Argentina and the Netherlands team up on sustainable water and land use

Published: 25 November 2019

Argentina and the Netherlands are to work together more intensively in the areas of agriculture and water.

With the launch of the Alta de la Picasa project in the province of Cordoba, the Netherlands is helping to restore the water balance for sustainable agriculture.

On 5 November, the Dutch Ambassador and two ministers of the Province of Cordoba (Public Services, and Agriculture and Livestock) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The signing marks the start of the Alta de la Picasa project, in which the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Wageningen Environmental Research and Deltares will deliver support in the form of knowledge about decision-making processes about land use, agriculture and water management.

Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding to support collaboration between the Argentinian Province of Cordoba and The Netherlands. In the front row at the far left Mayor Laboulaye, Cesar Abdala and next to him Dutch Ambassador Roel Nieuwenkamp

Water problems in agricultural areas

The province of Córdoba faces many water-related challenges – such as rising groundwater, salinisation and flooding – that result in damage to agriculture. The province is part of the economically important agricultural area in the Argentine Pampa. In recent decades, a large part of the area has switched to intensive soy cultivation. As a result, evaporation levels are lower and groundwater levels have risen. The province, which has a progressive reputation in Argentina, is calling on Dutch assistance to make the area more sustainable. Through the Partners for Water programme, an alliance is being established involving research institutes and government organisations from both countries.

Knowledge transfer starts immediately

Once the agreement was signed, knowledge transfer began immediately. Experts from Wageningen University & Research (WUR), Deltares and the RVO (RVO.nl) organised a course on agriculture and the water cycle for 27 Argentinian specialists. The specialists learned to work with Dutch models for the soil-water-plant system (SWAP and WOFOST) and groundwater (iMOD). Over the next two years, the Argentinian partners will be modelling the Alta de la Picasa catchment in collaboration with partners from the WUR and Deltares. The results will then be used in decision-making processes about land use with governments, soy producers and other stakeholders. This joint approach involving a range of stakeholders in the areas on the basis of hydrological modelling (the process as a whole is known as ‘collaborative modelling’) is expected to be used elsewhere in Argentina in the coming years.