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Horizon 2020

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 774340

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4.121 million Euro


Panepistimo Thessalias, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Universita Defli Studi di Padova, Universitaet Honehneim, Aarhus Universitet, Politechnika Czestochowska, Landbrug & Fodevarer F.M.B.A, Institut de Recerca I Technologia Agroalimentaries, Instituto Andaluz de Investigaciony Formacion Agraria, Pesquera Alimentaria y de la Produccion Ecologica, Ministry of Food Agriculture and Livestock, Ekolojik Tarim Organizasyonu Dernegi, Norwegian Centre for Organic Agriculture, Eidgenoessische Forschungsanstalt WSL, Sveriges Lantbrunksuniversitet, Universita Degli Studi di Parma, Institut d Enseignement Superieur et de Recherche en Alimentation Sante Animale Sciences Agronomiques Etude L Environnement Vetagro Sup, Leibniz-Institut Fuer Agrartechnik Und Bioekonomie EV, Royal Horticultural Society, The Soil Association Limited, Forschungsring Fur Biologischdynamische Wirtschaftsweise EV, Department D-Agricultura, Ramaderia, Pesca I Alimentacio, Oslomet – Storbyuniversitetet, Universita Degli Studi di Catania, Organic Research Centre


Dr Ulrich Schmutz, Judith Conroy, Dr Adrian Evans, Dr Francis Rayns, Dr Sara Burbi, Dr Michael Warne and Dr Rosa van Kesteren.


May 2018 to April 2022


team organic italy

Team Organic-PLUS (Padova, Italy, June 2018)

Project objectives

'Organic-PLUS' means minimising, and eventually phasing out contentious inputs from certified organic agriculture. By doing so organic food systems can be more true to the IFOAM organic principle of ‘ecology’. This principle is now shared by the EU Bio-economy agenda, focusing on renewable biological resources from land and sea.

The overall aim of the ‘Organic-PLUS project’ (O+) is to provide high-quality, trans-disciplinary, scientifically informed decision support to help all actors in the organic sector, including national and regional policy makers, to reach the next level of the organic success story in Europe.


Organic-PLUS will develop both alternative inputs and systems solutions and rigorously test them under commercial conditions in order to facilitate their uptake. These will include new products for plant disease control, anti-infective and immuno-stimulatory feed additives, novel animal bedding materials, peat-free growing media, fertilisers based on plants rather than animal by-products and mulches not made from fossil fuel-derived plastics. We will also aim to greatly increase farmer awareness and uptake of alternatives to contentious inputs. This impact will be achieved through farmer-focused knowledge brokerage including expert workshops, practical demonstrations and training. We will also draw on our extensive network of over 50 associate project partners and their members to disseminate this information to key stakeholders in organic agriculture. On-farm demonstrations will provide hands-on interactive experience of the proposed alternatives to contentious inputs.

In addition, the scientific knowledge generated in Organic-PLUS will be of great interest to conventional producers. This will be particularly true for certain inputs such as plastic, peat, antibiotics, manure from industrial animal production which are equally contentious in conventional agriculture.

As part of Organic-PLUS’s transdisciplinary approach we do social scientific research to establish both the public perception of contentious inputs in organic farming and to understand the changing nature of consumer demand for and expectations about organic produce. We undertake a statistically representative online survey of public opinion regarding contentious inputs across 7 European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Poland, Spain and the UK), and we undertake citizen juries in three study countries (Italy, Norway and the UK). This research will enable us to gain a deeper understanding of consumer concerns and will help to build trust amongst consumers and give long-term stability to grow the European organic land share from currently 6% to 12% and 24% within the next 10-20 years.

Latest News

Growers to trial alternatives to plastic for veg production

Executive Board Organic-PLUS

Executive Board Organic-PLUS (Padova, Italy, June 2018)

International Advisory Board Organic-PLUS

International Advisory Board Organic-PLUS (Padova, Italy, June 2018)

For more information about this project please contact Dr Ulrich Schmutz.

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