The development of sustainable food and farming systems demands free and open access to research outputs

The European Commission has decided that 25% of the EU’s farmland should be organic by 2030. Research, innovation and knowledge sharing are key enablers for achieving this goal. Over the last decades, a lot of research on organic farming and food systems has been carried out, and results from this research has been collected in Organic Eprints. Today, it seems even more important to be able to have free and open access to research, thus, Organic Eprints is more important than ever to fulfil the objectives of the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and to help achieve the ambitious EU policy agendas of the Farm to Fork Strategy and the European Green Deal.

Stepping up to the challenge of knowledge-intensive farming

Organic Eprints is an international open-access archive dedicated to research on organic farming and food, and as such of interest for researchers, advisers, companies, funders, university students etc. Complemenraty to Organic Eprints is Organic Farm Knowledge, a platform with only practise oriented publications, mainly of interest for farmers, advisors, students at vocational schools and the general public. A wide variety of items can be found in the archive, such as published or peer reviewed papers as well as dissemination publications, conference items, books and reports, theses, practice tools or video files.

Currently, there are more than 30,000 eprints available. Therefore, Organic Eprints offers a great collection of research outputs and has a large outreach with around 100,000 downloaded eprints per month. As the only online archive solely dedicated to research on organic farming and food, Organic Eprints has notable benefits to users, authors, and institutions.

The main objectives of Organic Eprints are:

  • to facilitate communication about organic research,
  • to improve the dissemination and impact of research outputs, and
  • to document research efforts.

Organic Eprints is used internationally, although most activity takes place in Europe. The three biggest subject areas amongst uploads are animal husbandry, crop husbandry and food systems. The user interface is available in English and German; however, user guides are available in multiple languages and eprints can be uploaded in all languages. Editors make quality control of items from their region and help maintain the archive.

Benefits of Organic Eprints

Some key benefits are that Organic Eprints makes it easy to get an overview of the organic research, which can be filtered by e.g., institution, subject area, project, or conference, making it possible to assess who is working on which subjects. It also makes it easy for authors to reach the organic community.

Organic Eprints has several benefits for users that wish to access items on the platform. The archive is free and open for all to use, and registered users can deposit their publications from peer reviewed journals as well as non-peer reviewed sources, as long as the publications are based on or related to research in organic agriculture or food. Organic Eprints is the largest archive in the world solely dedicated to publications about research on organic agriculture.

All publications from

can be found in Organic Eprints.

Publications on organic food and farming from INRAe (France) are available here

Publications from national and international conferences on organic food and farming can be found here

Practice tools on Organic Eprints

The practice-oriented platform Organic FarmKnowledge is an example of how Organic Eprints can be used by farmers, advisers and other end-users.

Organic Farm Knowledge, which was initiated in 2016, is a platform that provides access to a wide range of tools and resources about organic farming that can help improve production practices. It also aims to serve as a virtual meeting place for transnational learning. The platform promotes the exchange of knowledge among farmers, farm advisers, and scientists, aiming to increase productivity and quality in organic farming across Europe.

Organic Farm Knowledge, originally set up by ICROFS, is directly linked to Organic Eprints since all tools that are made available on the platform are first uploaded to Organic Eprints and from there transferred to the platform.

It is expected that Organic Farm Knowledge will become a European platform for exchange among farmers and will greatly help to increase the visibility of practical information for farmers.

20-year anniversary report

To give a sense of why Organic Eprints is valuable in various contexts, some of the most significant benefits have been described in the anniversary report: “Organic Eprints – An International Online Archive - 20-year anniversary report”, by Ilse A. Rasmussen, Helga Willer and Mine Lindemann.

The future work on Organic Eprints will aim to:

  • Establish Organic Eprints as an archive for all organic research projects,
  • Make a user survey to collect feedback and insights about user experience, needs and wishes, e.g. a new and updated user interface.
  • Continual improvement of the practise oriented Organic Farm Knowledge platform, contributing to the long-term sustainability of the Organic Eprints archive by making it relevant to new target groups.
  • Introduce new ways of using Organic Eprints, e.g., similar to Organic Farm Knowledge,
  • Make the Agrovoc vocabulary an integral, searchable part of Organic Eprints,
  • Include Organic Eprints in project proposals to get funding for further development

Core partners and future funding

In order to maintain and develop Organic Eprints is it necessary to secure sufficient funding. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of Denmark has until now partly funded ICROFS work on the operation, maintenance, and development of Organic Eprints including server capacity, technical work, and administration of editors etc. In the future there is a need to secure funding from other funders or share the tasks with other partners.

In addition to the basic funding from ICROFS, FiBL, and the editors, some funding is also secured through specific tasks in research projects, e.g., one task in CORE Organic Cofund had budget allocated to training of Organic Eprints editors, including travel costs to attend physical meetings, as well as funding to upload publications from national archives to Organic Eprints.

An executive committee has been established, which is in charge of the strategic development, executing strategic decisions and planning the future development of Organic Eprints, securing funding, carrying out promotion (in collaboration with the editorial board), and securing the maintenance and continuity of the archive. The Executive Committee is composed of representatives of the core partners ICROFS and FiBL Switzerland, TP Organics, funding agencies, institutions of national/thematic editors and editors. 

An advisory board composed of representatives from organisations who want to contribute to the development of Organic Eprints has also been established. ICROFS and FiBL CH as well as TP Organics are, due to their positions as core partners, mandatory members of the Advisory Board. Other members of the advisory board are ministries or funding agencies from Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland as well as national and thematic editors’ institutions from Finland, France, Hungary, Norway and Sweden as well as IFOAM Organics Europe.  

These are all important contributions and steps towards strengthening the European collaboration and getting more co-funding and in-kind contributions from partners and funders.