Belgium - Cicindria catchment




Name of site

Cicindria catchment


The study site is located in Sint-Truiden, SE Flanders

Soils and hydrology

The area is characterised by a hilly topography and loamy soils, resulting in a high vulnerability to erosion. Fast overland processes of runoff and erosion result in export of nutrients and pesticides as well as sediments to the river.

Soils are well-drained and usually have no artificial drainage systems. Baseflow in the Cicindria river is low with almost no-flow periods in summer. The water table is approximately 10m below ground.

Monitoring infrastructure

The monitoring set-up consists of a flow meter to monitor water level and flow velocity at the inlet and outlet of the selected sub-catchment, a rain gauge at the outlet and two samplers at both in- and outlet.

At both monitoring locations time-paced samples are taken every two hours and collected in one bottle for every 24 hours.

Event samples are taken once a discharge threshold is exceeded. These are taken every 15 minutes and collected in a sample bottle for every 90 minutes.

Agricultural impacts and pollutant types

The Cicindria catchment has historical high pesticide concentrations in the river. It was selected as a case study to investigate pesticide behaviour at the watershed-scale, to increase the effectiveness of mitigation measures.

The land-use in the catchment (1075 ha) is predominantly agriculture (72%) and potential erosion to the river is high (6.5 tons ha-1 y-1), resulting in visible effects of erosion after stormflow events (loss of soil from fields, gullies, mud in the streets).

Fields within the catchment are usually not drained. Processes determining the pesticide concentration in the river are mainly fast overland flow from diffuse sources such as agricultural applications and direct losses.

Available data

The available data for this catchment includes high resolution meteorological data and discharge data at the inflow and outflow of the studied catchment from 2014 onwards.

Relevant publications

Joris, I., Desmet, N., Wilczek, D., Boënne, W., Seuntjens, P., Koopmans, K., Bylemans, D., Wouters, K., Vandaele, K. (2015). Identifying priority zones in an agricultural catchment to mitigate glyphosate runoff. In: ‘XV Symposium in Pesticide Chemistry - Environmental Risk Assessment and Management’, Ed. M. Cigolini, G. Luzzani, G. Sacchettini, Piacenza, Italy.

Research opportunities and additional information

Within the study catchment field sites can be identified to explore measuring techniques and test mitigation measures. The site will be used as a case study to develop a framework to establish cost-effective measures which reduce pesticide impacts at the catchment-scale.

The agricultural fields in the catchment are owned by the individual farmers but the research facilities of RSF, including field sites, are in the vicinity of the Cicindria catchment and are available for field-based experimental research.