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Replacement of Contentious Inputs in organic farming Systems

Title OriginalReplacement of Contentious Inputs in organic farming Systems

Organic farmers adhere to high standards in producing quality food while protecting the environment. However, organic farming needs to improve continuously to keep meeting its ambitious objectives. RELACS will foster the development and adoption of cost-efficient and environmentally safe tools and technologies to:

  • Reduce the use of copper and mineral oil in plant protection,
  • Identify sustainable sources for plant nutrition, and
  • Provide solutions to support livestock health and welfare.

As a system approach to sustainable agriculture, organic farming aims to effectively manage ecological processes whilst lowering dependence on off-farm inputs. The RELACS partners will evaluate solutions to further reduce the use of inputs across Europe as well as in countries on the Southern shore of the Mediterranean. The project partners will provide scientific support to develop fair and implementable EU rules to improve current practices in organic farming. Farm advisory networks in 11 European countries will reach out to farmers to ensure effective dissemination and adoption of the tools and techniques.

Detailed Description

The overall objective of RELACS is to foster development and facilitate adoption of cost-efficient and environmentally safe tools and technologies to phase out the dependency on and use of contentious inputs in organic farming systems. RELACS will reduce the use of copper and mineral oil, manure from conventional farms, provide alternatives to excessive use of anthelmintics in small ruminants, and reduce antibiotic use in dairy cattle and moderate reliance on synthetic vitamins in cattle and poultry production. To pursue this aim, (i) RELACS will provide a comprehensive overview of the current use of and critical evaluation of the need for external inputs in organic plant and animal production. We aim to (ii) bring far developed (TRL≥6) alternatives to copper, mineral oils and anthelmintics to the market, (iii) extend the use of farmer-driven techniques to reduce antibiotics to a wider range of EU regions and (iv) develop and explore innovative approaches to reduce synthetic vitamin use and propose acceptable vitamin and plant nutrition sources, based on thorough systems analysis and R&D.

(v) The products and management practices will be evaluated in different pedo-climatic and farming conditions in the EU and Mediterranean third countries. (vi) RELACS will develop implementation roadmaps by analysing the socio-economic conditions required for acceptance and adoption of alternatives and provide scientific support for relevant EU policies to develop fair, reliable and implementable rules. (vii) Rapid dissemination and adoption of techniques along the food value chain will be achieved via established dissemination structures in 12 European countries. RELACS builds on results of previous research projects and takes forward far advanced solutions. The multi-actor approach is the core of both, the consortium and the project, as RELACS was developed by involving actors and stakeholders from research, organic farmers, advisors and industry from the start.

Financing/ Donor
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020 – The EU Framework Programme for Research under the call H2020-SFS-2017-2 and the Grant Agreement no 727230
(Research) Program
  • European Commission, Horizon 2020
Project partners

Project coordinator

  • Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL, Switzerland


  • BiPA NV (Belgium)
  • Fondazione Edmund Mach (Italy)
  • IFOAM EU (Belgium)
  • Institut Technique de l’Agriculture Biologique (France)
  • Julius Kühn-Institut Bundesforschungsinstitut für Kulturpflanzen (Germany)
  • Københavns Universitet (Denmark)
  • Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (Italy)
  • NIBIO - Norsk Instituti for Biookonomi (Norway)
  • Okologiai Mezogazdasagi Kutatointezet (Hungary)
  • Scotland’s Rural College (UK)
  • SubstainTec GmbH (Switzerland)
  • Thünen-Institut (Germany)
  • Trifolio-M GmbH (Germany)
  • Universitaet Hohenheim (Germany)

RELACS linked third parties

  • Adage35 (France)
  • Asociación Valor Ecológico, CAAE - Ecovalia (Spain)
  • Bioforum Vlaanderen (Belgium)
  • Eesti Mahepollumajanduse Sihtasutus (Estonia)
  • Fédération des Eleveurs Et Vétérinaires En Convention (FEVEC, France)
  • Federazione Italiana Agricoltura Biologica e Biodinamica (Italy)
  • Foundation for organic Agriculture Bioselena (Bulgaria)
  • Institut de l'Élevage (France)
  • Institut Technique Interprofessionnel des Plantes à Parfum Médicinales et Aromatiques (France)
  • Naturland - Verband für ökologischen Landbau e. V. (Germany)
  • Økologisk Landsforening (Denmark)
  • Öko-Obstbau Norddeutschland: Versuchs- und Beratungsring e.V. (Germany)
  • The Soil Association (UK)
  • Universita degli studi di Trento (Italy)
    FiBL project leader/ contact
    • Tamm Lucius (Director of Cooperation, Department of Crop Sciences)
    FiBL project staff
    Role of FiBL

    Project coordination, work package leader, project partner

    Research area
    • Animal health (Department of Livestock Sciences)
    • Animal nutrition (Department of Livestock Sciences)
    • Crop Protection - Phytopathology (Department of Crop Sciences)
    • Nutrient Management & Symbiosis (Department of Soil Sciences)
    FiBL project number 25054
    Date modified 13.07.2020
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