OPTAIN - Optimal strategies to retain and re-use water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across different soil-climatic regions in Europe

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OPTAIN is a research project that brings together stakeholders and scientists (22 partners, including NIVA) from 15 European countries to identify the best performing combinations of Natural Small Water Retention Measures for different regional conditions.

By filling the knowledge gap, the project will provide an important contribution for a sustainable management of small agricultural catchments.


An increasing number of extreme events such as droughts and heavy rainfall exacerbate conflicts between agricultural water uses and other human and environmental demands for water.

Natural/Small Water Retention Measures (NSWRMs) can help to mitigate those conflicts, addressing societal challenges such as climate change, biodiversity and food security at the same time. Despite the comprehensive set of water/nutrient retention measures available, knowledge is still lacking on the effectiveness of those measures across various European soil-climatic regions, agricultural systems, scales and especially under changing climate. Thus OPTAIN aims to:

(i) identify efficient techniques for the retention and reuse of water and nutrients in small agricultural catchments across Continental, Pannonian and Boreal biogeographical regions of Europe in close cooperation with local actors

(ii) select NSWRMs at farm and catchment level and optimize their spatial allocation and combination, based on environmental and economic sustainability indicators.

OPTAIN will contribute to the achievement of different Sustainable Development Goals and environmental targets formulated in several water- and agriculture-related European Union policies.


OPTAIN was started in September 2020 and will continue for 5 years. A total of 14 case studies will be conducted in Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Slovenia, Belgium, Lithuania, Italy, Norway, Czech Republic, Latvia and Sweden.

For more information and news on the project, visit the OPTAIN website or follow OPTAIN on Facebook.

OPTAIN core elements


Last updated 29.01.2021