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:
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.
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.
RELACS linked third parties
Project coordination, work package leader, project partner