Research & Innovation - Participant Portal


TOPIC : Assessing soil-improving cropping systems

Topic identifier: SFS-02b-2015
Publication date: 11 December 2013

Types of action: RIA Research and Innovation action
Opening date:
25 July 2014
2nd stage Deadline:
03 February 2015 17:00:00
11 June 2015 17:00:00

Time Zone : (Brussels time)
  Horizon 2020
Topic Description

Specific challenge:European crop production is facing more and more difficulties in remaining competitive in the global market for many reasons. Some of these reasons are the loss of soil fertility and the consequent massive use of expensive external nutrient inputs, notably Nitrogen and Phosphorous, for which European agriculture is almost totally dependent on imported products, or on fertilizers produced with expensive industrial processes, which generates greenhouse gases (GHGs). Therefore, more sustainable crop management strategies are needed to maintain or increase soil fertility. Inappropriate soil and water management and the overuse of external inputs in intensive crop production systems, represent an economic loss for the farmer and a significant burden for the environment and subsequent impact on human health, as they contribute significantly to ground water and surface water pollution, GHGs emissions, the build-up in soil contaminants, such as heavy metals and organic pollutants. Better soil management and optimisation of fertilisers and water are of paramount importance for conciliating the necessary competitiveness and the long-term sustainability of the entire intensive crop production sector in Europe.

Scope: Proposals should address one of the following issue (B):

B. [2015] Assessing soil-improving cropping systems

Proposals should assess real benefits that soil-improving cropping systems and agronomic techniques, e.g. precision farming, crop rotations, Conservation agriculture, can bring to European agriculture, as well as to identify and minimise limitations and drawbacks. Benefits may include a more rational use of natural resources, reduced energy needs, decreased GHG and other toxic gas emissions, soil fertility conservation, above and below ground biodiversity conservation and increased productivity. Limitations and drawbacks may include increased weeds, soil pathogens and problems with certain types of crops in relation to climatic conditions. Scientifically supported and field tested evidences of the mentioned beneficial effects of minimally disturbed soil, and no till or low tillage strategies, as well as of drawbacks and methods to minimise them, are needed to promote the adoption of soil-improving systems and techniques by European farmers. Considering the different pedo-climatic conditions and the varieties of cropping systems in Europe, the development of tailor-made soil-improving strategies, techniques and machinery suitable to different farming areas and adapted to different crops and crop systems, should help to overcome the current barriers that prevent their adoption by European farmers.

Proposals should fall under the concept of 'multi-actor approach'[1].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU in the range EUR 7 million for (B) would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Impact: Proposals should show how some, or all, of the following impacts will be achieved:

         Improvement of ground and surface water quality.

         Reduction of soil contaminations with toxic compounds and heavy metals.

         Conservation of biodiversity and wildlife.

         Improved human health, through the reduced release of pollutants and GHGs.

         Scientific support to relevant EU policies[2]

         Sound scientific evaluation of benefits and drawbacks of soil-improving cropping systems and techniques.

         Reduction of soil erosion and improvement of soil quality and structure  

         Increased European farmers’ competitiveness through the reduction of production costs.

         Reduction of the negative environmental impact of crop production through less soil disturbance, better exploitation of soil biodiversity and functions and more rational use of external inputs, water and natural resource base.

Type of action: Research and innovation actions

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

[2] Fertiliser regulation ((EC) No 2003/2003), Nitrate directive (1991), Soil Thematic strategy (COM (2006) 231)


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.
  2. Eligibility and admissibility conditions: described in part B and C of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. 

  3. Evaluation

    3.1  Evaluation criteria and procedure, scoring and threshold: described in part H of the General Annexes of the General Work Programme. 

    3.2 Guide to the submission and evaluation process

  4. Proposal page limits and layout: Please refer to Part B of the standard proposal template.
  5. Indicative timetable for evaluation and grant agreement:
    Information on the outcome of one-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the final date for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 3 months from the date of informing successful applicants.

    Information on the outcome of two-stage evaluation: maximum 5 months from the final date for submission.
    Signature of grant agreements: maximum 3 months from the date of informing successful applicants.
  6. 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 (administrative forms and structure of technical annex)
    Standard evaluation form
    Annotated Model Grant Agreement

  7. Additional provisions:

    Horizon 2020 budget flexibility

    Classified information

    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.

  8. Open access must be granted to all scientific publications resulting from Horizon 2020 actions, and proposals must refer to measures envisaged. 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.


Additional documents

  • Flash Call Info en
  • Legal basis - Framework Programme H2020 en
  • Legal basis - Specific Programme H2020 en
  • WP H2020 - 1. Introduction en
  • WP H2020 - 9. Food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy en
  • WP H2020 - 17. Communication and Dissemination en
  • WP H2020 - 19. General Annexes en

Submission Service

No submission system is open for this topic.

Get support

National Contact Points (NCP) – contact your NCP for further assistance.

Enterprise Europe Network – contact your EEN national contact point for advice to businesses with special focus on SMEs. The support includes guidance on the EU research funding.

Research Enquiry Service – ask questions about any aspect of European research in general and the EU Research Framework Programmes in particular.

IT Helpdesk – contact the Participant Portal IT helpdesk for questions such as forgotten passwords, access rights and roles, technical aspects of submission of proposals, etc.

Ethics – to ensure compliance with ethical issues, further information is available on the Participant Portal and on the Science and Society Portal.

European IPR Helpdesk assists you on intellectual property issues.

The European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for their recruitment

CEN and CENELEC, the European Standards Organisations, advise you how to tackle standardisation in your project proposal. Contact CEN-CENELEC Research Helpdesk at

Partner Search Services helps you find a partner organisation for your proposal.

H2020 Online Manual your online guide on the procedures from proposal submission to managing your grant.