Organic Innovation Days, Brussels 2018, towards the phase-out of pesticides

The ‘Organic Innovation Days’ events have become a late November tradition, aiming to inform and grow networks between stakeholders in the organic sector. This year, Anne-Kristin Løes (NORSØK, Norway) and Alev Kir (MFAL, Turkey) both partners in Organic-PLUS attended.

Arranged by TP Organics, the event was held in Brussels, 27th – 29th November 2018 and incorporated the Global Sustainable Technology & Innovation Conferences (G-STIC). The work of Organic-PLUS and its sister project RELACS was highlighted a number of times in connection to reducing the use of contentious inputs such as copper in organic growing. Christian Huyghe, Scientific Director of INRA, France gave an enthusiastic lecture about post-pesticide agriculture, including the phase-out of those pesticides currently permitted in organic growing.

Agroecology Brussels Nov 2018 A-K Loes
Eldert van Helten and Rogier Schulte of Wageningen University (Netherlands) presenting research to develop agroecology approaches at G-STIC

For the G-STIC event, agroecology as a driver for increased sustainability was the main headline. A range of success stories from around the world were presented, but with no mention of organic standards, certification, labeling or marketing as a route for realising agroecology in practice. Agroecology is a reminder to organic farming that we could make much better provision for biodiversity; for example, with new approaches to crop rotation (strip cropping has been tested with great success in the Netherlands). Though scientists involved in agroecology appreciate the practical efforts of the organic sector, there is still significant resistance to certified organic farming on the political side.

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

2019 Biocontrol Congress

Biocontrol 2019, the 4th International Symposium on Biological Control of Bacterial Plant Diseases, will take place in Viterbo, Italy from 9th – 11th July 2019 with Organic-PLUS researcher Prof. Gabriella Cirvilleri of the University of Catania a member of the scientific committee.

Since the first Biocontrol Symposium in Darmstadt, Germany in 2005, these conferences have become a great opportunity to meet and discuss the latest research results and developments in the biological control of bacterial plant diseases. Biocontrol 2019 will focus on the main scientific, technical and political aspects relating to the management of the most serious bacterial plant diseases occurring worldwide.

Citrus - unhealthy
Citrus will be one of the crops examined at Biocontrol 2019

Chaired by Prof. Giorgio M. Balestra, the symposium will provide researchers, students and professionals a chance to meet, exchange ideas and develop common activities in a warm and friendly environment. For more information, visit the Biocontrol 2019 website.

XIII Congress of the Spanish Society of Organic Agriculture (SEAE)

Organic-PLUS participated in the XIII Congress of the Spanish Society of Organic Agriculture (Sociedad Española de Agricultura Ecológica, SEAE) that took place in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain, from 14-17 November 2018. Dr Sara Burbi from Coventry University was invited to give a presentation about the project and engage with producers, policy-makers and NGOs that attend SEAE congresses. The event included workshops, roundtables, presentations and poster sessions. Organic-PLUS was included in the session on participatory work to highlight the transdisciplinarity of the project and present early results.

SB SEAE Spain Nov 2018 2
Dr Burbi also provided translation for Dražen Lušić (Croatia), President of IFOAM-ABM at this Spanish language meeting

Copper use was considered one of the most contentious inputs by the audience, followed by antibiotics and antiparasitics use in livestock production.

The event was a good opportunity to engage with a variety of stakeholders, primarily from Spain, but also from France, Italy and delegations from Chile, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, as several Latin American countries are embracing organic principles and aim to further promote sustainable farming practices, in particular, adopting the agroecological framework. Agroecology and organic principles held an important role in the congress, which focused on climate change, as well as the proposed changes to the EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

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


NEW – Livestock Survey

Calling all organic livestock farmers across Europe… the Organic-PLUS survey for mapping contentious inputs in organic livestock farming is now online and we are keen to hear from you.

Please click the link in your language to find further explanation and instructions. For other countries (e.g. Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greece…) please use the English version. In the English survey version you can use the auto-translate option to narrow down the meaning, but it is not a perfect translation.

For further details, on the research of the Livestock workpackage, see this recent article on the ISOFAR website.

Thank you to all of the farms that have completed it so far, some of which are listed on our Farming Partners page.

NEW ! German version:

English version:

French version:

Italian version:

Polish version:

Spanish version:

Turkish version:

Moo “Welcome to the O+ livestock survey”