Nitrate Monitoring 4.0 – Intelligent Systems for the Sustainable Reduction of Nitrate in Groundwater

Groundwater monitoring site
© M. Wingering, LUBW

The initial situation: What is the ecological challenge?

In Germany, around 70 percent of drinking water requirements are covered by groundwater. However, the condition of groundwater is endangered: in many places there is particularly high nitrate pollution. One reason for this is the fertilisation of surrounding fields with liquid manure or mineral fertilisers. Groundwater protection programmes should have a targeted and local impact. Detailed information and forecasts of nitrate levels are essential for this. Since nitrate is readily soluble in water, however, its share of groundwater varies greatly in space and time and is difficult to measure.

The idea: What concrete contribution can artificial intelligence make?

The project aims to improve the prediction of nitrate in groundwater. This will be achieved by means of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and intelligent support systems based on it, which contribute to the protection of groundwater and thus to the reduction of nitrate. This is done by machine learning methods that predict water quality values based on coarse-meshed measuring networks with spatial precision that is currently possible with conventional methods. Furthermore, recommendations for the optimisation of the monitoring network are obtained, e.g. for sites that are still understaffed. In addition, open data standards are to be further developed in order to improve data collection and evaluation, also for different actors and systems.


The approaches developed will be implemented and demonstrated in two pilot regions of importance to water management, the catchment area of the Zweckverband Landeswasserversorgung in Baden-Württemberg and the Wasser- und Abwasser-Zweckverband Niedergrafschaft in Lower Saxony.

The participating project partners have long-standing contacts with environmental agencies at state level and with water suppliers who have pledged their support for the project. The demonstrators in the two pilot regions and the contacts to actors all over Germany should ensure that practical project results can be applied promptly and nationwide after the end of the project. .

Project partners

  • Disy Informationssysteme GmbH
    Disy Informationssysteme GmbH combines data analysis and geoinformation in an innovative way to enable a deep understanding of the complex interrelationships of our habitats. Disy solutions are based on the specially developed software platform Cadenza for data analytics, reporting and GIS. Through the unique combination of powerful software and a passion for specialist issues, the company creates the basis for sustainable and more efficient action by authorities, institutions and companies. Disy's proven expertise lies in the seamless integration of geodata into all data-based processes. Among its numerous customers are well-known federal and state authorities in the German-speaking countries in various fields such as security, environment, water, consumer protection, agriculture, forestry, hunting, infrastructure or transport. The company, based in Karlsruhe, develops its software in Germany. The geo-analytics platform Cadenza has been awarded the quality seal "Software Made in Germany" by the German Federal Association of IT Medium-Sized Enterprises. Disy is Talend Gold Partner and Value Added Reseller and developer of the spatial ETL plug-in "GeoSpatial Integration for Talend". Disy currently employs more than 120 people.
  • Karlsruhe Istitute of Technology (KIT)
    The Research University in the Helmholtz Association", KIT creates and imparts knowledge for society and environment. Its goal is to make significant contributions to global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. To this end, about 9,300 employees work together on a broad disciplinary basis in the natural sciences, engineering, economics, humanities, and social sciences. KIT prepares its 24,400 students for responsible tasks in society, economy, and science by means of a research-oriented university study program. KIT's innovation activities bridge the gap between knowledge and application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and preservation of our natural resources. The KIT is one of the German universities of excellence
  • Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB
    The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is the leading organisation for applied research in Europe. Under its umbrella, 74 institutes and research facilities work at locations throughout Germany. One of these is the Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB with a total of around 700 employees in Karlsruhe, Ettlingen, Ilmenau, Lemgo, Görlitz, Rostock and Beijing ( His research focuses on digital twins, industry 4.0, information management and multisensory systems that support people in perceiving their environment and interacting with it.
  • TZW: DVGW Technology Centre Water
    Based on its extensive research activities and practical experience, the TZW: DVGW Technology Centre Water develops solutions and concepts for all areas of the national and international water industry, from resource protection, extraction and treatment to tapping. Our approximately 200 highly qualified employees work in partnership with water utilities, companies, technical authorities and universities. The TZW provides reliable figures, data and facts and develops solutions for a sustainable water supply. As part of the German Association of the Gas and Water Industry (DVGW), the TZW is non-profit and independent.

Environmental Information Systems

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Project details

Nitrate Monitoring 4.0 – Intelligent Systems for the Sustainable Reduction of Nitrate in Groundwater

Project duration: September 1, 2020 - August 31, 2023

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection.

Department ILT of Fraunhofer IOSB

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