Biodiversity and various ecosystems serve agricultural production in many different ways, not all of which are well known. The smart use of these services can make agriculture more sustainable and reduce chemical inputs. The development of agricultural systems that maximise such services requires a "knowledge leap" based on advances in various areas of science, from new farming practices to modern technologies. The sustained delivery of these services by semi-natural habitats depends heavily on their botanical composition and spatial configuration. Beyond the field and farm level, cooperation between farmers and other actors is required at landscape level. There is a real need for a wide range of data to characterise and benchmark sustainable farming systems under various socio-economic and pedo-climatic conditions in Europe, and to find effective ways of encouraging farmers to adopt them.Scope:
Proposals will explore the functional role of biodiversity in the delivery of ecosystem services, in particular the spatial and temporal interactions between plants/animals as pollinators and natural enemies of pests. They will help to improve understanding of the factors and mechanisms that govern the delivery of such services, including agricultural management and landscape characteristics. Proposals will study and test approaches to enhancing the performance of the services by the targeted promotion of pollinators and natural enemies of pests through habitat provision and management. Cost effectiveness of these services will be compared with that of other agricultural practices (e.g. use of agrochemicals), including an evaluation of production stability and risk management for farmers. Work will examine synergies and trade-offs between pollination, the natural control of pests and other ecosystem services for agricultural production and environmental objectives. Prototypes of sustainable agro-ecology systems, including organic systems, agro-forestry and permaculture, will be developed from farm to landscape/territorial levels. Work will cover pastoral, arable and horticultural systems and potential forms of interaction and cooperation between these sectors at landscape level.
Proposals should establish a farm-level observatory and knowledge-exchange network on biological control and pollinator services linking with the European Innovation Partnership with a focus on innovative system solutions for short- and long-term needs. Activities will target farming systems and clearly cover all dimensions of sustainability (environmental, economic and social). Activities will include the collection of the requisite data to monitor, benchmark and analyse the performance of these farming systems in various respects. Proposals will develop and stratify farm networks reflecting relevant European pedo-climatic and socio-economic conditions and involve experimental stations, experimental farms and commercial farms to produce references and identify innovative approaches.
Proposals will use transdisciplinary research methods and should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]], involving the farming sector with a view to generating cross-fertilisation and co-ownership.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 10 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts. The duration of the projects should take into consideration the need to coordinate and implement of farm networks.Expected Impact: