Agroecological approaches for sustainable weed management | Deadlines: 23 February 2022, 6 September 2022

Deadline:  23 February 2022 and 6 September 2022 (2 stage)
Budget:  14.500.000 EUR
Countries:  France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia

Themes

  • Aquaculture

Objective

A successful proposal should support the farm to fork’s strategy objective of a transition to a fair, healthy and resilient European agriculture, notably its objective to promote agroecology, and the target to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides[1], by unfolding the potential of agroecology to provide alternative weeding strategies that reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides used as herbicides. This will support the transition to sustainable, safe, productive, climate-neutral and resilient farming systems that minimise the pressure on ecosystems while ensuring fair economic returns for farmers.

Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Evidence of optimal and innovative combinations of holistic alternative weeding techniques based on agroecological approaches in different European pedo-climatic conditions for a wide range of crops and farming systems, including conventional, organic and mixed farming;
  • Quantitative and qualitative evidence of the social, economic and environmental sustainability and performance, as well as trade-offs, of different alternative weeding strategies across Europe at farm, landscape and regional levels, and in the medium to long term;
  • Robust evidence of factors influencing farmers’ decision-making and improved knowledge co-creation and feedback among actors in the food value chain, resulting in ease of use, end-user acceptance and increased implementation of alternative and holistic weeding strategies based on an integrated use of agroecological approaches;
  • Improved, open access to data on current weed management practices and use of herbicides across several representative European agro-ecosystems.

Scope: 

Herbicides have become the foundation of weed management in EU farming systems. Given that herbicides can have harmful effects on the environment, non-target organisms, and animal and human health, reducing reliance on these products has become a policy objective. Sustainable and effective non-chemical alternatives to reduce or eliminate the use of herbicides are largely lacking for most crops and farming systems in the EU.

Weed-related challenges can be better addressed as a part of broad-based, holistic strategies such as agroecology[2] that, by relying on and maximising the use of ecological processes to support agricultural production, have the potential to advance ecosystem sustainability while ensuring profitability of the farming activity. Agroecology is a holistic approach that relies on and maximises the use of ecological processes to support agricultural production. By working more with nature and ecosystem services, agroecology has the potential to increase the circularity, diversification and autonomy of farms, and drive a full transformation of farming systems, from input substitution and beyond. In parallel, progressing towards digitalisation or the implementation of new digital technologies is one of the main ambitions facing EU agriculture.

The development and promotion of alternative weed management techniques and strategies that do not only rely on chemical herbicides are required. Moreover, factors such as soil and climatic conditions, as well as the type of crop and the farming system can largely determine the spatial and temporal development of major weeds and, therefore, the effectiveness and efficiency of these strategies. Agroecological or nature-based principles can provide systemic, sustainable, context-specific and socially acceptable alternatives to address these challenges.

Activities should advance knowledge, build capacities and deliver innovative systemic and holistic solutions to reduce and eventually eliminate the use of chemical pesticides used as herbicides, and will address the needs of a wide range of crops (arable and permanent) and farming systems, both conventional and organic. Proposals should cover all EU and Associated Countries biogeographical/pedo-climatic regions. Proposals must implement the ‘multi-actor approach’ and should build on and expand the achievements of relevant past and ongoing EU-funded research projects.

More information on the EC funding and tenders opportunities portal