CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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Filagro - Strategie innovative e sostenibili per la filiera agroalimentare, is a project funded by Lombardy Region and the Research National Council (CNR). FilAgro project aims at providing concrete solutions to some of the emerging needs of modern agriculture: sustainability of the productions; natural environment and biodiversity conservation; improvement in food quality, safety and nutritional value; technological development and results portability for the benefit of the industry; new scientific knowledge dissemination. Within this framework, IRSA activity deals with water resource protection by leading a workpackage aimed at studying biogeochemical processes able to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous contamination in the secondary river network. The general objective is to identify restoration measures and management practices to maximize the ecosystem services potentially provided by the secondary ditches.  This study is based on a bivalent experimental approach aimed to investigate two topics:
1) the role of lowland springs and ditches riparian strips in the process of nitrate removal, and 2) the in-stream nutrient retention.
Some experimental areas were set up with piezometers positioned in the riparian areas  of some springs in the Province of Milan and Cremona. Chemical characterization of groundwater and surface water samples allow to follow the qualitative and quantitative changes of nitrogen species and to identify the processes responsible for nitrate removal. Concerning the second issue, we selected two methods suitable to investigate the retention processes occurring within the channels: 1) the " Short-term constant rate additions" method, based on the addition of nutrients and a conservative tracer allows the estimate of various retention metrics (e.g. the uptake length) along with discharge  and the " transient storage zones" (Mulholland et al. 2002), 2) the second method, called "open channel method" (Laursen et Seitzinger, 2002), which allows the direct measurement of denitrification in the river bed by the measurement of dissolved gases such as N2 and Ar.

Images show the structure of the riparian strip at the Fontanile Fontanone (Italy, province CR) (1) and an irrigation ditch characterized by the presence of in-channel macrophytes (Italy, province MI) (2).