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Closing loops at farm and regional levels to mitigate GHG emissions and environmental contamination - focus on carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycling in agro-ecosystems


Proposals will provide a comprehensive analysis of C, N and P flows and cycling on farms and within landscapes, taking into account different types of production systems and the impacts of land-use intensification. Work shall consider trade-offs and synergies between impacts (on climate, water quality, air, soil) of C, N and P cycles and with farm productivity and the quality of agricultural products. Proposals will seek to generate efficiencies and close loops, including at the interfaces between plants (e.g. N-fixing trees and crops, forest/arable land), between plants and animal production (e.g. fertiliser/manure or protein/feed, grasslands/ruminants, etc.) and within the animal sector (e.g. feeding and stock replacement strategies, cross and mixed breeds, etc.). They will study and test innovative approaches to closing C, N and P loops. Prototypes of sustainable agro-ecology systems, including organic systems, will be developed at various scales from farm level to landscape/territorial level in order to reduce GHG emissions and nutrient intensity. Proposals will also tackle consumption patterns and establish how demand-side management (e.g. diets, waste reduction and waste management, consumer behaviour) can be paired with efforts to lower emissions and optimise C, N and P loops. This will include looking at international trade in relation to the EU supply of energy and proteins, land use changes and carbon sequestration in soils. International cooperation shall be envisaged as appropriate. Proposals 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.]].

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 7 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus losses from land and increasing concentrations in receiving waters or in the form of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere are environmental issues of major concern. Agriculture contributes significantly (directly and indirectly) to these emissions, e.g. through land use, land use change, ploughing and soil carbon losses, animal production and fertiliser use. Mitigation solutions need to be based on a thorough understanding of the cycling of carbon (C) and nutrients (nitrogen (N) and phosphorus[[Phosphate rock is on the list of critical raw materials defined in 2014 (COM(2014)297). Within Societal Challenge 5, dedicated topics SC5-13 to 17 deal with raw materials]] (P)) at various levels to reduce emissions and environmental contaminations and develop possibilities for carbon sequestration. An integrated approach is needed to identify factors and mechanisms that govern these cycles, ranging from agricultural management to consumption patterns.

  • effective solutions for C-, N- and P-efficient agro ecosystems;
  • improved overall sustainability and innovation capacity of the farming systems;
  • reduction of environmental impact: reduced GHG emissions, protected and enhanced soil carbon stocks, improved ground- and surface-water quality;
  • integrated scientific support for relevant EU policies (e.g. Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive, sustainable use of pesticides, climate change objectives); and
  • strengthened transdisciplinary research for long-lasting implementation of results.