Research and development

font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400;”>ORC’s research programme focuses on organic/agro-ecological approaches to food and farming in order to:

a) improve the productivity and sustainability of such approaches and to address key technical problems where current practice falls short of organic/agro-ecological principles

b) Evaluate, with a view to improvement, the wider impacts of such systems, in particular the delivery of ecosystem services ; pollution, resource use and biodiversity impacts; greenhouse gas emissions and potential for climate change mitigation; food security, food sovereignty and sustainability of food systems; as well as food quality, safety and human/animal health and wellbeing.

font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400;”>ORC believes, and has demonstrated, that organic agricultural research should be conducted within established and well-functioning organic systems, on a scale large enough to include the range of interactions inherent within diverse agro-ecosystems. Much of the research we carry out is field-based on commercial farms reflecting the importance we place on a participatory/ farming systems research approach.

font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: 400;”>The research programme is co-ordinated by Dr Bruce Pearce with support from our Principal Scientific Advisor Prof. Martin Wolfe, Socio-economic Team Leader Dr. Susanne Padel and other members of the research team.

Research areas



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Plant breeding

Increasing resilience in crops through breeding and assessment of pure lines, landraces, variety mixtures and populations.

Soils and cropping systems

Developing systems and their components, including reduced tillage and cover crops, to make crop production more sustainable.


Integrating trees with agriculture to increase productivity, biodiversity and other mutual benefits.

Biodiversity and agro-ecology

Understanding and enhancing the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem health to sustainable food production sytems.

Livestock systems

Developing sustainable livestock systems with a focus on nutrition, health and welfare in a whole farm context.

Environment, sustainability and health

Optimising the costs, benefits and interactions of multi-functional systems to deliver sustainable resource use.

Business and markets

Assessing the contribution of specialist markets, certification and policies to supporting financial, economic and sustainability.

Food quality and health

Understanding the concepts of health in systems and organisms and how production methods can influence health and product quality.



Research events

22 February 2012 1st Solibam Stakeholder Congress: Rome event to debate role of diversity in low-input and organic systems…

Recent articles

Tipping point in agricultural production: New study identifies that developing countries are winning the sustainable Intensification race 

Global assessment of agricultural system redesign: Agricultural sustainability is delivering increases in productivity and improving the environment, and has spread to 163 million farms worldwide 

YQ and the rise of an alternative grain network : Interview with Kimberley Bell of the Small Food Bakery 

Ticking the anti-globalisation box: Motives for buying local, organic food through English box schemes 

World Agroforestry Congress 2019 : Call for abstracts is open 

To view more articles about research and development

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