Why do research and innovation support ecological approaches and organic farming?

Agriculture and forestry must meet the changing needs of society, in terms of both consumption and the environmental issues related to primary production (e.g. biodiversity, habitats, water quality and quantity, climate change, air quality).

A deeper understanding of ecological principles is changing perceptions on the functioning of primary production systems and will make it possible to use ecosystem services to benefit sustainable and resilient land use systems without jeopardising profitability.

Integrated ecological approaches are a promising area of research and innovation. They include the interactions between plants, animals and other organisms, interactions within soil, as well as ecosystem services such as pollination, biological pest control, maintenance of soil structure and fertility, nutrient cycling and hydrological services – most of which are not well known yet.

Specific types of farming systems that implement ecological approaches have developed in Europe and across the world, and they have their own research and innovation needs. These include the organic sector, which is the largest such farming system with a dedicated regulatory framework and dynamic market growth.

Collaboration with other parts of the food and non-food supply chain is necessary to develop effective, new and creative solutions and business models especially for radical eco-innovations.

Ecological approaches are knowledge-intensive and depend on combining formal and practical knowledge with modern technologies and practices. Knowledge relating to agro-ecosystems is site-specific and evolving.

Innovations are expected to capitalise on local conditions and provide place and tailor-made solutions. Long-term experiments and an appropriate research infrastructure need to be developed to meet the specific needs of ecological approaches in relation to -in particular- landscape levels and their evolution over longer periods of time.

Funding opportunities

  • Horizon 2020

    Calls for proposals related to ecological approaches and organic farming 2020. This page lists them and explains how you can apply.

  • European agricultural fund for rural development

    The rural development policy supports innovation through a range of interventions, including the European innovation partnership for agriculture (EIP-AGRI).

  • LIFE programme

    Some ecological approaches and organic farming related calls may be found in this programme.

Collaboration and jobs

Projects and results

Scientific publications, tools and databases

  • Scientific publications 

    Scientific publications produced by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC).

  • Scientific research tools and databases 

    The Commission's Joint Research Centre compiles databases and develops software and modelling tools.

  • EU Open Data Portal 

    Single point of access to open data produced by the EU institutions. All data is free to use for commercial and non-commercial purposes.

  • OpenAIRE

    You can access all scientific publications from Horizon 2020 via OpenAIRE.