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INSPIRATION (managing soil and groundwater impacts from agriculture for sustainable intensification) was a multidisciplinary consortium of 26 partners across 8 European countries, which developed low-technology management practices, monitoring approaches, modelling and decision-making tools, and innovative technology applications in the field of sustainable agriculture by a combination of fundamental and applied science ( The network provided high-quality research training to young scientists, through fully-funded Early-Stage Researcher (PhD level) fellowships. The academic partners included leading research groups in this field. The non-academic partners included all stakeholder interests (regulators, advisory bodies, water utilities, consulting firms, commercial R&D, technology vendors, SMEs and multinationals). The team of 15 fellows employed by INSPIRATION researched scientific topics covering important scientific, technical and management problems within the training themes below. The project had an international advisory group and undertook a comprehensive programme of knowledge transfer activities with other scientific networks and professional bodies in this field. The fellowships in INSPIRATION started in Winter 2016/17 and ran until 2020.

Research training themes

INSPIRATION provided applied research training in the following areas:

  • Innovative methodologies for measuring contaminant fluxes in the subsurface
  • Predicting catchment-scale nutrient and contaminant fluxes between compartments
  • Restoring marginal land for agriculture using low cost amendments and bioremediation
  • Mitigation of soil and groundwater impacts from agriculture using mixed waste media
  • Sustainability of agricultural management strategies at the catchment-scale

External training events

As a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, INSPIRATION offered regular workshops and summer schools on various topics within the theme of the project as training events.  

Research outputs

INSPIRATION produced 15 bulletins which have been published by CL:AIRE. INSPIRATION bulletins describe practical aspects of research which have direct application to the management of contaminated soil or groundwater in an agricultural context:

IB1 - Use of a novel integrated passive flux sampler to monitor the spreading of solutes in groundwater
IB2 - Development of sensors for monitoring nitrate in groundwater
IB3 - The proportional contribution of nitrate sources in surface water in a mesoscale river catchment with a land-use gradient
IB4 - Micropollutants as tracers for anthropogenic impacts on groundwater quality and recharge sources on a local scale – the case study of Fehraltorf, Switzerland
IB5 - Geological consistency in self-optimising groundwater models using nested particle filters
IB6 - Analysing N sources and transformation processes in groundwater under agricultural areas (chalk aquifer, Belgium)
IB7 - Experimental quantification and kinetics of nitrate reduction potential by reduced species in soil samples obtained from sandy aquifers
IB8 - Bio-restoration of metal-contaminated soil using biochar to enhance the productivity of marginal land
IB9 - Developing biosensors to measure the bioavailability of heavy metals in soil remediation
IB10 - Investigating the effects of biochar and brown coal waste on productivity of maize
IB11 - A decision support tool to select media to mitigate nutrients in farm drainage water
IB12 - Indicators for the selection of filter media options for phosphorus recycling to agricultural soils
IB13 - Isotope techniques for the analysis of δ18O of inorganic phosphate within aquatic ecosystems
IB14 - Integrated use of meta-analytical data to identify management trade-offs on crop growth, soil quality and environmental quality in agriculture
IB15 - Identification of priority areas to target pesticide pollution mitigation measures

The bulletins can be downloaded from the CL:AIRE Library here