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Call key data

Valorisation of ecosystem services provided by legume crops

Funding ProgramHorizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 1: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
Call numberHORIZON-CL6-2023-BIODIV-01-16
deadlinesOpening
22.12.2022
Deadline
28.03.2023 17:00
Funding rate100%
Call budget € 10,000,000.00
Estimated EU contribution per project€ 5,000,000.00
Link to the call
Link to the submission

Call content

short description

The environmental, nutritional and economic benefits that leguminous crops bring to all players of the value chain, provide an opportunity for further developing the leguminous crop sector in the EU and Associated Countries. This could eventually contribute to reducing the EU’s dependency on imports of nitrogen fertilisers and protein crops for feed, while support meeting the objectives of farm to fork strategy.

Call objectives

The European Union and Associated Countries’ arable agricultural systems are often characterised by short rotations or monocultures, leading to problems such as higher pest pressure, soil erosion, loss of soil fertility or loss of biodiversity. As a result, there is an imperative need to reveal the full potential of diversification of cropping systems, with the aim of improving productivity, and supporting the development of resource-efficient and sustainable value chains. Protein-rich plants, and in particular legumes, play a key role in cross-cutting issues related to crop rotation, sustainable soil management and closing nutrient cycles. They have the potential to enable the environmental sustainability, productivity, climate neutrality and resilience of farming systems, by increasing the provision of ecosystem services while restoring and enhancing biodiversity and generating fair economic returns for farmers.

While the direct benefits of legume crops as food and feed are usually recognized, their environmental and economic benefits derived from the increase of the provision of the ecosystem services they provide, are less understood and not valorised. The focus of this proposal is on the economic and environmental benefits of the production of legume crops, regardless their cultivation purpose is for food or for feed uses.

Proposals should:

  • Increase knowledge on the different and complementary benefits from the use of legume crops (both annual and perennials) in the provision of ecosystem and environmental services, such as the value of the nitrogen transfer to succeeding or companion crops (including in grassland systems), the efficiency of different legume varieties to fix nitrogen in the soil in function of specific conditions (e.g., soil type, established rhizobia consortia), the role of legume crops for wind protection, water runoff or other erosion control strategies.
  • Explore new synergies between combinations of legume crops and other crops that can benefit from nitrogen fixation, in systems like crop rotations, intercropping, mixed cropping, cover cropping or agroforestry.
  • Evaluate the global competitiveness of legume crops cultivation in different contexts of the EU and Associated Countries (considering relevant economic, social or environmental aspects) through a cost-benefit analyses and life-cycle environmental assessment, versus imports from third countries.
  • Develop tools or methods that allow to measure and quantify in economic terms the value of the nitrogen transfer between various crops, for different crop combinations, in relation to environmental aspects such as the reduction of use of nitrogen fertiliser, carbon emissions, pollution, nitrogen losses, reduced GHG emissions, pest/weed/disease management and increased crop and microbial diversity.
  • Identify and remove the barriers to crop diversification or to crop rotation. Provide indicators so that farmers and advisors are better equipped to evaluate the benefits of growing legumes, including for weed management, as well as recommendations to strengthen crop diversification and longer rotation cycles with environmentally beneficial crops.
  • Promote the engagement of downstream actors in new value chains based on crop diversification. This should facilitate the market penetration of leguminous crops, linked to market outlets and consumers demand and influence the transition towards more sustainable and healthy food and feed systems.
  • Include minor or underutilised legume crops (mostly perennial but also annual varieties) that are not the frequent objects of research activities. Consider their potential for enhancing the ecosystem and economic services not only due to their key role in sustainable soil management and closing nutrient cycles (likewise major legume crops) but also due to their adaptation to agroecological niches/marginal area and capability to withstand abiotic and abiotic stress and climate change.
  • Generate capacity building material, organize trainings or knowledge sharing activities, including the development of guidelines (e.g. booklets, decision-support tools) to foment the dissemination, uptake and upscale of results.

Proposals should include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how they will collaborate with other projects funded under this or other topics (i.e. but not limited to projects funded under topic HORIZON-CL6-2021-FARM2FORK-01-02 and HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-02-02-two-stage), and ensure synergy with relevant activities carried out under other initiatives in Horizon Europe such as the upcoming partnership on agroecology and the Mission “A Soil Deal for Europe”. Proposals should also seek potential synergies with and capitalise on the results of past or ongoing projects both in the EU and beyond (e.g., Horizon 2020 projects LegValue and TRUE, the thematic network 'Legumes Translated’ or SusCrop ERA-NET project).

Proposals should benefit both the conventional and the organic farming sectors.

In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is encouraged. This topic should involve the effective contribution of social sciences and humanities (SSH) disciplines.

In this topic the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.

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Expected results

In line with the European Green Deal priorities, the farm to fork strategy, the EU biodiversity strategy for 2030 and the EU zero pollution ambition, the successful proposal will promote sustainable, productive, climate-neutral, environment-friendly and resilient farming systems, which would provide consumers with affordable, safe, traceable, healthy and sustainable food while increasing the provision of ecosystem services.

The farm to fork strategy states that ‘[a] key area of research will relate to (…) increasing the availability and source of alternative proteins such as plant, microbial, marine and insect-based proteins and meat substitutes’. The ambitious targets in the farm to fork strategy on the reduction of fertilizer use by at least 20% by 2030 and on reaching at least 25% of EU agricultural land under organic farming by 2030 will also create a favourable environment for the development of EU-grown protein plants which naturally enrich the soil reducing the need for synthetic fertilisers. Most recently, the Versailles declaration also highlighted the importance of increasing EU plant-based proteins as a means of reducing the EU’s dependency on key imported agricultural products and inputs and improving food security.

The new common agricultural policy (CAP) put into practice eco-schemes that can provide support for longer rotation cycles with environmentally beneficial crops such as leguminous crops. Other instruments that benefit protein crops under the new CAP are sectoral interventions, investment subsidies under rural development programmes and coupled income supports.

Activities will also support the implementation of the action plan for the development of organic production.

Proposals results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Improved quantification, in environmental and economic terms, of the ecosystem services provided by legume crops, including those related to soil biodiversity and fertility.
  • Increased knowledge and capacity of farmers and agricultural advisers to include minor and major legume crops in their cropping schemes with a positive ecological and economic impact.
  • Diversified farming practices throughout the EU and Associated Countries, where legume crops contribute to healthier and sustainable diets, resilience to climate change and increase of agrobiodiversity.

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Regions / countries for fundingEU Member States, Overseas Countries and Territories (OCT)
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
eligible entitiesEU Body, Education and training institution, International organization, Natural Person, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
Mandatory partnershipYes
Project Partnership

To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:

  • the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
  • the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
  • third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries

Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:

  • at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
  • at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.

Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.

A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.

Specific cases:

  • Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
  • Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
  • Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
  • EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
  • Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
  • Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
other eligibility criteria

Proposals must apply the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach on pages 21-23 of the work programme

Additional information

Topics
Agriculture & Forestry, Fishery, Food, Soil quality, 
Air Quality, Biodiversity & Environment, Climate & Climate Change, Water quality & management
Relevance for EU Macro-RegionEUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
Additional Information

All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.

Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.

The application form will have two parts:

  • Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
  • Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.

Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).


The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.

Call documents HE-Work Programme 2023-2024, Cluster 6, Destination 1 (kB)
ContactNational Contact Points for Horizon Europe
Website

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