Implications of the study

The results of the study have implications for the management of agricultural streams. Especially in Lower Austria, where agriculture is the dominant land use form, sustainable management of crop fields and grassland and the application of best-management practices, which minimize negative effects of agriculture on aquatic ecosystems, are an absolute pre-requisite for the restoration and maintenance of the good ecological state of streams. Until now, DOM inputs from agricultural surroundings have been neglected as to their effects on the streams’ integrity and health. However, in the face of an increasing use of organic fertilizers, especially in the Mostviertel, the effects of bioavailable DOM on the stream ecosystem may be crucial for the stream management. The proposed project will improve the existing knowledge and provide information about detrimental effects of different agricultural practices on the saprobic state of streams.

In addition, we will develop sensors for in-situ determination of DOM quality in water which can be applied in both scientific research and monitoring schemes. For scientific research, DOM monitoring with high spatial and temporal resolution allows tracing changes in DOM composition over time in response to e.g. variations in microbial and algal activities or hydrology. For water quality monitoring, DOM sensors can be used to detect organic pollution, such as diesel oil, farm leakage, or sewage inputs, and as early-warning systems of failure in water quality.

All involved institutes are partners within Technopol Wieselburg and Technopol Krems. The project will help to strengthen the scientific research about water quality in Lower Austria further via the establishment of a new interdisciplinary research axis Lunz – Wieselburg – Krems, bringing together limnologists, soil scientists and engineers.

First results: