Covid-19: Doing research during a pandemic

On 22nd January, Coventry University researchers presented, “Doing research during a pandemic” using the example of Organic-PLUS, as part of a research event at Coventry University. The presentation covered what measures have been taken within the project to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, including: WP1 LEAD – how the co-ordination has had to adapt to cope with the pandemic, WP2 IMPACT – the switch from physical citizen juries to ‘digital hybrid forums’ where citizen-consumers and farmers (hence hybrid) are combined in a jury or ‘citizen-farmer competence group’ (for further detail see: and WP5 SOIL – how field experiments and work with Innovative Farmers was adapted.
All sides can be viewed here: O+ Research during a pandemic Jan-2021.pdf


New O+Deliveries published to help phase-out antibiotics and peat

Two new deliveries are available on the Organic-PLUS website: They are researching very different solutions for organic livestock and organic horticulture, but have a common thread researching bio-economy, based-plant products as alternatives to currently used contentious inputs.

The livestock research is aimed at phasing out antibiotics, antiparasitics and synthetic vitamins and comprised of trials on: (1) essential oils and nature identical compounds testing as antimicrobials, (2) plant extract testing as antiparasitic, and (3) chemical analysis of essential oils, essential oils active compounds and antioxidant/immunostimulants.

Oregano essential oil chromatograms obtained by GC/MS technique, DB-WAX column (preliminary data, Source: University of Parma) 

The research for horticulture is aimed at phasing out peat as growing media in horticulture and comprised of trials testing extruded ligoncellulosic materials from across Europe (e.g. from agroforestry, forests or orchards) for their suitability as fibres in peat substitutes especially to replace lighter materials still added to wood-based peat compost like vermiculite (a mined product mostly imported from the USA, Brazil, South-Africa and China; today mines are regularly tested for asbestos contamination and the USA/Montana mine at Libby with asbestos contamination has been closed in the 1990s). More on on-farm wood-based compost see this Grower videos: Wood innovation to phase-out peat.

Illustration of the extruder at O+ partner ATB: Wood chips enter the extruder and are crushed by the twin screws to fibres (orange arrows), while steam and additives are added during processing (blue arrows). The fibres exit the twin screw extruder via a 5 – 35 mm aperture [Source ATB].

New Organic Livestock paper published

On April 3rd 2020, as a result of work conducted within the Organic-PLUS project, the review article ‘Organic livestock production: a bibliometric review’ was published in the peer-reviewed academic journal ‘Animals’. Led by Dr Carmen L. Manuelian from O+ parter University of Padova, the review presents a bibliometric approach to organic livestock production and provides an overview of the research conducted on this topic. It highlights tendencies, identifies the countries involved in organic livestock production research and the scientific interaction between countries and authors, and maps the keywords of the published papers. These are all important aspects to bear in mind when embarking upon a new research area or writing a research proposal.

Cow photo from Carmen, Padova

The review reveals an increasing interest in organic livestock production, which can be scientifically measured by the number of projects funded by governmental organisations and the number of published papers. Countries with a long-tradition in organic farming (German-speaking and English-speaking countries, and France) are still the predominant countries in organic livestock research. Collaborations among countries are still scarce, and probably triggered by geographical and historical relationships and languages. Some limitations of the search (e.g. database used, keywords, software for the analysis, language of the documents) and metadata linked to the documents (e.g. type of document, total citations) have to be accounted for when interpreting the results. Therefore, a bibliometric review is an interesting and reliable method when approaching a specific topic for the first time.

‘Animals’ is a peer-reviewed open access journal (ISSN 2076-2615; Q1 journal in the category ‘Agriculture, Dairy & Animal Science’) and the paper is open access and free to view here –

More factsheets added

Please check our new fact factsheets and find existing ones here: 

Alternatives to contentious inputs in organic crops

0) O+ Potato factsheet (English)

Alternatives to contentious inputs in organic livestock

5) O+ Natural Vitamins (Italian)
5) O+ Natural Vitamins (Spanish)
5) O+ Natural Vitamins (Turkish)

6) O+ Natural Antiparasitics (Italian)
6) O+ Natural Antiparasitics (Spanish)
6) O+ Natural Antiparasitics (Turkish)

7) O+ Natural Antimicrobial (Italian)
7) O+ Natural Antimicrobial (Spanish)
7) O+ Natural Antimicrobial (Turkish)

8) O+ Bibliometric Analysis (English)

9) O+ Survey on Organic Livestock in France (English)
9) O+ Survey on Organic Livestock in France long version (Frensh) – Résultats préliminaires de l’enquête Organic-PLUS

University of Catania researchers present on Organic-PLUS

Researchers from Organic-PLUS partner the University of Catania have presented their work on the project at two recent conferences:

From 9th-11th July 2019, ‘Biocontrol 2019’ the 4th International Symposium on Biological Control of Bacterial Plant Diseases took place in Viterbo, Italy. The Italian Organic-PLUS team working on the PLANT workpackage presented early findings of their trials as a poster “Evaluation of antibacterial products for the control of Xanthomonas euvesicatoria pv. perforans in organic tomato farming”.

UNICT poster July 2019
Alice Anzalone and Gabriella Cirvilleri presenting their poster at Biocontrol 19

The Catania team presented again at the 5th International Conference on Microbial Diversity (MD2019) in Catania, Italy, from 25th-27th September 2019. In the poster, “Evaluation of the efficacy of biocontrol agents and cardoon plant extracts to contain green mold of citrus fruit”, promising results from the first 20 months of the Organic-PLUS project were presented.

UNICT poster Sept 2019

New! Polish language Organic-PLUS website

Czestochowa University of Technology (CUT), our consortium partner in Poland has now launched a Polish language Organic-PLUS website. After talking to farmers and growers, it emerged that there was the need for a resource that explained the project and the activities of the CUT team in the local language. To follow the project in Polish, you can visit

O+ Polish website

Organic-PLUS poster wins prize at waste management conference

Danuta Dróżdż, a PhD candidate working on the Organic-PLUS project at the Częstochowa University of Technology, presented a poster at the 7th International Conference on Sustainable Solid Waste Management, in Heraklion, Crete, Greece, 26th – 29th June 2019. The conference focused on utilising various forms of solid waste through safe, sustainable and & effective technologies.

Danuta June 2019 conference 4

Danuta’s poster “Potentials of fish pond sediment composts as organic fertiliser” was very well received, coming 3rd out of 202 posters that were presented. As this research progresses, we will making our findings available by producing reports, articles and by publishing scientific papers.

Organic-PLUS results presented at EAAP congress

From 26th-30th August 2019, the 70th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP) took place in Ghent, Belgium. The EAAP is one of the largest animal science congresses in the world and the main theme of this year’s meeting was “animal farming for a healthy world”. Dr Mauro Penasa (of DAFNAE, University of Padova) presented the poster “Organic livestock farming contentious inputs in France: preliminary results”, which summarised the initial findings of the French part of the recent Europe-wide livestock Organic-PLUS livestock survey conducted in France by the Organic-PLUS livestock team.

Mauro for website news Sept 2019

University of Thessaly to host Open Access Day

As part of the Horizon 2020 project Organic-PLUS, the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions and Environmental Control of the University of Thessaly, is organising an open day for the public. The event will take place at the University’s experimental farm in Velestino, on 18th September 2019 from 10:00am to 15:00pm.

Visitors will be able to see both the activities of the laboratory in the context of the Organic-PLUS project (Workpackage 3, PLANT) and also the activities of other research projects being undertaken by the team, including: FoodOASIS, Alga4Fuel&Aqua, Cascade Hydroponics (CasH), AgriTexSil and MED Greenhouses.

There will also be the opportunity to visit the Innovative Greenhouse, including a presentation of the new pilot greenhouse of the Laboratory of Agricultural Constructions and Environmental Control of the University of Thessaly, where most of the above mentioned projects are implemented.

The Open Access Day (OPEN DAY) event is part of the pan-European communication campaign Europe in My Region 2019 (#EUinMyRegion).

UTH Sept 13 open day flyer

O+ livestock research presented internationally

The Organic-PLUS (O+) livestock team presented first results from the project as posters on on two international conferences one at the ASPA 2019  (Sorrento, Italy) lead by Dr. Mauro Penasa (DAFNAE, University of Padova) on ‘Organic livestock production: a bibliometric analysis’ (first picture below).

