New projects at the Organic Research Centre

Summer Appeal 2018

The Organic Research Centre is a charitable organisation and as such depends on donations form supporters like you. It also means a great deal to us to know that we are championing the things that you care about. Our vision is of a world which meets the nutritional needs of current and future generations with safe, affordable, high quality food, produced in a way that sustains and enhances the natural environment and ensures health and wellbeing for all. With your support we can bring that world just a little closer.

Find out how you can support us now for better farming food and health in 2018 and beyond. 

New projects at the Organic Research Centre

Organic Techniques

This 6-month Defra-funded project led by ORC will see how some of the well-proven farming techniques developed by the organic sector can provide the impetus for mainstream farmers to become more sustainable. Although organic farming accounts for a relatively small proportion of UK food production the sector has emerged as hugely innovative, employing novel solutions to reduce reliance on inputs while maintaining production but with limited resources. As well as considering what can be learnt from organic systems, the project will also assess opportunities, practicalities and barriers for translating best practice management techniques from organic to conventional farms including examining potential impacts on farm incomes, productivity and risks. 

UK Regulation

The full title of this 6-month Defra-funded project led by ORC is: Reviewing of international approaches to organic regulations and labelling – production, economic and market access implications for UK. With our imminent exit from the EU, the project provides information from which to review our national organic regulations for England and Wales following EU exit. The project will review regulatory approaches controlling organic production and provisions for trade in other countries and summarise their strengths and opportunities. In addition, the project is tasked with exploring the organic labelling used by other countries such as those in USA and Norway. 


This ‘Farm system health in practice’ project uses participatory approaches to work with the established network of example farms in the UK, Germany and Austria to jointly develop a set of criteria (a) for farm health measurement and (b) for practical knowledge multiplication. 

Current projects at the Organic Research Centre

Sustainable economic and ecological grazing systems – learning from innovative practitioners (SEEGSLIP)

The three-year SEEGSLIP project is led by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and funded by the UK’s Global Food Security Programme. It aims to evaluate the ecological, agronomic, economic, environmental and social impacts of the pasture fed livestock approach to grazing management and its potential as the basis of a more sustainable GB-wide system. ORC’s input will focus on the application of the Public Goods Tool on 60 Pasture Fed Livestock farms. 

Woodchip For Fertile Soils

WOOFS is a new EU-funded EIP Operational Group of researchers, farmers and foresters from the UK. The group is led by ORC and formed to investigate the role of woodchip in soil health, to provide an incentive for farmers to manage woody elements on their farm as part of a whole farm system.. 


This 4-year EU Horizon 2020-funded project aims to boost organic seed and plant breeding efforts, and increase the availability of cultivars adapted to organic growing conditions. The project will help to establish a level playing field in the organic seed market across Europe, improve the competitiveness of the organic seed and breeding sector, and encourage greater use of organic seeds by farmers. LIVESEED will improve guidelines for cultivar testing and strategies for ensuring seed health. It will develop novel breeding approaches suited for organic farming. The LIVESEED project is coordinated by IFOAM EU and consists of 35 partners from 18 countries. 


ORC is a partner in a new five year crop diversification project under the EU Horizon 2020 programme, called DiverIMPACTS. The project is led by INRA (France) and aims to realise the full potential of crop diversification through rotation, intercropping and multiple cropping. The work aims to demonstrate clear technical, economic and environmental benefits of crop diversification for farmers, value chains and society. It also aims to provide key tools, strategies and innovations to remove any barriers and ensure uptake of practices and subsequent benefits at farm, value chain and regional levels. 


Designing innovative plant teams for ecosystem resilience and agricultural sustainability (DIVERSify) is a new 4-year Horizon 2020 project. DIVERSify aims to optimise the performance of crop species mixtures (‘plant teams’) as a means to improve yield stability, reduce pest and disease damage, and enhance stress resilience in agricultural systems.

Agroforestry Innovation Networks

Agroforestry Innovation Networks (AFINET) is a new 3-year Horizon 2020 project. AFINET will promote innovation in agroforestry through the development of a network, based on successful sharing of practical experiences and existing research knowledge, applied to different contexts, climates and agricultural sectors. 

CEreal REnaissance in Rural Europe

CEreal REnaissance in Rural Europe: embedding diversity in organic and low-input food systems (CERERE) is a new 3-year Horizon 2020 project. The project will promote innovation through diversity-based ‘alternative’ cereal food systems in Europe through knowledge exchange and communities of practice adopting a bottom-up approach in multi-actor network. 

Innovation for Sustainable Sheep and Goat Production in Europe

Innovation for Sustainable Sheep and Goat Production in Europe (iSAGE) is a four year Horizon 2020 project aiming to make the European Sheep and Goat sectors more sustainable, competitive and resilient. These improvements come from strong collaboration between industry and research institutions. 


Innovative and sustainable intensification of integrated food and non-food systems to develop climate-resilient agro-ecosystems in Europe (SustainFARM). The main objective of SustainFARM is to enhance agronomic, environmental and economic performance of integrated food and non-food production systems (IFNS) by optimizing productivity and valorizing woody components, residual wastes and co-products.


Agricology is a new online resource that translates scientific research in to practical advice to help farmers become more profitable and more sustainable, while protecting the environment. uk aims to provide farmers with the best practical information on ecological techniques. 

Innovative Farmers

Innovative Farmers is a not-for-profit network that gives farmers research support and funding on their own terms.The network is part of the Duchy Future Farming Programme, funded by the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation. The Soil Association, Organic Research Centre and Waitrose have been partners in the programme and are now joined by LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) and Innovation in Agriculture, ensuring that the new network represents farmers and growers across the industry. 

Embedding crop diversity and networking for local high quality food systems

ORC is a partner in DIVERSIFOOD a new four-year European project, funded through HORIZON 2020 and led by INRA the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, which will bring together farmers, scientists, processors, traders and consumers to promote the greater use of diverse plants and produce with a local and cultural identity. This will help to demonstrate how society can encourage sustainable agriculture, as well as promoting this concept through production and marketing. The project will work with wheat (einkorn, rivet, emmer, durum and bread wheat), oats, barley, maize, chickpea, beans, lupins, false flax, buckwheat, broccoli, tomato, carrots, onions and chestnuts. 


The aim of the EU FP7-funded Wheat and barley Legacy for Breeding Improvement (WHEALBI) project is to apply genomic, genetic and agronomic approaches to improve European wheat and barley production in competitive and sustainable cropping systems. These techniques will be used to characterise the diverse genetic resources available (including old cultivars, landraces and wild species) to provide a source of new alleles for; crop improvement, addressing yield tolerance to abiotic stress, resistance to biotic stress, grain quality and adaptation to highly variable environmental conditions. ORC leads a task to identify wheat and barley ideotypes with enhanced performance under organic husbandry. We work in close conjunction with NIAB, who are conducting similar work under different tillage regimes. 

Recently completed projects


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