OrganicYieldsUP: Improving yields in organic cropping systems

OrganicYieldsUP: Improving yields in organic cropping systems


Unlike most Horizon projects with their very creative acronyms, the name of this one makes clear what it’s all about addressing the ‘yield gap’ between crops grown using organic practices versus those grown in more intensive, high-input systems.

Yields is one of the 23 ‘actions’ in the European Commission’s Organic Action Plan to reach the European Green Deal’s target of 25% of agricultural land under organic farming by 2030.

At the project kick-off meeting held 27-28 February 2024 at FiBL Switzerland, the coordinators from FiBL Europe and representatives from the 15 other participating organisations came together to meet one another face-to-face, hear about the planned actions from each work-package leader, and to start working together in a series of breakout group workshops. Tyler Arbour, R&I Coordinator at IFOAM Organics Europe, is involved in the project and attended the meeting.

In the opening session, the project’s Policy Officer Susana Gaona Sáez (of the EU Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development’s Research & Innovation Unit) summarized the project’s why nicely: “When putting together the research & innovation work programme specific to organic agriculture, the main message that kept coming up was that the knowledge to improve crop yields is out there, but needs to be brought together so that it can be taken up and applied by practitioners in the field”.

She also stressed the need to reach out beyond organic farmers if we want to increase the conversion from conventional to organic, as well as the importance of cooperation with other projects, giving as examples LIVESEEDING, InnOBreed, OrganicAdviceNetwork, OrganicTargets4EU, and the European Partnership Agroecology.

About OrganicYieldsUP

OrganicYieldsUP’s project partners will develop a database capable of storing diverse crop yields data in a coherent way and gather the existing data from scientific studies and existing databases. The analysis of this new ‘mega-dataset’ will identify the major and minor yield gaps as well as strategies for increasing yields. To apply this knowledge, the project will form multi-stakeholder peer groups in each European macro-region.

Workshops with practitioners, visits to ‘lighthouse farms’, and cross-visits of the groups across regions will allow for rapid knowledge exchange and co-design of strategies for yield improvements and resilience, including under different modelled climate scenarios.

Both research and innovation and policies impact the options available to farmers and the decisions they make. As IFOAM Organics Europe, our job focuses on the work package ‘Recommendations for EU research and policies’, led by the colleagues from the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa, Italy. We will continue to keep you informed about project developments and opportunities to get involved.