The second poster was presented at the ADSA 2019 (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA) by Dr. Carmen L. Manuelian (DAFNAE, University of Padova) on ‘Survey about the use of allopathic treatments and sources of information for organic livestock farms in France’. Dr. Luciana da Costa from Ohio State University is also shown as she has cooperated with the O+ team on the livestock survey (second picture below).

Dr. Mauro Penasa (DAFNAE, University of Padova) in front of the O+poster on ‘Organic livestock production: a bibliometric analysis’, presented at ASPA 2019 (Sorrento, Italy)
Dr. Carmen L. Manuelian (DAFNAE, University of Padova, on the left) and Dr. Luciana da Costa (Ohio State University; on the right) in front of the O+ poster on ‘Survey about the use of allopathic treatments and sources of information for organic livestock farms in France’, presented at the ADSA 2019 (Cincinnati, Ohio, USA).

Innovation with waste wood to replace peat in plant propagation

Organic grower Iain Tolhurst (Tolly) phased out the use of peat on his vegetable farm several years ago. Here, he talks to the Organic-PLUS team about the growing media he produces from on-farm from wood waste, fulfilling all of his plant propagation requirements (clip 18 on the Organic-PLUS playlist).


More info on Tolly is found here:


Full Organic-PLUS playlist

Factsheets now available in 5 languages

Alternatives to contentious inputs in organic crops

PDF – factsheets for download in English and Mediterranean languages Greek, Italian, Spanish and Turkish.

Citrus Factsheet Greek
O+ Citrus factsheet (Greek) as an example

1) O+ Citrus factsheet (English) 
1) O+ Citrus factsheet (Greek) 
1) O+ Citrus factsheet (Italian) 
1) O+ Citrus factsheet (Spanish)
1) O+ Citrus factsheet (Turkish) 

2) O+ Olive factsheet (English) 
2) O+ Olive factsheet (Greek) 
2) O+ Olive factsheet (Italian) 
2) O+ Olive factsheet (Spanish) 
2) O+ Olive factsheet (Turkish) 

3) O+ Tomato factsheet (English) 
3) O+ Tomato factsheet (Greek)
3) O+ Tomato factsheet (Italian)
3) O+ Tomato factsheet (Spanish)
3) O+ Tomato factsheet (Turkish) 

4) O+ Aubergine factsheet (English)  
4) O+ Aubergine factsheet (Greek)
4) O+ Aubergine factsheet (Italian)
4) O+ Aubergine factsheet (Spanish)
4) O+ Aubergine factsheet (Turkish)

CAWR Project Highlights

Coventry University’s Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience (CAWR), lead partner of Organic-PLUS has produced a new project highlights booklet.



Available as a paper document or to download, the booklet will be refreshed regularly with details of the ongoing work of Organic-PLUS and other projects that CAWR is involved with.

The International Biocyclic Vegan Network

In January 2019, Organic-PLUS’s associated partner, the International Biocyclic Vegan Network ( featured prominently in UK print media. The Guardian newspaper published a piece titled, ” ‘We’re humus sapiens’: the farmers who shun animal manure

Biocyclic vegan agriculture is a form of organic farming that uses only plant-based inputs. Since November 2017, the Biocyclic Vegan Standard has been available worldwide as a global standard for vegan organic farming accredited by IFOAM.  This is in-line with Organic-PLUS’s aim to phase-out the use of conventional (non-organic) manure in organic systems. Biocyclic vegan agriculture does, however, permit fertility sources from conventionally raised plants. For example, fertiliser derived from conventional sugar-beet waste.

Organic-PLUS at ICA2018, the 12th International Conference on Agrophysics

Organic-PLUS was represented at ICA2018, the 12th International Conference on Agrophysics: Soil, Plant & Climate in Lublin, Poland 17th – 19th September. Krystyna Malińska of Czestochowa University of technology and our SOIL workpackage delivered the keynote lecture on biochar and presented Organic-PLUS to the scientific community.

Krystyna Malińska and Danuta Dróżdż ICA2018 Sept 2018
Krystyna Malińska and Danuta Dróżdż with their fish pond sediments poster at ICA2018

Also at the conference, Krystyna and colleague Danuta Dróżdż displayed a poster on “Fish pond sediment from aquaculture production – current practices and potentials for nutrient recovery” which has been submitted to the journal International Agrophysics as a review paper and is part of Organic-PLUS’s investigations of bioeconomy fertilisers.

