Innovations in plant protection: alternatives to reduce the use of pesticides focusing on candidates for substitution
A successful proposal should support the farm to fork strategy to transition to fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food systems from primary production to consumption, notably the target to reduce by 50% the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides and reduce the use by 50% of the more hazardous pesticides by 2030.
Project results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Increased availability of widely accessible and cost-efficient alternatives for prevention and (bio)control of plant pest with improved environmental performance (e.g., reduced effects on non-target organisms, natural resources, humans and the environment);
- Reduced reliance on hazardous plant protection products and favour low risk plant protection solutions, to sustain crop productivity and food security while contributing to sustainable agriculture and/or forestry;
- Minimized pesticides impact on human and animal health, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, drinking water, soils and the food chain. Scope :
The use of chemical pesticides in agriculture contributes to soil, water and air pollution, biodiversity loss and can harm non-target plants, insects, birds, mammals and amphibians. The Commission is taking action to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030. Significant efforts are required to develop alternatives to critical active substances used in plant protection. Active substances with certain properties defined in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 are considered as candidates for substitution. For Plant Protection Products (PPPs) containing these active substances, Member States are required, when assessing an application for authorisation, to evaluate if these PPPs can be replaced (substituted) by other adequate solutions (chemical or non-chemical). Proposals should target one or more pesticides candidates for substitution in the EU and those pesticides which have been reported to be losing their efficiency due to the emergence of resistant pests.
- Develop and test alternative approaches, tools, strategies, agents, and/or substances (either conventional, natural-based, or biological) for prevention (promoting prophylaxis measures) and/or (bio) control of plant pest with improved environmental performance (e.g., reduced effects on non-target organisms, natural resources and the environment) and acceptable efficacy, enlarging the toolbox of integrated pest management (IPM);
- Improve current agronomic, ecological, cultural, and traditional practices to increase the resilience of agricultural production against biotic stresses;
- Assess the social, economic and environmental issues associated with the proposed innovative solution, including trade-offs, the impact on labour, safety culture, and risk management on farms;
- Demonstrate the safety of alternatives in accordance with established scientific risk assessment methodology and relevant EU regulatory frameworks related to their manufacturing and placing on the market.
- Set up demonstration sites in Europe to promote participatory demonstration activities, and the exchange of knowledge and best practices among farmers.
- Support capacity building, training and education enabling farmers/growers to the proposed solution reducing the use and risk of pesticides.
Proposals must implement the ‘multi-actor approach’ including a range of actors to ensure that knowledge and needs from various sectors such as researchers, farmers, advisors, and industry including SMEs are brought together.
Where relevant, proposals should seek complementarities and synergies, while avoiding duplication and overlap, with relevant actions funded under Horizon 2020. Proposals should specify how they plan to collaborate with other proposals selected under this and other relevant topics, for example by undertaking joint activities, workshops or common communication and dissemination activities. Proposals should allocate the necessary resources to cover these activities.
The possible participation of the JRC in the project will consist of supporting the assessment of the social, economic and environmental issues associated with the proposed innovative solution, including trade-offs, the impact on labour, safety culture, and risk management on farms.
In this topic, the integration of the gender dimension (sex and gender analysis) in research and innovation content is not a mandatory requirement.
Specific Topic Conditions :
Activities are expected to achieve TRL 6-7 by the end of the project – see General Annex B.
 These are plant protection products containing active substances that meet the cut-off criteria as set out in points 3.6.2. to 3.6.5 and 3.8.2 of Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 or are identified as candidates for substitution in accordance with the criteria in point 4 of that Annex.
 A pest is defined here as any species, strain or biotype of plant, animal or pathogenic agent injurious to plants or plant products (EU legislation, Regulation 2016/2031)
 Projects from topic SFS-04-2020 - Integrated health approaches and alternatives to pesticide use: NOVATERRA (Grant agreement ID: 101000554), WeLaser (Grant agreement ID: 101000256), Bioschamp (Grant agreement ID: 101000651), novIGRain (Grant agreement ID: 101000663)
 For example, HORIZON-CL6-2023-GOVERNANCE-01-21: Developing EU advisory networks to reduce the use of pesticides
- Admissibility conditions: described in Annex A and Annex E of the Horizon Europe Work Programme General Annexes
Proposal page limits and layout: described in Part B of the Application Form available in the Submission System
- Eligible countries: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes
A number of non-EU/non-Associated Countries that are not automatically eligible for funding have made specific provisions for making funding available for their participants in Horizon Europe projects. See the information in the Horizon Europe Programme Guide .
- Other eligibility conditions: described in Annex B of the Work Programme General Annexes
The following additional eligibility criteria apply: the proposals must apply the multi-actor approach. See definition of the multi-actor approach in the introduction to this work programme part.
The Joint Research Centre (JRC) may participate as member of the consortium selected for funding.
Financial and operational capacity and exclusion: described in Annex C of the Work Programme General Annexes
Evaluation and award:
Award criteria, scoring and thresholds are described in Annex D of the Work Programme General Annexes
Indicative timeline for evaluation and grant agreement: described in Annex F of the Work Programme General Annexes
- Legal and financial set-up of the grants: described in Annex G of the Work Programme General Annexes
- Specific conditions: described in the specific topic of the Work Programme
Standard application form — call-specific application form is available in the Submission System
Standard evaluation form — will be used with the necessary adaptations