SusCrop is an ERA-Net Cofund Action under H2020, which aims to strengthen the European Research Area (ERA) in the field of Sustainable Crop Production through enhanced cooperation and coordination of different national and regional research programmes. In this regard, SusCrop brings together owners and managers of national and regional R&D&I programmes of EU Member States, EU-associated States and Third countries with significant experience in research funding and coordination.
Main aims and objectives of SusCrop
One of the Grand Societal Challenges of the 21st century is to ensure food and nutrient security for a growing population under climate change and pressure on natural resources.
Thus, sustainable crop production needs to be secured and enhanced. Current food production methods utilise excess energy, water, pesticides and chemicals. New ways of sustainable crop production are necessary to increase productivity, reduce the amount of used chemicals and/or improve the quality of the crops. This will be crucial to maintain access to affordable safe and nutritious food for a healthy life, and to serve the increasing demand for industrially used biomass whilst keeping and improving a healthy environment, natural habitats and increasing biodiversity. Indeed SusCrop aims to cover all aspects of sustainability, including environmental, economic and social and cultural.
Modern crop production must be addressed by taking into account the whole food value chain, crop diversity and resilience, resource use efficiency, nutrient recycling, ecosystem services, limiting negative environmental impacts, integrated pest management, reducing and re-using waste and achieving food and nutritional security. To meet this challenge, the EU Member States established inter alia
the Joint Programming Initiative on Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: FACCE-JPI (https://www.faccejpi.com/
). FACCE-JPI developed a strategic research agenda focusing on five core research themes. In this context the ERA-NET Cofund activity SusCrop was initiated to address the core research theme 2 “Environmentally sustainable intensification of agricultural systems”.
A key element to successfully address the current challenges is a solid research, development and innovation basis as a cornerstone for modern, innovative and sustainable agriculture. Increasing knowledge as well as integration of existing knowledge will lead to a better understanding and improvement of sustainable crop production. Tools to establish and measure sustainability will improve the level of sustainability in crop production by the growers. It is common sense that fundamental as well as applied research and a multidisciplinary/multi actor approach will be able to develop and deploy such new cropping systems into practice. Cooperation, alignment and knowledge sharing in joint research on transnational, if not on a global level is required to lay the scientific basis for this.
How will SusCrop do this?
By implementing a co-funded Call for projects with funding from the EC, national and regional programmes, with additional funding opportunities following on a regular basis;
By organising additional activities that will improve the impact of planned funding activities (Calls), stimulate putting sustainability into practice and enhance the cooperation between the ERA-NET partners.
Additional activities will include workshops and seminars to:
increase the harmonisation of methods of data collection on sustainable crop production to produce a uniform database that can be mined to build models and to distil indices of sustainability;
set and develop methods of assessing the sustainability and resilience of cropping systems;
provide a strategic road-map for sustainable crop production for the upcoming years;
seek synergies with other initiatives and research projects dealing with sustainability of crop production systems