Isotopic tracer and labeling experiments

The course will cover the theory and practice behind tracer experiments in soils and will include a practical multi-tracer experiment.

Date 12-14 September 2023

Application deadline 3 April 2023

To apply: fill the application form here and send your CV to Paolo Benettin


All activities of the Training School will take place in Borgo Bottaia, which is located 6 km from Florence (Italy), in the Chianti hills. The location is easily reachable by bus from the Florence main train station. We have reserved double rooms in small traditional apartments for the participants.

The WATSON Cost Action will provide full reimbursements for travel to Borgo Bottaia and a daily allowance that covers the costs of accommodation, meals, local transport, etc..


How to apply

Applications are managed through a Google form. Participants are required to also send their CV to Paolo Benettin (


  • Paolo Benettin (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Switzerland)
  • Matthias Sprenger (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, USA),
  • Ilja van Meerveld (University of Zurich, Switzerland),
  • Daniele Penna (University of Florence, Italy).

Selection criteria

The number of participants is limited and based on available funding. The following selection criteria will be used to select the participants:

  • Diversity:
    • Geographic representation: We welcome applicants from all countries belonging to the WATSON network (, but the selection of applicants will aim to maximize geographic diversity. Applications from people working in ITC countries are particularly encouraged.
    • Gender: The selection process will aim to have a gender-balanced list of participants.
  • Position (career stage): Priority will be given to early career researchers and professionals.
  • Previous experience: Priority will be given to applicants with limited experience in the techniques taught in the course, and those who will directly benefit from these techniques in their research projects or jobs.
  • Research or professional profile: Priority will be given to researchers or professionals working in ecohydrology, soil science, and water management in the agro-forestry sectors, or closely related fields.

Preliminary program

The course will last 2.5 days. There will be two online meetings (about 10 and 30 days after the course) to follow up on the progression of the tracer experiment.

Sept 12

(Day 1)

morning   1. Introduction and Get to know each other
  2. Lecture: Introduction to tracer experiments
afternoon   3. Lecture: Designing a tracer experiment
  4. Fieldwork: Tracer application
Sept 13 (Day 2) morning   5. Fieldwork: Measuring soil properties
  6. Fieldwork: Tracer sampling/monitoring session 1
afternoon   7. Lecture: Theory of tracer breakthrough curves
  8. Exercise: Processing tracer breakthrough data
evening   9. Evening event: Literature review marathon on tracer experiments
Sept 14 (Day 3) morning 10. Fieldwork: Tracer sampling/monitoring session 2
afternoon 11. Final discussions and conclusions (end by 2 PM)
Day 12 (online) 1.5-hour meeting 12. Discussion: Quick follow up on the experimental work
Day 30 (online) 2.5-hour meeting 13. Looking at all the data that we have collected