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Increasing the availability and use of non-contentious inputs in organic farming
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 2: Fair, Healthy and Environmentally-friendly Food Systems from Primary Production to Consumption
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
A successful proposal should support the objective of the farm to fork strategy to transition to fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems from primary production to consumption, notably the objective to promote and increase organic farming in Europe, in line with the target of at least 25% of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030. Activities will support the implementation of concrete actions in the EU action plan for the development of organic production and of Regulation (EU) 2018/848 on the rules on organic production and labelling of organic products. Activities will also support the farm to fork and biodiversity strategies’ objective to reduce the risk and use of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50%.
Promoting the use of more sustainable farming practices is a policy objective enshrined in the European Green Deal and its related strategies. Boosting organic farming, one of the objectives of the farm to fork and of the EU biodiversity strategies, can greatly contribute to achieving this ambition, and thereby also contributing to climate ambition as, as organic farming contributes directly and significantly to carbon storage in soils and biomass. Moreover, the Commission communication ‘Safeguarding food security and reinforcing the resilience of food systems’ highlights the role that organic farming can play in reducing the EU’s dependence on external inputs, since organic farming is recognised, among others, for the limitation in the use of off-farms inputs.
The organic legislation authorises the use of a specific set of products with a lower impact on the environment and on the soil. However, some of these substances have a harmful effect on terrestrial and aquatic species, which calls for the need to replace these substances either by lower impact products or methods or by resistant varieties. It is important to continue exploring ways to phase out and replace contentious inputs used in organic farming, and to increase the availability, accessibility and use of alternatives to these products. In doing so, due attention should be given to system approaches that consider the entire farm system, and its relation with the territorial and landscape levels. Moreover, in order to address farmers’ needs in this specific area, socially innovative solutions are required.
Proposals should develop scientifically robust and transparent methodologies, building on achievements from previous research activities, notably those funded under the Horizon 2020 call ‘SFS-08-2017 - Organic inputs – contentious inputs in organic farming’ (projects Organic-PLUS and RELACS).
Proposals should address all the following activities:
- Develop, test and put in the place alternative products and solutions, including to the use of copper fungicides, mineral oils, external nutrient inputs (e.g. manure from conventional agriculture, recycled nutrients) in organic plant production, and to the responsible use of anthelmintics, antibiotics and synthetic vitamins used in organic livestock production.
- Among the alternatives, consider those containing biologically active substances (microorganisms and other naturally occurring substances), invertebrate biological control agents, (micro)biological agents for soil amelioration or cultivation techniques, and considering effective functional biodiversity systems.
- Building on existing demonstration sites and experiments where available and relevant, test the alternatives and, if relevant, their combinations.
- Further develop toolboxes, strategies and technologies for the minimisation or phasing-out of the use of contentious inputs in organic farming.
- Demonstrate the safety of the alternatives, in line with the EU regulatory framework related to their placing on the market, and generate data to enable the registration of the alternatives.
- Deepen analysis and produce data on the efficacy, resource efficiency, climate and environmental impacts of the alternatives developed, compared to the contentious inputs they are to replace. This should include analysis of impact on non-target species and on human health.
- Analyse farmers’ and consumers’ acceptance of the alternatives developed and consider new governance models/relations among food chain actors. This should include the development of business plans, with the support of Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems (AKIS), and assessment of stakeholders’ (farmers, policymakers, researchers, advisors, companies, consumers, etc.) perspectives and needs to improve already existing policy instruments to reduce the use of contentious inputs and increased availability of alternatives.
- Set up demonstration sites that are representative of the diversity of organic farming systems in Europe, to promote participatory activities, and the exchange of knowledge and best practices among farmers.
- Develop training packages targeted to farmers and other actors of the organic agri-food chain, and awareness raising activities towards citizens and consumers, engaging with existing initiatives where relevant.
Proposals must implement the 'multi-actor approach’ and ensure adequate involvement of the main stakeholders involved in finding alternatives to the use of contentious inputs used in organic farming (farmers, breeders, researchers, advisors, industry, etc.). Proposals should cover contentious inputs used in a range of organically-grown crops (in- and out-door), both arable and perennial, as well as the organic livestock sector. Sectors with high economic relevance in different pedo-climatic conditions and various biogeographical regions should be targeted in a representative way. Proposals should include a dedicated task, appropriate resources and a plan on how they will collaborate with other projects funded under this topic, and ensure coherence and synergy with other relevant activities carried out under other initiatives in Horizon Europe, including under the topic HORIZON-CL6-2023-GOVERNANCE: ‘Developing an EU advisory network on organic agriculture’, HORIZON-CL6-2024-GOVERNANCE: ‘Organic farming thematic network to compile and share knowledge ready for practice’ and the future partnership ‘Accelerating farming systems transition: agroecology living labs and research infrastructures’.
To ensure trustworthiness, swift and wide adoption by user communities, and to support EU and national policymakers, actions should adopt high standards of transparency and openness, going beyond ex-post documentation of results and extending to aspects such as assumptions, benchmarks, models and data quality during the life of projects.
Concrete efforts shall be made to ensure that the data produced in the context of this topic is FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable), particularly in the context of real-time data feeds, exploring workflows that can provide “FAIR-by-design” data, i.e., data that is FAIR from its generation.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Increased availability, accessibility and adoption by farmers of cost-efficient alternatives to contentious inputs used in organic farming;
- Fair, reliable and implementable rules on the use of inputs in organic farming;
- Significantly reduced environmental impact of practices and input use in organic farming systems and enhanced organic crop and livestock production;
- Provision of scientific support and recommendations for the development, implementation and evaluation of EU policies and strategies relevant for organic production, in particular on the reduction of contentious inputs as well as on the increased use of alternative products, strategies and solutions;
- Increased networking and knowledge exchange among all relevant actors for organic farming, contributing to a strengthened research and innovation ecosystem on organic farming in Europe that also supports the spreading of research outcomes to farmers involved in low-input farming and/or agroecological production.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), 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), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, 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)
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.
- 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
The proposals must apply the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction to the work programme.
Activities should reach TRL 7-8 by the end of the project.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - 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)
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).
This call follows a two-stage approach.
This topic is part of the blind evaluation pilot under which first stage proposals will be evaluated blindly. Applicants submitting a proposal under the blind evaluation pilot (see General Annex F) must not disclose their organisation names, acronyms, logos, nor names of personnel in Part B of their first stage application (see General Annex E).
The limit for a first-stage application is 10 pages. The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.