The LIFT Project research process consists of 9 work packages, all of which are interconnected and supplement each other in many ways. Seven of the work packages are presented below, while the WP8 and WP9 serve as an internal fundamental basis for the project.


LIFT work packages (WP) structure


The work packages’ (WPs) information, including the leader, objectives and short descriptions are available below (click WP titles to expand the text)

WP1: Typology of farms

WP1 leader: JRC

WP1 objectives:
1.1. Provide a typology of farms adopting ecological practices that is functional for use within the LIFT project and beyond.
1.2. Collect stakeholders’ views on farm typology categories to help inform the typology development process.
1.3. Identify existing and potential sources of data at farm level (secondary and primary data) for applying the typology.
1.4. Develop a ‘typology-tool’.

WP1 short description:
The main aim of WP1 is to set the reference frame for farm typologies to be used in the LIFT project and to develop a user-friendly tool. The WP will cover definitions, data and thresholds, and will address the entire range from the most conventional to the most ecological farming along several axes. A diversity of production sectors and strategies will be considered.

Recommendations will be drawn regarding the need for additional information to ensure that existing data sets enable to identify and represent farms implementing ecological approaches within the wider range of farm typologies. A ‘typology-tool’ will also be developed, to allow users assigning a farm to a typology depending on the level of incorporation of ecological approaches into the management system of each farm.

WP2: Adoption and incentives for transition to ecological approaches

WP2 leader: SRUC

WP2 objectives:
2.1. Understand the wide range of exogenous and endogenous drivers that can facilitate or hinder the adoption of ecological approaches, through the examination of the regional divergence of adoption of ecological farming approaches and the identification of the effect of market based, value chain, consumption and social incentives.
2.2. Assess transitions and the triggers for change towards ecological approaches which may realise more PG & ES and job creation benefits to inform future adoption scenarios.
2.3. Develop an ‘adoption-tool’ which predicts uptake of ecological approaches.
2.4. Carry out large-scale collection of primary mixed data that will also be used in other WPs.

WP2 short description:
The transition to an ecological system is complex and relies on a number of drivers. The aim of this WP is to provide a value chain approach to analysing the exogenous and endogenous influences towards adoption of ecological approaches across a variety of regional, social, institutional and economic gradients. The motivations, perceptions and drivers from adoption are multifaceted, and different variants of policy implementation, technology adoption levels, farming and marketing structures become distinctive determinants at various scales (farm, farm-group, region). Furthermore, gender and household decision making have been found to be significant drivers in some ecological adoption pathways.

This WP examines the behavioural and perceptual differences between farmers, as well as endogenous (gender, knowledge, acquired skills, generational turnover etc.) and exogenous (agronomic conditions, social spillovers, economic and non-economic incentives etc.) drivers related to the farm and the farmer’s motivation to adopt ecological approaches.

This WP will be based on existing nomenclatures (e.g. organic/conventional) and specific criteria to describe ecological approaches (e.g. reliance on pesticides) which will incorporate WP1 typology as it develops. The WP will also strongly interact with WP3, WP4 and WP5 in terms of its link to performance and sustainability metrics, as well as WP6 to investigate the specific role of policies as exogenous drivers.

WP3: Farm performance of ecological agriculture

WP3 leader: BOKU

WP3 objectives:
3.1. Assess separately the economic, environmental and social performance of ecological approaches in agriculture by comparing these approaches across each other and with conventional approaches at farm level.
3.2. Understand the drivers of this performance.
3.3. Manage the secondary data that will be used in this WP and the other WPs.

WP3 short description:
When assessing farm performance, different perspectives have to be considered:
(1) From the point of a farmer in her/his role of entrepreneur, economic success, financial stability and profitability are key factors determining the success of the business.
(2) If the focus of the consideration of farm performance deals with social aspects of the farmer and her/his family – including paid farm workers, questions about the degree of physical and psychical stress of farm work, amount and distribution of work and leisure time gain importance. Linked to this, but more difficult to quantify, are aspects like the possibility to reconcile work and family life and professional selffulfilment.
(3) With regard to societal and environmental aspects, especially external impacts of farm activities determine farm performance. In this context the farm’s contribution to food supply and security (through high technical performance) and to the supply of PG & ES has to be assessed.

