Managing Soil and Groundwater Impacts from Agriculture for Sustainable Intensification (INSPIRATION). 15/02/2017 - 14/02/2021

Abstract

Leaching losses of phosphorus (P) are a potential threat to almost half of the Flemish soil. Recent measurements suggest that phosphorus, faster than expected, migrates through groundwater to surface water and thus, in relatively short time, can pose a major threat to the quality of ground- and surface water. The amount of phosphorus determines the growth of algae in surface waters (eutrophication). In the fertilizer action plan Flanders in consultation with Europe, standards are determined on manure application with respect to P-intake. In the absence of a rapid improvement in water quality with regard to phosphorus, the Commission will take drastic measures. This PhD thesis will focus on field studies to quantify P transport at field and landscape scale in P-saturated basins in Flanders. The research will focus on the execution and interpretation of flux measurements to estimate P losses from soil to groundwater and surface water. Hereby, different measurement techniques will be applied. To do this, passive sampling techniques will be used including the innovative iFLUX sampler which will then be compared with conventional sampling methods. Research objectives are 1) the validation of a methodology to determine P fluxes across interfaces between soil-groundwater-surface water, 2) the validation of the iFLUX sampler at field sites with different soil type, agricultural practice and hydrological setting; 3) the development of a methodology to calculate field-scale P mass balances to assess (i) the importance of historical sources, (ii) effect of mitigating measures and (iii) relative importance of agricultural sources compared to other emissions for management.

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Improving groundwater dynamics: a key factor for successful tidal marsh restoration? 01/01/2017 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

In an attempt to restore the water quality in tidal rivers, governments around the world invest a lot of money in reconverting reclaimed agricultural land to tidal marshes. In North-West Europe, more than 140 tidal marshes have already been restored and scientists predict that many more will follow in the coming decades. Nevertheless, there is growing evidence that restored tidal marshes do not contribute to the water quality improving function to the same extent as natural marshes. Researchers found that due to the historical agricultural land use, the soil got compacted, hindering the flow of groundwater in the area. The reduced groundwater flow is thus probably the reason for the observed difference in water quality improvement. Nevertheless, the differences in groundwater dynamics between restored and natural tidal marshes are still poorly understood. In this research, we want to unravel this missing link. We will study the soil properties, the groundwater flow and the nutrient fluxes at the same time in both a natural and a restored marsh along the Scheldt estuary in Belgium. We will use these results to develop a computer model. With this model, we will determine the optimal soil properties of restored marshes in order to optimize their effect on water quality improvement. In cooperation with the water engineering sector, we will translate the optimum to viable design criteria that will ameliorate the water quality improving function of future restored tidal marshes.

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Integrated flux measurement for environmental research and management. 01/01/2014 - 31/12/2015

Abstract

The IFLUX research project is based on an intense collaboration between the University of Antwerp and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research, and aims to develop and validate an integrated mass flux sampler for environmental research and management, IFLUX. At the same time, the valorization of IFLUX is prepared, as a spin-off with a service character, that aims to offer integrated flux measurements for different types of environmental research and management.

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In-situ reduction of hazardous pollutants in groundwater/aquifer with injectable Fe-based particles. 01/10/2009 - 30/09/2013

Abstract

The research focuses on the developlnent of groundwater rehabilitation technologies with injectable Fe-based micro- (100 nm < d < 100 pm) and nanoscale particles (< 100 nm). The general idea of the methods to be developed is to inject small sized particles into the subsurface where they either directly react with the present contaminants (DNAPLs) or build a permeable reactive zone where the dissolved contaminants are being degraded.

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Integration of an economic costing model in a spatially explicit water quality model. 01/09/2009 - 30/04/2012

Abstract

The project aims at integrating the effect of (ground)water rehabilitation technologies in a collaborative management tool for assessing water quality at the river basin scale. Furthermore, economic models will be used to choose the optimal rehabilitation strategy in view of the requirements imposed by the WFD. In this project, a new model platform will be developed that integrates an economic optimization model in a spatially explicit water quality model. The model will allow to design and plan rehabilitation measures for water quality explicitly in space and time.

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Emission, formation and dispersion of ultra fine particles. 01/07/2007 - 30/06/2009

Modelling of subsail water-surface water interphase. 01/10/2006 - 30/09/2007

Biogeochemical modelling of a VOCL contaminated groundwater using a reactive permeable wall and natural attenuation. 01/04/2006 - 31/03/2007

Abstract

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Study of soil contaminant transport models for use in soil pollution risk assessment. 01/10/1996 - 30/09/2000

Abstract

One of the major aims of the study is the evaluation of soil transport models. These models can be used in refined risk assessment procedures for the evaluation of soil pollution. More specifically, the influence of variable flux densities on the retardation of reactive soil solutions will be examined.

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