CNR-IRSA activities related to INHABIT

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Home Main projects RIPAFONT


The RIPAFONT project,  “The riparian strips of “fontanili”: a natural filter of nutrients and pesticides for the protection of waters in Lombardy” funded by “Fondazione Lombardia per l’Ambiente” and Lombardy Region (Agricolture Direction) is coordinated by Water Research Institute IRSA-CNR in collaboration with Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore di Piacenza and ERSAF – Lombardy Region.

The focus of the project is the study of nitrogen and pesticides buffer capacity of riparian strips. Experimental transects were set up along nine springs and fontanili located in a typical flat agricultural watershed of the River Po plain from 2008 to 2010. The nitrogen pattern resulted different among the studied sites. The nitrate removal was complete in two sites, partial in others (60-80%) and did not occur in two sites. A detailed analysis of spatial and temporal variations of nitrogen compunds  and other chemical species associated to an investigation on the  hydrological features were useful to identify the principal processes responsible of the nitrate reduction in the studied areas.

Subsurface water samples were analyzed also for pesticides. Terbuthylazine (TBA) and terbuthylazine-desethyl DET were the only compounds present in all the location and at all the sampling dates: in most of the fontanili there is a decrease of contamination, in some of them the concentration decrease was of 100%.

Based on data collected with CARAVAGGIO, a descriptor aimed at quantifying the potential of river sites in removing nitrogen along the river transverse section, named PTNR, has been described. With some notable exceptions, the nitrogen removal potential defined for the project study sites is not high. Among those included in the PTNR formulation, the environmental factors that most limit potential nitrogen removal in the study sites (small, lowland springs) are the limited width of the vegetation on and beyond the bank areas, land use beyond the banktop and high bank slope.

Pictures show the transversal section of the riparian strip in two of the investigated streams (Rile, province MI – 1 e Fontanone, province CR – 2) and  a general view of the Fontanone, province CR (3)