The quantification of farm performance in this WP will follow four general approaches, and hence, tasks: technical-economic performance; private social performance; environmental performance; employment effects. A specific emphasis will be put on labour productivity, that is to say relating the production of private and public goods to labour input, as some ecological approaches may be more labour intensive than more conventional ones. For all tasks calculating farm performance, the analyses will aim at highlighting performance gaps, that is to say, differences in performance across representative farm categories, the sources of performance levels and the drivers behind performance gaps. Farm categories will be drawn from the typologies reviewed and further developed in WP1.

The analysis will be performed in particular across different production strategies, production sectors, farm sizes and business models (part-time vs full-time; family farms vs. cooperatives vs. corporations/companies, etc.). Special emphasis will be placed on market- and subsidy-based profitability, and on labour performance.

WP4: Territorial aspects of ecological farming systems

WP4 leader: UNIKENT

WP4 objectives:
4.1. Reveal the spatial dependencies in patterns of adoption at local and regional level.
4.2. Assess the environmental impact of ecological farming systems at different territorial levels.
4.3. Analyse the socio-economic benefits for local communities driven by change in the demand for labour and other inputs by ecological farming.
4.4. Value the demand for ecological farming at different territorial levels.

WP4 short description:
Ecological approaches are linked to land and territory where they are implemented. Depending on the rate of adoption, ecological and socio-economic benefits will vary. There are drivers, e.g. enabling infrastructure or local policies, which will allow clustering of ecological systems in different locations in order to strengthen their positive effects.

Territorial analysis will look at the impact of adoption of ecological agriculture on the ease of adoption by other types of farms based on WP1’s existing and novel typologies at local, municipal and regional level. In some cases administrative boundaries may not be suitable when considering ecological impacts such as studying the effect of pollutants in a watercourse that crosses the boundary of several municipalities. In addition, analyses will also be drawn at the farm-group level (e.g. farm producer groups, neighbouring farmers).

This WP will cover the impact on local communities, employment prospects, delivery of public goods and other environmental benefits that may be anticipated as agriculture moves from more conventional to more ecological systems. The analysis will be conducted in close interaction with WP2 in order to define projections of rates of adoption of ecological approaches.

Upscaling methods will be tested and incorporated in econometric analyses, participatory approaches, and choice experiments. The role of policies on the territorial development of ecological approaches will be considered in close cooperation with WP6.

WP5: Integrative analysis: trade-offs and synergies

WP5 leader: KU Leuven

WP5 objectives:
5.1. Integrating findings at the farm level in a way that comprehensive farm-level indicators of sustainability are designed.
5.2. Integrating findings at the territorial level in order to draw conclusions on territorial sustainability.
5.3. Investigating synergies between farm and territorial sustainability and exploring the link between adoption determinants and sustainability.

WP5 short description:
Farming practices yield a wide variety of social, economic and environmental benefits and disbenefits. While some practices yield benefits for all sustainability dimensions, others might score good on one aspect but underperform from another point of view. This holds at the farm level, farm-group level as well at the territorial level. Therefore, this WP aims at developing an integrative framework for assessing the wide variety of (dis)benefits of ecological approaches both at the farm scale and at the territory scale.

Insights from WPs 1-4 and WP6 will feed this WP to arrive at a holistic and integrative assessment of ecological approaches. Individual farm-level sustainability indicators will be combined taking into account the sustainability objectives and user criteria of different stakeholders (including local land users and consumers/citizens, policy makers and users of the assessment framework).

A range of quantitative and qualitative methods for decision support will be explored, including multi-criteria decision analysis, cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit analysis. Specific attention will be paid to ensure that the assessment framework is transparent about the assumptions and existing uncertainties so that it can be adapted to changes in the environment, advancing knowledge about cause impact relations, or in the decision approach and priorities of the users.

