The European Commission announced the actions and budgets of the EU research and innovation programme «Horizon 2020» in the area of food security, sustainable agriculture and forestry, marine and maritime and inland water research and the bioeconomy for the years 2016 and 2017. This programme includes a total of 38 actions aimed at four main sections, which are: the sustainable food security, the fostering innovation and business opportunities in agricultural production, the increase of organic food production and biomass and the development of fisheries. The budget of these actions for 2016 is estimated to be at 364.5 million euros and for 2017 at 410 million euros. In the near future the Commission will announce the final report, with the proclamation of every action and the selection criteria.
Specifically, the «Horizon 2020» for the period 2016-2017 will include among others the following programmes involved to the primary agricultural sector:
- – Solutions to problems associated with crop production (2016)
According to the Commission water, soil quality and nutrients, are key determinants of plant growth and crop productivity. So research should be directed at development strategy for the proper management of water and soil biodiversity. The Commission proposes that EU funding for this action should be 6 million euros.
- – Plant interaction in cropping systems (2016)
The research will help to clarify the mechanisms of the beneficial plant interactions in a cropping system. All types of crop production (e.g. arable farming, grassland, fruit trees etc.) are included. The Commission proposes that EU funding should be 5 million euros.
- – Sustainability for new varieties of plants (2016)
The research should highlight the “sustainability criteria” of a crop that are associated with the capacity of new varieties to yield under more variable conditions and under more sustainable crop management practices (e.g. with regard to the use of fertiliser, water or plant protection products). The work will serve to develop methods and tools to test and evaluate new varieties. Community funding will be 5 million euros.
- – New weeding strategies for sustainable weed management (2016)
According to the Commission herbicides account for over one third of pesticides used in Europe. The research should focus on the emergence of innovative and more effective strategies for improving the weed management in arable or horticulture crops. The Commission proposes that EU funding should be 7 million euros.
- – Xylella fastidiosa management (2016)
Proposals for a comprehensive package of research and innovation actions should be presented to improve research in prevention, early detection and control of Xylella fastidiosa. Commission proposes that EU funding should be 7 million euros.
- – Responding to new emerging diseases in plants and livestock (2017)
Research should focus on addressing emerging diseases in plants and livestock in the EU (work on Xylella fastidiosa is excluded because it is separately studied). The Commission proposes that EU funding should be 7 million euros.
- – Increase the competitiveness of organic agriculture and livestock (2016 and 2017)
According to the Commission, the availability of organic seeds and propagating material is an economic and technical challenge for organic producers. The current EU regulation requires that seed and propagation material used in organic farming is produced organically. However, the 95% of organic production used in the EU is produced by conventional methods. The research will aim to increase the availability of organic seeds, develop a comprehensive breeding strategy and initiate the breeding of varieties which are suited for organic farming for the production of organic food and feed. The Commission proposes that EU funding should be up to 8 million euros in 2016 and up to 6 million euros in 2017.
- – Genetic improvement of livestock (2016 and 2017)
The research will focus on breeding terrestrial livestock for improved resilience and efficiency. The Commission proposes that EU funding should be more than 7 million euros in 2016 and will be continued in 2017.
- – Robotics advances for precision farming (2017)
This action aims to contribute to high levels of precision in modern farming, through the smart use of robotics. The Commission proposes that EU funding can range between 2 and 4 million euros for that challenge.
- – Inputs in organic farming (2017)
The research should focus on the use of inputs (fertilisers, etc.) in organic farming and animal husbandry. Moreover, activities proposed should be aimed at reducing the “controversial” inputs without compromising the competitiveness of the organic sector. The Commission proposes that EU funding should be more than 4 million euros.
- – Honeybee health and sustainable pollination (2017)
Serious problems exist with the decline of the honeybee colonies in the EU. The research will focus on bee health and sustainable pollination, taking into consideration the knowledge from previous EU projectsof European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). The Commission proposes that EU funding should be over 4.5 million euros.