricultural land (~69%), the rest is divided by forests and other natural areas (~25%), urban land (less than 6%) and water bodies (only 0.5%). In the case study area a few different Natural Small Water Retention Measures (NSWRMs) are already installed, such as wetland, sedimentation pond, and drainage management systems.
Already implemented NSWRM in the case study, from left: wetland, sedimentation prond, controlled drainage
In general about 97% of all the Baltic Sea countries are affected by eutrophication. Lithuania as a member of the EU and some international organizations, such as HELCOM, is obligated to follow the Water Framework Directive (2008/32/EC), Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008/56/EC) and other agreements in order to reach a good environmental status of the inland waters, Curonian Lagoon and the Baltic Sea. The Nemunas River with all its tributaries (including the Dotnuvėlė River) are the main source of the pollutants transported to the sea. Therefore, the main challenge for Lithuania is to minimize nutrient and pollutant concentrations. To achieve this goal, there are several measures that are applied. However, the current progress in assessing the effectiveness of the implementation of water protection measures and the achievement of goals is difficult to predict, hence the timeline for achieving these goals is unknown.
Figure 1. Dotnuvėlė River basin location in the Nemunas River watershed, with respect to the Curonian Lagoon and Baltic Sea
According to the state river monitoring of the Dotnuvėlė River, the ecological status of it corresponds to poor (upstream) and medium (downstream). The Dotnuvėlė basin is vulnerable to soil erosion due to surface runoff, decreasing soil quality, water collection and distribution in the basin, point-source pollution (urban), and duration and frequency of floods and droughts. During the OPTAIN project we will assess a handful of pre-selected NSWRMs that could be implemented for combating these issues.
Feedback from MARG
We had two meetings with our multi actor reference group (MARG), which took place on-site as well as online. During the first meeting 11 representatives of the farming sector and state and local government institutions participated, while the 2nd MARG meeting attracted nearly twice as many actors (21). We have started developing a closer connection with several farmers working in the Dotnuvėlė basin area.
During the second MARG meeting, which was held in spring of 2022, a special session was set for selecting the EPI and SPI indicators based on the farmer’s and other actors’ opinions, and an interactive mapping exercise for selecting the possible locations for pre-selected measure implementation. MARG was very active and members were collaborative with each other.
Farmers working in the Dotnuvėlė basin are very interested in familiarizing and considering employing new sustainable measures for combating water retention, erosion, and other problems that they face in the fields. These messages and scientific background comes from the OPTAIN team of Klaipėda University. Although some of NSWRMs have already been implemented in the basin, farmers express that the main issue of new measure implementation is still the need for governmental contribution and additional funding.
During the last MARG meeting we had two guests from OPTAIN partners of Swedish case study, who were observing the discussion as well as sharing the good practices from Swedish perspective regarding NSWR measures and governmental regulations. The legislative aspect and funding mechanisms were of great importance for the farmers in our MARG, obtaining interesting and useful knowledge for comparison with local/Lithuanian regulations. This experience led to a positive feedback from the MARG.
Second MARG meeting, discussing EPI and SPI indicators and participating in measure implementation mapping exercise (Photos by Caroline Enge)
At the end of September 2022, we installed a weather station in one of our MARG member’s fields. The device is powered by a solar panel, however the farmer provided a constant source for electricity, thus the weather station will be operational throughout the year, independently of daylight or cloud cover.
The device measures a number of meteorological parameters, such as solar radiation, air temperature, precipitation, wind speed and direction, leaf moisture, humidity, and atmospheric pressure, as well as two soil temperature and humidity sensors down to 1.2 meters into the soil, with a real–time data transmission to the database. This data will be used for further numerical modeling applications in the OPTAIN project.
Installed weather station (left) and soil sensor with solar panel (right)
Example of data output from soil sensor. Graph shows soil temperature every 10 cm, reaching a depth of 1.2 m
Precision farming equipment engineer of Lithuanian agricultural advisory service (first on the left) and Klaipėda University team members
Authors: Natalja Čerkasova, Ali Ertürk, Jovita Mėžinė, Rasa Idzelytė, Kristina Narvidienė, Rimas Magyla - Klaipeda University, Lithuania