A similar approach will be used to assess overall territorial sustainability and to arrive at an integrated assessment that takes not only all sustainability dimensions into account but also all spatial scales. To ensure transparency of the assessment framework, a conceptual mapping analysis is foreseen. This entails mapping the linkages between determinants of adoption and indicators of performance and sustainability, including the trade-offs and synergies that might exist between economic, social and environmental dimensions as well as between the different spatial scales.

WP6: The role of policies in the development of ecological agriculture

WP6 leader: INRAE

WP6 objectives:
6.1. Analyse current policy framework targeting ecological agriculture in the EU, in particular the discourse, impacts on different criteria (farm, farm-group and territory levels) and sustainability appraisal.
6.2. Investigate the effect of past and current policies on farm adoption of ecological approaches, and on farm, farm-group and territorial performance and sustainability of these approaches.
6.3. Investigate potential innovative private arrangements and policy measures favouring the development of ecological agriculture.

WP6 short description:
In order to obtain the right trade-off between food supply and security on the one hand, and environment conservation on the other hand, policy makers introduce various legislative and financial incentives to favour the development of ecological approaches by triggering farmers’ adoption of these approaches and enhancing their performance and sustainability.This WP will reveal policy-induced barriers, opportunities and incentives that influence the adoption of ecological approaches on farms, as well as influence the performance and sustainability of farms that apply these approaches.

It will rely on:

(i) a discourse analysis of how ecological farming is accounted for in the current policy landscape;

(ii) empirical ex post evaluations of the impact of past and current policy measures on the adoption, performance and sustainability of ecological approaches at farm, farm-group and territorial levels in close interaction with WPs 2-5;

(iii) investigations of policy interactions and governance challenges in terms of links or de-links that may or may not support ecological agriculture and suggestions of new policy instruments or private arrangements to favour the adoption of ecological approaches and to enhance farm, farm-group and territorial sustainability of ecological agriculture particularly in view of future CAP reforms.

WP7: Communication, dissemination and stakeholders’ involvement

WP7 leader: IRWiR PAN

WP7 objectives:
7.1. Communicate on a regular basis the progress and results of the project via diversified media (including social media) to the wider society.
7.2. Transfer the knowledge and experience via interactions between stakeholders and scientists along all the stages of the project’s life cycle.
7.3. Create a platform for dissemination and discussion of the project’s results via modern means of communication: on-line courses, games, video trainings, interactive conferences and user-friendly reading materials of various forms (comics, interactive textbooks, etc.).
7.4. Facilitate the communication within the project among the partners and stakeholders from all the countries investigated.

WP7 short description:
This WP puts into practice the proposed concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) by linking a diversity of actors, depending on their knowledge, expertise and role in the society. That includes networking and mutual communication among the scientific community, and with stakeholders, media and the general public.

This is crucial in order to:
(i) ensure the most efficient exploitation of the project’s results,
(ii) coordinate and facilitate networking of the stakeholders coming from 13 countries,
(iii) reach the highest potential audience, keeping them up to date and foster the dialogue with them,
(iv) maximise impact by co-creation of the results,
(v) increase awareness about the advantages of ecological approaches on farming,
(vi) popularise the knowledge about the socio-economic benefits from the LIFT project in Europe and more globally,
(vii) enhance positive trends in public perception of EU research activities.First, RRI actions will be promoted via “science education” which includes modern ways of learning – we propose here launching of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) and encourage the uptake of the RRI approach by stakeholders.

Second, an increase of the project’s awareness will be assured by adopting Social Media Strategy, including an active involvement of partners and stakeholders in the LIFT’s Facebook, Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn pages.

Third, an online workspace for LIFT partners and stakeholders will be established in cooperation with WP8 to facilitate collaborative activities. Fourth, for the dissemination of traditional outputs of the project (reports, posters, data), the regular tools will be in use such as project’s website, emblems (logo, templates) and circulations (newsletter).

For more modern outcomes of the project – videos, games, education platforms, etc. – on-line services will be provided. Fifth, the networking will be assured not only via electronic devices but also via regular stakeholders’ workshops taking place in all partners’ countries. This will also facilitate face-to-face debates, apart from those started in social media.