Research project Collaboration on climate-adaptive drainage

In progress SKAD

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Sarah Garré

Sarah Garré

ILVO researcher and water expert


General introduction

Climate Adaptive Drainage (CAD/KAD) is the modern, innovative variant of level-controlled drainage, which in itself is a smarter way to combine dewatering (in wet periods) with water retention in dry periods. With CAD, all information about management and its effects on hydrology becomes available and interpretable in real time, and the drainage system can also be controlled remotely. The research project sKAD brings together relevant partners to test and demonstrate CAD for the first time in Flanders. It is clear that the Flemish agriculture and horticulture sectors are also sensitive to droughts during the summer, due to a decreasing precipitation quantity and a decreasing number of days with precipitation in the summer.

Research approach

We introduce farmers to climate adaptive drainage. We guide them in its use and learn from their experiences. We connect, using the data sharing platform DjustConnect, to other already existing farm data sources and existing management packages. We further develop and implement model-driven support for level management. Through the data we make farmers aware of the impact of their decisions on the groundwater level in the surrounding landscape. We motivate them to contribute in a collective, conscious way to water management in their region.


The drainage level in Flanders is too extensive. The water that we take away from the seepage areas where there is agriculture or areas where the groundwater levels are high in winter is actually lost in the Flemish agricultural landscape, while it is actually very valuable. Level-controlled drainage, whereby water is only drained off when this is necessary for the cultivability or growth of the crop, already helps a lot, but for the farmer it remains difficult to estimate when and how the level should be changed. Manual management of the control pit is also difficult. Automation (in the case of true climate adaptive drainage) may be more expensive, but it saves a lot of time (no more observing and controlling water levels on the spot) and, above all, the farmer is more responsive and makes decisions based on data series about the behavior of the water level in his (and possibly surrounding) parcels. The project ensures that the results are available free of charge to all farms operating in the agricultural or forestry area or sector concerned.


Vlaamse Overheid - L&V