ICOAS 2018

The two sister EU-Horizon 2020 projects RELACS and Organic-PLUS organised a joined session and workshop at the 6th International Conference on Organic Agriculture Sciences (ICOAS 2018) held at the Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt, Austria from 7 – 9 November 2018.

For further information see ICOAS-2018 website, and please download the ICOAS 2018 Book of Abstracts (PDF download).

The workshop ‘Pathways to phase-out contentious inputs’ was chaired by Ulrich Schmutz (Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience, Coventry University, UK) and had three input presentations:

• Replacement of Contentious Inputs in Organic Farming Systems (RELACS) – a comprehensive Horizon 2020 project, Veronika Maurer, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), CH. Presentation Veronika Maurer (PDF download)

• Pathways to phase-out contentious inputs from organic agriculture in Europe – Research overview and preliminary results (Organic-PLUS), Ulrich Schmutz, Coventry University, UK. Presentation Ulrich Schmutz (PDF download)

• Lessons learned from phase-outs – the case of the peat phase-out in the United Kingdom, Judith Conroy, Coventry University, UK. Presentation Judith Conroy (PDF download)

The presentations were followed by three parallel 30-min break-out groups to discuss contentions inputs in organic livestock, organic plant protection and organic soil/fertility management (peat, plastic and fertilisers). The project collected valuable feedback from the organic research experts community at the conference.

Thank you – to everyone at the workshop for the contributions made to the lively discussion on contentious inputs in organic agriculture!

Haydnsaal at Esterházy Palace with excellent acoustics but difficult to focus on slides

3rd European Conference on Copper in Plant Protection

The Organic-PLUS and RELACS projects participated to the 3rd European Conference on Copper in Plant Protection that was held in the Julius Kühn-Institut, Berlin, Germany, from 15-16 November 2018, organised by IFOAM EU-Group, BÖLW and the Julius Kühn-Institut.

During the conference, the state of play under the old EU regulation 1107/2009 and the re-approval of copper as active substance was discussed from the policy and industry perspective. In addition, the EU copper minimisation strategy for organic crops was presented and discussed.

For the Organic-PLUS project WP Plant leader Prof Dr Nikolaos Katsoulas from University of Thessaly, Greece and Lucas Knebl from Forschungsring e.V. Germany participated and presented the project to the IFOAM Conference.

Lucas Knebl and Nikos Katsoulas

The picture below shows Nikos together with the RELACS Co-ordinator Dr Lucius Tamm.

Lucius Tamm and Nikos Katsoulas


Mainstreaming Agroecology in horticultural science

At the 30th  International Horticulture Congress (12-16 August 2018, Istanbul, Turkey) organised by International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) Agroecology as a science got a big boost!

The  2nd International Symposium on “Organic Horticulture for Wellbeing of the Environment and Population” was held with a large audience. In addition, a Short Training Course on Organic Agriculture was hosteda workshop on the discussion of Soil and Soilless Organic Production Systems, and a workshop on Agroecology and Education: Socio-ecological Resilience to Climate Change. Prof. Dr Uygun Aksoy (Chair of the Scientific Committee of ISHS, and working for ETO a consortium partner within Organic-PLUS) organised them and helped to get agroecology science a bigger role in international horticulture research. With the election of Prof. Dr Yüksel Tüzel as next ISHS president the society has now a leader with deep understanding of organic horticulture.

To add to the growing role the current commission on ‘Organic Horticulture’ will be expanded and renamed ‘Agroecology and Organic Farming Systems’ (this is still within horticultural science) and more working groups on organic vegetables, organic temperate and tropical fruit and agroecology will be added to the existing working groups to respond to the rising academic and practical interest in this work.


Speakers at the Agroecology workshop are shown above (Left to right): Prof. Reza Ardakani (Iran), Dr. Ulrich Schmutz (United Kingdom), Prof. Beatrix Alsanius (Sweden), Prof. Martine Dorais (Canada), Prof. Uygun Aksoy (Turkey) and Prof. Maria Claudia Dussi (Argentina).