Newsflash 15, 09 June 2016 by the EIP-AGRI Service Point
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Experts wanted for EIP-AGRI Focus Groups: deadline 11 July 2016

Do you have practical experience or specific knowledge on:

Read the call text and apply for the three new Focus Groups

If you have experience with one of these issues and could help find practical solutions, then please apply! If you know other people who may be interested, then please forward this email to them.
Closing date for applications:

Monday 11 July 2016 23:59 hrs CET (Brussels time)

Apply here

Focus Group: Robust and resilient dairy production systems

First meeting: 23-24 November 2016

Question: how to create good conditions for dairy cattle husbandry in different production systems? The group should look for approaches and practices which take into account breeding, nutrition, fertility, health, welfare, monitoring, and overall management in all parts of the life cycle of animals. The impact on profitability and sustainability (in animal welfare terms) should be assessed.

The competitive environment of dairy cattle production systems is often linked to increased pressure on animal welfare due to various stressors. It is argued that there is a trade-off between production and animal welfare, which includes animal health. However, this is not always the case. Increasing attention is paid to existing and possible synergies between both concepts. This includes the idea that general welfare conditions positively affect animal health, or for example the increased attention for robustness-related traits in breeding resulting in a higher farm income.

Robustness combines both sides of the productivity versus welfare debate. It can be defined as ‘the ability to express a high production potential combined with resilience to stressors in a wide variety of environmental conditions’. It is therefore the link between economic competitiveness, resilience and animal welfare, which are all key priorities in dairy cattle production.

Focus Group: Agroforestry: pathways to integrate woody vegetation with specialised crop and livestock systems

First meeting: 30 November-1 December 2016

Question: How to develop agroforestry as a sustainable farming system which can boost agricultural productivity and profitability?

Agroforestry is the practice of integrating woody vegetation with crops and/or livestock systems to optimise the benefits from their ecological and economic interactions. Agroforestry systems can increase resource efficiency, enhance productivity, and improve the overall resilience of agro-ecosystems.

The introduction of agroforestry practices can greatly contribute to increasing the sustainability of specialised production systems such as arable, horticulture and livestock farming.  It also contributes to diversifying production (e.g. fruits, woody biomass, fibres) making farms more resilient to market changes and more profitable. However, due to production diversification and greater complexity, agroforestry systems are usually more labour and knowledge intensive than specialised conventional ones. Therefore, many of the above mentioned benefits, although widely recognised, are difficult to turn into concrete economic benefits at farm level.

The Focus Group will look into how innovative agroforestry designs and practices can unlock the productivity potential of combinations of trees/crops/animals at the farm level – maximising the overall ecological performance of agro-ecosystems, while considering the development of new market solutions and diversified value chains.

Focus Group: Diseases and pests in viticulture

First meeting: 25-26 October 2016

Question: How can we increase resilience of grape vines to pests and diseases and support the productivity of the sector in sustainable ways?

Agricultural yield losses are caused by many different pests and diseases. Recognising and understanding the nature of these pathogens and also understanding the interactions between the crop, the environment and the pathogens is essential in order to minimise crop losses and economic damage.

This Focus Group will tackle the whole cycle of diseases and pests in grape production: prevention, detection, management and control. The role of disease management in supporting resilience of grape vines to biotic stresses should deserve special attention.

EIP-AGRI Focus Groups bring together 20 experts, including farmers or foresters, advisers, researchers and agri-business representatives, to collect and summarise knowledge on best practices in a specific field, listing problems as well as opportunities.

They take stock of the state of play in research and practice and highlight possible solutions to the problems identified. Based on this, the groups suggest and prioritise innovative actions.

They identify ideas for applied research and for testing solutions in the field, and propose ways to disseminate good practices and inspire further action.

Read the EIP-AGRI brochure on Focus Groups
The EIP-AGRI Service Point is based in Brussels. You can reach us from Monday to Friday from 9:00 – 17:00. By phone +32 2 543 73 48 or email

Further information can be found on the EIP-AGRI homepage

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