Phasing out contentious inputs in organic and non-organic horticulture – Organic-PLUS

Ulrich Schmutz, Francis Rayns, Adrian Evans, Nikolaos Nikolaos Katsoulas, Anne-Kristin Løes, Massimo De Marchi, Claus Grøn Sørensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Across Europe, there has been an ongoing discussion regarding inputs into organic agriculture and horticulture, which are considered more or less contentious. These discussions have contributed to the decision by the European Horizon-2020 research programme to invest 8 million Euros into two 4-year projects, starting in 2018.
This paper provides research approaches from one of those successful projects from the call: Organic-PLUS. The focus is on research relevant to organic horticulture (and non-organic horticulture). This includes alternatives to the use of copper and mineral oils used for plant protection, with a special focus on potatoes, perennial Mediterranean crops like olives and citrus and greenhouse crops like tomatoes and aubergines. Further research is on better organic fertilisers such as non-animal derived fertilisers, which are compatible with ‘Vegan Organic Standards’, but also other ‘bio-economy fertilisers’, which make use of existing resources, like fishpond sediments and marine-derived fertilisers. Alternatives to peat as a growing media, an area where peat replacement is most challenging i.e. in specialised nursery crops will also be researched and discussed, and also the increasing use of plastic mulch materials and potential impact of plastic and alternative mulch materials on soil pollutants.
We will use the phase-out of peat as an example to discuss voluntary, industry-lead approaches compared to legislative ones, and discuss how this relates to the revised EU organic regulation adopted in June 2018.
The oral presentation of the paper will invite discussion on further contentious inputs and possible phase-out scenarios to strengthen the contribution organic horticulture (and horticulture in general) can make to a true ‘Bio-economy’ and to ‘Wellbeing of the Environment and Population’. Therefore, the Organic-PLUS project is also committed to research broader public concerns about contentious inputs and to further develop science-society dialogue around contentious inputs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages7
JournalActa Horticulturae
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Dec 2019


  • contentious inputs
  • organic and conventional horticulture, copper, mineral oils, vegan fertilisers, marine-derived fertilisers, peat, plastic, immunostimulatory plant products, phase-out scenario modelling

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    Schmutz, U., Rayns, F., Evans, A., Nikolaos Katsoulas, N., Løes, A-K., De Marchi, M., & Grøn Sørensen , C. (Accepted/In press). Phasing out contentious inputs in organic and non-organic horticulture – Organic-PLUS. Acta Horticulturae, (In-Press), (In-Press).