Based on case studies and representative farm typologies, proposals will involve drawing up an economic, environmental and social comparison of identified production systems implementing ecological approaches and conventional farms in the same sectors of production. A wide range of systems will be considered, e.g. organic and other low chemical input systems, systems implementing biological control, and diversified versus specialised systems. Various sectors will be covered, e.g. arable crops, livestock, vegetables and fruits, vineyards, agro-forestry, mixed farming integrating crop and livestock systems and/or multipurpose breeds. Different strategies will be compared, e.g. pursuing economies of scale in the conventional systems versus the economies of scope proposed for some ecological approaches. Economic performance and delivery of public goods will be evaluated on the basis of different indicators at farm, farm-group and territorial levels especially regarding biodiversity preservation, water related issues and climate mitigation. Specific emphasis will be placed on analysis of the labour productivity in terms of the amount and value of private and public goods produced. Incomes in the different systems will be analysed on the basis of market and public payments. Issues related to gender differences[[See definition of the 'gender dimension of research' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]] and demographic characteristics and patterns in farming communities should be investigated if relevant.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.
Ecological or ecosystem-based approaches have emerged as an alternative to farming based on chemical inputs. Farming systems implementing such approaches (eco-functional intensification) are often defined as ""low-input"", but they generally require more knowledge and labour per hectare than those based on chemical inputs. To deliver agricultural products for the market and public goods for the society, there is a need for a better understanding of the socio-economic and policy factors that hinder or enhance the development of such systems by identifying the trends and drivers encouraging the involvement of farmers, actors in the value chain, consumers, educators and policy makers.
- improved integrated capacity and method to assess the sustainability of different agro-ecological approaches;
- increases in productivity, delivery of public goods and job creation through improved agro-ecological approaches and market and policy incentives; and
- strengthened transdisciplinary research and integrated scientific support for relevant EU policies and priorities (Common Agricultural Policy, Water Framework Directive, climate change objectives, jobs, etc.).