CONSERWA project

Evidence-based support for transition to agroecological weed management in diverse farming systems and European regions


In the face of escalating environmental concerns and the imperative to foster sustainable agricultural practices, there is an urgent call to shift towards innovative weed management strategies. Agroecology emerges as a promising approach, offering a distinctive approach to transforming food and agriculture systems, providing long-term solutions to the persistent challenges of weed control.

Challenge 1: Bridging the Adoption Gap

Agroecological practices have made strides in diverse farming landscapes, yet the widespread adoption of agroecological weed management lags behind our understanding of its manifold benefits. The challenge lies in optimizing the application of these practices across various scenarios. The need of the hour is to bridge the gap between knowledge and implementation.

Challenge 2: Overcoming Barriers to Adoption

Despite the simplicity of agroecological practices, their uptake among farmers has been restrained. The barriers include the lack of supportive policy instruments, market mechanisms, and social infrastructure essential for influencing learning and decision-making among farmers. Breaking down these barriers is pivotal for the successful integration of sustainable weed management practices into mainstream agriculture.

Challenge 3: Adapting to Climate Change Realities

Climate change poses a significant threat to conventional herbicide-based weed control methods. The rise in carbon dioxide levels and changing climate patterns make weeds more resistant to herbicides. Surprisingly, the practical implications of climate change on non-chemical tactics integral to agroecological weeding have not been thoroughly addressed. This underscores the urgency for comprehensive strategies that consider the evolving climate landscape.

CONSERWA’s Vision: A Comprehensive Approach

Addressing these challenges head-on, the CONSERWA initiative presents a comprehensive strategy to propel agroecological weed management into the forefront of sustainable agriculture. The initiative aims to:

a) Portfolio Development: Compile a portfolio of agroecological farming practices, studying their optimal combinations, and assessing their transferability, especially under the evolving scenarios of climate change.

b) Implementation Support: Support the implementation of these combinations and measure their performance and impacts using innovative tools, ensuring practical viability and sustainability.

c) Knowledge Management: Facilitate knowledge management and communication between stakeholders through an open Decision Support System (DSS), fostering practical decision-making and impact assessment.

d) Understanding Decision-Making: Study the factors influencing farmers’ decision-making in adopting agroecological farming practices, collaborating with the entire value chain, including food processors and consultancy services.

A Pan-European Initiative

CONSERWA’s ambitious study encompasses 9 case studies across all European biogeographical and pedo-climatic regions, involving a diverse array of crops and farming systems. By focusing on training farmers and providing policy recommendations, CONSERWA aims not only to revolutionize weed management practices but also to drive systemic change in the agricultural landscape. In the quest for sustainable agriculture, CONSERWA works towards a future where agroecological weed management takes center stage, ensuring the resilience and longevity of our food and agriculture systems.

CONSERWA is a project funded by the EU’s Horizon Europe framework. The Cyprus Research and Innovation Center (Cy.R.I.C) is the project coordinator, leading a consortium of 26 European partners including 8 Research Centers/Universities, 12 SMEs, 6 Associations/NGOs. The partners bring together the necessary disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowledge required for achieving the project objectives in a collaborative way.