Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Permanent grassland – farming systems and policies

Topic identifier: SFS-27-2017
Publication date: 14 October 2015

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
04 October 2016
2nd stage Deadline:
14 February 2017 17:00:00
13 September 2017 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020 H2020 website
Pillar: Societal Challenges
Work Programme Year: H2020-2016-2017
Topic Updates
  • 19 December 2017 10:43

    Letters informing on the results of the second stage evaluation are being sent to applicants. Under the tab 'Topic conditions and documents' the following document is available in section 8. "Additional documents":
    ◦An overview of the evaluation results (Flash Call Information);


  • 14 June 2017 11:42


    The generalised feedback, resulting after the 1st stage evaluation of this topic, is published on this page. To download the document, just expand the "Topic conditions and documents" area (i.e. click on '+ More'), scroll down until "Additional documents" and the generalised feedback can be downloaded in pdf.


  • 24 May 2017 16:01

    Letters informing on the results of the evaluation are being sent to applicants.

    Under the tab 'Topic conditions and documents' the following document is available in section 8. "Additional documents":
    ◦An overview of the evaluation results (Flash Call Information);

  • 11 January 2017 16:26

    As of 1st January 2017, Switzerland is associated to the whole Horizon 2020 programme instead of the previous partial association. More information on this matter can be found here.

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Permanent grasslands are associated with high biodiversity and the delivery of a wide range of ecosystem services (e.g. carbon sequestration, water quality, flood and erosion control). Permanent grassland is closely linked to the competitiveness of ruminant-based farming systems, but its maintenance is under threat, especially in areas where intensified farming systems or practices are feasible, but also in remote and high-mountain areas where it may be abandoned. Whether natural, semi-natural or agriculturally improved, long-term grasslands provide more ecosystem goods and services than short-term grasslands. The continuity and permanence of grasslands is key to ensuring the conservation of biodiversity and the provision of ecosystem services. There is an urgent need to recognise and add value to the multiple ecological functions of grasslands. In turn, this requires the generation of a wide range of data to characterise and benchmark sustainable farming systems based on permanent grassland, taking into consideration the various socio-economic and pedo-climatic conditions in Europe.


Proposals should develop integrated approaches for permanent grassland management which are cost-effective, environmentally sound and easily manageable. Synergies and trade-offs between productivity, biodiversity and continuity of the delivery of ecosystem services will be analysed in different contexts of intensification. Projects will develop farm-level decision support tools for the management of permanent grassland so as to enhance biomass production (for ruminant and/or innovative uses and markets) and the delivery of ecosystem services to society. Aspects of livestock health and welfare shall be given due consideration.

Activities will include the collection of relevant data to monitor, benchmark and analyse the performance of farming systems in terms of productivity, carbon sequestration, socio-economics, biodiversity and the delivery of ecosystem services. Proposals will develop and stratify farm networks reflecting relevant European pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions and involve experimental stations, experimental farms and commercial farms to produce references and identify innovative approaches. Proposals could possibly use instrumented farm platforms to compare different forms of grassland management in order to determine the value of permanent grasslands as providers of food and other ecosystem services. Projects are expected to cover both conventional and organic sectors.

On the basis of the farm network output, work will help in the assessment of the effect of various grassland policies on biodiversity and delivery of ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Taking into consideration the importance and the diversity of grasslands in Europe, this policy analysis could also be extended to relevant third countries. Innovative approaches to creating, maintaining and restoring permanent grassland should be proposed at the appropriate territorial scale. Proposals should develop agri-environmental indicators (including soil carbon content) on grasslands and grassland-based systems as a basis for better recognition of the ecosystem goods and services that permanent grasslands can provide.

Proposals will use transdisciplinary research methods and should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[1], involving the farming sector with a view to generating cross-fertilisation and co-ownership.

Proposals should ensure that the grassland classification and performance benchmarks proposed can be made compatible with, and/or improve, the information systems and procedures set up to monitor direct payments[2] to help bridge the semantic gap between the Agriculture and Environment domains and to facilitate monitoring and reporting synergies.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. The duration of the project should take into consideration the need to coordinate and implement farm networks.

Expected Impact:
  • benchmarking of grassland outputs based on local and regional site conditions across Europe;
  • provision of farm-level tools for the management of permanent grasslands taking into account environmental, economic and social dimensions;
  • enhanced cooperation and knowledge exchange;
  • improved policy instruments for the conservation of biodiversity and delivery of identified ecosystem services and climate action provided by permanent grasslands and appropriate incentives to reduce conflict between productivity objectives in primary production, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration and the delivery of such services;
  • integrated scientific support for relevant EU policies (e.g. CAP, WFD, CC objectives);

strengthening of transdisciplinary research and long-lasting implementation of the results obtained through the implementation of the multi-actor approach.

[1]See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.

[2]Land Parcel and Identification System (LPIS) of the Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS) of the CAP (Council Regulation (EC) 73/2009).

Topic conditions and documents

Please read carefully all provisions below before the preparation of your application.

  1. List of countries and applicable rules for funding: described in part A of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme.
    Note also that a number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon 2020 projects (follow the links to Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong & Macau, India, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Taiwan).

  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme
    Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme [, with the following exceptions]:

    3.2 Submission and evaluation process: Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:

    Information on the outcome of single-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation:
          For stage 1: maximum 3 months from the deadline for submission.
          For stage 2: maximum 5 months from the deadline for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 8 months from the deadline for submission.

  5. Provisions, proposal templates and evaluation forms for the type(s) of action(s) under this topic:

    Research and Innovation Action:

    Specific provisions and funding rates
    Standard proposal template
    Standard evaluation form
    H2020 General MGA -Multi-Beneficiary
    Annotated Grant Agreement


  1. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Technology readiness levels (TRL) – where a topic description refers to TRL, these definitions apply.

    Financial support to Third Parties – where a topic description foresees financial support to Third Parties, these provisions apply.

  2. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions.
  • Where relevant, proposals should also provide information on how the participants will manage the research data generated and/or collected during the project, such as details on what types of data the project will generate, whether and how this data will be exploited or made accessible for verification and re-use, and how it will be curated and preserved.

       Open access to research data

  • The Open Research Data Pilot has been extended to cover all Horizon 2020 topics for which the submission is opened on 26 July 2016 or later. Projects funded under this topic will therefore by default provide open access to the research data they generate, except if they decide to opt-out under the conditions described in annex L of the Work Programme. Projects can opt-out at any stage, that is both before and after the grant signature.
  • Note that the evaluation phase proposals will not be evaluated more favourably because they plan to open or share their data, and will not be penalised for opting out.
  • Open research data sharing applies to the data needed to validate the results presented in scientific publications. Additionally, projects can choose to make other data available open access and need to describe their approach in a Data Management Plan.
  • Projects need to create a Data Management Plan (DMP), except if they opt-out of making their research data open access. A first version of the DMP must be provided as an early deliverable within six months of the project and should be updated during the project as appropriate. The Commission already provides guidance documents, including a template for DMPs.
  • Eligibility of costs: costs related to data management and data sharing are eligible for reimbursement during the project duration.
  • The legal requirements for projects participating in this pilot are in the article 29.3 of the Model Grant Agreement.
  • Further information on the Open Research Data Pilot is made available in the H2020 Online Manual.

8. Additional documents


Additional documents

  • SFS-2017-2 first stage flash info en
  • SFS-17-2017-Generalised Feedback_EN en
  • SFS-2017-2 second stage flash call info_en.pdf en

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