Moving European agricultural systems towards an increased sustainable and intensified production

A new research project will explore the transition processes of European agricultural systems towards a sustainably intensified production.

The project aims to increase agricultural yields while at the same time minimizing the negative impact on the environment. Photo: Rasmus Landgreen

European countries face an increased pressure on agricultural systems due to growing global food demands, competing claims on land resources and decreasing possibilities to displace production outside Europe. Moreover, increasing demands for biofuels and bio products call for an agricultural transition towards a sustainably intensified production.  

The research project VITAL, funded within the frame of FACCE SURPLUS, will explore how this transition may occur. The project aims to increase agricultural yields while at the same time minimizing the negative impact on the environment.

- If EU wants a successful transition, it is vital not to implement changes through a generic, single development pathway for all agricultural systems. Instead, a sustainable development depends on the local and contextual agronomic, environmental and socio-economic conditions, explains Dr. Nynke Schulp, who is project coordinator of VITAL.

She continues:

- While intensive agriculture may lead to negative impacts at one location, there may be indirect benefits for other places due to the decreased land area required to achieve the same production. Therefore, we need a more area-specific approach than we apply today.

For the same reasons, the project partners will work both at farm level, regional level and at European level in order to deliver a holistic solution package considering different paths to a sustainable intensification that is adjusted to different local land use systems.

Partners in the 3-year VITAL-project include VU University Amsterdam, French National Institute for Agricultural Research INRA, UNIVERSIDAD POLITECNICA DE VALENCIA, Agrathaer Strategische Landnutzung and Leibniz-Zentrum für Agrarlandschaftsforschung (ZALF).

The project has been granted 746,000 € from the FACCE SURPLUS ERA-NET Cofund.


FACCE SURPLUS is an ERA-NET under the Cofund scheme of Horizon 2020 of the European Union. FACCE SURPLUS calls for collaboration among 15 countries and the EU for transnational research projects on the thematic area of sustainable and resilient agriculture. Further joint activities that go beyond this co-funded call are planned in order to contribute to the establishment of a renewable bioeconomy in the EU.

Further information
Dr ir C.J.E. Nynke Schulp
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Mobile: 0031 20 59 83594

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